Friday, September 27, 2013

"Ineffable" is available!

I'm sitting outside at soccer practice right now enjoying the wonderful September weather and watching the boys run drills and laps.  The moms I usually sit and chat with are not here this evening so, in a fortunate turn of events, I happen to have my laptop and MiFi with me so I can bring you this important announcement.

My good friend, Simonetta, and her four talented daughters have produced yet another album, this time of sacred polyphony. The album, Ineffable, is available for pre-order starting today and will be shipped, God willing, on October 7th - the feast of the Our Lady of the Rosary.

If you would like to pre-order your copy, you can do so over at their St. Philomena website.  It's only $10 - such a deal for some absolutely beautiful sacred music.  I can't wait to get my copy, although I have to admit that it is kind of strange, in a good way of course, to hear your friend's voice coming from your speakers.  Have a great weekend!

God Bless! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Theme Thursday - Out

This is Ms 10 yo.  Some may think that her fashion choices are OUT-rageous or OUT-landish.

Others might think she is just OUT of fashion altogether.

Quite frankly, I think she is OUT-standing :)

Join over at Clan Donaldson for more OUT photos.

God Bless!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Reason to Feast

The other day was my son's Baptismal feast day. We celebrate Baptismal feast days like we celebrate everything else....with food and dessert.  My husband made the comment at dinner last night that we seemed to be having a lot more desserts lately, to which I replied that there have just been so many things to celebrate.  "Like what?" came his next question.  

Well, let's see: Our son becoming a child of God, my birthday, and FALL of course.  There are just so many good things you can do with apples and pumpkin that how can you help yourself?  

Anyhow, for his dinner he picked baked chicken, corn pudding and vegies. Okay, well I picked the corn pudding and then found out after that he really doesn't like it, and I also added the vegies.

For dessert I asked that he pick something with apples and his choice was apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

A debate ensued during the serving of the dessert as to whether the ice cream went on top of the cobbler or the cobbler on top of the ice cream.  Let's just say I served it wrong and was told the correct way to do it before I took the picture!

I wish there were other ways to celebrate important events other than food, but alas, I have found none that fit our family, so food it is! 

I'm thinking that I can drag this Fall celebrating on for awhile, seeing as how it has just started.  Today Ms 21 yo made pumpkin, oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies that were out of this world!  Next up, Apple Almond Squares!  Better go exercise more!

 God Bless!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Living on the Fringe

When our children were younger, we took the plunge and moved out of town and into the country.  We were blessed to have 5 acres and no real neighbors so that we could "be" however we wanted to be.  It was peaceful and beautiful.  

Once that time was past and we had to move, we again were blessed to find a home on 5 acres to rent that was not quite so far out of town, but still far enough to be considered "out there".  

We've been pondering this a lot lately, however, because we are finding that as the kids get older and are doing many more things out of the house than before (oh, things like work, college, social activities, sports), living "out there" really has its drawbacks.  When you look at both sides of the coin, it really is hard to justify living in the country at this stage of our lives, but the thought of being back in a town, or a subdivision even, is just so hard to swallow once you haven't had neighbors for 10 years and have had as much room to roam as you want.

The way I see it, there are positives and negatives to both sides.  Living in the country, you get space, and more space, and no neighbors that can hear you being a family, room to roam, and a lot of space (did I mention that already?).  So, to summarize, once you've had space, it is hard to give that up.  And I don't mean interior space, although that is hard to give up, too.  I mean the outside space, where you can laugh and sing and dance as loud or as long as you want to without anyone seeing you (not that we do that all the time, mind you).  Oh, and usually it is a bit cheaper to find housing "out there".

The downside to the country is that everything is usually so far away.  With gas prices being what they've been lately, having to drive farther to everything gets expensive.  There are also less opportunities for employment in the small towns out in the country.

Living in one of the suburbs, however, gives you so many more opportunities for employment (even though it is tough around here, there still are more jobs).  It allows you to be closer to the things you are involved in which means less time driving and less gas money.

It does, however, bring smaller yards, the necessity to remember you have neighbors when you're having dinner conversation, and higher rental prices.  

We've been pondering whether it is time to make the move back to a more populated area because of the amount of time we spend in the car and the fact that we have more people looking for gainful employment.  What a tough decision this is proving to be.  Our heart is torn as we so enjoy the peacefulness of our area.  I was hoping that putting it all down on "paper" might make it more clear, but alas, it hasn't.  I would appreciate any words of wisdom and prayers for clarity that you would be willing to share.

Thanks in advance and God Bless!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This weekend was full of interesting things and the more I thought about them I realized I could categorize them into the following three categories.  So, for your blog reading pleasure, here they are:

The Good:

Top of the list is the 55 pounds of apples my dh picked for us this weekend so we could make applesauce.  It really only took us 3 hours, although it did feel a bit longer than that at times.  For the record, we did not peel, core and slice all 55 pounds, only about 1/2 of that, but we ended up with 4 quarts of regular applesauce and 5 quarts of cinnamon applesauce.  

Ms 21 yo also used some apples to make us an apple cake.  It was very good.

We also used some apples to make some apple stuff (we cooked about 8 cups down and mashed them up so I'm not really sure what I should call it) that we added cinnamon and brown sugar to.  We plan on heating that up and mixing it in with our oatmeal.  If you're interested, you can see it in the canning picture front row, left side :)

Another entry in our "Good" category is the fact that my son won this absolutely incredible backpack in a raffle on Saturday night.  As he put it, "A $300 backpack for 2 bucks". 

He is absolutely enthralled with it, as you can see by his smile here.  This has pretty much been his "look" since he won it.  Now he can't wait to go somewhere to use it.

 The Bad:

The first entry into this category happened Sunday morning right before we were leaving for Mass when I went to put the 5 pound pork roast in the crock pot.  I cut open the package and wrinkled my nose...not something you should be doing just after opening a package of meat.  Just to confirm my suspicions, I called my husband over. "Yep, that's bad meat".  Well, run out the door to church and figure it out later.  All day long the question kept coming, "What's for dinner?"  Turns out those coupons to Culvers came in handy.  Just so happens that Culvers was right across the street from the store I bought the meat at so we went and got our money back and promptly spent it on some  Wisconsin butter burgers (although this part of the story really should be up there under the "Good" category!).

Fortunately our next "Bad" contestant had good timing.  A few weeks ago we had ordered a new container for our blender because it had gotten knocked out of the cabinet and broke.  We were using it to puree the apples into sauce and it had been doing a great job, that is until it got knocked off the counter and broken.  Wow, who goes through two blender containers in 1 month?  Like I said, the timing was at least good because we had just finished pureeing our last batch of apples.  Thank you, God, for that small favor!

The Ugly:

I have to say that making the applesauce really wasn't that bad, except for the way that it kept popping out of the pot while it was heating up.  I cannot tell you how many times that boiling stuff hit me.  On my arms, my face, my hands.  It wasn't until a big blob of boiling applesauce flew out and landed on the inside of my wrist that I really got mad.  Two big blisters later, I am not a happy camper.  My husband said he'd like to do more canning and I burst into tears.  Okay, so not quite that extreme, but I sure felt like it.  I was quite traumatized by being spit at and wounded by boiling liquid.  Not sure I can go down that path again.

So there you have it.  My weekend in a nut shell.  In looking back over it, there was definitely more good than anything else, and for that I am grateful.  Have a great beginning of the week!

God Bless!

Friday, September 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes September 20 2013

We have had a lot of families come by recently and pick the apples and pears from our trees and it still looks like there is a ton of fruit left.  On Thursday, while out helping one of the families, Ms 10 yo picked this apple:

It is quite the perfect apple, which is amazing given that most years the apples off of this particular tree don't even come close to looking this red, smooth and bug free.  I told her we should save it somehow because it is so perfect.  She told me I could take a picture of it and save the picture up so she can eat it.

It is always a bit disconcerting when you walk out into your garage and see something moving out of the corner of your eye.  I did what anyone would have done in that situation, I screamed and jumped back into the house so I could safely assess the situation.  What I found was this little guy:

 which of course, Mr 13 yo promptly wanted to pick up (just ignore the purple flowery gloves).  He was a feisty guy, the snake that is, and after marveling at him for awhile, he released him at the back of the yard.

At first one of his sisters accused Mr 13 yo of tying up the snake's tail, but he promptly set the record straight that the snake did that himself (or herself, I suppose - not quite sure how you tell the difference).  Either way, it was pretty cool.

There's a men's silent retreat of the Spiritual Exercises coming up in October for anyone who wants to go to Marytown in Libertyville, IL.  If you're interested, email for the registration info.  St. Ignatius nailed this.  If you so choose to accept the challenge, your life will never be the same :)

Pardon me for the interruption, but I had to go find a huge black spider in my daughters' bathroom.  Ms 14 yo went in there before going to sleep and saw something running across the floor (seems to be the theme for today) that was big and black and wouldn't go to bed unless we found it.  Too bad it wasn't earlier when we could have fed it to the snake.  We found it and it was huge and black and try as I might, I couldn't kill it, as it is very difficult to kill something that huge while squealing and jumping around.  I actually had to wake up my hubby to kill it for us so that we could be assured of some sleep.  Thank you, God, for a husband who isn't afraid of things like that, and doesn't get mad when you wake him to save the day (or night in this case).

Now that we're about a month into the school year, if you are feeling overwhelmed and are looking for help to get yourself and your family more organized, check out "A Plan for Joy in the Home" as it may just be what the doctor ordered.  

Hopefully we'll have some time this weekend to pick some apples for ourselves and turn them into applesauce, apple crisp, apple slices...Hope you all have a safe, blessed and relaxing weekend.  
God Bless!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Day in the Life

What a day!  We all managed to get up remotely on time and actually made it to Mass this morning before it began.  Accomplishment #1 for the day.  Today was promising to be a bit warmer than it has been, so we all dressed the part, only to leave Mass and find out it had rained and really wasn't all that warm out.  Typical Chicago.

We came home and began our school work; that is until I had to stop and write up a transcript for Ms 19 yo so she could drop it off at the junior college; that is after she and three of her sisters ran to Wal Mart to pick up a gift that one of them needs for a party - then they were off to the jr college to check out club and activity day.  As a side note, they told me that it was set up by someone who was smart:  one of the main groups on campus was giving away free hot dogs, but if you wanted any condiments or anything to go with it, you had to stop at the other tables to get them.  Very clever.

Anyhow, with them gone and my work done there, I could get back to the task at hand - the three other kids and their writing and math.  That is, until there was a knock on the door and three families stopped by to pick some apples and pears from our super-abundant crop.  I finally got the right kids back in the house and the other kids back outside so we could finish.

A bit of chatting with the ladies and eating some organic, home-grown apples (who am I kidding, we didn't do a thing to merit the abundance we have, but it sounds good, doesn't it?), then it was a rush into the house to eat lunch, get in the car, pick up two neighbor girls, run to the college to get Ms 17 yo and then off to dance and theater classes.

While they were busy dancing and acting, I ran to JCP to use my $15 off birthday coupon.  Can you believe I had the hardest time finding anything that I liked?  I walked around that store for 1 1/2 hours and my mind was a mess trying to figure out what would look good with this sweater or that top, a task I find incredibly difficult.  Of course, I had to get something or else my coupon would go to waste, so I finally found an orange sweater and a denim shirt.  Orange must be the hot color for the fall!

Back to pick up the girls, fight the rain and traffic, arrive home in time to say good bye to two of the girls who were going out for the evening, eat dinner, pray the rosary, check facebook, answer emails, sort through two bags of clothes that were given to us (yeah!!), write this blog post and then go to bed.  Phew.

Oh, and just to thank you for reading this far, here's a cool site a friend emailed me all about cuneiform and how to write the letters of the alphabet.  Very cool; especially if you're learning about it in Classically Catholic Memory!

God Bless!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Catholic Woman's Almanac

 Joining in over at Sucipio!

Moments of Gratitude:

This week there are many.  
* We had a wonderful evening at a surprise 30th Anniversary dinner for friends.  Their daughters did an incredible job of setting up a lovely candlelight dining experience for everyone.  There was great food, a lot of laughter and dancing.
* I am incredibly grateful for all the people who gave my daughters rides on Sunday to their events.  It meant one day of us not having to drive, other than to church.
* We might have gotten stuck in stand-still traffic for 1 hr 20 minutes making us late to Mass on Friday night, but we made it in time for the Consecration and two very good talks, as well as Adoration and confession.  Beautiful!
* My mom took me to lunch at the tea room this past week and it was as good as ever.
* For the class Ms 19 yo is taking and the book she got.  It is fun to brush up on your photography knowledge and learn a few new tricks.
* Cool weather and even some rain :)

The Upcoming Week:

Haircuts for me and the boys.  YIPPEEE!!  They are long overdue and I can't wait till we all don't look like ragamuffins anymore.  Other than that, it seems like it will just be the usual fare - school, driving, dancing, theater, music and soccer.

In the Kitchen:

There is a roast cooking in my crockpot as I type this and boy does it smell good.  Add some pierogis to that and a nice salad and we're in for a good feast.  I'm hoping to be able to can some applesauce sometime very soon, but we'll see how that plays out.  Otherwise it's just the usual for meals this week; pork, turkey, beef and chicken!


Seems I keep hearing priests talk about how we need to be courageous Catholics, ones who are not afraid to speak to others about Christ and the faith.  How we need to go out now and reach others and bring them back to Christ - without fear of the consequences.  This is a lot to ponder.  The fear factor usually wins out.

Praying for:

* Peace in our world and in our families.
* A priest friend of ours who is having many migraines and, not having insurance, can't go for further testing right now.
* The wisdom to discern God's will and the grace to do it in a couple of situations in our lives.


Still working my way through that awesomeness called "Introduction to the Devout Life", as well as a few photography books.


This past Friday we didn't have to rush out of the house in the morning as Mass was in the evening.  This meant sleeping in (till 6:45 for me!!), two cups of coffee and some peace and quiet while everyone else slept in a bit later.  Can I just say that it was glorious to sit and eat my breakfast and sip my coffee and contemplate the day ahead without the pressure of the ticking clock.  This is the view from my seat at the table.  Some mornings it is a blur and on others it is the backdrop for my ponderings.

God Bless!

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes September 13 2013

I know it is so cliche, but I really cannot believe it is Friday already.  Must have been a busy week that it went by so quickly.  School went well and we're successfully integrating all of our subjects into our day.  The IEW program is a lot of fun and I'm kicking myself for never figuring it out before.  I told the older girls they should go back and do it, but, well, you know how that went over.  God gave me 7 kids so that maybe, just maybe, I could get it almost right by the 7th one.

Ms 19 yo is taking a photography course at the Junior College and I get to live vicariously through her (read:  she paid for the course, I'm just reading her book!).  Anyhow, I've been reading the book and experimenting with some things.  You really are never too old to learn, are you?  Even though I knew some of this intuitively, it is always good to know the why and the how behind it. Besides, it's always fun and relaxing to just shoot away, isn't it?
The boys became part of my practice the other day.  Here they are "fencing".  I love their individual styles as it is so typical of how they approach so many things in life.  Mr 8 yo - eyes closed and forging ahead!

 Mr 13 yo - intense.

 I had to laugh at this one, as it is also very typical of Mr 8 yo; always trying to talk his way into and out of everything.  Here he was trying to reason with his brother about why he was right.  Unfortunately for him, it rarely works.

Random photos.


Here's a cool link for all you chemistry fans.  We are learning about the periodic table and I came across this video.  Beware:  It sticks in your brain!

Gloriously cool weather this weekend.  A soccer game, a dinner, and about three different directions to travel on Sunday.  Ugh.  Oh well, I'm trying hard to roll with it.  Have a safe and blessed weekend.
God Bless!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Theme Thursday - Text

This was an easy one because, having just started school, these little buggers are everywhere.  Each child has multiple texts.  Some are liked and some, not so liked.  Here is Ms 17 yo with two of her current texts.  Fortunately she likes both of them, well, at least the classes that go with them.  

If you look closely, you might notice the rosary on top of the Psychology text.  That, my dear friends, is to counter so much of the garbage that is in there :)

Check out Clan Donaldson and see what other type of texts are there.

God Bless!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Excuse Me While My Head Blows Up

Can I hear ya' say it??  Life is Hard!  Yep, it is.  I'm hearing people around me say it. I'm reading it all over the facebook groups I'm in.  A lot of times, though, it takes on the form of a question, "Why is life so hard?"  The eternal question that has no answer, I'm afraid.

Let's face it.  Relationships are hard.  Family life is hard.  Managing the meager finances is hard.  Keeping your old cars running is hard.  Managing the activities of a lot of people is hard.  Friendships are hard.

I'm not trying to be a downer here, but it just seems as if at every turn, you have to expect the difficult and not the easy.  I think part of it is that the world really needs the sacrifices right now, so the key is to be able to take all this hardness and put it to good use.

In a homily the other day, Father talked about just that.  He said that we are all going to suffer, and while some people he knew could actually suffer with joy, he didn't expect that most people, himself included, could do that.  "So how do we suffer," he asked.  Well, if we can't suffer joyfully, then we at least have to accept our sufferings.  He asked us to really think about how we accept our sufferings.

This ties in with an excellent post that Jennifer Fulwiler wrote over at Conversion Diary.  She described me to a tee!  My mind, right now, is in chaos and the tiniest little thing can tip me over the edge.  What I need to figure out is, are the things that are making my mind in chaos things that are here to stay and I just need to learn how to deal with them?  Or, is it that those things truly need to go (if, in fact, they can go)?  If they are just things I need to deal with, then what kinds of things can I do, as Jen pondered, to bring order to my mind again so that I am a little more stable and not always ready to explode?  

Lots to think and pray about.  Lots to figure out how to offer up so as to be of some benefit to someone.  If I'm more absent than usual, it is because I am trying to figure out how to bring order to the chaos in my mind.  Please pray for me, and so many others in this same situation, that we can make it happen!

God Bless!

Friday, September 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes September 6 2013

We finished our first two week session of Classically Catholic Memory and I'd say it went pretty well.  Mr 13 yo, who has an incredible memory, nailed all of the memory work.  Ms 10 yo and Mr 8 yo also did very well with just a little stumble over the Latin words in the Salve Regina.  I'm curious to see what happens to their retention when we add in the next material.
One of the things we were discussing last week was Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  I decided to try a bit of a family tree with them so they could see where the 12 tribes came from.  

Oh my, what a mess that is; trying to explain how some of the kids came from the maidservants and such, and then confirming that, yes, this is not the way things should be in our day and age.  The OT ways are sometimes so hard to reckon with.

One of the things the younger two were working on this past session was the first stanza of the poem "Bed in Summer" by Robert Louis Stevenson.  When Mr 8 yo went to recite it one day he said, "'Bed in Summer' by Robert De Niro.  Of course, this cracked us all up and then we had to ask him how he knew who Robert De Niro was.  He told me that Veggie Tales sings about him in some song.  Veggie Tales - where far too much miscellaneous knowledge that my kids know comes from!

Since we were also talking about the Patriarchs, my one daughter suggested we watch "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" with the younger kids.  I couldn't believe we had never showed it to them!  We don't seem to have our VHS copy any more and can you believe that it is not an easy movie to find (to rent, at least).  We tried the library system and the video store and it seems it just isn't a very popular movie.  Hard to believe, isn't it?  

Don't forget that the Pope has declared the 7th a day of prayer and fasting for the war torn countries of the world, first and foremost of which is Syria. It's my birthday, so we're moving the celebration to Sunday, at which time I will celebrate with the Blessed Mother!

I wanted to share this with you:  a live stream from an adoration chapel.  This is so cool.  Any time of the day or night you can click over and be with Jesus through the internet.  See, there are some good things that come from technology!

Hope you have a prayerful, safe and fun weekend!.
God Bless!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Theme Thursday - Recess

For most of us in this household, recess means jumping onto the computer and checking emails, oh and probably some blogs and maybe some facebook, too.  For a few others, recess means continuing on in a good book.  For this fella', recess still means play time.  More specifically, it means, "Yes, I get to dump out all my Legos all over the floor, AGAIN!"

My son asked me why I was taking this picture so I told him why.  His response?  "But recess means to play outside!"  

My response?  "But you rarely go outside during 'recess'."

"Oh yeah."

By the way, I love theme words like this because they can take on so many different interpretations!  

 Definition of RECESS
: the action of receding : recession
: a hidden, secret, or secluded place or part
a : indentation, cleft <a deep recess in the hill>
b : alcove <a recess lined with books>
: a suspension of business or procedure often for rest or relaxation <children playing at recess>

My first thoughts, and subsequent picture, were based off of the #4 definition.  It wasn't till I was finished that I thought about the various possibilities of definition #2.  It wasn't till I copied and pasted the above definitions that I even thought anything about definitions #1 and #3.  I am so looking forward to which definition people turned into photos!!!

  Check out more recess photos over at Clan Donaldson

God Bless!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gluten Free Baking with The Twins

I love helping other people promote their work, so when friends of ours, twin girls who are a year older than my oldest, told me they were working on a Kindle version of a gluten-free cookbook, I told them I couldn't wait to share it with others.

These girls are quite ambitious.  They both graduated from college with majors in English and French, studied abroad, lived for a year in France teaching English in French schools and now are back home writing cookbooks!  

In our house we love baked goods.  A number of years ago I had to go gluten free and so we tried a bunch of different options out there and pretty much hated most of them.  I finally did come upon a baking mix that I liked and so now I alternate our baking with wheat flour and the gluten free baking mix.

This book, for those of you who like to mix and experiment, not only gives you great recipes, but educates you on what it takes to bake well with no-gluten flours; something I could have used a long time ago.  I encourage you to go download it for free right now and then share the information with others that you think might be interested.  

I'm not sure about all of this, but my understanding is that the more downloads and positive reviews their book receives right off the bat, the better the book does.  Once the free period is over, the e-book will only cost $2.99, so it is still a good deal.  

Thanks for helping out and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 God Bless!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Long Labor Day at the Lake

We were fortunate enough to spend a few days at a family lake house in Michigan.  After the pouring rain during the drive over there, the weather cooperated wonderfully.  We spent our time eating, swimming, tubing, reading and conversing.  

It was a milestone experience for the two youngest of our crew, too, because they both got to go tubing for the first time.  Not strong swimmers, I was glad they overcame their fears and hopped on board with some of their cousins to have a fun time.  Both proclaimed that the rides were "awesome".

Here are the three boys.  Mr 8 yo is on the left and was much more excited about this than I expected him to be.  His cousin is in the middle and let's just say that he was a bit cautious.  Mr 13 yo wanted to go a lot faster than the other two did, but he played Mr. Nice Guy and didn't fuss about the speed.

Here are the three youngest girls.  Ms 10 yo is in the middle and while her cousin on the right is Ms. Daredevil and she's not, she was happy to go as fast as her cousin wanted.

Here are three of the older girls.  Ms 14 yo on the right went on, which really did surprise me, and even though she looked like this the whole time, claimed to enjoy herself, at least until the pain in her arms and back showed up the next day.  For anyone who has ever tubed, I bet you just winced because you know what I'm talking about!

It was quite an adventure taking these pictures because as we would hit the waves, the boat would go one way and the tube would go the other.  Keeping things in focus was quite the challenge, too.  See what I mean?

The weekend was a nice change of scenery and a great time to hang out with cousins we don't get to spend a lot of time with.

Back to the routine, we hit the ground running this morning with our first IEW class.  The two young ladies who are teaching it did a great job and everyone seemed to do okay.  I am so grateful to have something at my event I actually don't have to drive to.  Praise the Lord!  It's also a good excuse to clean up the Legos!

Hope your Labor Day was pleasant, too :)  

God Bless!