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,


video

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.