Thursday, January 30, 2014

Theme Thursday - Barn

Oh old and lovely barns, how I miss thee.  Where we used to live, we had this barn (which we turned into a chicken coop) and a big barn that was right outside the back of the house.  At first I didn't think I'd like looking at the side of a barn while I washed dishes, but I grew to love it and I realized how peaceful it was.

In this picture, it had just snowed, the sun was just rising, and I was still relatively new at photography so I ran outside to see what I could do.  

The house we live in now has a big pole barn on one part of the property, but it isn't wood and it totally lacks character.  I do, however, get to stare at the side of it while I wash dishes :) 

Hop on over to Clan Donaldson to see some more barns.

God Bless!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TV Makes A Reappearance

About 15 years ago we got rid of, or at least didn't do anything to acquire, our television reception.  Other than a short stint with Sky Angel and Catholic Familyland TV, the only thing our TV has been used for is to watch movies and play Wii.  

Until now.

This is what happens when kids get older.  They start to want to watch things like Downton Abbey, Dr. Who, Sherlock and Once Upon a Time (wait that's American...I thought we only watched British TV??) Every week we'd get on the internet and download whatever episode we were currently on and totally.kill.our.bandwidth, and then get frustrated when it would stall out on us.  The one episode of Sherlock actually took us two days to watch!  I know, the horror of it all.

Then one day, my cousin came over with a small TV and a portable digital antennae so the family could watch the Bears game during a family party.  Hmm. What's that, you say?  You can get one of these inexpensive little things, hook it up to your TV and get television stations??  For free??

Fast forward a few weeks to when it occurred to me that the Olympics were coming up. I've always had fond memories of watching the Olympics, especially the winter ones.  "Hey," I pondered aloud to my husband, "if we got one of those inexpensive antennae thingies, we could watch the Olympics.  And football. And we could get PBS and watch all our shows and STOP KILLING OUR BANDWIDTH!"  He graciously acquiesced to my request and we hooked it up last weekend, which means, you guessed it, we can watch the State of the Union address tonight.  I'm not sure if that is a good thing, or not :)

Like all things I get myself into, not going overboard will be the key here.  I still want it to be only for things we've been watching and then only special things that we've missed out on in the past.  Fortunately, from what I've heard, there doesn't seem to be much to worry about getting hooked on...except maybe more British shows.  Any recommendations?  Well, DON'T tell me about them!
just kidding.  not really.

God Bless!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Moments of Grace - Online Daybook

A little late to the game, but joining up with Jenny and other great women over at Plain Grace!

Thanking God for:

* Getting our bathroom demolding project finished.  We were able to repaint and clean it from top to bottom.  Now to hang everything back up so we can shower in civilized conditions, instead of in the shower downstairs, in the basement, with the critters, and the cold.
* A warm house to weather the polar vortex II.  
* Writing class cancelled for tomorrow - okay, so my kids are more thankful for this one than I am.
* A month with an extra paycheck - at least by my budgeting method :)
* A game day today for our school snow day.  Yahtzee for math skills, Across America for Geography, Great States for Geography and Clue for critical thinking skills.  
* A digital antennae that allowed us to watch Downton Abbey and Sherlock last night without internet loading interupptions.

Listening To:

* Mr 8 yo whooping it up because he actually won the game of Clue.
* The theme from "Sherlock" running through my head.  Love that song! 


I have to say that since getting my Kindle, I have been reading a lot more.  I wish I could say the same for finishing the books.  I currently have the following going right now:

* The Napoleon of Notting Hill by Chesterton .  I thought I'd give him a try.
The Rule by St. Benedict.  I've been wanting to read this for awhile so for $.99 I couldn't resist. 
* The Life and Prayers of St. Padre Pio by Wyatt North. 
I just read a little bit each day, or every other day.  Okay, so maybe once a week if I'm lucky.  But hey, I'm reading more than I used to. 


* Why the italics keeps turning on every time I start a new line.  
*  The winds of change are blowing in certain areas of our life and I'm not sure any of us are all that excited about it.  Pondering what direction we need to take.


* That God will make His will known for us in this pondering situation.
* For all of the people who are suffering in so many different situations.
* For friends of ours and their car situation.
* For a friend of mine, mom of 10, who just got two compression fractures on her spine.  Can you say, "OUCH"????

The Week Ahead:

* Cold, cold and more cold.  And then warmer and probably more snow.  And then maybe some wind.  At least it looks pretty outside (see below).
* When the cold breaks, we have the usual to look forward to:  basketball, Blue Knights for the boys, and theater and dance classes
* However, on Saturday is our yearly Father/Daughter Ball and this is a highlight for all of us, boys included because they get to go stay with Grandma!


God Bless!

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes - A Myriad of Photos Edition

We celebrated Ms 18 yo's birthday on Wednesday.  She was my first baby after my reversion back to the Catholic faith, appropriately born on the 22nd of January, thus beginning our journey into the pro-life world.  

 This was the dessert she picked out:  Red Velvet Bundt Cake.  It was as delicious and chocolatey as it looks.  She tried some Pintrest version of chocolate curls and unfortunately it didn't work like they said it would, but they still tasted yummy.
What I really want to know is this:  Who thinks of this clip when they hear the words "bundt cake"?  

We even pulled it up last night and watched it before diving in.  Love that movie!

I have been wanting to take pictures during a good snowfall and I got my chance this past Wednesday.  Unfortunately for Ms 18 yo it was also very cold out, but it was her idea to go out there so I acquiesced to her request.  At least I got to keep my jacket on.  I love how the snow flakes are in varying degrees of focus. 

I may have mentioned here before that Ms 10 yo is now playing basketball.  Her team is following in her big brother's footsteps by not winning a game yet, but it's early so there is still hope.  The Friday night before her first Saturday game, we were watching a bunch of older girls play and they all had on these funky socks so I told her she should get some for her game.  She showed up on Saturday with these socks on and, you guessed it, was the only one from either team that had funky socks.  Oh well, maybe she'll start a trend with the younger crowd.
The Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordan and his tongue...The Upward Sports Bulls have Mr 13yo and his cheeks.  He does this all the time :)
We're hoping for two more of these wins this weekend.  He was the Home team and this is the first time in 1 1/2 seasons we've seen his team with a win.  Hoping they can both pull it off.  Also hoping to tackle the bathroom de-molding project this weekend.  The walls need to be washed down and then painted with a mold/mildew resistant paint.  We then need to seriously consider finding a house without a mold/mildew problem!  Have a great weekend.

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Theme Thursday - Catching People Unaware

Two girls, caught in the act.  One in the act of doing the dishes.  The other in the act of making garlic butter for the garlic bread.  Both fell for the "Hey, girls" trick and then got mad that I took such a stunning photo.

Hop on over to Clan Donaldson to see other stunning photos of people caught unaware.

God Bless!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

March For Life 2014

We don't have anyone participating this year, but we are praying for all of the people who are marching today, despite the snow and cold.  Oh how I wish to be out there some day!

Here are our two marchers from last year


and the group they went with.

March on all you faithful pro-life people and know that our prayers are with you as we beg God for mercy on our country and for an end to this heinous crime of abortion. 

God Bless!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Angela's Song

Right before Christmas I was contacted by an acquaintance of mine who worked at a now, unfortunately, closed Catholic bookstore.  She told me about some free books she had received from Full Quiver Publishing, which is a Catholic publishing company out of Ontario, Canada.  Since the bookstore was closing and they wouldn't be able to do anything with the books, she offered them to me.

Now, I have to admit that since getting my Kindle, I'd much rather read a book on that (you know, the novelty and fun of it), but I found myself with some time on my hand late one Sunday afternoon so I picked up the real, live book that was sitting on my shelf and began to read.

The book I chose out of this stack is called "Angela's Song" by AnnMarie Creedon.  Let's just say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I finished it about midnight Sunday night.  I was so engrossed in it that I was reading snippets while we waited for the second episode of "Sherlock" to load (which, by the way, was my most favorite episode!!). 

This is the story of Angela, a woman with three children whose husband was recently killed.  It is the story of how she has to examine who she is and what she believes about herself, as well as establish a deep relationship with the God who loves her...all before she can fall in love with a dashing, Italian, near-perfect man named Jack.

I will admit that Jack does seem too perfect, but the more I thought about it, isn't that what makes a romance story romantic?  I mean, if you're going to read about a woman and man who fall in love, wouldn't you want the man to be dashing, compassionate, chaste, intelligent and gorgeous?  Let's just say that it works in this story.

What I liked the best, though, was that this love story was written from a Catholic perspective.  Sometimes the conversations seemed a little too convenient as far as informing about Catholic teaching, but on the whole, it imparts a good picture of how wonderful a truly Catholic relationship could be.  Is it always attainable?  No, probably not; but why not put the ideal out there for people to strive for?  While no relationship is perfect, this book gives you some ideas on how you can head in that direction in your own relationship, all in the context of a sweet love story.

The only downfall is that the author's use of tense seems confusing at times.  Most of the time the story is written in the present tense, but then all of a sudden she changes to past tense and it can be distracting.  

If you're looking for an easy, thought-provoking, Catholic, fiction read, then I would highly recommend this book to you.  I have two more books to get through so I'm hoping that they are just as captivating.

God Bless! 

On a side note, I've changed the commenting system on my blog so I'd love to have you give it a run and let me know what you think!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lesson in Gratitude #4,256

Being grateful to God for the many gifts and blessings in your life takes time to develop, but once you get the hang of it, it does become easier to spot the little things of every day that God has blessed you with.

Every once in awhile, however, God shows me that there is an area of gratitude that I don't always consider:  things that haven't happened to me.

For example, the other day I was reading a blog post about the most ridiculous thing a doctor has ever said to you.  Wow, some of them were truly idiotic; some were down right dangerous; others were so insulting I don't know what I would have done.  That made me offer up a quick thank you to God for not having ever placed me in a situation like that.  Okay, well once I had a chiropractor insult me because I was pregnant with #4 but that was tame compared to some of the comments I read.

Facebook is always a good ground for remembering the things that God has sheltered me from so far:  terminally ill family members, jaw-dropping liturgical abuses, and relatives that are practicing witches to name just a few.

I don't think that this type of gratitude is something I need to delve into on a daily basis, but when it is brought to my attention, I make sure to offer up a hearty thank you for the small crosses that God has seen fit to bless me with.  We have our fair share of them, and maybe other people might look at them and be grateful they don't have them; I don't know.  What I do know is that God gives us sufficient graces to carry our crosses and I'm grateful for the ones He has given me and the ones He hasn't.

God Bless!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Theme Thursday - Craft

First off, let me state that I am not a crafty person, my husband is not particularly crafty and my first 5 children aren't really gifted in the craft department.  That brings us to child number took us 6 kids to get one child who is a. interested in crafts (despite her mother) and b. is good at crafts (again despite her mother).  

I, on the other hand, am more into organizing.  I like things neat and tidy, or at least the things that are mine.  Child #6, the crafty one, otherwise known here as Ms 10 yo prefers to throw her creative juices toward the craft at hand and not the organizing part. 

With that introduction, I bring you this week's picture - our CRAFT storage corner.  Her supplies, her organization method, but the things she can create with them make us all jealous (in a holy sort of way!).

For more CRAFT pictures, head on over to Clan Donaldson!

God Bless! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Happy Addition to My Life

I must admit that it is very hard to surprise me.  I'm pretty sure that people have only been able to successfully surprise me (in a good way) twice in my life.  That is, until this past Christmas.

One day while walking through Best Buy, I had casually mentioned to my husband that I would love to have a Kindle.  We stopped briefly to look at one but the price tag was too high and the display model wasn't working right so we moved on.  After that, I put it out of my mind as impractical and highly improbable.

Well, imagine my surprise when I opened up the box on Christmas morning!  My very own Kindle Fire HD.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  Of course, being somewhat technologically inept, it took me awhile (with the help of my kids and husband) to figure it all out but I am totally in love.  I really didn't know if I would like reading books on it, but I was surprised again there, too.  It is so incredibly handy to slip in my purse and take out when I have a few minutes.  I've actually read a few books on it since Christmas and I'm wishing that the books I have already waiting to be read were on there, too.

I did discover one pitfall to the whole thing, however.  One day I had some time on my hands and I remembered that I wanted read Cari Donaldson's book "Pope Awesome and Other Stories" so I clicked over to Amazon and saw that the Kindle version was $4.99.  Not sure what to expect, I clicked on the "buy now" button and before I knew it, the book was on my Kindle.  Wow, that was WAY TOO EASY!!!  I realized how addictive that could be and have made a mental note not to fall for that again any time soon.

We interrupt this blog post for a timely book review.  The book was "awesome".  I really enjoy conversion stories and Cari's was quite interesting.  She has a wonderful sense of humor that carried through the story and she wrote in such a way that I kept wanting to find out what happened next.  The only thing I want to know is, where did they go?  At the end of the book, Cari, where did you go in your van?  Did you drive your son to Rome?  What great idea did you and your husband come up with to make him happy?  Tell me, please! 

Anyhow, it is a great read and I'd encourage y'all to read it.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, the Kindle.  Well, in the last few weeks I've gotten quite comfortable with it and how it works. My kids have, too, as they've downloaded Minion Rush and put it to good use.  As much as I love Minions, I have refrained from playing it as I am sure my addictive qualities will rear their ugly head and I will get nothing done.  This is the same reason that I have not downloaded Candy Crush, as I hear it sucks you in and there is nothing you can do to stop it.  Let's see how long I can hold out.

I've also downloaded the Laudate app and am really excited for this year's St. Louis de Montfort Consecration because I just downloaded the preparation book.  How much easier it will be to keep up with it now because I have my own copy that I can take wherever I go.  I'm thinking this really is a great addition to my life, one that I can hopefully always use to enhance it and not detract from it.  If anyone has any great ideas for apps or books to download, feel free to let me know.

God Bless!

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Monday, January 13, 2014

The Rhythm of Our Days

It seems as if all I ever do around here lately is play catch-up.  I have ideas and the desire to write, but no time.  When I finally have a bit of time, the ideas and the desire have gone into hiding.  Towards the end of last summer I was feeling the urge to pull back but didn't.  Now I pull back because time seems to escape me, and I've been okay with that.  I love to write here, but I also am enjoying being busy with the physical stuff around here lately, too.  

It always amazes me how I can be busy from morning till night just keeping up with things.  Projects?  Forget 'em.  Big things that really need to be done?  Nope; they just keep getting pushed farther down the calendar.  For example, we really need to repaint this one bathroom because we are having some mold issues.  Top priority, I say.  Unfortunately time and schedules have dictated otherwise and I keep moving it on my calendar from one weekend to the next.  The funny thing is, it really wouldn't take that long to do, we just need to get started.

All that to say that we've been moving through our days here at a steady pace, keeping busy going from one task or event to the next.  Basketball has a spot on our weekend calendar that we all look forward to - one day they actually will win a game and we'll be there to cheer them on.  

This week we're in full swing as college classes have started in addition to our full school schedule returning and Performing Arts classes going on.  The fun in this week is that we only have one car to do it all with.  I refuse to think about this ahead of time because all I will do is fret, so instead I'm not thinking of the next day till the night before and then praying it will all work out.

There is a nice rhythm so far to all of this.  Ideas will continue to bounce around in my head and I will try to remember to write them down so that when time and motivation meet up, I will be here to wow you with them :).  In the meantime, I'm off to the next thing on my list.

 God Bless!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What a Way to Celebrate

My husband, like many husbands, works very hard each and every day to provide for his family.  We are so grateful for all that he does for us and that's what makes it doubly sad that his birthday had to be spent as a series of unfortunate events.

For example, I had to call him numerous times yesterday, and not just to say "I love you"!  The first time was because our washing machine wouldn't work.  We weren't sure if it was a frozen water line or not, so we tried heating up the room with a space heater to see if that would help.  Since it wasn't working, I thought it must be the washer so I called out a repair man.  Well, repair man determined that it was, in fact, a frozen water line.  Good bye $70.

The next series of phone calls was about our one working car.  I had to take Ms 19 yo to work so that I could have the car and, after letting it warm up for 30 minutes, I backed it up and saw this:

Not sure what it was from, we determined that I shouldn't drive it, just in case, and that he would check it out when he got home.  Fortunately, since Ms 21 yo is still stuck in Rhode Island, we had her car to fall back on.

Well, dh gets home, takes care of the repair man, tries to look at the car but the hood won't open because it is so cold out, and then has to face this:

Fortunately, the plumber came right over (during his birthday dinner, of course, which meant he had to eat it luke warm) and patched it up for the time being so that we could turn the water back on.

Back to dinner, a few phone calls to the daughters not at home to sing with us and we finally get to have dessert.  (Poor guy, I didn't even have the right candles to put on his pie!)

After cleaning up dinner, cleaning up the left-over water in the laundry room and praying our rosary, the day finally came to an end.  What a way to spend a birthday.  It is such a blessing that there are men out there who know that sometimes they have to put themselves behind the things that need to get done.  God bless my husband, and all men, who work so hard to provide for their families.

God Bless!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Surprises, Cold and Water Everywhere

Oh what an interesting couple of days it has been since last we met.  If you happen to be in one of the warm areas of the country (though there are few of those), consider yourself lucky.  That's the thing with making plans in January, you cannot be attached to them because they are most likely going to change in one way or another due to the weather.

Ms 19 yo and Ms 15 yo had been planning a surprise birthday party for the soon to be Ms 18 yo.  They had been planning it for months and then the day was here and so was the snowstorm.  All day we kept an eye on the weather channel, hoping against hope that the snow would not ruin all of our plans.  I have a problem with failed parties that goes way back to the time when I was little and my parents had a New Year's Eve party and everyone just sat around depressed because one of the guest's sisters was contemplating suicide.  I felt so bad for everyone and it has stuck with me ever since.  

So anyhow.  The funny thing about how it all turned out was that all of the girls that drove themselves showed up and it was only some of the ones being driven by their parents that cancelled.  


Smart parents because it was nasty going home.  Fortunately every one made it home safely and they all had a nice time - even though Ms almost 18 yo wasn't terribly surprised :)

This pose is such a rarity for these two that I had to put it out there as proof that they do, indeed, sometimes like each other.

Everyone needs a 13 year old boy at their party, don't they? 

On Sunday morning we awoke to a lot of snow, some blowing and drifting, and a not fun commute to the nearest church.  

See, our van is in the shop right now and that meant we needed to take two cars, which means that I had to drive one of them and I don't like to drive in snow, so we opted for the closest church so that we could get there and back in the fewest miles possible.

Then the beginning of this week brought the arctic freeze that covered a large portion of the country.  Knowing your area is colder than Anchorage and Siberia is a little daunting.  We've pretty much stayed put the last two days, which meant that we had nothing to do but start school - so start school we did.

This week begins our Performing Arts classes and next week the college kids start their classes again, so we'll be back in full swing - except that it will be much more difficult because we're still down two cars.  Oh well, God knows our struggles and will see fit to work out the details.

And just now a pipe burst in our wall, so I guess I have to go :)

God Bless!

Friday, January 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes January 3 2014

Happy New Year!  We're off to a great start here with some new snow and some freezing cold temps to bring us through the weekend.  Love the snow - except when I have to drive on the snow packed roads that the state doesn't plow well because they are too far out in the country to bother with.  Especially when you have to drive west and it is near sunset...and when you're taking your car in because there are many things wrong with it and you're afraid it's going to cost a fortune...which is why you're driving it out to a mechanic in the country, hoping it won't cost as much, on snow packed roads at sunset in the first place.

Anyhow, I had a chance on Thursday to have breakfast, that almost turned into lunch, with some girlfriends.  We met for Mass and then went back to our friend's house to eat.  It's been awhile since we've done this, and times like this make me realize that us adults need some serious socialization time,too, just like our kids.  Make it a point this year to get out and spend some time with friends!  Alone!  Without the kids (if possible, of course)!

This is Mr 13 yo on Christmas Eve.  His sisters and I all think he looks like David Tennant or maybe Clark Kent.  What do you think?  Dr Who fans, weigh in!
I know this sounds morbid, but since my father-in-law passed away and with all the holidays, every time I took a picture of some relative, I kept thinking that I was glad I captured it because it will be nice to have at their wake.  I know, morbid.  I warned you up front.

We've been taking our time off (when we aren't celebrating at some party or dinner or sleeping) to catch up on "Once Upon a Time".  Only two more episodes of that and we'll be up to date.  Then, of course, the new episode of "Sherlock" just came out and so we have to watch that.  AND....*squeal* "Downton Abbey" starts this Sunday.  Even though they left us in such a horrible spot last season, I'm eager to see where they will go with it.

Since I haven't shared any Christmas photos, except the one in #3, here are some shots - none of which I had morbid thoughts about.  My five fun-filled daughters above and my two goofy sons below.

And this one is a picture of my cousin's daughter's son.  Don't know what that makes him to me, but boy is he cute :)

Basketball starts this weekend.  Mr 13 yo plays on Friday nights and Ms 10 yo plays on Saturdays.  At least it is close to our house!  We also get to celebrate our nephew's college graduation this weekend.  Only two more parties to go until we are done for awhile.  I can honestly say that I can't wait till we're done with all of this eating!

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

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Naming the Year

It's January 2nd, which means I'm not too late to participate in the name your year link up over at Sucipio!  At first I wasn't going to do it because I really couldn't come up with one word that I wanted to work on throughout 2014.  I mean "TRUST" is always on my plate, as I think it has been for the past number of years.  Outside of that, nothing came to mind.

That is, not until I actually prayed about it.  Last night while doing my night-time prayers, a word jumped out at me.  It is something I realized a few months ago I needed to work on so it seems the perfect thing to focus on for the new year:

Positive, not in the sense that I am going to be optimistic about everything, as I truly believe that I am a realist and not capable of being an optimist (although that was sort of a pessimist statement, wasn't it?).  Posistive in the sense that I am working towards having my first reaction to people, situations and information be positive.

You see, my knee-jerk reaction is to think the negative. Oh the kids did this (or didn't do it) because they're lazy.  My neighbor said this because she doesn't like me.  The world is in chaos because people are horrible.  This coffee is bad because it's just the way my life is.  This kind of immediate negative reaction can be so poisonous.  It also is VERY hard to get rid of; you actually have to stop and think before reacting.  Can I say that I'm not very good at that?  My brain, and sometimes my mouth, often engage before I can even think to stop them.  Slowing down enough to think and really look at a situation before forming a judgement is a very difficult, but prudent habit to develop.

I think this type of positive thinking goes hand-in-hand with gratitude.  If we can develop a grateful heart, then that means we are looking for the good in all things.  If we can take the time to reflect back and see the good, then can you imagine how enjoyable life would be if we saw the good while it was happening?  Sometimes searching for the good in that moment can change everything; even shape the near future by having things go in a different direction than if we had seen the negative instead.

I've even been working on how to form questions in a more positive light.  Instead of asking, "How come these dishes haven't been washed yet?"  in that irritated, motherly tone, maybe something like, "Calling all dishwashers to the kitchen.  Dishwashers take your stations" might get more attention...and action!

This will take a lot of effort and grace, I am sure.  I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit brought this to my attention and now that I have publicly proclaimed it, I am held accountable to it.  May God give us all the grace we need to each work on our "word" for the year.

God Bless!