Thursday, November 18, 2010

Annie speaks out...

It's obvious by the look on her face, that she's got something serious to discuss here.

She bent my ear last night (in her throaty little gurgles and deep sighs) about a very meaty topic, Nature vs. Nurture with regards to the love/hate relationship brothers and sisters share. Are siblings born to argue...or is it something that develops over time...She's sure it's nurture. Or lack of.

You see she liked her brothers to begin with...

those big loving boys in all their sweetness...

Until they pulled a bonehead stunt like this...

"C'mon guys, seriously...static balloons. Give me a break." ~Anne.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

still here...

My mind is swimming with great little stories to share...all the way back to little Anne's arrival (3 weeks ago!!!) Unfortunately the best of intentions along with a buck might get me a cup of coffee, and that's about it.
I find myself celebrating small successes these showering, eating dinner before 7, wearing clothes with zippers & buttons again rather than stretch knit, and of course sleeping. Sleep is a good thing. Fortunately Anne likes her sleep at night too...I won't tell you how much, lest I jinx it. But as much as I'd like to stay up a few minutes later each night and share with you some little snippet of our day...I still choose to fall into bed just behind her, readying for the next early morning feeding.
I've been snapping away with the camera though in preparation for a few spare minutes to tell you things like Anne's first visit to the laundry room (never too young to help sort whites and colors, right?!) or our recent trip to the automatic carwash (simple entertainment, I know.) or even tell you how exciting and panic-inducing it is to see the older kids growing up before my very eyes as they take on more chores, venture out into the world of jobs that babysitting, and dog-walking on the weekends. Oh my. So many changes to embrace and celebrate.

Random side note: (cause my postpartum mind is still struggling to organize thoughts and make sense of a lot of things.)
Just thinking back to mass this past Sunday, and singing one of my favorite hymns..."We Are Called." The refrain gives us such inspiration...for us parents wanting to raise our children up in Christ...simple advice we can all learn from and share with our kids:
"We are called to act with justice.
We are called to love tenderly.
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God."

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's a sunshine day...

...everybody's smilin'. ~the Brady kids.

How gorgeous is this unseasonably warm weather?!

We managed to get out for a walk to the park this morning, and even strolled on over to the Middle School after lunch to visit the older sibs at recess. They've been begging for me to bring Anne in for show-n-tell, but thought the teachers might appreciate an outdoor-playground meeting instead. Charlie, Frank, Rose and Lucy LOVED the attention from the older kids who pushed them on swings or included them in a kickball was great fun for everyone.

Thank you Lord, for this Indian Summer we're having. Wish it could stay just a tiny bit say, till December 18th or so...just in time for a white Chritmas?!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

you say tomato, I say tom"ah"to.

If there's one thing I've learned through the course of writing this blog (and should have anticipated with my last post), it's that when it comes to child-raising, we all have our opinions. Fair enough. I never claimed to be an expert. In fact, something else I've learned over the years is that every child is unique (thank you GOd!), and just when we think we know what to expect, one comes along to break/change all the rules. I bite my tongue and cringe a bit when someone asks for advice, cause truth is...we do what works best for our children, our family, ourselves at any given time. And that changes.
Annie's little pink toes had very little to do with her, and everything to do with a "girls day" together. While the boys busied themselves playing Legos, the older girls and I enjoyed an afternoon of hot rollers and hairdo's, finger nail polish, and other girly things that I'd just not had the energy for in some time. We all had our turns snuggling and bonding with new baby sister, and it just seemed natural to include her in our fun for the afternoon. She wasn't aware of the pinpoint size dabs of color on her nails as she slept, and she certainly can't reach her toes to her mouth yet, so there are no safety concerns.
I'll admit, I would have never considered painting any of the other girls' nails at this age, but then thats the beauty of big family/older siblings in the house...we just roll with the changes and find new ways to include everyone in our special moments.

We thank God here for the gift of Little Anne, as she brings out the best or at least "better" in each of us. All of the kids are responding to her with great love, and the gifts they have to share in building up our family unit have just been amplified. Perhaps the newness will wear at some point, but for now no one seems to mind giving more of themselves as we welcome her in. She is certain proof that love is truly multiplied, not divided!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

our seventh daughter

I don't talk numbers often, so it's easy for me not to really think about having eleven kids...I just don't get caught up in the count. I couldn't help but smile though as I heard John mention several times over the last week how blessed he felt (and perhaps overwhelmed to think about) having "seven daughters." It was sweet, and humbling the way he mentioned it.
I smiled though, and thought to myself "Wow that's a lot of girls " when I caught this picture of him with his girls one of our first evenings home with little Anne...

On the topic of many girls...this was bound to happen sooner or later, right? Big sisters were home from school today, so they gave little Anne a "spa" treatment. Bath, lotion, and pedicure.

Anne's prayer

She's inspiring us already...letting her little Christ-light shine. I'm in LOVE with this little miracle God has blessed us with, and this is just one of a million reasons why:

Monday was our first morning "back in the routine" of daily living. John was up and off to work by 6am, alarms were ringing at 7am for me to get my hiney in gear, and get the kids off to school. I was really nervous about how this was going to work out, and yet I knew I didn't have to go anywhere...just had to see that they dressed, ate breakfast and were out the door on time. Anne was up at 6am to nurse, so we finished just before the alarms was perfect timing. The kids were anxious to get back to school and talk about life with their new baby sister, saving me from my usual Monday morning prodding/nagging. It was all good.
As they finished their breakfast, earlier than usual the kids joined us in the family room to sit and relax...and gaze again at baby Anne who was barely awake on my lap. Her distant gaze and heavy eyelids signaled a little cat-nap was near. She lay there so sweetly across my legs, hands folded as if in prayer, beckoning the others to stand near and just soak her in. Little Charlie commented "Look Mom! Annie's praying." I smiled, and whispered back "Yep, I think she is, and she would love it if you would join her." Without hesitation, several of the younger ones made the sign of the cross, and began their morning offering. (Kleenex anyone?? I could have used on at this point.) The exact moment they finished, her hands relaxed to her sides, heavy eyelids finally caved shut, and she grinned one of those larger-than-life toothless grins...talking to the angels indeed!
Thank you sweet Anne for inspiring us all to a closer relationship with our Lord...and thank you Lord for the perfect miracle of our sweet little Annie!

Friday, October 29, 2010

yes...SHE'S here.

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of our newest little miracle...

Anne Therese
born Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
at 11:16 am
8# 1 oz., 19 in. long

Thank you for all the prayers and well-wishes. There are so many things to share with you, from the circumstances surrounding her birthday (the tornado sirens ringing as she was delivered), and cute reactions from the other kids. But as you can imagine...spare time is difficult to come by in these early days. And, all I really want to do is just soak it all in as I hold her and gaze at her (and try to keep Lucy from lovingly poking her perfect little eyes out.) I'll try my best to keep the posts coming.
What a miracle we've been blessed with. God's handiwork is just amazing to witness. As you can see...she's another perfect 10!

“From the fullness of grace we have received one blessing after another” - John 1:16

Monday, October 25, 2010

oh, almost forgot...

It's become a tradition of sorts to dress the kids in matching tee shirts when they come to visit at the hospital. They've ranged from the traditional "big brother," "big sister" shirts done with puff paint to clever cartoon stick characters as our family grew. One year (when Frank and Rose brought our numbers to 9 little tikes...enough to field our own baseball team) we had our own team insignia designed on baseball tees. It gets difficult to come up with something clever, and maybe once or twice I've failed to do any, but this year we had fun with the seasonal Halloween/Trick-or-treat theme to welcome our "Newest Little Pumpkin." The kids had fun helping to choose their cartoon character/costume. The clan will be wearing them tomorrow, with plans to visit mom and baby at the hospital in the evening. Oh, I can't wait to introduce them all!!
...and of course the little pumpkin needed something to wear too.

Polls are still open...

Laundry's caught up (for today), floors mopped, bathrooms cleaned, family room vaccumed and dusted again, kitchen is tidied, lists for grandma jotted, groceries stocked, trick-or-treat costumes assembled (from previous years pickin's, thank goodness), bag nearly packed...and polls have officially opened. The kids tallied their votes for whether new sibling is a boy or girl, and how big baby will be. (Frank was cute when asked how big the baby would be...rather than a number, he first raised both hands in the air and spread them about "yeah-far" apart. Funny.)

I've had babies of all sizes here...first and smallest twins were 4 weeks early and weighed in the 5# range, singles ranged 8# 9oz to 10# 2oz. And my largest twins were a combined 15# of baby. Wow. Thank goodness they were 3 weeks early!!

The name game continues and the most recently suggested include Luke Skywalker or Aniken Skywalker, Clyde, Robin Hood, Angus Radiohead, Jack, Phineus, and Frank's constant favorite "Mr. Goldenbutt." As with each child that's come our way, we checked the church calendar for Saint's feast days for the week, and can't say I'm feeling super inspired by anything there. We'll just have to wait a fuzz longer to see this new little person, and pin the perfect little name on him or her.

I'll try to post one last time in the morning...that traditional sleepy-eyed, caffeine-deprived, chubby belly picture taken before leaving the house...all for posterity sake. I'll try.

Oh, and most definitely thank you for all the prayers and well-wishes. I can't wait to share the news with all of you!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

simple saturday

I slept in past 8:30 this morning. (sigh.) It will be the last time I do that for a long time, I know. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. John was up early and off to work. And the kids took turns climbing in next to me...first Frank and Charlie, until they heard Sam flip on Saturday cartoons. Next Rose and Lucy...until their big sisters were up. Two by two they came and went, snuggling, giggling as my alien-like belly would kick and roll against them. We'd chat a bit about the new baby (just 3 more days!) and point to the empty bassinet ready at my bedside. Oh, it was a blessed Saturday morning.
Even our cleaning schedule this morning was lighter than had been picked up already in the basement, so just some vacuuming and dusting...and some bathrooms to wipe down. I may have given up on the whole "nesting" thing, but I have managed to keep up with the day-to-day stuff, making today even more enjoyable...and lazy.
Now the kids are busying themselves with a few new packs of play-doh, while others lounge in front of a movie and wander back and forth. It's not supposed to rain today, but the sky is just gray enough to keep them in and together. It's nice. John will be home for lunch and we can plan something (or nothing) for the rest of the day. A perfect weekend to have nothing going on.
I can't express enough how truly excited I am (we all are) for the arrival of this new little miracle. I know I've forgotten how exhausting the first months will be (it's a special grace that we should "forget," I'm certain) and yet I'm so looking forward to it. The snuggling, cuddling, nursing, the attention that only momma can give to a newborn...forcing life to just "happen" around us as our attention is focused on this new little life depending on us. It certainly changes us, changes our perspective of what really matters...what we really "need" in this life. It's a good thing...a gift.
I'm so grateful for this laid back, simple Saturday as we wait.

~Matthew 18:2-5
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,"

Friday, October 22, 2010

To Idaho, With Love.

Dear Mr. Idaho Potato Farmer,
I can't tell you enough how grateful I am for all that you do to ensure that folks over here in my parts have a wonderful crop of potatoes to purchase and cook with. As I dumped 5# of your delicious produce into my sink, the smell of dirt overcame me, and I felt connected to the very hands that planted, grew and cultivated this wonderful staple crop. As I scrubbed, and peeled and cubed...I thanked God for you and your place in this world.
Cheers to you, dirty potatoes, and the Ham and Bean Soup they are to enhance.
God Bless,

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. ~Genesis 1:11

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

gratitude, and my recent lack of it

It dawned on me this morning, as I drove to my weekly ob/gyn appointment, what an ungrateful schmuck I've been here lately. The Holy Spirit was fair in pointing that out. Silent car rides graced by God's gorgeous fall scenery are the perfect time for prayer/reflection...don'tcha think?. And today...I was remembering 11 years ago. I was 7 or so months along in my first pregnancy...and grateful for every moment (good and bad...and trust me there was plenty of bad in those early months) because it meant just that...I was pregnant. After years of prayer and petitioning (and whining and moping) God had entrusted us with the miracle of new life. Every bout of nausea, every ache and pain, every sleepless night was a beautiful reminder of the lives growing inside me. And I couldn't have been more ecstatic and excited! I remembered going into the hospital for routine outpatient IV treatments on the OB unit (suffering from horrific Hyperemesis), and sobbing with joy as one of the nurses treated us to an ultrasound of the little babies growing inside...the first time we could see hands and feet and all that we had been hoping for...God is good!!
And now, as we count down the days till we can hold our newest little one...our 11th here with us...I grump and whine about the discomfort of it all. How ungrateful, Jamie. Truth is, I do find myself taking moments for granted. Forgetting at times how truly magnificent a gift we've been given yet again. I am humbled by God's goodness, despite my inadequacies. I feel privelaged to participate once more in the miracle of creation, and am thankful for the Holy Spirit's hand in reminding me again. Just 6 more days to go (or less.)
I announced at dinner this evening, there will be no more nonsense nesting, no more urges to do more or accomplish more than necessary. Rather mom and baby are going to be "resting up," focusing on the miracle, centering in the here and now, and just appreciating these moments before the arrival. Life is about to change again for all of us here, and I'll be glad to enjoy the simple times of more one on one play with the little ones at home...reading books, playing playdoh, snuggling with them for a movie. Lucy's only my "baby" a few more days, I want to soak that in as well. Scrubbing floors and stripping beds...I'm over least until Monday...the day before "D" day when I do a major laundry marathon to get everyone caught up for a few days while I'm gone. That's only reasonable.

Peace to you and yours this week...


Monday, October 18, 2010

this nesting is for the birds...

It's completely psychological, I'm certain. I know for a fact that I would much rather be laying on the couch, resting. Afterall, I spend the entire night anxiously counting contractions until I finally do fall asleep, only to be awakened every couple hours to pee (or get report from someone else who has.) Geesh. What part of me should want to be scrubbing floors, showers, toilets, moving furniture to vaccum under, and stripping bed sheets to launder all day?! And yet...that's exactly what I'm doing. Each day finds me feeling the need to accomplish some major housekeeping undertaking...just to fulfill that psychological urge to feather the nest. Oh, and the baking and cooking! I've frozen soups, and sandwiches, and cookies. I've made casseroles, and baked brownies like there's no tomorrow.
I can only pray, not only for a safe delivery, but for a soon delivery. This nesting is wearing me out. Can't wait to just relax with the little bird-to-be, and watch the dust settle around me again.
Did I mention I'm soooooo... anxious to meet this new little him/her wiggling around in my belly?!?!? Soon, Little Bird, soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Prayer for Safe Delivery

Just 9 more days to go!! (My very sweet doc agreed to induce labor on October 26th...seeing as how I typically carry babies that want to stay snug much longer than necessary...and seeing as how we grow 'em big here...oh, and planning for a babysitter for the kids at home, rather than calling someone at 3am is a good thing!)

I thought today would be a perfect time to begin a novena for the safe delivery of this new little one. As I searched for one online, I was reminded of St. Gerard and found several prayers for his intercession. (We prayed to him often as we stormed heaven with prayers in those early years...struggling with infertility and desiring to start a family.)

Thought I'd share this prayer, for those of you who may also be expecting (or know someone who is) or if you'd like to join me in prayer as we count down the days.

A Prayer to St. Gerard for Safe Delivery
O great Saint Gerard, beloved servant of Jesus Christ, perfect imitator of your meek and humble Savior, and devoted child of Mother of God, enkindle within my heart one spark of that heavenly fire of charity which glowed in your heart and made you an angel of love.

O glorious Saint Gerard, because when falsely accused of crime, you did bear, like your Divine Master, without murmur or complaint, the calumnies of wicked men, you have been raised up by God as the patron and protector of expectant mothers. Preserve me from danger and from the excessive pains accompanying childbirth, and shield the child which I now carry, that it may see the light of day and receive the purifying and life-giving waters of baptism through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

...and a little history of the saint, who's feast day just happened to be yesterday.

Patron Of:
Expectant Mothers, Falsely Accused, Mothers, Unborn

Son of a tailor who died when the boy was 12, leaving the family in poverty. Gerard tried to join the Capuchins, but his health prevented it He was accepted as a Redemptorist lay brother serving his congregation as sacristan, gardener, porter, infirmarian, and tailor. Wonder worker.

When falsely accused by a pregnant woman of being the father of her child, he retreated to silence; she later recanted and cleared him, and thus began his association as patron of all aspects of pregnancy. Reputed to bilocate and read consciences. His last will consisted of the following small note on the door of his cell: "Here the will of God is done, as God wills, and as long as God wills."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

home brew

I've been cookin' up my own "homemade" laundry and dishwasher detergent for a couple months now. I wanted to give it a good try before posting about it, so I could tell you how it's working out.

As for the laundry soap (a dry powder), I love it. I thought for certain I'd be missing that "spring fresh" scent that I usually get from my store-bought Tide or Era. And, I was also a little hesitant about switching from liquid to a powder...especially with the HE machine we have. But it's working out great...with one minor glitch I'm still working on...and that's dull-looking whites. The soap recipe I use (and I'm going to say it's the Fels Naptha bar soap) leaves a simple "clean" scent that I'm in love with. There's not been any residue in my washer, nor any musty smell to the laundry since switching (some of you with HE machines might know where I'm coming from when I mention that.) But still, not completely satisfied with the whites. Does anyone else out there use homemade detergent? or have any advice on an adjustment to my recipe, or add-in for washing whites to make them brighter? I always add bleach when washing whites (and eliminate the Vinegar rinse cycle on those loads now)...that part hasn't changed. Would love some tips here...

I discovered this recipe from Em over at Modern Cottage where there are plenty of comments/Q&A's to get your mind racing...

Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder

1 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, grated (with a cheese love this job!)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
¼ cup OxyClean (optional)

Mix all (may appear clumpy). Use 1 Tbsp for light load, 2 Tbsp heavily soiled or large load

For those in this area, all of the ingredients are available here at our local IGA, and quite inexpensive. I also found everything but the Fels Naptha at our nearby Walmart. It seems that local "hometown" grocers are more like to carry them, or if you ask...order the ingredients for you.

In liew of fabric softener:
I use simply 1/4 cup white vinegar. (though not in the white load when I'm using bleach.)

No, it doesn't leave a vinegar smell, but if you're worried, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a different scent. I haven't felt the need to bother. The vinegar softens, helps to rinse residual soap, and even sets in colors to prevent fading. It's a good thing. I haven't missed my Downy one bit!

In the dishwasher, I used some of these same ingredients already purchased to mix up this recipe:

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
½ cup Borax
½ cup Washing Soda
¼ cup Kosher Salt
¼ cup Citric Acid, food grade
Mix/shake well. Use 1 level Tbsp per wash cycle.

plain White vinegar in the rinse cycle (instead of jet dry)

The course kosher salt helps to knock off the stuck on foods, and the citric acid is apparently to help prevent the residue left behind on glasses. Warning...once you mix this stuff...the citric acid causes major clumping. I made a double batch right away that turned into one solid chunk in the jar...had to chisel it out, breaking the jar, and causing much-o frustration. But once I chiseled it apart, it hasn't reclumped since. Weird. Now I keep it in plasticware. Again, I'm loving the results. We don't have fine glass or I can't speak for how that turns out, but we do get baked on foods, and some nasty gunk on our plastic dishes which cleans up beautifully!!
(I found the citric acid in the canning section of our local IGA...make sure it's food grade, this was for canning tomatoes.)

My initial reasons for trying this was financial...I thought I could save a few cents for all the laundry/dishes we seem to do around here. And, I'm sure I'm saving a few cents. In hindsight though, I love that I'm doing something "cleaner" (and by that I mean...less harsh chemicals) for my family. It's easy to mix up with ingredients I plan to keep on hand, and I'm amazed at how much I like it. There are a million other uses for the Washing Soda, and Borax and Fels Naptha too...of which I'm sure I'll be tinkering around with since it's here and available. I'll let you know what I come up with.


Finally finding the time (and energy) to "ketchup" here on the blog. Sorry...I couldn't resist.

I've recouped from a wonderfully exausting, full weekend of Friday night football, Saturday shopping with friends, and a family gathering to celebrate my Godson's sixth birthday on Sunday. By Monday, I could barely move from the couch. But man, was it worth it!

One of our oldest (and least likely to ever choose to become a cheerleader), Emma was chosen in a raffle at school to cheer for a few minutes at Friday night's football game. Needless to say, there were some rather jealous cheerleader-wannabe/girly-girls in this house...but they were supportive, none-the-less. For me, it meant finally feeling guilt-free about getting a babysitter and attending the football game with my good lookin' husband. It was beautiful weather, and I was thrilled to sit next to him in the stands, and while I'm not much for paying attention to what's going on the field...I cheered when he did, chatted with him and other friends sitting nearby, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. And I never once complained (or even dwelled on the fact) that it was really uncomfortable sitting in the bleachers for that long...fortunately my butt was numb by the 3rd quarter...and there was leg room in front of me, to try to give my belly-full-of-baby more room to stretch out.

On Saturday afternoon, I joined a few friends for a day out of shopping, dining, and laugh till our bellies hurt fun. My goal was to get a jump start on Christmas shopping, since it's quite possible I won't be up for the traditional day after Thanksgiving shopping marathon. I didn't get much of a start...but boy did I have fun trying.
I have to note a few highly annoying habits that seemed so much funnier in the company of other "been there-done that" moms...
  1. punch bugs. (it makes me nuts when the kids are constantly calling these out and slugging from the back seat.) For some reason it was okay with friends though...and only a couple of us came home with bruised arms.
  2. Tweeters and PT Cruisers. More van-shenanigans. Do you know how many yellow vehicles are on the road these days?? or PT cruisers for that matter? My kids can spot them from a mile away, and feel the need to "call" everyone! Will the insanity ever stop?! We had fun with it Saturday though.
  3. The last squirt of ketchup. My kids think the fart-noise it makes is hilarious. I usually don't see the humor...but out to dinner with other moms, we nearly laughed till we peed in our pants.
  4. Waiters that ask the same question repeatedly. For some reason it wasn't as annoying in the company of friends who were due for a good laugh as much as I was.

The gang even suprised me by paying for my dinner, and presented me with a gift card to shop for some fun new baby things. How sweet was that?! I am so blessed.

Sunday had us going to mass together as a family again. For the most part, that's getting a little smoother each week...although someone is usually "traveling" in the pew. John and I sit at opposite ends, and the younger one's like to go back and forth. I had to laugh when Frank walked out of church and cracked a giant smile as he realized and shared with me..."Mom, I did good today! I didn't even hate anything!" I chuckled outloud at that one. I mentioned in the past that he had a phase of "hating" everyone and everything, and while he's left that phase for the most part, it still sneaks in during his grumpier moments...and mass is often one of those times.

After church, we had a quick brunch, and then headed off to New Albany to celebrate my Godson's sixth birthday. It was a beautiful day for playing outdoors. My sister-in-law had lots of fun games lined up for the kids, tons of good food, and as always...they were great company. We got home late for a school night. By Monday, I was pretty much useless...except for a few spurts of energy that had me catching up on laundry again, and grocery shopping. Oh, and I did manage to bake up a few place-and-bake cookies since the oven was on for lunch anyways. Lots of rest in between though...which was a good thing.

Today. I must be nesting. After dropping Charlie off at preschool, it was shopping for a few household essentials, cleaning the kitchen, scrubbing the bathroom and shower (which did bring on a few nice contractions, but nothing to write home about yet) and vacuuming the living room (including inside the couches...eww.)

The kids are due home from school anytime now, so I best get moving.

A blessed week to you all!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Iced Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin's a vegetable (speaking in culinary terms).

That's my story, and I'm stickin to it!

I found several pumpkin recipes online yesterday that I'm anxious to try...I'm so glad I went with this one first. I found it over at Cookie Madness. It was a wonderful dessert for supper last evening, and even better this morning with a cup o' Joe!

Iced Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups all-purpose or white whole wheat flour ( 9 oz)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice**
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 heaping cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup powdered sugar (approximately)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons of milk or as needed

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 12 muffin tins with flour-added cooking spray or line with paper liners.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, brown sugar, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and chips. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined.

Divide batter among the 12 muffin cups. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes, then remove from muffin tins and let cool completely.

Mix the melted butter and powdered sugar together, coating the sugar with butter as best you can – mixture will be thick and lumpy. Stir in the vanilla. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and stir well. Continue adding milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you get an icing that’s thin enough to drizzle but not so thin it will spread out when drizzled. Drizzle the icing over the cooled muffins. I sprinkled extra chips on top.

Notes: I made a couple substitutions right off the bat to suit what I had on hand...I used light brown sugar instead of dark. I made my own buttermilk (1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar and enough milk to make one cup) cause it's something I don't keep on hand. I used salted butter, and regular size choco chips. I doubled the recipe right away, which made 2 dozen regular size muffins. They actually baked closer to 30 minutes.
These were moist, rose beautifully, and mmmm. mmmm delicious!! Enjoy. I think these would make a beautiful loaf of bread as well...perfect for a gift.

Monday, October 4, 2010

cooking pumpkin (how-to)

Someone shared in a previous comment that there is a shortage of canned pumpkin this year. I had read something of it when researching recipes online, but really just figured that was happening "somewhere else."

Truth is I haven't bought canned pumpkin in a couple years, since I found a simple way to cook fresh pumpkin (and I usually have half a dozen pumpkins sitting on my front step this time of year one will miss a pumpkin or two.) Small baking pumpkins fit nicer on the pan, but I've used large jack-o-lantern pumpkins too...whatever ya got!

Baked Pumpkin
(for fresh pumpkin in lieu of canned)

1. Remove the stem from a small/med. sized pumpkin (by cutting around the base of the stem with a sharp knife.) 2. Then starting from the hole you just made, carve down and around the pumpkin, cutting it completely in half. 3. Scoop out the seeds (so much less messy, now that the pumpkin is split in two.)
4. Lay both halves open sides down (so the outside/skin is face up) on a jelly roll pan with a thin layer of water in the bottom. 5. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 min-1 1/2 hours. You'll see the skins getting darker, and caving in a little when they're done, and fork-tender. 6. Allow to cool a bit, and flip over scooping out the pumpkin flesh with a spoon. It is delicious to eat just like this with a little butter and brown a sweet potato. Or fork it up a bit, and use this plain in lieu of canned pumpkin filling.
Last week I baked 2 small (6-8 inches in diameter) pumpkins (that's 4 halves) on one jelly roll pan, and got about 6+ cups of pumpkin. In the past, I have kept it for up to two weeks (sealed in airtight container) in the fridge without any problems. Not sure what the "safe" rule is though.

You're going to need pumpkin for the recipe I plan to share later. Yep...I baked again today...and this recipe is a keeper!!!

weekend report

We survived it.

The tents were raised, and probably down by now. The chicken was danced. Every imaginable food was deep-fried and delicious. There were mettwurst, and bratwurst, sauerkraut balls, and cabbage rolls, dark beer on tap served rightly in 1/2 gallon plastic jugs, soft pretzles, hot german potato salad, and games and gambling of every sort, all blended together beautifully with the sounds of polka playing oompah bands.
One could attend a German Heritage Mass, shop for clever crafts and wares, run/walk the 10k or "fun" run, watch a parade, vote on cute babies, witness a queen coronated, even relay a beer tray through an obtacle course for team bragging rights. No doubt, something for everyone.
And when you live just blocks away, with the echo of music constantly in the beckons you to participate in it all...despite the rain, and miserably cold weather.

The barrel was indeed rolled out this weekend, and I feel as if it ran me over. Can you say exhausted?!

Today, we're not accomplishing a lot...playing with Legos, watching more cartoons than usual, and of course, catching up on laundry. I desperately need to get up into the attic this afternoon to start the seasonal closet changeover...something I should have done before the weekend blustery cold weather, but with lots of layering, we managed okay. Oh, and after the weekend calorie overload, I'd love to do some baking (no reason for blood sugar levels to drop unnecessarily low too quickly!). I've spotted a few good recipes...I'm going to give them a try, and will let you know how they turn out. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecake layered brownies, pumpkin anything (afterall, it's a vegetable, right?)

Here's to the start of another wonderful week... God Bless!

Friday, October 1, 2010

...oh, and just because.

(you can fill in a reason, if you feel it necessary).

3 Minute Fudge

(mmm, hmmm. that's right. You're just 3 minutes, and 3 ingredients away from the next jeans size!)

2 bags of chocolate chips (1 semi-sweet, 1 milk chocolate...but I wonder if it really matters?!)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

3 Tbsp. butter (what isn't made better with real butter?!)

dump into a microwave-safe bowl. Nuke for 3 minutes. Stir well and spread into an 8X8 pan.

Refrigerate to cool/harden. (or eat a little with a spoon first, if you must. I'm guessing that's possible...not that I'd really know that for sure or anything.)


3 minutes. I promise. It's dangerously delicious!!!

October 1st, A Day to Celebrate

It's October! There are so many things happening, so many things worth mentioning. It's so much more than just the start of a new calendar page...

Of course it's the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, "the Little Flower." She's such an inspiration of how each of us are called to do great things in little ways...each and every day. St. Therese pray for us!

The 4 yougest kids and I started our day, by hurrying through our breakfast with the school kids, and heading off to morning mass to celebrate not only her feast day, but also to honor/remember the feast of our own family saint. John's mom, Alice passed away 13 years ago today. I am so grateful for the impact she had on my life in the few short years I knew her...she taught me practical things...a love of gardening and canning, even helped me at times with small sewing projects. But it was her kindness, and love, and gentle ways (much like we read of St. Therese) that left a lasting impression. She passed away before we started having children, and I could never have imagined that one day I'd be raising nearly a dozen as she had. How many times along the way, I've prayed for her intercession, her guidance...and wished she were still here for advice. What a wonderful woman, that I feel blessed to have known.

October 1st also leads us into the month of the Holy Rosary. I look forward to trying to incorporate it into our family prayer routine, and to help these little ones develop a love for this special prayer/devotion. Holy Mother, draw us closer to you and your Son. Amen.

Oh...and October means fall! ...And Oktoberfest...and all things that smell and taste and look wonderfully crisp and fallish! (including fall weather) Welcome fall!!

We're so happy to greet you Mr. Autumn...and to offer a "Willkommen" to all the folks traveling into our community for our annual German festivities.

I can't help but sprinkle a little bit of fall everywhere. Even the back garden bench is sprinkled with Wooden Shoes and pumpkins and mums...

Mmmmm. Fall means yummy smells of spiced pumpkin. My favorite!!! John's birthday earlier this week had me baking up pumpkin for a wonderfully delicious pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing....yep. It was very good!!

More beautiful colors, and sprinkles of fall...on the front door.

Doesn't it make you want to drop what you're doing and dance a little polka...or at the very least, a chicken dance?!!! We put in our Freudemacher CD this morning after mass, and polka'd our way around the kitchen till we were dizzy and giddy with laughter.

Oh yes...and cooler weather means we can bake all we want to!!! Today it was snickerdoodles...mmmmm....cinnamon and sugary goodness!

Oh, and of could I forget?! October 1st means we're entering into the last month of this pregnancy. Sometime, very soon, we are going to get to meet this new little baby. Oh we're getting so excited!! Today, Lucy helped me take the tags off of the few "neutral" baby clothes we've collected, and gather baby bedding and blankets from storage to wash up. Oh my. It's so fun to look at these tiny little white onesies and ducky-footed jammies. Just can't wait to kiss the little nose and toes and belly that will soon be snuggled in them...
October Blessings to you all!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

happy birthday John!

John Michael is 42 today.

Happy Birthday, Love!

a birthday prayer for my husband, father to 12 (10 here, one in heaven, and one we anxiously await), and guardian/defender of our home...

Glorious St. Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of His followers, against whom the powers of hell are Unchained. Guard with special care our Holy Father, the Pope, and our bishops, priests, all our religious and lay people, my husband, and especially the children.
St. Michael, watch over us during life, defend us against the assaults of the demon, and assist us especially at the hour of death. Help us achieve the happiness of beholding God face to face for all eternity. Amen.

tuesday morning funny

(it is Tuesday, right?)

Okay, so I'm actually on hiatus from working outside the home, at least for a few months, but I found this over at Abby's Feathered Nest, and it struck me as very funny for some reason.
Do you ever feel like you can't have a single conversation without your head spinning like this? or is it just me??

Love it...

Monday, September 27, 2010

living in the moment

It's been almost a full year ago since I've mentioned my friend/coworker who was diagnosed with cancer. I've had a few folks along the way ask how things are going for her, and truth is while my hours picked up at work, hers took on a completely different of healing, spiritual growth, focus on family, and all the stages that come with accepting the will of God (both good and bad) in your life. Turns out I've only talked with her once or twice over the last year, and only kept updated through another coworker.
I had the opportunity to chat with her last Friday though, and I've been unable to let go of our conversation. The cancer news was not good. In fact despite several rounds of chemo and radioactive treatments, the cancer continues to spread. More liver involvement, and now lungs and lymph nodes. She's taken on more than her share of negative side effects from the treatments, including weight loss, hair loss, fatigue, and neuropathy in her hands and feet making walking a new challenge, and hindering her fine motor skills.
I just can't help but think to myself how "unfair" it seems, and yet she'd have no part in sharing those thoughts with you. During the entire conversation she was a source of joy, and hope and optimism regardless of the diagnostic outcome. She truly radiated a sense of "living in the moment" and trust in God's providence. She shared how certain she was that He had his hand in every moment of her life/health, and just beamed with gratitude for each moment of each day. It was obvious to me how despite the bad things that come our way, God continues to use us. Our reactions can reflect His prescence and peace to others, despite the burdens we bare. Wow. What a beautiful woman. And how blessed I feel to have been touched by her message of spiritual healing and growth even when physical healing isn't possible.
I found myself thinking of her throughout the weekend and grabbing on to those little life moments that pass in the blink of an eye. The hectic times, the frustrating times, the good times...God's constantly working in our lives, and our reaction to all of it can change people. How blessed I am to sit in my rocker and twist braids into a ten-year-old's hair...getting ready for the football game, as supper warms on the stove. Or to show a 3 year old how to make the sign of the cross at mass, or to lay on the bed and read a few chapters with my son, to sit in the sun and watch the kids help their Dad water flowers. These simple moments won't last forever. Instead we continue to face more difficult challenges along the way, some we can't even begin to imagine or accept at our current phase of life, and yet, they'll come.
I pray for the grace my friend shows. I pray to be able to learn from her, and to find my self living in the moment, grateful for the good and the bad, content in the knowledge that He is constantly holding us in the palm of His gentle, loving hand.

oh my heart...

It is a fact of my life right now...something I've been blessed with during each of my pregnancies. I keep Tums on hand though, so it is manageable, and I will not complain.
Except last night, I ran out of Tums. And I ate a late night slice of pumpkin pie, leftover from the World's Largest Pumkin Pie baked nearby in New Bremen, OH. (That's right...WORLD's largest! 20 feet in diameter, to beat their own previously held record of 12 feet. How cool is that?!)
Anyhow...back to the "burn." I knew instantly it was going to cause me problems...but it didn't slow me down. I ate it anyways. And sure as shootin, as soon as my head hit the pillow, the familiar burn set in. No prob. Chew a few Tums...and I'm snoozin. No Tums, remember?! Well I had forgotten. So I found myself first tearing apart every purse and travel bag I could find looking for a forgotten roll, and then doing what I do next when I have a dilemna...googling.
C'mon Mr. Google, don't fail me me "home remedies for heartburn." I found every horrible idea under the sun...from drinking vinegar, or baking soda, or a combination (isn't that what you put in clogged drains?!), someone suggested drinking mustard straight from the bottle, or pickle juice (only dill.), milk, NO MILK!, yogurt, oh for heaven's sake. What's a girl to do?! One idea that kept creaping up was to take a bite of a raw potato. Hmm. I like raw potatoes, so it didn't sound horrifying (or caustic), and I happened to have a couple potatoes sitting out on the countertop that I ended up not using for Sunday brunch.
Hmm. A bite of raw potato?!
I went for it.
I peeled the end off one potato, and nibbled 2 small bites.
I sat up on the couch just a couple minutes, waiting for a reaction.
And guess what...

It worked!!! That darn bite of potato cured my heartburn within minutes. (faster than Tums, maybe.)
Okay, so there's no calcium benefit. And maybe it was just a placebo effect. But a single bite of potato is harmless ( I think) to me and baby, so I'll certainly try it again in a pinch.

I'm just saying. It's sounds better than the drain cleaner option!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Alleluiah Sunday!!

(a potty follow-up...disregard if you're tired of reading about such personal info.)

I was awakened at 7 am this morning to the beckoning call of "Mom, I poooooooped!"
(Oh no.)
Panic came over me as I lept out of bed as spryly as a woman almost 8 months pregnant can leap...and hurried, expecting to find a messy little 3 year old coming down the stairs. She wasn't there. I turned the corner to find her instead, grinning from ear to ear, sitting on the big potty where she had snuck in to do her business. In a matter of seconds all the kids were out of bed (probably expecting the same misfortune I had...and not one of the kids here can resist witnessing a good mess).
Hooping and hollering ensued.
Grace ran for one last package of silly bands I had tucked away in a cabinet, and so our Sunday began...what a blessed day!

Alleluia! Praising God for all his goodness, and mercy. That I shant have to bare many more days in the potty training least not for a few more years anyway.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


(that would be THANK GOD FOR LINOLEUM...and LUCY...and LUCKY timing...and LEAPING for joy over finally having potty success!)

After a 2 week battle of wills...and boy is she stubborn (like her momma)...we finally had success today!! Surely the entire neighborhood heard all 10 kids and myself singing and celebrating..."Lucy pooped on the potty!, Lucy pooped on the potty!" There were two weeks worth of bribes being pulled out of the cabinets...silly bands, bubble gum, lollipops, you name it. She called grandma. She gave high fives. She even wore a dress the whole world can know that she's in "big girl" panties.

Yep. Life is good. Now...we just wait and pray, that it continues in a forward-moving direction. She's already starting to go pee independently...without constant reminders. Now we just hope the same for "Number 2."

(oh, and don't mind the poor picture quality...the only camera I could find in all the excitement was Rose's little Toddler-Cam. Lucy didn't mind though.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Aww Rats.

Either there's a really resourceful little rodent in this house, or a two-year-old toddler with a mean case of the munchies. Regardless...someone slit this bag with such precision that this unsuspecting mom grabbed it off the counter to put it away, tossing chips all over the floor.


T minus 6 weeks, and counting...

...the millions of things I should be getting done. And yet, here I am. Taking a break from the madness (again). We've been busy here lately...mostly getting caught up in the comings and goings of daily life, but also trying to cross a few things off my "have to get done before baby arrives" list. (Okay, so some things have been on the list since, oh I don't know, Grace was in the womb...but a mom can dream, right?!)

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that we started potty training with my "baby" Lucy, who will be three in December. She took well to it immediately, loving the "big girl" attention. And after just a couple days was staying dry through the nights (even waking herself up, going on her own, and then sneaking into bed with us to let us know.) She's been accident-free of pee for over a week now. It's the "poo" that's giving us issues. She absolutely refuses (perhaps scared to death?!) to try that one on the potty yet. Oh, and it usually only takes ONE time for them to know it's okay...but we can't get that first one!! I've tried lots of little motivations (ie BRIBES). Today though, I'm throwing caution to the wind, and she's streaking in her birthday suit until we have success. (Had to drive Charlie the 1/2 block to preschool, cause I'm certain as soon as she's dressed she'll let loose in her, naked she went into her carseat...she giggled.) I'm trying to remain calm about this, knowing that it's just a matter of time, and that we've accomplished this 9 times before her (though in seemingly much quicker fashion)...just breathe Jamie.

In other news...I've got my sewing machine out for a marathon of projects. My mom sewed new dresses for the oldest two to wear at our local Oktoberfest next weekend. I offered to do the accompanying aprons. I finished those up yesterday (check). Next on the list is a medieval-style dress for Emma who is participating in/helping to organize a Renaissance banquet at school. It's not due until November, but timing is not the best there, so I'm wanting to get that checked off the list as well. I've got fabric set aside for some bean bags for our yard game...not a priority by any means, but since the sewing machine is out, I'll try to get that done too. Oh, and the girls had a clever sewing idea for some christmas gifts this year, so I've got 10 yards of really cute fabric waiting on me. Alice and Emma want to help with that project, so it may go quicker (or much longer) depending.

I'm still planning to accomplish a little more canning yet this year. I have a real hankerin' for homemade applesauce...warm with a little cinnamon...mmmmm. Can't you just taste it?! So, I'm hoping to get over to a nearby orchard yet this week, and get a bushel or two and get to work.

I'll admit, my energy level is dwindling (big time) so I'm pretty much limited to one project that I can complete in the morning, when I'm feeling my best. By afternoon, I'm not good for much more than a load or two of laundry to fold, followed by a quick cat-nap before the school kids are back home ready for the snack/homework/supper routine.

It hasn't taken me any time at all to adjust to John's new dayshift fact, we're all LOVING it! And, I'm quite content to get my housework/laundry done during the day, so we can fall into bed by 10. I can't even remember having the energy to stay up past midnight every night...that must have been someone else...some other lifetime.

We're still working through finalizing a contract on THE HOME we're still dreaming of. It's one of those things that requires patience, and for the most part, I've pretty much forgotten about worrying about it. It will happen in it's own good time. Though, once the contract is signed, our current house will go on the market...and that's a whole 'nother stress (keeping things clean/picked up) that I'm not looking forward to. But, like I said...I've handed that worry back to God. There's too much keeping me occupied in the here and now...I'm trusting in His Providence.

We're (I'm) getting VERY excited about greeting this new little one, who's movements in my belly allow me to feel/imagine little feet and knees and other boney parts as they roll across my midsection. My nights are consumed with dreams about holding, nursing, and caring for this new little miracle...I just can't wait to meet him or her. Oh, he/she'll be here before we know it.
And list or no list, I know that we're ready...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

safety seat sunday

I mentioned in my previous post that John and I got out for a quick shopping trip...and here's the reason...

Now that Frank and Rose have turned four, and pretty close to the 40# mark (with boots and heavy clothes on), they can convert from the regular infant/toddler 5 point harness seats to the standard booster seat, which allows them to buckle in with a regular seat belt. With SEVEN kids in car/booster seats (soon to be EIGHT!) this means my life is greatly simplified. K-Mart has booster seats buy-one-get-one-free this week, so we had to rush over and check it out. Yup, two new booster seats for $18.99. What a deal!
It meant removing all the old seats, vacuuming the van, and even trying out a new seating arrangement. While the seats were out, all the kids had fun lining them up and playing with them in the driveway...even Alice and Emma were tempted to model the old "baby seats" that Frank and Rose are happy to send into storage.

Frank and Rose now get John and Mary's highback booster seats, and the older pair got the new backless seats.

Everyone's happy...'cept Sam, who didn't think I was quick enough with the camera to catch him reliving his younger days.


Whew. Glad to stick a fork in this weekend, and call 'er done!
I'm not sure what happened...hormones, sick kids, pregnancy fatigue, dreary weather on Saturday, or the fact that I've been battling a nasty sinus infection all week (maybe a combination of all of the above). But Friday night I poured myself a big old bowl of "Feelin' Sorry for Myself" and munched on it all weekend! Talk about a Ask anyone here, I was a real ball of fire to be around. Thank God they love me, and put up with me gracefully.

It seemed to start Friday evening when John announced that he was taking the four oldest to the high school football game. God love him...I know he meant would mean 4 less for me at home, and he even offered that if I'd rather go, he'd stay behind with the younger ones. Truth is, I had no desire to go without him, but would have LOVED to sit with him in the bleachers. This is about when I got the bowl and spoon out, ready to pour it on. For some reason, everyone's yard was looking greener...the couples who go to the games without their kids, or the couples who take all their kids with them and give each child several bucks to spend at the concessions, or even the couples who put their kids to bed early to stay up snuggling on the couch. Somehow in the joys and blessings of big family life, a small sacrifice...something we're always working to overcome is that there can at times feel like a disconnect in that whole "couple" thing. I'm thinking in hindsight (after I stuffed myself on "whoa is me" all weekend), that John's new day-shift schedule is certainly a step in the right direction for changing that. The kids are in bed by 9, leaving us an hour or so to talk, read the paper together, share thoughts on the day, or whatever. It has to beat communicating with post-it notes on those days when we'd work opposite shifts, or when I was just too tired to wait up for him to get home. ...
Anyhow...I stayed in my miserable little funk all through Saturday, accomplishing the bare-minimum as far as cooking and clean-up, and kids needs are concerned. John was asked to come in and supervise the OT shift for the weekend...9 hours...yikes. We had talked about doing a quick family get-away for the weekend, which we'd nixed by midweek, but that was still fueling my "sorry me" bowl yet too. I managed to twist around in my head that everyone else probably had fun plans for the weekend but us...whoa is me. The rest of the day was spent moping around in sloppy sweatpants...I can't even say they were baggy, which only added to my emotional dysfunction. Thankfully by Saturday evening, I got out of the house for a half-hour grocery run, and came home feeling like the fog was lifting.
Sunday's sunshine, and the graces that come with attending mass together as a family made the day seem even more good, with nothin' but feelings of hope and optimism. The gospel reading today is one of my favorite collections of stories of forgiveness, and were just what I needed to hear to start with a new attitude today. I could totally connect with Paul in the second reading...I am the sinner whom God continues to show mercy towards. And I have every reason to be grateful...especially after acting like such a schmuck yesterday. Even the psalms resonated...I love how the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the daily readings! God is good!! We spent the day putting on a big pot of chili, making a ginormous double batch of caramel corn (which had everyone smiling), and enjoyed listening to Alice share some of the new songs she's learned on the guitar. Wow...just 8 months of lessons and she sounds incredible. We had fun singing and dancing to her rendition of "Country Roads." John and I even got to sneak out for a couple hours while the younger kids were napping, to do some shopping. It was just the little "out" we needed to regroup/reconnect again.

Life is good. We have our "funky" moments...and I am grateful for the Holy Spirit who is waiting patiently to blow the stink off.

...from today's responsorial psalm:

R. (Lk 15:18) I will
rise and go to my father.

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. I will rise
and go to my father.

Friday, September 10, 2010

the week of "firsts" continues...

Okay, so not all firsts are "good things," but it could be worse, I keep telling myself. Frank had our first illness of the the changing seasons. I brought him in to the doctor this morning for a nasty double ear infection. Poor little guy has been running a fever off and on, and complaining of ear pain (mainly at night, of course) for a couple days, so it was time to consider treatment. Turns out not only did he have a lot of fluid and pressure behind both ear drums, he also had terribly infected ear canals, nearly swollen shut. He's being treated with not only an oral antibiotic, but antibiotic drops into the ear canal as well. I'm so glad we've had very little experience with ear seems to make the kids terribly miserable...not wanting to eat, not able to sleep, and just generally feeling lousy with fever.
The silver lining though...a quick trip to the library for some new books and movies while we were getting prescriptions filled means plenty of quiet snuggle time on the couch...which is actually possible with the smaller crowd at home during the day.

In other another package in the mail today (a split shipment from my previously described order of baby items.) This one included some new items for momma too...though completely baby/nursing related. I'm very excited to share a review of my new goods in a future post. I hesitantly ordered a couple nursing tanks (something I've never tried before, but love the idea of), and after trying them on, I think I'm gonna LOVE them!! (men, you're gonna wanna tune out for that one.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

rolling with the changes...

This week we're adjusting to all kinds of changes and "firsts." And while the flow of our day is certainly changing, we're embracing is good.

On Tuesday, John made the schedule change to first shift. After 21 years on evenings or nights or weekends, it was an exciting, answered prayer to send him off to work in the morning and have him back home in time for dinner. What an interesting change of mindset for me to realize at mid-afternoon, that the day is only going to get better...rather than bracing myself for the challenging evening ahead. The accompanying change in weather (cooler fall-ish days) has even had me back in the kitchen cooking "real" meals for dinner, to welcome him home. It's a good thing.
Wednesday was Charlie's first day of preschool. He's our first to attend "morning" session, which happens to be working out fabulously as of day one. A little extra preparation in the evenings (laying out clothes for ALL kids, instead of just schoolies) makes it simple to get the school kids out the door, and spend the next hour getting the younger ones ready for the day in time that we can walk Charlie down the street and around the block to "Jackie's" by nine.

Charlie was all smiles to finally be putting that new backpack to good use. He forced a "cheeeesey" smile, and practically ran off the porch ahead of us towards school. He did stop for us to catch up, but stayed several steps ahead of the rest of us...and even mumbled to little Rose that she most certainly "can not come up on the steps to school" with him. Little did he know we had our own plans for the morning...Just the three youngest and me.
First we headed down the street to the park...the girls seemed suddenly so much bigger. It didn't take long for my sister-in-law and her little Beth to meet up with us, and snatched Rose home with them for a play date. Oh my...only two little ones left with me.
Frank and I collected a whole jar of "cool rocks" at the park to take home and display on his dresser (for now.) We'll return them later, and search for new ones on our next adventure.

After a little laundry putting-away (Frank was a real help...putting all his own shirts on hangers), we turned up some music and danced...and jumped on Sam's bed, shhhh don't tell. We're celebrating life's changes afterall.

Before we knew it, it was time to go back for Charlie. We picked him up in the wagon, and heard tell of his first big day of preschool. He was all smiles as he chatted our way home with songs that he learned (the baby bumblebee song, ring-around-the-rosey, and more) and how he put two puzzles together all by himself, and how he met a couple boy-friends, but LOTTTTTS of girl-friends. Oh my....should be an interesting year.

So what did we do today to continue our week of firsts?? Well, we took Lucy shopping for "big girl" panties of course. She's officially decided to give all the diapers in the house to the new baby to come....yipppeee!!! We're just getting started, but off to a very successful start. I couldn't be happier for the new "big girl" in this house. And grinning to realize that for a few more weeks anyways, we will have nobody in diapers...for the first time in almost 11 years!!!

Oh my... yep, Life is Good. Our God is good.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

today a package came.

Please tell me we're not the only family that gets giddy and giggly when we find a package left on our porch. I'm not a huge internet shopper (not a huge any-kind of shopper, really), so when we see Mr. UPS or FedEx stop in, it's a big deal.
Today was one of those special days...and we all made a big fuss about it. Alice was the first to see it, and bring it in the house. I knew what it was immediately (I'd done a little online ordering earlier this week for some new baby things), and called the little ones in to guess what it could be. It didn't take long for a crowd to gather, as we ooohed and ahhhed..."whose name is on it?" someone beckoned. (It was for ME). "What is it??" Lucy begged.

"I think it's something for the new baby," I told them. Rose giggled like it was Christmas morning. We opened it carefully, and Lucy squeeled with delight to see what was inside...

Tiny baby clothes!

I purged our home of all things baby after Lucy outgrew them, holding on to only the gear and not the clothing...most of it so worn, it wasn't worth keeping. And the things that were new or still nice got passed on to family and friends. It's been fun collecting a few new pink and blue things...tags still on waiting till we know for certain what we'll need.
Of course I pulled the little sleepers out of the package, laid one across my bigger-by-the-moment belly and danced around to "model" it for everyone. 'Which one will we need to keep?' is the big question. Will it be a boy or a girl? Oh, we're just so excited to find out. It's been awhile since we've had a tiny baby...Lucy seems so ready to pass on her title. Only 8 more weeks to find out...

...oh, and wait till they see the cute little numbers that will arrive in the next package...too sweet!

saturday, cleaning day.

For now, we still do cleaning on Saturday mornings...especially when John's scheduled to work, and we have no other plans. That may all be changing soon with his new day-shift schedule starting next week....but for now, it works.

Some of you have written in, asking how I manage cleaning and household chores with kids...there's definitely a strong part of me that would rather just save all work until they're in bed, and get it done quickly and correctly (without arguing or fussing), but that's not really helping anyone in the grand scheme of things. I've tried it, and I find myself feeling resentful (and exhausted). Our team isn't getting any smaller...and kids need (and want) to play an active roll in making it a success. I mean, who really wants to "sit the bench" their whole lives??!
I found a website of daily chores by Motivated Moms that I'm considering downloading a daily chore lists, and dividing them up (it appears to be a VERY thorough list to include things that get lost in the shuffle until it's too overwhelming a task to want to accomplish.) If any of you have ever heard of or tried it, let us know with a comment!!

For now...the kids are on a rotating (by memory not list) schedule for daily tasks like emptying the dishwasher, emptying trash cans, and helping before/after meals. Sam takes out the trash each week.

On Saturday mornings "cleaning day":
~The kids are responsible for the basement...picking up toys, vaccuming, dusting, and vaccuming the stairs as well. It's never done perfectly...but close enough that I'm happy to leave it to them. Sometimes its done in minutes...sometimes an hour. But they work at it (or yell about it) till it's done, and I keep about my cleaning upstairs. Great things can come from letting them "work it out" themselves. When I hear things being thrown, or kids belittling each other, I intervene. Dance music goes hand-in-hand with clean-up.
~Alice and Emma take care of the upstairs "girls" the sink and vanity, toilet, wiping mirrors, and cleaning the floor. It's never done the way I'd like it...and I usually go back over it slightly to "touch up." But they're getting better over time, and are starting to take pride in a job well done, so I don't dare take it away from them. They're also beginning to teach Grace and Mary the job, and they've all come to know how important it is to clean up toothpaste spills in the sink when it happens...not waiting till it's dry.
~The kids vaccum and dust they're own bedrooms. I wish I could say this got done weekly...more like monthly...but it gets picked up and beds made daily, so I'm cool with that.
~Sam loves to run the vaccum in the tv room, and he's strong enough to nudge the couch back a bit, and move the coffee table out of the way, so he does a pretty good job.
~All young kids LOVE washing windows. There's not enough glass in this house to keep them all happy, so I let them "go over" each others work, just to keep them busy. All windows and storm doors within reach, as well as television screens are fair game.
So where's mom? Sitting around slurping coffee and reading the paper? sometimes...for a minute...but there's still plenty to do. The kitchen, main bathroom, all-over dusting, and our bedroom is my "territory."
~I also still do all the laundry. This is just one area that I've not been able to work into a schedule, or find a way for the kids to help. Our washer and dryer run daily. As for the folding and putting away, I've just found it easiest to do after I have several baskets ready, and after the kids are in bed. It goes so much faster when the little ones aren't climbing across the folded piles of clean clothes on my bed. A long time ago, I found a way to sort socks before they go into the washer...and this system still works. The basket of whites is my least at least the sock matching problem is out of the equasion. Sometimes I ask one of the kids to sort laundry by colors out of the laundry chute and into the hampers in the basement...but not as often as I used to. The oldest 3 (ages 9 and 10) have been schooled on using the washer and dryer, and I even taped instructions to the front of the machines for those times when they "need" something cleaned "right now." No reason they can't throw a load in, now and then...and someone has to know what to do all those times mom's in the hospital having babies, right?! oh, and on the subject of laundry, I've recently started making/using homemade laundry soap. So far, I'm quite pleased with the results...I'll share the recipe in a later post.
~oh and cooking...yep, that's all mine.

Anyhow. I'd love to hear how you all divi up tasks...or don't you? Maybe I'm a slave-driver and don't even know it?! I don't think so. The kids roll through six days of the week with little responsibilities, so Saturday morning "team-cleaning" seems fair. My goal for this school year is to have them share in more of the daily tasks, especially with new baby on the way. Afterall, they were a member of this team first...I want them to grow up knowing the blessing/importance/gift/value of family, and have a sense of priority towards their own family one day.

For now, I better get....we're in slow motion this saturday...lingering in our jammies and watching a few more cartoons than usual (kids don't appreciate saturday morning cartoons like we did when we were kids...when Saturday was the ONLY day of the week you could see them. Remember?!)
It's time to get business taken care of before Dad gets home from work for lunch. Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

a unique privelage

Earlier this week, John and I had the youngest four at Walmart to pick up a few essentials. I couldn't help but notice an elderly couple watch us enter the store with our little Rose in full-on tantrum mode, upset that she couldn't ride in the cart seat that she wanted. (Okay, they were more than watching...necks were bending and a couple times they turned around to walk backwards...better able to watch us that way.) I was frustrated to say the least, and I forced out a really loud, overly friendly "Hello there" as we finally met in the doorway. (Tried to kill 'em with kindness.) Turns out I'd soon be eating humble pie as they graciously introduced themselves, talked with tantrum-ing Rose (even gave her a little wooden hand-carved puppy), and showered us with kindness and well-wishes. "What a blessing you have there!" the kind man added. "You just love every minute with them...good and bad," he added. He went on to say that he and his wife had just one son. "We lost him in VietNam in 1969."

My heart sunk for them. My dad was there in could have been him...and here I am frustrated about my pint-size "problem," that suddenly seemed so trivial. I'm such an ungrateful schmuck sometimes.

Fast forward to Wednesday called and said she and dad had a "ride" (that's motorcycle lingo for a "ride"...on their Harley (aka..."bike"). They were going to be a part of a procession of bikes that would escort the traveling Vietnam Wall Memorial display. She thought the kids and I might want to watch the hundreds of bikes expected to turn out for the escort. I kinda shrugged it off, thinking it was hot, it was a school night, we'd seen lots of bikes before. Last minute though, I thought of the fella at Walmart, and of his son, and had a change of heart. I thought maybe it would be a good thing to witness, and be a part of. The kids and I loaded up the van and started off to find a good spot along the route.

I tried to prep the kids a little about the Wall, and what it represents, and that the "parade" of motorcycles was in fact not a reason to cheer and hollar, rather we should be respectful...dare I say even somber remembering the soldiers that died. They seemed to understand the expectations I had for them, though not necessarily what the Wall was. We'd brought along our American flags, and took our places outside the van just in time for the escort to pass by. Almost immediately upon seeing the flashing lights, and those first bikes leading the way, I was overcome with emotions I hadn't expected. Tears filled my eyes, and I had to fight them back as many of the riders made eye-contact and nodded or gave us a thumbs up for being there. I couldn't help but realize that many of them had probably served our country at some point, perhaps even alongside the fallen soldiers this wall memorialized. I thought of my grandfathers, my dad, my brothers and in-laws who've all fought and made it home safely...and even considered the possibility that one day it could be one of my own boys wanting to do the same. An overwhelming sense of pride, and respect, and feeling of a sense of privelage to "welcome them home" came over me. Truly it was an honor and a blessing to be there to witness and be a part of something like this.

It turned out that more than 2500 motorcycles were on hand to escort the Wall. It took an hour for the procession to pass, and by the end we were hot and exhausted, kids were bored and tired of behaving, and thirsty, and whiny...and everyone was ready to leave. It was only an hour I told myself...such a tiny, tiny sacrifice. I offered it up in silent prayer as we drove home...for those whose sacrifice doesn't even compare. Thank you men and women of our military, and God Bless.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Morning Offering

One of the best things about returning to the "back-to-school" routine, is a renewed commitment to the morning offering prayer. It's something we started last year, but somehow got away from it through the summer when everyone was waking/eating breakfast at their own pace. I love sharing this prayer as a family before the kids rush off for the day... and reminding them (and me) just what the words mean...and reflecting back on it often through the day. Wow, in just a few days I notice a difference in the way I react to situations. I catch myself wondering in stressful times (particularly towards evening hours when we've all reached our boiling points) "Is this what God would appreciate as my gift/offering to Him?" I encourage anyone to give it a try. Here's our simply worded start to each day...

"Oh my God, I offer you this day,
All I do and think and say,
In union with what was done,
On earth by Jesus Christ your son.
Amen. "

(we follow up with a Hail Mary...)

fascinated with the baby belly

My constantly growing belly is the source of much entertainment for the kids in this household lately. From watching the baby's fluttering movements and occasional alien-like rocking and rolling, it never grows tiresome. Frank has even found the "shelf-space" it provides when I'm sitting quite useful for holding matchbox cars, resting his head, and today at mass even his offering envelope. He thinks its the coolest. So glad I can be of assistance. (Apparently he caught me resting my coffee cup there the other morning...hee, hee.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

leaving behind...

Four little monkeys...still in pj's, but not for long. Everyone was dressed (with new shoes on) by 7:50, and standing around waiting for something to do. I slurped down a second cup of coffee, and then wondered out the garden to pick a few more tomatoes, peppers and onions. Charlie and I chatted with some ladies who were passing thru the alley on bikes (one a retired teacher, who grinned that she wasn't missing this first day hoopla at all. Cute.) Before long Dad and the others had the bikes out of the garage and we were all headed off for a ride across town to grandmas. Home by ten, and mom's ready for a morning nap...
Wow, this is gonna take some getting used too...

Look out Miss Jackie (preschool teacher)...this one's gonna be trouble!!

And just like that, they're out the door

Another summer vacation school year has begun. (sigh.) I'll say it a million more times in this life, "Where does the time go?" (and why so quickly?) Alarm clocks sounded at seven this morning, setting off a frenzy of scurrying kids...making beds, brushing teeth, getting dressed in clothes that were laid out neatly the night before. More squeaky tennis shoes on the hardwood floors upstairs, and giggling, and a little bit of tension as 4 girls attempted to brush teeth over one sink. (Just wait till Rose and Lucy join that mix). The boys handled things with a little less worry...rolling out of bed like it was just another day, taking turns in the downstairs bathroom, and arguing over cereal bowls like it was no big deal. After a quick bowl of cereal and OJ to wash it down...girls were lining up in my room for "hair." Alice wanted french braids into a "funky" bun, Grace and Mary had special plans, and even Emma asked for hair help (the first time ever without my prompting) heart skipped a beat when she asked. Yep, things are changing. She didn't even ask to wear basketball shorts and a baggy tee on the first day. Not that I would have expected any different...but to see her come down the steps in clothes that fit her body, and had buttons and zippers, and matched, without stains. Wow...fifth grade is bringing changes I couldn't have imagined. And it's just the first day...

Ten minutes earlier than necessary, the kids were out on the front sidewalk meeting up with neighbor kids, posing for first-day pictures, and pretending like they weren't the least bit nervous/excited. Another neighbor mom and I shared a little "Wooohoooo" battle-cry, and then laughed that we let that slip outloud. Guess I am excited for the changes this school year will bring, not the least of which is a slower pace here at home. Next week Charlie will be heading out the door for 3 mornings per week preschool. When we moved into this house 5 years ago, Alice and Emma were finishing preschool, and Charlie was still in my belly. (another sigh...)

Here's to a wonderful new school year full of growing and learning and maturing. Praying I can roll with the changes gracefully...