Friday, May 30, 2014

7 Quick Takes on Mexican fiestas, dancing and graduation

Photography season is upon us...or at least upon me!  This week I had the honor of photographing a beautiful young lady in preparation for her Quinceanera.  What a lot of fun and beauty and pageantry; and OH MY, what a lot of work has gone into this event!!  How can you handle a wedding after this??  Well, anyhow, she is beautiful and, in my opinion, looks like royalty.

We took these pictures at a mansion near our home.  It has been converted into a place where you can have weddings and parties and such.  Can I just say that it is gorgeous and would be an awesome place for a wedding reception?  Unfortunately, the price...  We figured if you went middle of the road on food and had 200 people (which would be in the ballpark if we were to ever have a wedding), it would cost a mere $11,000 JUST FOR FOOD - that doesn't include drinks.  Not in the budget, that's for sure, but it still was a dream place.
After that it was a quick bite to eat and then off to photograph a local Mexican dance group.  Their costumes are very authentic and have such bright colors.  I also love how they do their makeup and the big eyelashes they wear - tre chic :)


Remember back at the end of April when I was lamenting about having to make this dress for Ms 15 yo?  Well, that's her on the left in the dress, however, I didn't make it.  I threw in the towel after a few days and called in a professional.  I didn't care how much it cost, this dress was giving me a headache.  It turned out great, it didn't cost that much and everyone (by that I mean Ms 15 yo and I) were happy.  As a side note, my friend made the dress that her daughter is wearing in this picture.  It blows me away, the talent that some people have!!

Next week is graduation for our homeschool group and this time around I only have one graduate. Mr 13 yo is graduating from 8th grade.  8th grade?  When did that happen?  So that's why he is growing out of his clothes faster than we can buy them!  I asked him if he had a shirt to wear that still fit him and he said yes he did, but I wouldn't be surprised if Tuesday morning we discover that it is too small!  The kid is growing like a weed!
After Tuesday our summer vacation starts.  I am not one to homeschool year round, more for my sanity than the kids'.  I will, again, be trying to keep up with minor stuff over the summer.  I say that every year and we get about a week into it and then don't think of it again till the end of August, but this year I'm hoping for something better!  It does not appear that we will have the crazy summer we had last year, so I figure there is hope.  We'll see...
Have a great weekend!  The weather around here looks like it will be nice and we'll be partying it up Mexican style so everything looks to be good!

God Bless!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with Exercise Part III

So where was I?  With the long weekend and all the outside stuff that we needed to get done, we've been out more than in, thus the longer break than I had anticipated.

It was about the time when my thyroid medicine was trying to get itself regulated that my husband stumbled across a nutritional supplement (Reliv) that friends of ours had been taking for awhile, so he decided we should give it a go.  We were both feeling rather low and had a hard time staying awake every evening after 8:00.  We started taking the Reliv and noticed that we started feeling much better and more alive; by that I mean that we could actually stay up past 10:00 and feel good about it!

I truly believe that if you don't feel right, as much as you might want to you aren't going to be able to keep up a consistent exercise program for very long.  We needed more energy in order to even function, so there was no way we were going to be able to exercise without it.  Once we started feeling better, my husband rediscovered his inner, fit, self - or at least the desire for it!

We started out with DVD exercise routines going from Supreme 90 to P90X. I think these covered about a year of exercise for us and then my hubby went back to what he really enjoyed doing - free weights.  He studied about it and accumulated some bars and weights and really started to see results in his body and his stamina.  I can be stubborn about new things, so it took me awhile to get on board with this new routine.  

Sometime around this past Christmas I decided I wanted in and I'm so glad I did.  Other than a few setbacks with a stubborn muscle spasm, I haven't felt this great in years.  I can walk without sciatic problems, I have energy and stamina and I actually feel strong.  After an initial weight loss of 15 pounds, I haven't been able to lose any more, but I like to think I'm just gaining it in muscle :)

I am at a point in my life where I can spend an hour in the basement exercising without anyone needing me, so that makes this very doable.  Exercising is definitely something that has its season.  It is hard to be consistent when you have babies and are sleep deprived.  It can be done, for sure, but you really have to be dedicated.  There comes a day, however, when you will be able to find the time to do it.  Finding the will power to stick with it might be another thing, but keep at it and you'll be so happy you did.

If you don't feel like you can lift a pencil let alone a weight, look into boosting your nutrition.  Feed your body good things and it will help you do more.  Find a good nutritional supplement to help you along the way.  Go to a chiropractor to help keep your body functioning like it is supposed to.  Our chiropractor says that chiropractic care and weight training are a great combination!  Whatever you do, pray for the will power to see it through.  If you fail for awhile, get back up and try again.  Get your kids involved!  Right now we have most of the kids doing weight training, even if they are just doing body-weight squats.

I hope that we can always have the health and stamina to continue to build our strength.  It is just so much easier to get through the day this way!  Tomorrow's a new day...what are you waiting for...make a plan and get going!

God Bless!

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with Exercise Part II

It took three years of trying, but we finally had our first daughter.  For the next 13 years I was either pregnant, postpartum or nursing.  Free time, as you can imagine, was non-existent, and so was any desire to exert anything more than the basic level of energy.

In retrospect, I think the biggest lessons I learned during this time about exercise are that 1. You really should try to do some form of exercise, even if it is minimal, whenever you physically can (meaning you aren't some sleep-deprived zombie and getting on a bike would endanger you) because you really will feel better and 2.  Don't beat yourself up if it doesn't happen for days, or even weeks, at a time.  You will go through spells where you won't be able to even move let alone exercise, but the next time the opportunity presents itself, JUST DO IT!

I remember when I turned 40 I went and bought myself a nice Schwinn bike.  I think I rode it once a year for the first 5 years.  I also remember vowing to commit to exercise a million times and then a million times failing for some reason or another.  You know, you start out and then get sick, or one of the kids gets sick and then you get no sleep, or you hurt yourself and by the time you recuperate you've lost your resolve.

Or, you develop an umbilical hernia that resurfaces every time you're pregnant.  Then one time, when you aren't even pregnant, it decides to resurface because you've been doing stomach crunches and then it gets infected and you have to have emergency surgery.  And then you find out you're pregnant again.  By the time I delivered that 11 lb 10 oz baby boy, I had ruptured the original hernia and gotten a new one!  This is the point at which I wished I had really gotten myself into shape somewhere along the line.

After recovering from all that, I had decided, along with my doctor, that it was time to switch my thyroid medicine to a more natural kind.  Unfortunately, it took a few years and a bunch of setbacks to get it right, so by then I had packed on quite a few pounds in addition to the weight I never lost after my last baby. 

At the height of my postpartum and thyroid debacle weight gain!
It was now time to do something!   Problem was, I didn't feel well enough to even try... 

God Bless!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

You Win Some, You Lose Some

On the win side:

There was a big wasp in the bathroom so I went in to save my family from it.  It was on the window screen so I gave it a big ole whop with the fly swatter and it bounced off of the screen and landed in the toilet, where it promptly got flushed into never land.  Couldn't have planned that one any better!

On the lose side: 

(as in, "I must be losing my mind")

I had put a roast in the oven right after lunch and was doing some things in the kitchen when the phone rang.  It was my aunt so I sat in the next room to chat for a bit.  About half way through the conversation I smelled something cooking but couldn't figure out what it was.  I even got up to look in the kitchen to see if one of the kids was cooking something, but they weren't.  It was about 10 minutes later, after sniffing and sniffing, that I finally remembered it was the roast that I had put in the oven.  Oh well!

Have a great day and stay tuned till tomorrow for Part II of my torture exercise story!

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with Exercise Part I

The other day I was pondering my life-long love/hate relationship with exercise.  Growing up I can't say that I was particularly in-active, mainly because I grew up before the internet and video games and we played outside no matter what.  We swam all summer long because everyone had a pool.  We rode bikes up and down the block.  We went to the park at the end of the street.  In the winter, we played outside the best we could.

I wasn't, however, particularly athletic.  Never played organized sports and didn't really do anything that caused me to sweat much until I joined the pom-pom squad in high school.  I had the skinny "genes" so weight was never an issue, until I started having kids that is.

Once I entered college and I had to walk from my dorm to my classes multiple times in a day, I realized how out of shape I was.  That's when the man who was to eventually become my husband entered the picture.  We met in college and he was a 6' 4" mass of muscles because he had spent his high school years lifting weights and not pom-poms (thankfully!). 

Truth be told, I would go to the weight room with him because I liked him and wanted to, you know, impress him with my enthusiasm if nothing else.  Must have worked, because we got married after college and continued to go to the gym to work out, even though I never really embraced it.

On our honeymoon - man did we look like little kids!
Time moved on, as time will do, and we started to think about having a family.  Little did I know what was in store for me...or for my weak abs.  Wishing I would have focused more on them then so that I had less problems during...(insert dramatic music) The Childbearing Years!

God Bless!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bringing Joy to Disabled Children

I have an awesome cousin who is married to an awesome woman.  Together they have two boys, one of whom is 18 and has Angelman syndrome.  They have put their hearts into raising awareness for AS and for giving their son a great life.  One of the things they've done is gotten him involved in baseball from a young age.  My cousin has always played ball and, as a matter of fact, I attribute my hatred of baseball to him due to all of the games I had to sit through as a kid and sweat and get dirty and be bored to death! 

Anyhow, he and his wife, who don't just do something but jump all-in, got involved in a local team for kids with disabilities.  They are credited for bringing new life to this team and for growing the team to enough kids to have multiple teams!  

For years, these kids played ball on a regular ball field which meant wheelchairs tipping over due to the uneven ground, kids tripping over bases, dads who carry their kids having a hard time running the bases due to the conditions. 

One day, a group of these parents had a vision to build a handicap friendly ball field.  This past Saturday they saw their vision become a reality.  We were fortunate enough to attend and what we saw was incredible.

Here's my cousin's son (in the blue) walking in with the band.  Apparently he loves the drum line, and later on, one of the drummers let him play.  He was in heaven!

After the procession in, many speeches were given, like this one given by a young man who has been with the ball program for 20 years.  He gave his speech via the computer on his wheelchair and he was hysterical! Thanks to technology, we were able to see the whit behind his broken body.  

 Then the ribbon was cut...

....and the games began.  

Here's my cousin's son sliding into home plate!  This is a favorite activity of his and he's glad he could still do it on this new field.  

The joy on the faces of all of the kids and parents was exuberant!

What an honor it was to witness this life affirming event.  As we walked away, I was so impressed by these families.  I mentioned to my kids that you have a choice in life:  You can look at a child with a disability as a burden, or you can embrace their disability and do whatever you can to bring joy to their life as well as yours.  The road is a hard one, I've seen that through my cousins, but they continue to inspire me with their love and dedication.  Not only to their son, but to everyone around them.  

So hats off to my cousins...from your #1 fan!!

God Bless!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Learning With Star Wars


Mr 9 yo has always struggled with reading.  I have to say, though, that we've seen some great improvements this year and we're discovering more ways to help him get up to speed.  To that end, Ms 22 yo bought him some of these Star War Phonics books for Christmas and we've been reading through them over the past few weeks.

Mr 9 yo loves Star Wars, and like most boys his age, he has memorized every aspect of all of the movies.  Because of this, he has been very motivated to read these little books and has done a great job.

However, in addition to being a budding reader, he is also an extreme critic of the compilers of these books.  Every time we sit down to read them, I get one or more of the following:

1.  A dissertation on why the picture on any given page was the wrong one to use.

2.  A dissertation on how the pictures are not in the correct order, and/or disbelief that they could dare use pictures from different movies in the same book.

3.  Disgust at the fact that they have not represented someone or something in the correct way.

It amazes me that this kid can remember exactly what part of which movie a screen shot of Luke's face comes from, but he consistently mixes up his vowels.  Oh the complexity of the human mind!  It has been a fun exercise for both of us, but I think I learned more about Star Wars than he did about reading.  Well, at least now I know what direction to go in in order to motivate him to try!

God Bless!
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Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Quick Takes - The Outdoor Version

This has been a long time in coming - school on the patio.  What a glorious morning to sit outside and study our Classically Catholic Memory.  (In looking at this photo again, I just want to assure you that the Blessed Mother does not have red ears sticking out of her head.  It is our very worn and feeble crown of fake red roses.  I really do need to replace that one of these years.)  

Oh, and outside is also a great place to read your copy of "Something Other Than God", by Jen :)  (Come on banana suit!!  see Jen's QTs)
Since it was such a nice day today, I decided to take a stroll around and check out the various fruit trees.  Well, in reality, it all started when I looked up at our locust trees and realized there are hardly any buds open and it is already into May.

Maybe they're afraid winter isn't really gone for good?

Then I got to thinking about the incredible apple and pear crop we had last year and wondered how the wonderful weather of this past winter is going to effect them.  There's a few blossoms on the apple trees, but not too many yet.

Next we move on to one of our pear trees.  This particular tree had some awesome tasting pears last year so I'm really hoping for a bumper crop again.  

I don't know the first thing about grapes and their vines, so it excites me every year that they just keep coming back.  These grapes are awesome and make some pretty delicious grape jelly.

We sure do know how to grow us some dandy-lions, too!  Now if only I found them a delicacy.  Also notice the brown on the front of the bushes.  All of our bushes suffered this fate due to our harsh winter.  Hopefully we don't lose anymore of the plants than what is already dead.  Time will tell, I suppose.

 And out last stop on the outdoor tour is a plant that Ms 22 yo brought home from an event they had a few weeks ago at school.  It was mighty pretty when she brought it home so I stuck it outside, near the house in case it got cold.  After a few days I set it out in the sun and then it started to die.  I had looked for one of those handy-dandy little tags that stick in the dirt to tell you what kind of plant it is and whether it likes sun or shade, but I didn't see one.  In an attempt to revive it, I moved it to another part of the yard, still in full sun.  

Yesterday, Ms 10 yo (my budding gardener) said, "Oh I see that plant likes shade."   "How do you know that?" I asked.  "It says so right on the side of the pot."  Seems I missed those big white letters that told me exactly how to take care of it.  Well I'm happy to report that some of the blooms are reviving.  All is not lost.

So anyway, have a wonderful weekend and may God shower all you mothers with abundant blessings, good time with family and a beautiful day.

God Bless! 

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For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"Something Other Than God" Devoured

I present you with the above image.  A comfy couch, complete with comfy pillow.  A cup of coffee (or at least what is left of it) and, if you look carefully in the background, an OPEN window because it is finally warm enough to open them!  Most importantly, though, you will notice my copy of "Something Other Than God" by Jennifer Fulwiler.  

You might think that this picture is showing you where I curled up to enjoy the warm air on my big, comfy couch, with my good cuppa joe to leisurely read this new book.  Well, if you thought that, you are wrong.

My copy arrived last Friday afternoon and I basically, as the post title says, devoured it.  I was done with all 245 glorious pages by Saturday at dinner time.  In my defense, not much was neglected during this time, either.  People were fed and talked to, although there may or may not have been a book in between us.  Basically, wherever I was, there the book was, too.  

I laughed.  I cried.  I laughed till I cried.  This book was a work of love and it showed.  While I cannot relate totally to Jen's journey as I was born and raised Catholic, there were many of her emotions that hit home.  I really appreciated the struggle she had with wanting that house in Tarrytown.  My heart ached because I struggle with attachments like that, too.  Whenever the house issue comes up, that is me...all-in, obsessing about the house, wanting it now, assuming that it really is God's Will (even though it usually isn't and what He does will is usually WAY better).

There were so many good parts!  If you like to approach things from a logical and intellectual angle, you will appreciate Jen's approach to finding the faith.  If you have a sense of humor, you will appreciate her take on some very funny moments.  If you love stories about people and their journey through will love this book.

I say, go get yourself a copy and read it.  You might want to curl up and read it leisurely or you might end up doing like I did and cooking your dinner with one hand and holding the book with the other.

God Bless!

Monday, May 5, 2014

50 Years Strong

This past weekend we celebrated my parent's 50th wedding anniversary.  It was a beautiful day that started with Mass and then ended with a nice luncheon with family and friends.  How great it was to see family that we usually only see a few times a year (if we're lucky).  Being able to celebrate this milestone with my parents was also a huge blessing.  

(I remember when my grandparents celebrated their 50th.  They seemed sooo much older than my parents.  Just sayin'.)

Everyone has always said that my dad looked like Buddy Holly when he (my dad) was younger.  Here's Buddy:

And here's my dad.  He brought out those big, black glasses just for the occasion.  Quite the character, he is. (Just realized I reverted to Yoda speak :))  As my mom said, this is what Buddy Holly would have looked like if he had lived.  Spot on, mom.

You know, if it wasn't for these two people, I wouldn't have the life I have today (I've been wanting to say!!).  No, really, I am truly blessed to have these two people for my parents.  I am grateful that they've stayed married, through all the ups and downs, for lo the past 50 years.  I pray that they will have many more happy, healthy years together.  If you wouldn't mind joining me in a quick prayer for them, I'd be very grateful; and I'm sure they would be, too.

God Bless!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Shameless Plug Time!

A couple of weeks ago I had a woman from our local paper contact me about doing an article on my book "A Plan for Joy in the Home".  I had emailed her some photos for an article she was doing on a family for "The Seven Last Words of Christ" and she noticed the link to my website at the bottom of the email and was intrigued since she was a homeschooling mom herself.

We did a phone interview and then a few days later a photographer stopped by to take pictures of us doing school.  Yikes, that was intimidating to say the least!  First off, one of the great things about being a photographer is that you never have to be in the picture!  Second, how do you photograph people sitting around a table looking at books and make it look interesting?  Well, check out the article and I think you'll agree he did a pretty good job.  Me and my still-homeschooling kiddos yackin' it up.

I'm not sure how long this link will be active, but if you'd like to read the article, you

If you'd like to check out a copy of the book for yourself, you can do that here.

 God Bless!