Friday, February 26, 2010

Boredom Buster

from the recipe box:

Salt dough...great for making beads and other shapes that dry hard.

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Paprika (optional for makimg "clay" color)

There's no school here today...blowing and drifting snow. Fortunately Emma brought home this recipe from school yesterday for making Indian Beads. Last night they made beads for painting/stringing in addition to all sorts of other funny shapes. (Even Lucy loved to play in the dough!) We baked them on a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour to dry. (They could also be left to air-dry for several days...but who really wants to wait?!)
Today, we're going to be painting and stringing projects that keep on entertaining!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A new "Way" to pray

For the last couple years, we've included some form of the Way of the Cross in our Lenten prayers and devotions. The first year it was with coloring pages. The older kids helped to color them, and then they were taped on the kitchen wall, and we'd tell the story of Jesus' passion and death as we sat around the table together. Last year we tried a small accordion-fold booklet that a friend found for us online. Each of the kids colored their own, and we'd pray it together. This year, thanks to that same friend who's always finding clever things online, we made this beautiful votive holder to set on our mantle, and reflect on the 14 stations in a more meaningful way. We followed the instructions exactly, except that instead of just gluing the votives to the wood, my dad drilled holes into the board so that the votives are inset slightly, and can be removed for storage, wax removal, etc.
Our current plan is to light and pray them every Friday night together, and hopefully on Sundays as well. Last Friday,after lighting all 14 candles, the kids took turns reading the prayers/reflections from a "Way of the Cross for kids" booklet I recieved last year. After each station, we'd blow out that candle and at the end we were left in a darkened room to reflect quietly (sort-of). The 2 and 3 year olds were at times distracting (to say the least), but I think this week, we may just give them books to look at, or even save this prayer for just after their bedtimes, to allow the older kids to appreciate it even more.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

8 down, 32 to go

We're attempting the 40 bags in 40 days for Lent this year. I'd like to be disciplined enough to make my way through the house tossing/donating 1 bag each day...but in fact I tend to toss "when the feeling's right." This evening the kids and I took on the toyroom, and managed to part with 6 boxes of toys and games to donate, and another two bags for trash. What a wonderful thing to watch as the kids took time to sort, toss, and neatly package like items for donation. Even the methods they used to decide what to keep and what to share was inspiring. Grace had decided to part with a baby doll that she loved (though has since accumulated several others) and carefully dressed it, and packaged it up with all the accessories, commenting that some other little girl would surely love it just as much as she did. Too sweet. The boys dumped out their large bin of matchbox cars, and sorted by colors, and models taking turns to choose a few of their favorites and then passing along the rest. It was such great teamwork...except for little Lucy who seemed a bit startled to see things boxed up and taken away, screaming just a couple times, and forcing us to pull an item or two back out for her to keep. Cute.

The girls and I have earmarked the weekend for going through closets and sorting/organizing clothing. With bins of hand-me-downs stashed in all corners of the house, we're sure to come up with even more items to share (and plenty to toss as well.)

anyone else trying something new this lent?

Friday, February 19, 2010

teaching my little man to "fish"

How's that saying go..."If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; but teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime." (or something)

Yesterday Charlie was learning the art of fishin' in the kitchen. He LOVED kneading the dough and was actually quite good at it. The little ones were napping away the afternoon while the older kids were at school. This fall he's off to preschool, and I think I'll miss our then Frank and Rose will be done napping though with plenty more fun times to come.

These chubby dough-filled fingers make me smile...

Mmmm. I LOVE the smell of fresh white bread baking. We all snatched up a warm crusty buttered chunk long before it had a chance to cool. Thanks to Kathryn for the wonderful "no-fail" recipe. It is delicious!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the journey begins

Just not certain yet, what the road holds. I'm torn about what to do this year regarding blogging and lent. There's a part of me that wants to share my journey with you, and yet feeling as though I've "lost the map" so to speak, I'm not sure what I have to offer this year. Another side of me thinks I should just introspect, and leave the blogging to others for the next 40 days while I concentrate on personal change/growth in the faith. What to do??
I'll keep praying on it, and hope I'll hear the Holy Spirit's direction when He calls.
I encourage you to read back through my posts last year this time, either by searching by month/date in the left column, or by typing "Lent" in the search box at the very top of the blog. I was a bit amazed by some of the nice reflections I found/posted and various lenten activities for the kids I shared last year. Some are definitely worth a re-read I think.
God Bless!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

'smore please

Kids were home again today.
I know I was all anxious about that yesterday, but in hindsight it was really a nice day. The kids are so desperate to get back into their school routine, the girls actually started a "book club" today. Alice and Emma have Grace and Mary reading chapter books, and taking tests over them, little group discussions, even word and math flashcards printed from the computer. It's sweet...a little "think tank" going on here, and did I mention I love to see the older ones sitting down in a quiet corner reading to the little ones. Melts my heart. (If only it could melt the snow.)

Anyways, today I had visions (like a mirage in the desert) of warm summer nights, campfires in the backyard, and yes...'smores. So I came up with a fun recipe I'll call "Indoor 'Smores." They were incredibly simple, and a HUGE hit. They left everyone asking for 'smore! Sure...why not? It is Fat Tuesday, right?!

Indoor Smores
1 bag large marshmallows
1 bag choco chips (melted)
1 sleeve graham crackers (crushed)
wooden skewers (for the 'toasting stick')

place marshmallow on stick, dip into melted chocolate, let excess chocolate drip off, then roll in graham cracker crumbs. Let sit on foil line cookie sheet to allow chocolate to harden. (I put them in the fridge for about 1/2 hr.)


Monday, February 15, 2010

Over the river, and through the woods... Grammie's house we went!
Always up for an adventure (and change of scenery) the kids and I packed up our sleeping bags and pj's and headed a few blocks across town to Grandma's house this past weekend for an overnight campout. Woooohoooo!
It doesn't take much to impress this bunch let me tell swimming pool, no room service, not even a phone by the bed that rings with a sweet wake up call. Nope. Just a pile of sleeping bags, spread out wherever someone could find a bit of couch or floor space, a good movie, homemade chex mix and Twizzlers. Thank you grandma for getting us (me) out of the same four walls, and out of our snow-days rut. We love you!

The men (my dad, my dear husband, and my younger brother) had an adventure of their own as they headed down south to help my older brother move. He and his family are moving north (closer to home) from Jacksonville to Knoxville, where the guys met them to help unload the moving truck.

snow prayers.

Okay, so I do still LOVE the snow. I get all giddy and anxious as it falls...and could just park myself over the back of the couch and stare out our front picture window with the rest of the little ones to watch it fall in wonder and amazement. I LOVE IT!
That being said, I'm ready for it to ease up (just a bit) so that our dear little ones may return to school. They've been home since what? last Monday? I can't even count back anymore. The first several days were filled with fun, adventure, silly games and snow play. Now though, things just seem a bit louder, with more disagreeing over stolen toys and siblings "annoying" each other, more running in circles, and did I mention things seem LOUDER?! Yep, as much as I love these kiddos and their snow days at home, it seems as though everyone is ready to move beyond the holding pattern and back into some sense of structure and routine.

My craft supplies are diminishing, as are the snacks in my cupboard, and the patience God has graced me with. The girls are begging to move bedroom furniture tomorrow (and the only advantage in that is that I'll get to vaccuum in places that don't see daylight often.) Please Lord, let there be school.

Just got the call we're in for another 2 hour delay tomorrow. (sigh) Pray with me.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Mary & John

February 11th
My second twins are 6 today. Oh my. Where does the time go?!
Happy Birthday little ones.
I had so many wonderful memories flooding back today, from the surprising news at my 20 week ultrasound to learn it would be twins again, to silly memories of the day you came into the world. My doctor (whom I swear didn't want to be late for his lunch engagement) insisted that wearing a hernia girdle would force you out sooner. As if 2 hours of labor was "lengthy." The nurse and I played along. I'm certain it didn't help, but he made his lunch date, and I had a lovely lunch in bed while you two were evaluated in the nursery.
Many prayersfor the intercession of the Blessed Mother were answered for your good health and safe arrival.
How wonderful that you would arrive on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
God is good!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes, feast February 11

Divine Jesus,
You sent the Blessed Mother to Saint Bernadette to show the world that God is real.
Just like Mary asked the girl to dig for a spring of healing water to appear, show me how to be cleansed of my sinful tendencies.
Give me our dear Mother when I need her tender love and holy inspiration.
As I go through difficulties, cover me with her prayers.
When I have important decisions to make, ask her to intercede for me until I understand and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
When it’s time for me to die, send her to carry me peacefully into the arms of our Heavenly Father.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for me.
(image and prayer from

Recipe Box

A taste of the season:

Snow Ice Cream
1 large bowl of clean white snow (you know my wise father always said...don't eat yellow snow!)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1-2 tbsp vanilla
a little milk to help stir (though not necessary)

Stir all ingredients together and enjoy

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wacky Wednesday

Most of my kids were THRILLED to have school cancelled yet another day. Not my middle-schoolers though. They let me know more than once how disappointed they were to be missing school during spirit week. Yesterday was to be "Wacky Day" and today "Christmas." Who wouldn't be disappointed to dress like a clown at school?! (Well, looking back at my middleschool years, I pretty much had that look mastered, but that's another story.)
Anyhow, in an attempt to ease tensions, I agreed to a Wacky Wednesday here at home. Boy was it ever. It started in the planning stages last night when Alice and Emma helped 7 of their younger siblings to choose the weirdest stuff they could dig out of their closets. (Sam wanted nothing to do with this. He's way too cool.) They laid out their wackiest attire and waited for morning to come. The six oldest did end up camping in the basement last night, while the 4 younger ones slept in sleeping bags in beds (though not their own beds, just to mix things up a bit.) This morning, everyone dressed quickly in their wacky-wear, and were pleasantly surprised to find pizza in the oven...for breakfast! Mid morning, we made homemade snow ice cream (a recipe I'll share later.) It was simple and delicious, and really fun to make! We had breakfast for lunch of course, and found time to cut out paper snowflakes.

The younger kids help me mix up monster cookies, which took most of the afternoon to finish baking. Of course there was more time playing out in the snow, and the oldest two de-wacked to go play at a friends house for the afternoon. It was a fun day, though nothing terribly crazy, quiet and simple...good.
We're already on for a two-hour delay tomorrow, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they cancel again. We may have a few more disappointed ones to learn that Valentine's parties are cancelled, and Mary and John won't get to bring in birthday treats to share with their class. They're turning 6 tomorrow! Guess that means I need to get back in the kitchen and start on a cake...they want a "jungle" themed cake. Ummm. I'll have to think on that one.
Blessed (wacky) night all!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More snow fun...

Hot chocolate, please!

She's cute as a button, but I think her face is actually frozen in that smile...if you listen closely, she's like the tin man mumbling "Hot chocolate, please..."
This is the boy that's gonna break my heart...

The same one who hollared through the house to me today "I love you mom!" and not knowing for certain where he was, I hollared back "I love you more Charlie!" I found him in the bathroom...and we smiled at each other as he said "I love you a cross like Jesus." I had to ask him to repeat, cause I wasn't sure what he'd said at first...what kid (let alone a 4 year old) says stuff like that?!

I'm not sure how he came up with those words, but the fact that he associated the image of Jesus on the cross with real love was just ...well, I don't know...heart melting, encouraging, tear-inducing, inspiring. I mean wow! I love this kid. Thank you Jesus for him, and each and every one of them!! God is good!

Rule One: Attain the proper safety equipment.

Safety first, no matter the size of the job.
Emma was showing Charlie how to clean the toilet bowls today...and he was a stickler about splatter. Kudos to Charlie for wearing proper (albeit excessive) eye protection. Nevermind, he's still in his pj's.

snow days

School was cancelled for the day, as more snow moved in...expecting 6-10 inches total by tomorrow morning. It came as no surprise when my sister-in-law (who works for the school) stopped by to say it's already been cancelled for tomorrow as well.

We've kept fairly busy so far today playing outside in the snow of course, sipping hot cocoa, painting with watercolors, and even building race tracks...oh and of course boys with their powertools and girls with babydolls. I expect playdough will come out yet this evening, and by tomorrow we'll have hopefully built a Little People-Lego village that will later fall under attack of plastic army men and cowboys & Indians. The kids are asking about a "party" tonight...or at least a campout with sleeping bags in the basement...we'll see.

Never a dull moment, that's for sure. Just makes me grateful for family, warm food, shelter, power...all that good stuff. It's good snuggle weather, the three youngest are napping, and I think I have a little guy on a warm couch calling my name. Might just have to put my feet up, at least for a few minutes.

Warm blessings to you all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dad's little helper

Frank was tickled to announce that he was helping Dad with the "snow-mowing!" Unfortunately here, he got his mower hung up in a snow bank, and had to call 'er quits for the day.

ready, set, snow!

It's a bit of a dance really, like a finely coreographed stage number perhaps, or maybe more like a mosh pit, trying to get everyone dressed and ready to play in the snow. Even Lucy wants to follow the older 9 outdoors for a a little snow fun. Of course it never fails by the time the last one is out the door, the first ones are nearly ready to come back in, begging for some hot chocolate, or at the very least, dry mittens. Uggh. Not a moment's rest...

Lucy's hat and snow pants...(check)

mittens (check)

Coat zipped (check)

Boots readjusted (check)

Wooohooooo! It's snow time!!

snow ponderings

When it comes to snow accumulation, Dad always told us to "watch the size of the flakes to know if they'll amount to much." His theory, which has been pretty accurate so far, is that the smaller, finer flakes tend to accumulate the most, while the big pretty snowflakes tend to taper off a bit more quickly.
It certainly held true this past weekend as we watched the fine white snow blow for hours, leaving behind about 8 inches on the ground...not to mention the incredible drifts.

The thought occured to me sometime through the storm, that perhaps the same theory might be applied to us. When we humble ourselves; lessen ourselves by acknowleding our sinfulness and shortcomings, then too our impact on the world or our ability to accomplish the work He has set before us is greater. Certainly when we become "smaller," His graces flow allowing us to better serve and do His will. On the contrary, if we allow our egos to get the best of us, (who doesn't want to be one of those pretty flakes now and then?!) or begin to believe that what we have or have become is of our own doing, we are destined to fall disappointingly short.
Sunday's readings seemed to help make more sense of this...Isaiah, St Paul, and even Simon Peter expressed their unworthiness. And yet despite their former shortcomings, each went on to become pillars of our faith...doing the work they were called to do, and reminding us all that we too are called to be disciples of Chirst.

St. Paul, help us to say with you, "No longer I, but Christ who lives within me."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Radio Program, Infertility links

As promised on the program the other day... here are various links that were mentioned relating to infertility, NFP, Napro technology, etc.

It seemed to be a great discussion we had. I appreciate those calling in with such wonderful information to share!


and details of the upcoming day of prayer, support and information on fertility treatments and adoption:

Saturday February 27th, 2010 9am-2:30pm
at the Transfiguration Center for Spritual Renewal (Ludlow Falls, OH)
Sponsored by Family Life Office, Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Cost: $10. per person, includes lunch
Presenters include: Dr. Jason Mattingly (certified in Napro Technology, and expert in Creighton Model Fertility Care System), Sylvia Carson, RN (Certified Fertilty Care Practitioner), Deacon John Corson, Beverly Badgett (adoption, pregnancy counselor) Dale Richardson (foster care & adoption), Julie Irwin-Zimmerman (author: A Spiritual Companion to Infertility)
Contact: Jean Borgert at the Family Life Office 937-492-4449


Last week or so, I mentioned that our boys have been playing "army dudes" on a Nintendo (64?) game system that someone had passed down to us. It wasn't real graphic violence (rated E for everyone). It was a cartoon-style game of little plastic army men (like the kind you buy in a bag in the the dollar section.) that travel through various rooms of the house shooting at things, and looking for more ammo. It seemed like relatively clean harmless fun, right? I mean, the boys have bags of these toys they set up on their desk and can imagine battling each other for hours on end, so why should the video be much worse.
Well, when 4 year old Charlie yelled out that he "wished he had a real gun" so he could "kill dad" for not giving him a cookie, or when he woke up twice in one night with bad dreams about army men, something seemed very wrong. He screamed and cursed me when I unplugged the game and tossed it back into a box in the laundry room. He's four. And I've never seen behaviour or heard words quite as horrifying as the ones that have come out of his mouth of late.
Television is pretty tightly moderated here, so I feel confident it was the game working through him. It's disgusting really. And to think that in other homes kids are exposed to endless hours of this, often times with much worse violence and graphics. It was a wake-up call for me, and I think a perfect time to de-program and rethink how we want to spend our "free time."
I'm starting small...with "dark nights" on Wednesdays. It's our one evening that we currently have no sports, book clubs, Conquest, or any lessons/practices to leave the house for. Tonight we turned off the tv and spent the hours reading out loud, playing "go fish," and even made time for a single decade of the rosary together. It was wonderful...and nobody complained one bit.
Sam (my 3rd grader, who has yet to acquire a real like, let alone love of reading) asked if we could read again tomorrow night. YES! This is shaping into a great launching point for lent, when we may just have to unplug completely.
Thank you God for opening my eyes to realize the affects of some of the garbage we call "entertainment" before these little hearts and minds were altered forever.

(oh, and on a side update: Frank is still hating on everything...those shananigans started before the games. But he does it with a little smirk now, which gives me hope that he'll get bored with trying to push that button soon.)