Friday, December 23, 2011

and the day rolls on.

We had peanut butter and jelly on BUNS for lunch. Because we're crazy like that...and it's Christmas Adam. Alongside Ramen noodles and apple wedges, we're pretty sure this is what the modern day Wisemen would have come bearing. Because it's just that good.

Oh, and we're (okay...only me...the kids cleared the room as soon as I started singing) jammin' out to this... one of my faves. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Adam.

(because, Adam comes right before Eve.)

So, we're all giddy, and excited...just two days till Christmas. We're all a little stir-crazy, thinking we should be doing something. Should we clean? Or do something special? Or what?! It's also "vacation" which means we really don't want to do anything "not fun."
So.
Here we are on Christmas Adam (our little name for the day before Christmas Eve), wondering what we should do. It's just 10am, and we've already colored up all the pictures we can possibly bare, and the boys have made a gazillion paper airplanes...which somehow, I LOVE/HATE all at the same time. I'm a little obsessive compulsive when it comes to paperscraps. They make me itch. But anyways. It's Christmas vacation, and I'm just pouring more cofffee, and enjoying the fact that everyone's getting along.
And I'm also scheming a little hour away for last minute "must haves" before all the parties forthcoming.
In general, this day feels much like the day before any scheduled birth. I know there are things that need done. And I'll do them. But I'm also aware that this day ahead means much more than just a day....and so I want to just sip coffee, and enjoy the moment. Relax. Things are about to change. Christ (this new baby) is coming, and it's gonna rock our world. And somehow, we hope, that we'll be changed in the process. That just like with our own new babies, we'll embrace this new Christ child, remember how easy it is to love an infant, and to want to do everything for it. Placing that child's needs before our own. Learning to say "yes" again with love. Because that's all this new baby needs, is for us to respond with a loving yes. That's it. LOVE. Yes.
What a great reminder it seems, as we celebrate each Christmas, that Christ our Saviour came into this world as a newborn. And how simple it is to love an infant. Somehow when I think of him grown-up, it becomes more difficult in my head to connect. But babies...well we all know how a baby can light up a whole room. A baby changes us. We accept, embrace, simply LOVE babies.
So today, I'm excited, and full of hope. And anxious to meet this new baby Jesus again. And while I'm certain to be busy, especially after dark when the duties of Christmas gifts and wrapping take over, today I'm going to soak it in.
This day of waiting...Christmas Adam.
I can feel my heart growing bigger already...always room for more LOVE.
Love this season of hope, this season where LOVE WINS.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

just remembering

Sent my kiddos off to mass before school this morning. I remembered after they left that mass is being offered today for a very special lady that graced our lives , if only too briefly. Can't believe it's been 5 years since she passed so quickly, and tragically. Irene was a beautiful woman who brought joy and laughter into our family, and reminded us how to give of ourselves with great love. Alice has been asking for Zucchini Bread lately, I think I'll make it today. It's not Irene's special recipe, but whenever we make it we all think of her, and how generous she was with sharing her garden goodies. Her zucchini bread was the bomb...and her pumpkin cookies.

I wanted to add a nice picture of her...I have several. I couldn't find a single picture of her looking at the camera though. The sparkle and smile in the eyes of those around her in all them made it clear how special she was!

Missing you Irene. Pray for us from your certain special seat in Heaven.

(note: the other namesake of our Little "Lucy Irene.")

Monday, December 19, 2011

happy advent-ures.

Whew. What a weekend. We are soaking in the spirit of Christmas, big time.
Since St. Lucy we've been busy little beavers. Thursday brought a day of shopping, just my mom and me. Wonderful day of hustle-and-bustle through the malls...all for the sake of Santa. Friday a handful of us went Christmas caroling with Fr. Rick and a few other families. I had forgotten how much fun it was, and how much joy it seems to bring to the homes we visited. The true spirit of Christmas. Loved it! Saturday brought our first Christmas party of the season...my mom's family in St. Henry. Santa was there and brought gifts for all the kiddies...we ate like kings, and just truly enjoyed catching up. Love family. Anne was in rare form, just giddy and laughing as she ran among the big boys tossing a Nerf football across the hall. Her guardian angel was working overtime, with more than a few near-misses. There were aunts and uncles who wanted the football throwing to stop...but seriously...we've been doing that for all 38 years I've been attending! Wouldn't be Christmas without some small child getting tackled by a teenager going long.
Sunday was mass, and a nice quiet day at home, followed by the Christmas concert at church that evening with all 5 choirs performing. It was beautiful. BEAUTIFUL! Emma takes piano lessons from our choir director and was one of the students performing piano solo's prior to the start of the concert. She played the 12 Days of Christmas. I was beaming...so proud of her. And then she and Alice and Grace all sang later with the Children's choir. This was Grace's first year...she was "all that." The evening ended with the mixed choir singing "Oh holy night." Yes. It was. Holy. Inspiring. Beautiful. What a wonderful ministry the choirs and music department of our parish provides. Absolutely inspiring!
Tonight was bible study at my friend Stacie's. We read ahead to Luke's account of that Holy Night, and the angels, and the shepherd. And Mary "pondered all these things in her heart." We were right there with her for the moment, imagining and wondering and pondering it too. WHat a gift, indeed.
My Christmas shopping is nearly done...just the few last-minute things that seem never to be done. I did some baking today, just because I could, and the girls at home asked. It was nice. And not at all stressful. And I'm looking forward to this final week leading up to the Birthday party. Don't want to get lost in the cake and balloons and party streamers. I want to see His holy light when we all gather in to celebrate.
Feelin' like this past weekend has really set the pace, put our hearts in the right place to really recognize the gift of Him. We are so blessed, and grateful.
Hope you all are enjoying these last days of Advent. I'm looking forward again to those "quiet" days of Christmas with the kids home, and game-playing, and enjoying. Now if the rain would stop and give us another little dusting of snow...just a dusting.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

St. Lucy, pray for us.

Yesterday (December 13th) we celebrated the Feast of St. Lucia (Lucy). We learned about her when I was expecting our 10th child, due this time of year. We did what we always do when we're considering baby names...consulted the the Catholic Calendar. There it was...Dec. 13th...Feast of St. Lucy. Loved the name instantly. We researched her a little more, and prayed to her...asking for her intercession for a healthy baby, and on December 18th little Lucy Irene came into our lives. Healthy, happy baby girl. And like her name sake, she instantly inspired us to let our Christ lights shine. ("Lucy" means light.) We hosted a bowling party/canned food drive with all of our playgroup family/friends in January after she was born for our local food pantry. She can't help but bring out the best in us. (Although she's three now, and tantrums happen...but still that little light is shining...and I'm optimistic about what FOUR will bring.)

Anyhow.

To celebrate St. Lucy's day, we baked (sort-of) traditional ring of bread. I didn't make the braided bread that I have in the past, but more of a quick-rise dough in a bundt pan, then smothered it with an orange glaze/icing, and craisins for color. There were candles, representing that light I mentioned. And we prayed before dinner...

Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation -- every corner of our day. Amen


I had intended to take a picture of our lovely bread, warm and ooey gooey, right out of the oven with candles glowing...but well...we ate it just that quick! Here's a picture of our Little Lucy "helping" to make the frosting...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas unscripted.

I like my Christmas traditions.
Well, most of them...or at least the idea of most of them.

Seriously? What do I like most about Christmas traditions? We have plenty of them...but what are my favorite? Hmmmmmmm....

Cool thing about being in this new home...all the rules can change. I'm feeling liberated this year by the fact that some of the things on our every-year-Christmas-to-do-list...have gone and went. No pressure. Oh, don't get me wrong...there's still decorating, and shopping, and party-planning. But some of things that I thought I enjoyed, were in fact some of the very things that were weighing me down...in particular, the baking. Lord knows I LOVE to bake and candy-make. But seriously...it was getting out of control.
No baking this year. None. Unless the kids have asked to make something in particular...and then we make it...and eat it. No saving for Christmas! We enjoy the fruits. Done.

I can't tell you what a difference this has made in my spirits...for the time it allows me to do other more fun (less stressful) things, not to mention the breather our grocery bill gets. I was buying a LOT of chocolate and specialty stuff in years past.

Sunday we spent the day trying something new...or at least something new for this time of year. A day of outdoor fun, complete with marshmallow toasting, and hot cocoa, and our favorite christmas music. We played "Pickle" and "Tag" and just enjoyed the day...thoroughly enjoyed it.

Completely "not in the plans," unscripted, good Christmas memories. Will it become tradition? Who knows. It was fun...and we all laughed out loud...especially little Anne who spent her first time "running" through the grass with big brothers and sisters, and yes...even Mom was running. We giggled till we all fell down.

God is good.

Peace and joy to you all this Advent and Christmas season.







Saturday, December 10, 2011

welcome...

Great news! Today, I found my camera. Yes, there are still a few things misplaced, but I continue to chip away at boxes, and somedays are like Christmas opening up packages to find things I've been anxiously awaiting. This morning, it was my camera. Yipppeeee!


Hope you don't mind that I went a little overboard snapping away some pics to share of our new home. I should start by saying that every day here feels like we're living a dream. God was so generous in bringing this particular home into our lives. It's nearly 80 years old(ish), and yet feels as though it was made exactly for us. God is so good. I am still overwhelmed with a grateful heart...it's better than my wildest dreams.





So quaint, no?! Just love the curb appeal.

A view from the kitchen into the front sitting room...yes, sitting. I'm also in love with the glass door, even though I gasp every time little Anne slams it shut so she can press her little nose on it better.

Okay, not a necessary picture... but these are the chairs that had John very nervous when I ordered them. He's still not sold...but I LOVE them. My splash of color in an all "beige" room.

Off the back of the house is our family room with a ladder to the kids play loft. Very cool. (Wish I was a kid again.)


This is one of the things that I LOVE about our home...it's history...all the kids/grandkids that passed through these rooms before us...measured over time on the basement door. We added our list over there on the left.

Here's our coat closet...actually an old hallway that leads to the current apartment. Look at all those reminders of the blessings God gives...and his Providence. He does take care.



And the kitchen...with this huge picture window. I can see the window to the family room from here.

Here's the adorable window over my kitchen sink. Seriously...I'm in love. It makes little rainbows all over the kitchen in the morning sun. Reminds me He's smiling down on us. Oh, and see our Blessed Mother over there on the corner of the patio...all lit up at night as I do my evening kitchen clean-up. (sigh.)

Kitchen island...with kids busy benda-roo-ing. (In hindsight, I should have "staged" a prettier picture...but truly, this is our life...busy, beautiful. Who want's an empty "pretty" kitchen?!) This room is the heart of our home. Beyond the island is my laundry area. Hidden behind that wall...but constantly in use. So convenient. This might make some cringe to have laundry in the kitchen...but I LOVE it.

Standing at my kitchen sink, looking back towards the other half of the kitchen...room for another set of crafters at the table. Seriously?! Who am I to deserve this kitchen?! (yes, I am HIS...and He is so good.)
*Note...that wall beyond the kitchen table will (by spring) be busted out to make way to the apartment space that will become our great room. Only sad that I'll have to find a new place for "The Last Supper." I'll get over it though, and will surely find just the right spot.





Here I stand in the laundry area peaking around the other side of the island...see my new washer there in the corner. THANK YOU!


This little spot is above the computer armoire in the laundry area. Those are my grandmother's dishes she played with as a little girl. Love that I have the perfect place to display them.

And of course...the view I have while standing at my washing machine. Truly...this house was made for us, and our favorite things.

I still get all "verklempt" considering God's goodness. (verklempt! Remember Linda Richman skit on SNL?! Ha!)







"I will bless the Lord at all times, praise shall always be on my lips. My soul shall glory in the Lord, for he has been so good to me." - some nice church song, I can't think of now.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Frankly speaking.

Smack dab in the middle of mass last evening (for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception,) an argument took place. While singing, even!

All 13 of us crammed into our usual pew...right up front where the only distraction is, well, Anne. That's another story entirely. Frank was on my lap, and as usual during songs, I use his finger as my pointer for the words.

We sang "...and Holy is your name."
And Frank would get all huffy each time..."NO IT ISN'T, MOM!"
And I'd smile.
And we'd sing it again "and Holy is your name" ..."NO MOM, IT'S NOT!" (whispers getting a little louder each time around.)
And I'd smile.
Finally, he couldn't stand it..."STOP IT MOM. MY NAME IS FRANK!"
Yes. It is. (still smiling, relieved the song was over so we could stop the loud whispering.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our deepest fear.

I shared this quote (stolen from another blog) with a women's group in Russia recently. Lovely women. Very open and friendly and kind. (thank you for inviting me!) God (as He so brilliantly always does) placed it right under my nose just in time. It truly sums up what I believe to be true, and just don't have the words to say it so eloquently...

I believe credit goes to author Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."


Just brilliant, and empowering. Had to share. As if you all didn't have enough reason to let your light shine! Fear not, children of God...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Frank's word for the day.

Keeping in mind that he's only five...you can imagine how floored I was when out of nowhere he hit me with this one:

(seriously, completely out of the blue...I was probably cleaning up lunch or something trivial at the time.)

Frank: "Mom, do you know what compassion is?"
Me: (thinking about my grocery list or what to make for dinner, or some other distracting thing) Umm...know what what is?!
Frank: Comp-ash-ion...enunciating for his idiot mom who's clearly not listening.
Me: no...what.
Frank: Compassion is when someone has a sad face, and you go up to them to see what's the matter, and play with them if they're sad. That's compassion.
Me: (tearing up, and melting like butter...cause he's five, and he's my boy...all sweet and toothless, and talking about compassion.) uh.huh. That's right.

Hugging ensued...and he got all grossed out and ran away. But it was too late. My heart already melted.

He's gooooood.

Oh my...it's been such a long time.

For the first time since we moved, I sat down this evening with my little ones for a bedtime movie. It felt good...it felt like home. It's also the first night I've sat with a computer on my lap...feet up. Now that feels good too. Good to know the wireless connection reaches into the Sitting Room. (Did I mention we now have such a space?! With furniture even, so that I might do more than fall onto the carpet exhausted at the end of the day.) Yes. Sitting room. No tv. Just furniture is nice. Sitting with feet up on said furniture is even nicer.

We are finally settling in. Beginning to do normal family things that I didn't even realize how much I'd been missing...like snuggling with little ones on my lap for a movie. Sitting with them at the end of the day. Nice.

Finally boxes are diappearing ('cept in the garage), misplaced items are being placed again, light switches are not a mystery any longer (mostly.) Life as we love it has resumed.

Oh, there is still such a huge "to do" list...with many more boxes and bins of things I won't need till after the holidays needing sorted..."later". And the renovation of the attached apartment is underway. Our dreams of a great family room are becoming more real all the time. But with most of the work being done by family members, this means many crazy evenings and weekends ahead. Crazy is a word we're getting used to though. It's how we roll.

I apologize for my absence here on the blog. My silence is certainly not an indicator that I've had nothing to write about...only that it's taken me longer than I thought to settle in. Rather than writing, I've been praying. Praying for direction, and many "thank you GOd!" prayers, praying for our family, and for some folks who need prayers...and for some whom have touched my life in ways that can only be compensated with prayer. God is so good, and I have much to be grateful for.

Thank you all for your patience.

Look forward to more opportunities to sit in this here Sitting Room.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

just an echo...yoo-hoo

Mom says the echo in this kitchen makes her "nuts." I happen to LOVE the fact that our kitchen's spacious enough to bounce a little sound...that's a good thing in my book.

Anne's walking everywhere now...mostly circles around the island in our kitchen, checking for items in all the bottom cupboards within her reach. I think she loves having the space and freedom to wander without getting plowed over. I love it too. She loves grabbing the plastic juice pitcher and toting it around with her...the little "hostess with the mostest."

The boys are enjoying the apartment space next door to us. It's attached by a doorway off the kitchen, and hopefully by spring (once demo'd) will become a great family room for our extra large family. For now, they launch all-out NERF wars against each other in the empty 2 bedroom/kitchen/family room space. I imagine if I were a shirtless, sweaty, NERF gun toting, 8 year old boy...this would be my heaven on earth too. I like that when the door's closed I can't hear their mission-control chatter and dart-blasting shananigans. Oh, and no more head shots across the kitchen to mom...that's priceless.

The older girls use that same space (when the boys aren't there of course) for quiet reading. Yes. Love my girls and all their "quiet reading." sigh. Balance is a good thing.

Closet space is amazing here. Something almost unheard of in a home this old...but well planned out and amazing. So the little girls love their bedroom closet space devoted soley to girly toys...like their mini-kitchen, and baby dolls, and dress up. Truly magical. I want to be a princess too some day.

I happen to love space, and sunlight, and room around the dinner table, and even more importantly, the kind of things you can't see when you first walk in...
like quieter breakfasts as everyone moves around the kitchen effortlessly. Or more relaxed evening meals. Living with less tv time, cause there are more things to do, and more space to do it in. The kids found the old phone left from the previous owners, and spent the first few days here playing "hotel" and "hospital" and any number of pretend games that required workers, and phone orders, and heaven forbid imagination.

Certainly, I thank God at the end of each day for the gift of this house, for the means to provide for it, and for the opportunity it offers our family...to grow, to share, to love. And to understand and appreciate all the goodness that comes only from Him.
It is perfectly imperfect...an old home full of love, and hope, and promise...not to mention a little dust, some scuff marks on the walls (doesn't take long for those to appear), and an echo... (yoo-hoo).

back online...

Oh, what a week or two it's been...

We are officially "home."

And loving every bit of it...even the crazy stuff. Cause it's the crazy stuff that we'll laugh about and remember best someday anyway. It might take me a few days to share all the crazy stuff...but I intend to. From the packing, to the hauling, the walking away from our home of 6 years worth of beautiful memories. That was harder than I had imagined. Crazy doesn't stop when the pick-up truck loads do...toss in some parent teacher conferences, and a basement full of water, and what?! I still need to cook dinner?!
Not shaken though...I am blessed. GOd is so good.

Thank you all for your patience and prayers as we struggled through this crazy amazing blessed life journey. It feels really good to be home.

(Oh, and I haven't forgotten! The Perfectly Imperfect retreat was just that. I will share more on that as well. Very cool how God works to bring us together...some faces I'd not seen in years, many new friendships formed...awesome!)

Now, I need to get back to labeling and figuring out what all these light-switches go to?!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

first family dinner

On Thursday we closed and took posession of our new home. Woooohoooooo!! To say we are excited is an understatement. So excited in fact, that immediately after our meeting at the bank, we gathered up the kiddos and celebrated with our first of many firsts...first family dinner in the new house. McDonalds chicken nuggets never tasted so sweeeet.

Praising God for the blessings He's brought us. He is so good!


Crazy-busy weekend here....means moving will have to wait till next week...will keep you posted as I'm able.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

housecleaning 101

OMG! Ladies. There is a little vent thingy underneath your refrigerator door...you can see it if you open the door and look down. Okay...now get down on your knees and look a little closer...ewww!

So...we are officially homeless. Or, maybe non-homeowners is a better description. We signed papers tonight to sell our home...and are scheduled to close on the new home next week. That means for the next 7 days, we are transients...or renters...or whatever.

All crayons and marker and scissors and blue kool-aid are on lock-down. I will be policing closets and hallways to keep an eye out for wandering ink pens gone wild. We are living in someone else's home, and it's no longer okay to screw it up! Oh Lord. Work with me here.

Anyway, I thought tonight...since I had a little too much high-test coffee and chocolate after trick-or-treating with the kids, that I'd start cleaning places that don't see a lot of daylight. That's what led me to that little grate area at the bottom of the fridge. My heavens. That was enlightening. I also cleaned under and behind the stove and fridge. Wow. Let's just say, I'm going to put those areas on a little more "routine" schedule at the new place. I had no idea THAT much dust could accumulate in such a small area.

It feels good to have it checked off the list though, and am looking forward to a nervous/energetic/cleaning/boxing week or two ahead of us. How exciting! Not sure if it's residual caffeine or genuine giddiness...but I'm shaking as I type...wooohooooo!!

Thank you God for hangin' with me...getting me through...allowing this all to work out...we are truly blessed!

Have a great day everyone!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday baby girl!


Our little Anne is one already!
We celebrated with cake, of course. And gifts. All the kids love to dig through there treasures to give special gifts. Mary gave away her favorite bouncy ball...it's a big one, so there's no choking risk. And it says "princess." Anne is definitely the queen of the castle...and she knows it. How blessed I think our older kids are to grow up with little ones around. Everyone finds joy in babies. Truly....blessed.






Little John asked me for some aluminum foil before dinner tonight to create a masterpiece for the birthday girl...I gave him the end of the roll...and the cardboard tube as well and told him to "knock himself out" trying.


He knocked me out instead...with a a giant cardboard tube volcano on a tinfoil base...spewing with bendaroo "lava and flames." It was AWE-SOME! But it was the card attached that took my breath away...and melted me worse than the hot lava could have...


Translated, it reads: Our hearts (have) been erupted like a volcano for Anne's 1st Birthday.



Truly...blessed...and feelin' the love.


Happy First Birthday Anne Therese!

Friday, October 21, 2011

God Rocks, Bible Study, and a Weight-Lifting Challenge



Did ya'll notice?!
Here in our neck of the woods anyway, the sun is shining!

And God is sending out rainbows left and right. Because HE Rocks!

And people that hear his call, and allow themselves to be instruments in his plan...well, they rock too!

This might just be a long post...so I'll apologize now...but please don't let it stop you from reading. Go ahead, go potty...grab a cup of coffee...you'll want to be able to concentrate for this one. I'll wait...

Okay. So last night was my first ever bible study at good friend Stacie's house. She heard Him, and responded with a yes. Even though she probably spent the day cleaning, and showered for us, and made copies of our reflection for people like me who show up unprepared, and her wonderful hubs had to shush the kids and get them ready for bed while we took over her family room. She rocks!
There were only a handful of us, but as we reflected on this Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 22:34-40, The Great Commandment) I couldn't help but smile at the cool timing of it. We've been talking about it quite a bit in my second grade religion class, and I used it as the basis of a talk I shared in Ft. Loramie last month. Just cool how the Holy Spirit is clear in messages sometimes. And I wondered what I was missing that He keeps bringing it to my attention.
I haven't believed in coincidences in a long time.

Anyways, after the meeting Stacie and I chatted a bit about the house, and the upcoming move, and about decorating kind of stuff. (She's a genious at interior design and I love her ideas.) I vented a little about my dryer situation, and how I just needed to find a temporary fix...3 weeks or so till we get beyond the "closing." And then we can breathe about spending again. We have always lived on a pretty tight (maybe non-existent)budget(guess you can't budget what you don't have)...and the idea of one person sitting behind a desk looking at your bank account with a microscope (and finding little there) is terrifying. Even though we've worked it out on paper a million different ways, and know it will work out just fine...it's a scary thing to me. Nonetheless. I told her that I'd prayed and had given the dryer issue up to God. He was going to take care of it in his own good way...even if that meant he wasn't going to do a thing. Whatever. I crossed that worry off my list. But the practical side of me had to figure out a solution to drying clothes for at least the next 3 weeks.
The idea came to my head to contact a rent-a-center. So I called first thing today. They really do rent stuff?! No way. And cheap enough that it seemed just the perfect solution to buy us a few weeks. Till we could "breathe" again anyways...and then figure out how to purchase something. You know, after the microscope process.
Thank you God! See I knew he'd work it out for me. He just bought me 3 weeks! Wooohoooo!!!

Okay...so this is where God started laughing again...and said "Just hold your horses there missy, that's not all." Cause, I did mention God Rocks, right?! Right.

(I know I've talked about His providence before, and how even a hand-me-down pair of jeans in just the right size can be an answer to a prayer! I'm tellin you...He's creative and clever in the ways he makes our needs met!)

Anyway, I picked up the phone to celebrate with my mom that I'd come up with a temporary solution...and the doorbell is ringing. So I hang up, and answer (half-dressed-boogery nose baby Anne on my hip.) You ready for this? Someone heard God's little whisper...maybe someone who already gets the "Love your neighbor thing" WAY better than me...shows up and hands over a check for the cost of a new washer and dryer! One big fat check. And a smile. And a hug. And I tried to say no...because that's a kind of charity/generosity/love that I can't repay, and probably don't deserve. And yet. How do you say no, when in your heart you recognize this is God at work. This is God's hand. And I'd expect that if this person is able to share this kindness with me, nearly a stranger, she's probably generous in all areas of her life. She says yes to God. And she rocks too!
She can't possibly know what a tremendous weight that's she's lifted. No more worries about dryers and even less dread about the closing process. Even though I don't need to worry about that either. I just do.

And so I'm thinking all day today about how I can be God's hands. Who's weight can I lift? If I can't pay this back, how should I pay it forward. And I think...among other things, like prayer,-- my words here can help to be God's hand. And I'm thinking that maybe while I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to be doing for someone else...I can encourage you all to a "Weight-Lifting Challenge."
I ask you each to read...to listen...to reflect on this Sunday's gospel. And to pray. But don't stop there. Hear what it is that the Holy Spirit is asking of you, and find a way to lift someone's burden. Perhaps it's a smile, perhaps its a visit, a meal, help with some work that needs done, an offer to babysit, sharing some gently used clothing, or winter coats or whatever. Maybe it's something more...whatever is within your capabilies. God has a plan...and you and I are part of it. Help me to help someone else. To pay it forward. To be the Living Body of Christ present here on earth.

Thank you, and God bless you,and Praise God!


1 Corinthians 12:27
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it

Thursday, October 20, 2011

turning over a new leaf.



I prayed in the shower this morning...that God would give me the strength to get through these next couple weeks. Then I backtracked. I don't really need the strength. I'm pretty tough. What I asked instead was that he'd help me keep perspective. To help me remain (or more honestly) become joyful about all the nutty stuff I'm juggling for now. I want my family to know how much I LOVE my job. And how excited I am that John and I are able to provide this new, bigger home for them. We are so grateful. I want them to know how giddy I feel about it...and reflect that joy on the outside as we go about the practical chores/tasks to make it all happen. Really...perspective and joy. Too much to ask?

God is so cool.

It's just like him to give me feedback. To let me know he's listening, and to show me in the simplest of ways, that perspective is what we really need. And that we have so much to be joyful about!

(I'll mention here that our clothes dryer situation has gotten worse...the replacement part came in and unfortunately won't be a simple fix. It's JUNK. Waiting to here back from God where we're gonna squeeze that into the budget...but I've handed it over, and I'm not worrying. Seriously. Oh, and we're passing a little fever/stomach bug around the house now. Cause...you know, when it rains...yep...it's POURING!)

Anyhow.

Perspective.
And joy.

As Rose and I were carrying in trash cans from the curb today, God smiled down on us. It was cold and rainy, and we were hurrying...to greet Annie at the back door waiting for us. But just as she started in ahead of me, I noticed the coolest little thing. The mess of soggy leaves covering ev.ery.thing outside...patio, table, chairs, potting bench...ev.ery.thing. They had the coolest little collection of rain beads on them. The coolest. Tiny little beads...perfect round spheres...of water drops in all sizes covering the leaves. Rose and I stopped a couple minutes to pick, and poke and flick. We were mesmerized by the little drops. Reminded me of the drops of mercury we used to play with as kids when the thermometer broke (before we knew we could all die from it or grow a third arm, or something?!)

Yes. God is pretty awesome. Taking the time to let little ol' me know that if we're paying attention, change our perspective, stop dwelling on the chaos for one minute...He's always there. In the details.
God is in the details.
Little miracles waiting for us to notice. And I swear I could hear him laugh out loud today. He has a great laugh~reinforces that whole "The joy of the Lord is my strength" notion. Hearing him laugh makes me want to work that much harder to please him.

It made me think too, that each time someone asks me how I "handle" having 11 kids. I may have a new response...that God is in the details...each and every little miracle.

Feeling incredibly blessed and grateful for all my chaos today...knowing His hand is guiding me through it all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"...And the view I love the most,
Is my front porch looking in." ~Lonestar


So to get beyond the stinky weather...I'll tell you about what's been going on inside.

Our youngest pumpkin is trying to walk. Anne's been cruising around furniture for awhile now. Suddenly that's not enough, as she attempts to brave walking on her own. She's taken 2 or 3 steps unassisted a handful of times now. I love holding her little hand in mine and walking laps around the kitchen. Sometimes she's so full of herself, head high--nose in the air, she can't help but fall down giggling. Too cute. And growing too fast. Can't believe she's turning one next week already!

And our oldest...well, I failed to mention that she broke her thumb last week when she toppled out of the swing in our backyard. Without any fanfare. No witnesses, barely any sympathy. Poor thing. We brushed it off for a couple days as "just badly bruised/sprained" but took her in for an x-ray, and found it to be broken. Fortunately she didn't need it "set" or require any surgery. I took her to Dayton for a cast, and will recheck after 3 weeks. She inspires me with the way she gets along so well. She's still managing to practice guitar and flute (despite her casted "hitch-hiker" thumb and forearm.) She hasn't stopped helping brush and style little sisters' hair. Her quiet perserverance and strength is humbling. And so not me. She must get that from her dad's side...a lot like her grandma I think...she get's her "grace" from me.

Frank started packing up his things the other day in preparation for the move. He asked for one box. I checked in later after he was done working. There I found only four items...his green stuffed lizard, stuffed Mickey Mouse, baseball cap, and a snuggly blanket. The most treasured items for this little 5 year old. Makes me want to squeeze him some more.
The girls in this house didn't pack quite so lightly. (I'll have to sort through their boxes later.)

For now, I'm being paged back to the kitchen table, where the kids at home are crafting their way through another rainy fall day. Papers, stencils, scissors, crayons, glue sticks. Life is good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

without looking out my window...

I can assure you, it's really "pouring" here. It started to trickle about a month ago, when we signed a contract to sell our house. A nice sweet mist of a rain that filled us with excitement...oh, we all grabbed our umbrellas and golashes and danced! Singing in the rain, for sure!
And then the boxes were being dropped off, and deadlines were being set, and home inspections, and home repairs, and the fear that our kids are going to "break" someone else's home as we continue to live in it. Had to take our boots off, and park the umbrellas in the tub to dry...playtime was over. Now we watch from the window...as it continues to rain.
Oh, and the dryer broke...6 months after warranty. (crack of thunder/shot of lightening.) We're making due for a few weeks until the part comes in...still raining...the ducks are loving this!
And there are estimates to obtain...from insurance, to work at the new place...many phone calls and meetings...getting tired of dashing in and out of the rain.
Appraisals, and title searches, and "amounts your expected to pay," and many other businessy things that go with the blessings of a new home. The storms are keeping me up at night. And needless to say, I'm finding it hard to stay "present" for much...including this blog.
On top of everything going on...a good friend invited me to her bible study. She knows better than anyone that I've got NO TIME for it what.so.ever. And that's exactly why, I think, that she invited me anyway. Because, in the middle of this crazy storm, she's reminding me to focus and be present for the One who is going to carry me through it all. Thank you good friend for reminding me of that. This is such a temporary stage in our lives. A beautifully wonderful blessing...to be able to purchase and make this new home "our" home. God is so good. And in all the pitching/sorting/boxing/donating/cleaning/organizing/hanging clothes on the line again/scheduling/money shifting/praying/exhaustion...I can be certain that God is leading me. If I listen, and let him.

"The joy of the Lord is my strength" ~Nehemiah 8:10

May my days, my actions, my reactions be pleasing to the Lord that he gives me the strength to get through this crazy storm.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Duck (Tape) for Dinner?!

John and Annie and I are usually the last to leave the dinner table. It's a few minutes of converation time we enjoy, as we continue to toss little Anne a crumb or two from someone's plate. Tonight was no different, except as we lingered a little longer than the rest, Lucy passed through and proceeded to stick a 6 inch strip of duck tape to the top of Annie's head. Just like that. No explanation...no fuss...just stuck duck tape on her head.
And then she tried to pull it off.
Except it was stuck to Anne's fluffy blonde locks...and it wouldn't budge.
Uh, oh.
Poor Lucy recognized immediately that she'd done something very wrong...and as John and I just stared like deer in headlights...Lucy began to slowly pucker, and tear up, and soon sobbed for what she'd just done.
Anne was oblivious as she continued to munch on potatoes and warm apples.
But Lucy was sorry....very sorry...
And I didn't know whether to laugh or cry for the sad little Lucy, wishing she could take it all back.
Too sweet...
and OMG! So honery! Who sticks duck tape in hair?!
Luckily it pulled off fairly easily with only minimal hair loss...and a few yelps from little Anne...who was bothered for only a moment...and then resumed munching.

Seriously? Duck tape?!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

retreat info.

I'm working on adding tabs at the top of the blog...added a new one "Hear here" where I've included information on the upcoming women's retreat at Maria Stein with a link beneath the picture for registration information on the Spiritual Center's website. (thanks for asking about it.) Go ahead...click around. I may try to add new tabs for all sorts of things now that I seem to have it figured out.

***oh, and just to be very clear...I'm so grateful for your excitement/anticipation of this event...but really I can take no credit for any of it...some really incredible women have been working/brainstorming this for years, and I'm humbled to have been asked to have some small part in it. Lets help bring their beautiful plans to fruition and STORM the place;) Go on now, check it out and register...

this little light of mine...

Okay, so for some reason, I find it embarrasing to tell people that I'm going to be speaking out in public. And yet...sharing stories about this crazy God-given life of mine is exactly what I feel called to do. But (I tell myself) what if I invite you, and you think it stinks, or I bomb? Fear of failing, or worse, fear of looking like an idiot, I think is a little trick the devil plays on us...keeps us from doing what we're told. He dangles the "idiot" card in front of me all the time, and sometimes it's worked. So...as I've said before (and haven't taken my own advice), it's time to move beyond the fear and take a leap of faith...and invite you all in, one step closer to the real me...the one who has to blow her nose in front of crowd of forty sometimes...(thanks for the stockpile of tissues ladies, I still have plenty!) and let you know where we can meet up and figure out, together, how to keep God at the heart of our day-to-day.

Last night I had the privelige of speaking with a group of 35-40 women (thankfully, most of whom carry kleenex) at New Bremen Coffee Co. & Books. It was a wonderful evening of DELICIOUS food & great company. I had the opportunity to share a bit about myself and what I do here (or attempt to do) on the blog, and also talked about the "juggling acts" we women try to perform to keep the household running smoothly. Thank you to everyone who made me feel so welcome, and warm & fuzzy. And thanks to Shelly (who runs an awesome little shop there) for organizing last nights "Evening of Inspiration." I left feeling truly inspired! (oh, and also felt a twinge of baby fever thanks to that snuggly little bundle of pink in the back...oh so tiny, precious miracle. Does that feeling ever go away? Oi vey)

Anyhow...after speaking with a women's group in Burketsville a couple years back, I was invited to be a speaker for a women's mini-retreat at Maria Stein Retreat Center. That plan is now coming to fruition. And I'm inviting each and every one of you to share with me in that event. It's a real leap of faith for me to ask this of you...I'm usually the one being asked, and then I hide quietly till I'm on...hoping that I don't look like an idiot. Well guess what? I might look like an idiot...but that's okay. The title of the evening's event suits me (and the fact that I might fail) quite well...Hope you can join me on November 4th for an evening exploring our calling to be the "Perfectly Imperfect Woman." (and stay thru the 5th to enjoy all that is being offered!)

Looks to be an amazing way to kick off the advent season...I know it's difficult to read. Just e-mail me or contact me via comments and I'll e-mail you a better copy if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

bright starts.

It's not even 10am yet.

6 kids breakfasted and off to Mass and school.
5 more...well...we've done much!

We've had several rounds of breakfast, showered, washed a load of sheets (which will be out on the line soon), set up a train in the basement, completed our first course on Warrior Ninja training--homeschool style (that's gonna hurt later,) rescued Annie from a near miss with a ping-pong ball (who the heck plays ping-pong around here?!) recovered pajamas stuck on the ceiling fan (no one knows how that happened), finished a pot of coffee (thanks to Grandma who stopped by after mass), talked with a phone solicitor and are now officially a Nielson family! Woooohoooooooo!
Who needs the lotto?! We've got it all baby!

...and it's not even 10am yet.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just another manic monday...

(Oh, woe. Wish it was Sunday. Oh, woe. Cause that's my funday. ~the Bangles, circa 1986)

Nope, It's monday.
As if I need to state that.
I guess, when I say "It's monday" you can all read into that...my kitchen cupboard is buried, there's not enough coffee in the world, laundry is backed up into next week, and we're all a little...tired. You can also read, it's hard getting dressed, I need a shower but I'm too lazy to take one, I feel like baking, but won't muster up the energy for it, probably because I also know that I'm missing at least one key ingredient to ANYTHING I'd want to make. It always feels like we're out of everything (interesting) to eat on Monday's too.

Oh, and it's Monday after the 'fest...so just multiply everything I just wrote to the Nth degree (times infinity.)

Except, the sun's shining. That makes it all a little better.

Oh, and there was a dude here from the bank, doing an appraisal. So that motivated me to get things spiffied up just a bit. That's good. Good to be motivated, and good to remember that we're moving soon...and when I think about the new house, I get a little giddy. It's very exciting!

And then I get to smiling about what a fun weekend we just had. It was COLD! But that didn't keep us from enjoying it all. There was family time...dancing and singing at the gazebo, and running our first "family" fun run. (All 13 of us participated in the 1 mile fun run Sunday. I pushed Annie in the stroller...and she beat me. Darnit!) And more dancing, and parade watching, and more singing. And we had some adult time too...dancing and singing, and chatting with friends we don't see often enough. Oh, and drinking a bit of draft beer from milk jugs...just crazy!

It was all quite enjoyable. Makes me feel very blessed, indeed. But...tired. And so we're not doing much today...but recovering. And by that I mean...letting the washer/dryer do all the work, while I save the folding for tomorrow. And enjoying the swingset outside, and the wagon, and building with blocks, and playing board games. And just letting it be Monday.

Ein Prosit! (Cheers!) to a quiet, blessed Monday all!

Friday, September 30, 2011

signing off for a weekend of this...





Have to thank Deb who posted this video clip on Facebook today. Too cute. The music has us all dancing a polka around the kitchen table in anticipation of the fest. Have a safe weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Frank's wise words

It's been awhile since I've added words of wisdom from the five year old Frankie.
Tonight he had a gem. As we sat around the table before bed, snarfing down Dad's birthday cake, one of the kids wondered out loud, "Hey, where are dad's presents?" (as if they just magically appear all by themselves.)
Frank chimed in without hesitation "My present is my heart."

Isn't it though.

Happy 43rd Birthday John, love of my life. What an abundance of gifts for you this birthday, and always...surrounded by those that love you the most.

bloggin on busy

I hope that the theme of "busy" doesn't consume every blog post to come...I'm sorry if it seems that way. It's just that my mind is wrapped around the upcoming move, making even my "normal" days seem well, busy.

Here's my example for yesterday, "tweet style."

8:00 kids off to school
10:30 mom teaches religion
11:30 Charlie off to kindergarden
12:30 Frank & Rose off to preschool
1:00 home inspection...the rest of us out on the streets for the afternoon.
3:00 pick up Frank, Rose & cousin Beth
3:15 pick up the school kids and rally at Grandma's
3:30 Alice & Emma book club
4:00 Emma piano
--Mom & John's glasses ready for pick-up in St. Henry before 5.
5:00 home inspection over, back home for quick dinner
6:30 Alice and Emma (and mom) 6th grade movie night for religion classes
6:30 Sam & John conquest boys club
10:00 fall into bed without blogging again.

sorry friends.

Monday, September 26, 2011

and B.T.W.


We had a lovely little time at camp. The first full day was beautiful as we explored the art of campfire cooking, launched some water rockets, went horseback riding, even enjoyed an evening campfire loaded with fun songs and skits. (I even had the opportunity to embarass them a bit, when I participated in the Balderdash games with the other parent chaperones...they didn't know there mom was such a story teller...nor that I could dance the Macarena with the best of them!)

With day two came the rain...lots of rain...but it didn't dampen our spirits. We still learned how to handle a compass in our orienteering class (yes you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!), and worked on teambuilding skills.

There was plenty of hot coffee in the mess hall after a long night on a wafer thin mattress...so all was right with the world! Not ever going to complain about the fact that I didn't have to cook or clean for a full 24 hours. Yippee Ki-Yay!

watching the ball drop

(And it's not even New Years Rockin' Eve!)

Life is moving at the speed of light here. There are not enough lines on my calendar to keep track of everything in a day. Between the kids activities (football manager, piano lessons, guitar lessons, choir, junior book clubs, Little Flowers girls club, Conquest boys club, football fundamentals, homework times infinity, and on and on...and those are just the kids obligations. Throw in parent meetings for 2nd graders preparing for First Penance, teaching 2nd grade religion classes, volunteering at various kids' activities, and now meetings, packing and deadlines related to upcoming move...and my head is SPINNING) For the first time in a long time (maybe since I had 4 in diapers) I feel like all those balls I'm juggling are getting a little wonky, and I'm watching them all start to drop...in sl-ooowwww---motion. It's a little unsettling to say the least. I'm torn between trying to keep them in the air, or just letting them drop and start over, trying to get a better handle the next time around...change my footing a bit. I mean...trying to juggle a handful of tennis balls, a bowling pin, and chainsaw is just overkill right. Who am I trying to impress?!
Anyways. I'm trying desperately to shift my focus; adjust my "perspectacles" if you will. Because if I squint a bit and see past the juggling act, just beyond those stage lights that seem to be blinding me right now, I realize the One who believes in me, who gives me strength, is right there front and center. And if I keep my eyes fixed on Him, the balls disappear a bit, and things become easier to handle. The work becomes a labor of love, to please Him.
Trying desperately to offer all this chaos up, and get through these crazy busy days with a joyful heart...so grateful for all these blessings.
Peace to you all.


1 Chronicles 16:11
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

happy trails...

(only for a couple days.)

So, my 6th grade girls are off to Camp Wilson tomorrow for an overnight class trip. It's the whole out-doorsy, horseback riding, sleeping in bunks, can't pack enough mosquito repellent, team building, kinda bonding experience. They are PUMPED up! Sleeping bags and pillows are packed up in garbage bags, ready to carry up a steep hill to their cabins...it's the kind of stuff that keeps kids awake all night just pondering the wonders of it all.
Not the holiday spa thing moms dream of by any means. But guess what! This mom is packed to go along. See, not too many moms signed up to chaperone this one (I know, GASP, right?!) So the girls, worried that the trip might be cancelled, barrelled home and begged me...insisting that since "Mom, you don't do anything anyway!" I had all the time in the world to go. (Alright, I thought. Let me put down my crossword, and bonbons, and read the paperwork.) Shoot. Seriously?!

Yep, so this mama's packin' up my bedroll and boots, and headin' out for some cabin camraderie with the wee young'ns. Should make for some mighty fine bondin' with my baby girls. (And if I get the chance to embarass them a bit in front of their friends, all the better.)

You all know how I need my beauty sleep...pray for us.

Dear Annie-Banannie,




My Dearest Annie,
I should have known that as the youngest of 11 you would have to come up with some new stunts all your own. I just didn't think it would be so early. And to think...you just started saying "Uh, Oh" yesterday. It should have been a clue you were gearing up for something big. You see when I handed you my cell phone yesterday at the Cross Country meet...I expected you would hold it, press a few buttons, maybe call someone on my contacts list and drool at them a bit (perhaps order us up some supper?!) I'm okay with that. What I didn't expect was that you'd switch it from ring tone (which happens to be very loud and annoying and easy to locate from far away) to VIBRATE, and then chuck it out into the path of runners. Never to be located again. Or so I thought. After several attempts at ringing for it, and scouring the grounds for the bright red, obnoxiously loud phone...we went home empty handed. Defeated. Reminding myself that next time I shall bring along for you an inexpensive toy...which wouldn't keep you nearly as entertained. I love you Anne. You little booger, you.


"Uh, Oh!" indeed.


Love, Mom (or Dadadadada! as you so prefer to call me.)


ps: thank you to the sweet high school girl who called us from the shelter after the meet to let us know she found our phone, and that we had a LOT of missed calls. God Bless you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

cookies

Because it's fall...
and because baking is how I destress...
and well, I can always find something to be stressed about...
oh...and who doesn't like easy cookies?!

Thanks to my neighbor gal, Terry for this new favorite...

Seriously Simple Snickerdoodles

1 box (dry) white cake mix (she said it would be good with a yellow mix too.)
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil

Hand mix, spoon into balls and top with cinnamon/sugar.

Bake 350 degrees for 8-11 minutes. Voila. Beautiful, simple, delicious!
(I know some of you doubters out there will think flavor will be sacrificed in the simplicity...I assure you it will not! Fluffy, yummy, perfect cookies. Nobody will know how easy this is...'cept the two of us.)

Cake mixes are on sale in town this week. No need to thank me. I'm happy to help out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

thoughts to begin the week.

First and foremost, it's Monday...and that means the weekend has left it's mark on our home. There are toys scattered, my kitchen countertop is buried, and laundry is stacked high once again. It was a very nice weekend, from Friday night football (which regardless of the outcome, puts us in a fun, spirit-filled, easy-weekend kind of mood) to our annual block party...which epitomizes good clean family fun!
But, as I said before it's Monday, and it's gray and raining, my work is spread out before me, it's a crazy busy week, oh...and how could I not be consumed by the fact that there is a move ahead of us...and I have a TON to do. (of course I'm not doing anything...just thinking about it for now...and stressing.) So I'll have a cup of coffee, switch the laundry around in the machines, and visit with you here. (can you say procrastinate?!)

This is the prayer that's getting me through right now. It's taped to my bedroom mirror, always. But sometimes I forget to check the mirror...as evidenced by the way I look disheveled most days. Oh well. St. Therese is sending me her roses in the form of this prayer...it's her feast day very soon...not a wonder then I should be thinking of her and this prayer. (God's smiling...cause I'm so sharp...not.)


May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you
are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite
possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Have a blessed week everyone!

Oh, and a side note...thank you for all the offers of boxes...I had no idea you all were such box-accumulating people! I've responded privately to a couple of you...to the rest, I say thank you VERY much, but I think we'll be covered now. You are all so kind.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

boxes anyone?

It appears as though a move is in our future.

Thank you for all your prayers and positive thoughts.

We got the good news last night that a contract has in fact been signed.
Wooooohoooooooo!

Now we wait on banks, and inspections, and other necessary paperwork...and while we wait...we might be wise to start...start...start...paaaackkkking. Oh my good Lord, what did I pray for?!

As you might imagine, there is a TON of accumulated stuff for the 13 people living in this home. Looks as though it's time to begin trashing/donating/sorting, and yes....packing. Uggh.

Seriously, boxes anyone?

By the way, immediately after getting the news, we dug up our sweet St. Joe and he now resides in a place of honor (no, not the fridge door...too difficult to hang him there), the mantle of course. Thank you St. Joseph for your generous intercession on our behalf!

Friday, September 16, 2011

real estate business.

Buying & selling houses.

It's not about houses at all.

Nope. That's too simple.

In fact, it's about people.
People with dreams...dreams of a better life or perhaps a just a different life. A life that allows our family to grow and spread out, or a life that recognizes we don't need all the space we used to. For some maybe it's the reality that our budget cannot bare the same lifestyle it used to, or others that our budget now allows for more.
It's the kind of dreaming that allows us to imagine our own furniture perfectly placed in someone else's living room. We can imagine where we'll sit for our morning coffee, where we'll drop our shoes at the end of the day, who gets the biggest closet. We have it all thought out.
But we must be patient. Uggh.
It's so much about feelings too. Feelings of excitement, and nervousness. Feelings that can be hurt, crushed even. So we dare not to hope too much, and yet we do hope. And we pray, and we lose some sleep. Even though we are MOST certain that God has our back. It will all work itself out in it's own good time. But we are human...and we have deadlines, and timeframes, and contract negotiations. And it's hard to work God into all that. I mean really... does He get all that?!
Yes Jamie. Yes. He gets it.
He's good at being patient. He's been so patient with me. He gets what I'm going through.
And if it works out I will praise him.
And if it doesn't work out I'm gonna praise him too.
Cause he probably spared me from some other heartbreak I'm not even capable of realizing, or perhaps, dare I hope...that he has something even greater waiting right around the corner.
I will try to be patient.
And I will trust.
It's just not gonna be easy...nothing truly great ever really is, though, is it?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

made me smile.

This couple just makes my day...so pleasant and adorable in the way they struggle to take a darn web-photo. (and the Mr's ad-lib singing is so much my style!) Just wanna squeeze 'em! Thanks mom, for sharing!



shout out to the peeps (whoop, whoop!)

"I will bless the Lord at all times,
Praise shall always be on my lips.
My soul shall glory in the Lord,
For he has been so good to me!"

Yep...one of those mornings...can't help but feel loved, and all sing-songy, hummin' around as I sip my cup o' joe! I had the most wonderful evening with some Ft. Loramie moms last night who had invited me to come speak on the topic of raising kids with good character. (For those of you who know my kids, you can stop snickering! I added a waiver...Lord know's I'm no expert on that subject!)
Today, I'm left feeling humbled and blessed by their hospitality, generous spirits, and honesty. It was a beautiful evening of open conversation and candid sharing, even after I finished my "prepared" speech. As I told my hubs when I got home...I felt as though God was physically present...sitting there in one of the open chairs, smiling on us all. (Of course, supportive hubs just smiled and nodded with pride. I love that guy!)

Thank you ladies for inviting me in to your lives, for opening your hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit. May you all be truly blessed!

~Yes, this is my "shout out" to you all, whom I met for the first time last evening, and yet you have followed here for some time. (my hands in the air, givin' ya a "whoop, whoop." ) Love ya ladies!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just the two of us....



Look at those cutie pies!


We'll be married 17 years in December and looking better than ever, I think.

We were fortunate enough to have our picture taken in a photo booth at our nephew's wedding this past weekend. What a hoot! A photo booth at a wedding! How fun it was for all of us...especially the kiddos!


Anyways, had to share.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

where were you?


My mom tells me she can remember exactly what she was doing the day President Kennedy was assasinated.

I recall I was in jr high...staying in during lunch working on an art project when I heard news that the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all 7 passengers.

On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was home with my 3 babies. Alice and Emma sat munching breakfast in their highchairs, while I spooned oatmeal at little Sam as he sat in his bouncy seat on the kitchen table. Mom called and told me to flip on the news, and together we watched in disbelief as the second plane crashed into the twin towers.

Still etched on my brain, like it was only yesterday.

Offering prayers for healing, forgiveness, peace.

Friday, September 9, 2011

life

Sorry I was absent from the blog again yesterday. It seems I had so much to share, and yet couldn't find the words to process what I needed to say. I'm still not entirely sure I'm ready.

I love my jobs. The one God chose for me, and the one I chose for myself. They are so entirely different, and yet connected and similar all at the same time. Parallel might be a good word.

At home, I'm surrounded by LIFE...young, vibrant, energetic, optimistic and hopefilled little ones. Fearless and carefree and trusting because they've not yet experienced real pain or disappointment, or heartbreak, or loss of any kind. And yet, completely dependent on John and I to provide and care for them. It's refreshing and exhausting all at once. I love these lives and the fullness they bring to mine.

At work, the lives that touch mine are ones who've seen a lifetime of love and loss. Their spirits are strong even when their physical selves are tired and failing. They have experienced joys and sorrows. Their eyes are filled with the wisdom that comes with knowing real love and loss. They have watched their children grow, and some have even seen their children pass from this world before them. While many remain active and strong in service to others, many more have become dependent on others to care for them. I love these lives and the fullness they bring to mine.

On Thursday, I was asked to accompany a woman and her husband to her first consultation with an oncologist. I won't go into great detail, but the news was the worst. No cure. Inoperable. Only treatments for comfort measures. And things are moving fast. Time is short. It was a tough pill to swallow. (In case I've never said it before, Cancer sucks.)
And as we sat for the long car ride home, mostly in silence, I couldn't help but think what a difficult journey lay ahead of them. Her simple words still ring in my ears, "I'm not afraid of dying, I just worry about all I'm leaving behind."

Over these last couple days, I'm left with so many thoughts resonating...the value of life at all stages. My heart aching for this couple, as husband learns to become caregiver for his up-until-now independent wife. I think about the uncertainties in our own lives here, and while we all know earth is just our trial, it's all we know. It's comfortable, and familiar, and our most treasured gifts...our peeps...are right here. And yet, we have to live our lives ready to let go. No clinging. Because clinging makes it harder when we get those words...if we're gifted to recieve those words...because most of us won't get a "final notice."
I don't know. Is recieving the news that you have a short amount of time to live a gift? That's been swimming in my head too. How much would those words change what's important in our lives, change what we're clinging to, and more importantly change what we're willing to let go of?

Regardless, they thanked me incessantly for going to the appointment with them. I am the one feeling incredibly grateful, humbled, privelaged. Truly, when our lives connect like this, and we can feel love and compassion, we are living in that moment the way God wants us to. We are in fact one body. And to feel each other's pain is feeling Christ's pain. Denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following him.

May you feel the blessings of a life truly lived.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

and then there were two


These are my babies. Yes...babies. All growin' up, wanting to be big kids, headin' out the door to preschool today. And yet in my mind...these are the babies of the family. My other kids seemed so much older at this same age (if that makes any sense?!)

Anyhow. Just as planned, I scooted them out, chauffeured them around the block to "Jackie's" for their first day of preschool. And when we got home, Lucy and Anne and I danced in the rain around the driveway to get the mail. And it was a bittersweet dance. Mostly I wanted to cry a little bit...but Lucy was so darned excited to have me all to herself (as soon as Anne got to nappin' as scheduled, which couldn't come fast enough as far as Lucy was concerned.) And I was happy to be home with my little girls too. So we danced. And when we walked into the house, I sighed "Doesn't it seem quiet."
And Lucy laughed, "Nope...I can hear the refrigerator."
And for the first time in a long time, I could hear the refrigerator too. And I thought, man! It is quiet!
Anne took her usual afternoon nap, just after a bottle and some playtime on the floor. And afterwards Lucy and I played "home school" with special time on the computer...checking out games on Nick Jr. and Disney Jr. websites. A rare (very rare) treat. We colored, and did crafts, and even read some stories. And in no time at all, we were picking up my babies, I mean big kids, from preschool.
And I learned in 30 seconds, more than I've ever heard about any of the other 7 kids' preschool experiences combined. Ever. That Rose can talk! About songs, and dancing, and friends, and puzzles, and clean-up time, and on and on and on. All the while Frank just grinned from ear-to-ear, throwing in a hearty "Yep" or "Yuh-huh!" from time to time. All is right with their world...now I've just got to get "okay" with mine...with just my two babies here at home.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Frank's fast fact:

More life lessons from the five year old with widsom beyond his years. Well, okay...he's five. That much is true.


Overheard yesterday while roasting hotdogs over an open fire:
Frank shares with older brother Charlie that "It's true, if you eat a
hotdog with ashes on it, you'll poop fire for sure!"

recipe box

I mentioned yesterday that I was trying out a new recipe for Zucchini Brownies, and got a request to share if they were any good.
To be entirely honest though, I must comment that while these "brownies" are delicious, they will not get eaten here. For one, it makes a ginormous batch (recipe recommends a jelly roll pan...I split them into a 9x13 and 8x8.) Okay...ginormous is typically not a problem when talking chocolate, however: Problem number two, is that these by our definition of the word, are not (gooey, fudgey, chocolatey) brownies, rather...a supermoist springy chocolate cake. Most definitely CAKE. And when you have a hankerin' for brownies, CAKE just won't do. And finally...we don't eat our own kind...that is...the kids here won't eat nuts. I thought this would work to my advantage, but doggonit, I was cravin' brownies!
Tonight I tried to serve it up as cake with ice cream for dinner...nobody would have it, cause they recognized it immediately as last night's failed brownies.
My point...do yourself a favor, and call it CHOCOLATE (ZUCCHINI) NUT CAKE from the get-go, and you will not be disappointed!
The recipe:

Chocolate Zucchini Nut Cake
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup nuts
Preheat oven to 350. In large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, oil and sugar. In a seperate medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and cocoa. Add to egg mixture. Then add vanilla, zucchini and nuts. Mix all together and spread onto greased 10x15 jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Can be frosted, but also good plain. (Or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup)

Monday, September 5, 2011

laborin' away....

Cooler weather today!
Oh, I love the autumn feel to the air today...temps in the 6o's and cool breezes forcing us to dress in layers again. We started a backyard fire this morning...burning some old lumber as we clean out the garage and work in the yard. Of course there's plenty more wood back on the wood pile to keep it going all day. We'll be roasting some hotdogs for lunch, and definitely 'smores later today. Chili's cooking on the stove for supper this evening, zucchini brownies (a new recipe) in the oven. Even kids are laborin' away...working to build a bicycle ramp from old wood they snagged from the garage. Bicycle tires are being repaired. Summer pool toys and squirt guns being packed away in the garage attic for another year. Neighbor kids wandering in to help as well.

What a perfect end to the summer. Though I suspect we'll have a few heat waves yet to come. Nothing like digging for shorts when temps spike to the near-90's in early october. Boooo.Bring on more of this fall feelin'Have a blessed labor day everyone!


God Bless Dad!


...at the center of several projects to help the kids...including replacing blown bike tubes, building a skate ramp (pray for us), organizing garage toys, keeping the bonfire going with wood he's got the boys tearing apart with hand saws (really, pray for us!) and plans to mow the yard yet (or perhaps convince one of the older kids to do so.)


No rest for the weary this Labor Day.

Friday, September 2, 2011

led by the Spirit

Was cleaning/sorting through some paperwork last evening in preparation for my 2nd grade religion class when this prayer just found me.

"Dear God,
Today as I reflect on what's ahead for me I ask for your guidance to make decisions that bring me closer to you.
Help me to know your voice and believe in the power of your gifts in me.
I trust that you will lead me amidst the uncertainties of life.
Give me the courage to follow you today as you lead me to tomorrow.
Amen."

I never ceased to be amazed at how clearly the Holy Spirit speaks to us when our hearts are open...and we're paying attention. I think I spent the last year oblivious...but suddenly, it's as if I'm being bombarded with thoughts/suggestions/words that are certainly not my own. And although a bit overwhelming and even frightening at times...I just have to keep listening, try to sort them out, and roll with it.
I've had the privelage of being invited to speak with FOUR women's groups in surrounding areas over the next couple months. FOUR. What in the world was I thinking to say Yes to them all?! It's that "keeping the heart/mind open, and rolling with it" thing. It's either gonna get me in big trouble, or please the Lord. Hopefully the latter. I know He's working to give me the words...just have to start putting it all into neat little categories and planning for these upcoming talks. Prayers would be greatly appreciated...the one above seemed a perfect find in light of the anxiety I'm beginning to feel about what I agreed to.

Lord Help me, and Thank you God.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Frank's fast fact:

Now preparing for preschool, this little guy is just FULL of fabulous factoids.
Today he blurted this out of nowhere:

"Jesus definitely does not pee his pants anymore!"

(but apparently did at some point?)
I'm still snickering.

I'm tellin ya, he's so full of it...'Frank's Fast Fact' may become a regular "column" in this here blog.

a letter to my angel


My dear little Cy,
It's hard to believe you'd be two already! In many ways it seems like just yesterday...
It's true that time does heal, but it certainly doesn't let us forget. Yesterday you were heavy on my mind. God slipped you into my thoughts several times throughout the day...what a gift. Your big brother John was filling out his paper "All About Me" in his religion class and on the part where he had to write how many people are in his family...he wrote 14. He always counts you. Sometimes when I see or hear him counting you it makes me feel uncomfortable, like there's something I need to explain. I'm sorry if you know that. He's so right, and I'm wrong. I realize that now. Because you do count baby boy! Forever will there be a place in my heart for you just as sure as there's a place for your eleven brothers and sisters here with me. There is joy in being assured that some day I will get to know you better...in heaven, when we're both with Jesus. I hope he's keeping you good company...I'm sure he is. And Grandma Alice too. I bet she loves knowing you and being Grandma to you there...it's important for you to be there for her too, cause I bet she misses lovin on all her grandbabies.
Yesterday afternoon as your other Grandma and I were moving furniture and cleaning, we moved the angel statue from on top the tv over the the fireplace. It looks so good there now. Grandma asked where the pretty angel came from and I said your name..."It was for Cy." Just like that I said your name...not in prayer, like usual...but in conversation. And saying it like that felt good...and real...and painful too. All that hurt of losing you came back. But that's okay, so I was so glad to remember that you're still there for me. My little boy. I love you. And I thank God for the gift of you, even though I never got to unwrap it. The gift of holding you will wait. And oh what a gift that will be someday. We must be patient though... I have all these gifts here who need their mama too.
In the mean time...I love you. Say hi to Grandma, and Jesus, and all our friends there.
I love you Cy,
Mom

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

prayers to st. joseph

Okay, so I'm pretty sure I failed to mention that over the summer we stuck one of these in our yard...


(sorry 'bout that. It seems I really let things slip here on the blog.)


Anyhow. This morning I got the call from the realtor's office that someone wanted to come thru today. (Yay!! WOoohoo! Cartwheels, Bring on the buyers!) And then reality set in as I scanned the kitchen counter top full of school papers, walls covered with "homeschool" art projects, tv room pouring with toys. And that was just what I could see while I stood sipping coffee in my jammies chatting with the receptionist on the other end of the phone. Oh my. "Today?! Seriously? Ummm...yes, that'd be great."


Needless to say, a cold beer and a pizza ordered out (to eat at my parents...cause we had to be out of our house at dinner time) tasted Damn good this evening!


It was a mad dash of picking up, dusting, and doing anything we could to make our lovely little home sparkle. I tell ya. Whew...I'm exhausted. I'm praying (as often as I can think of him) to our Dear Saint Joseph for his intercession on the sale of this humble abode...soon. Not lovin' the last minute scramble to get ready for "showings." Would love your prayers with us on this. God Bless!



Monday, August 29, 2011

s.p.d.

(Can you tell that John got a cell phone...and we're texting more?! I'm all about abbreviations, and shortened phrases. s.p.d. That's my lingo for school picture day.)

See the young'ns here at home want to be doing all the same cool stuff that the big kids do at school, so today they fancied up (i.e. washed the lunch off their face without my nagging) and begged for a home-school picture day. (Okay...I don't really home-school...I won't even pretend to be equipped to know how to do that...but we call coloring, and cutting/pasting, and sorting skittles by color into little cups "homeschool." And everyone's happy.)

So anyways...kids wanted home-school pictures. 'Cept there's one problem...I stink at photography...and my camera stinks even worse than me. So it went something like this...







lets see...that's my big foot and Anne's tiny too-cute toesies. Apparently not as well balanced as I first thought...









oh, but this is a little better...or at least it would have been if my camera took the picture when I pressed the God-forsaken button. What's with the seven minute delay?!







there's that dang delay again! Get back here Annie!!!!









"What do you mean the sun's in your eyes?!"



Work with me, Frank!










Yep...go ahead...eat that mulch...I can wait. (probably need a little more fiber in your diet anyway.) No really...it's okay. AhhhhhH!!!!!!!!










Aaarggghhh. The frustration of it all. Seriously.



Okay, luckily...not so seriously.


We regrouped...laughed a little...and came out with some good ones. Maybe not school yearbook worthy...but perfectly imperfect for this (not-so) homeschoolin' momma of many!








There's my Frank-o! (hold the ketchup, heavy on the CHEESE!)



And Rose...what's not to love about that laugh (and the thumb-suckin' gap in her teeth! Yumm!)






Oh, and Princess Lucy...why yes...she would LOVE to have your vote for Prom Queen!





This belly laughter is priceless...better than any posed smile I nearly hurt myself trying to capture! Love you Annie!!!








and of course...every class needs a couple of clowns...pictures are so much better when we're "dressed up" for them!