Saturday, December 30, 2006

Devotions Meme

I was not tagged for this one, but I enjoyed reading it on some other blogs. So, I thought I would take a stab at it myself.

1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus?
Morning Offering

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer?
The Rosary. I wish I was in the habit of saying it more because it brings me such peace and serenity. Any suggestions on fitting it in?

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?
I wear the Miraculous medal on a bracelet that I wear everyday.

4. Do you have holy water in your home?
I do have some in a bottle. I used to want to keep all our holy water fonts full, but I was not very successful at remembering and it always seemed to dry up so quickly. Again, another thing I would like to be better at maintaining.

5. Do you offer up your sufferings?
I really try to. I have read of the practice over and over again, especially from St. Josemaria. But as Elizabeth Foss said, I don't truly understand it.

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?
No, but that might be a good goal. I want to get back to adding on that one daily Mass a week. And so maybe First Friday could be one of those.

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? How frequently?
Nope. No excuses here. Just don't do it. We don't have perpetual adoration, but there are some churches nearby that do. Another resolution? I do try to stop in when I can with the children to say "hello."

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person?
I definitely prefer going Sunday mornings and lately it has been the early 7:30 am Mass.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?
Yes, for all three meals.

10. Favorite Saint(s)?
St. Bernadette, St. Therese, St. Gianna

11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?
Yes. Repetition, repetition, repetition.

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?
I really try to do this - maintaining a continual presence of God. It is difficult because my mind gets cluttered and busy. It is such a beautiful thing though when I make the effort.

13. Where is your favorite place to pray?
At home, downstairs in our big comfy chair, early in the morning.

14. Bonus Question: When you pass by a automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?
I did not grow up doing this, but I began many years back and have taught the children to do so. Often times when we are all in the car, one of the children will volunteer to lead the prayer all on their own.

This was more humbling than I thought it would be!

I tag: Michele and Melissa - Enjoy!

The Rhythm of Life

In the past couple of weeks I have noticed how much the rhythm and routine of our daily life here at home truly impacts us, especially since it has been greatly altered lately. The whole idea has got me thinking.

Now first let me spell out the things I have been grateful for during these holiday weeks (both before and after Christmas):

* The fun and excitement of the hustle and bustle of the season and the preparations involved.

* The additional visits and outings with family and friends.

* The celebrations of birthday and Christmas.

* Having my dear husband home for an extended period of time!!!!!! (one of my absolute favorite things about this season)

* The opportunity to accomplish projects around the house.

All these things are wonderful, fun and a welcome change that comes with this Christmas season. But no matter how wonderful, they are changes in the routines of our life nonetheless. The structure of our days are altered, bedtimes are sometimes later, naps may get missed and things that we normally do in a typical week get set aside for the time. Sometimes more than others I feel the strain of these changes, but still I know they are not permanent and I try to focus on enjoying the here and now - the joy of the moment. I try to have a thankful heart for all those things I mentioned above and so much more. In reality Christmas lasts such a short time each year.

I do feel the joy, but I am also looking forward to the return of our routine - me waking early (let that one slip), getting back on track with our scheduled chores and duties, starting our schoolwork, etc. It will even be nice to just know what day of the week it is with some amount of surety. :)) I have lost all track!!! Maybe some of this longing is due to the fact that I know that in two very short months our schedules will undergo more drastic changes as we welcome our new little baby into this home of ours. I do believe it will be a different sort of change in routine - possibly a little slower paced than the Christmas season. I am only guessing, seeing as we probably won't be running around shopping and visiting with a flutter of activity.

So with all this in mind, I have been planning and planning to plan. Brian goes back to work on Tuesday (boo hoo for me - can I talk him into Wednesday???????), but we don't pick up with school lessons again until the 8th. Right now I want to focus on schedules, routines and lists. Some things might need a little rethinking or reworking, but mostly I just need to get my mind thinking in that mode again. I have been working on a little organizing and cleaning out here and there so that I can start off the New Year with things in order, which for me brings a lot of peace. Like I think I said, I cleaned out toys already and reorganized all those things, but I need to revamp my toy bucket rotation list. I finally bought the boxes I have been needing (2 more underbed boxes) to pack away a couple more loads of kids clothes - size 5 too small for Jacob and size 5 too big for Nicole. I have straightened some closets. I would like to clean out my craft shelves and, as Michele said, "let go" of some things I haven't used in years and probably won't any time in the near future. This would free up some plastic storage boxes needed elsewhere. And of course Brian has been working so hard on painting our master bath - I can't thank you enough, sweetie. One other thing I would like to work on are some "to do lists" for the children. This is not really a to-do list as we tend think of them, but a tool for guiding the children when they seem idle or bored (how that's possible, I'm not sure) or just looking for something to do. My idea is to make some lists for each child, and some for the whole gang, of toys, games, manipulatives, craft ideas, etc. that they may just not think of doing on their own. I am hoping this will be a great resource for me, for instance, during lesson time when Andrew is getting restless and Nicole seems a little tired or bummed out. Hope it works.

All this said, I must end by reiterating that I couldn't be more pleased and thankful for the wonderful Christmas break we have enjoyed together. I am thankful for Brian's job and the time off they allow. I am thankful for my little family and the fun we have had together. Sometimes things get crazy and difficult, but, oh, what a bore this life would be without my family. I thank God for our routines and I thank God for the interruptions to them. Help me to remember that any and all of these moments are opportunities for me to learn and grow "in wisdom, age and grace before God and man."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And finally the Christmas recap

I realize it is now December 27th and I have not entered a truly decent post in many days (even the one on the 23rd was hurried, but I didn't want to miss the little guy's birthday). But I must say I was overjoyed when I sat down today to FINALLY catch up on my blog reading (haven't even had time for that) and saw that most everyone else is also pitifully behind. Yeah!

It has been a whirlwind bunch of days for us, albeit wonderfully fun and enjoyable. It all began long ago on the 20th of December! Brian's brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces arrived that evening for our annual "pre-Christmas" Christmas celebration at Brian's parents. We went over that evening for some dinner and dessert. The next day we went over in the morning to have "Christmas" and spend the day playing and eating and eating and playing. We ended the day with some absolutely delicious grilled steaks by the Master himself (Brian's brother). The next day began again at Brian's parents with a birthday party and presents for all the grandchildren. You see, Jacob and his oldest cousin were both born on the 23rd (4 years apart). The other three grandchildren get included in the celebration since two of their birthdays are not far away and, well, because their grandparents love them all so much! We went out to eat for lunch and then later that afternoon everyone came to our house for the 2nd annual gingerbread (well, graham cracker) house decorating event. We ordered pizza and had a wonderful time. Brian's brother's family headed home the next morning, but we decided to stay home since it was actually Jacob's "real" birthday!

On Saturday morning, Jacob chose a breakfast of cheesy garlic toast. He thoroughly enjoyed it and then we let him open his presents. We had given him the Discovery Toys Super Marbleworks and he absolutely adored it - played with it for hours and hours. Midmorning we headed to the thriving nearby metropolis of Alvin for bowling (Jacob's request) and lunch at a "western type place," the famous Joe's Barbeque (really famous). He expressed so much thankfulness that day - truly genuine - and I was so pleased to see his birthday expectations had been met. At some point late that afternoon Brian headed out to stand in line for our coveted Christmas Eve tamales - 45 minutes waiting for our 2 dozen tamales off the truck. That evening we headed to Mass for the fourth Sunday of Advent and then we came home for a lovely lasagna dinner (also, Jacob's request).
What a day he had celebrating. We all had fun. It was such a memorable family day!

Of course before we knew it, we were waking up to Christmas Eve day. I thought it would be a little more relaxing because we were basically staying home until Mass at 4:30. But it too proved to be busy and packed with activity. I had a birthday cake to bake for Jesus and one more batch of sugar cookie cutouts (Santa would have an empty plate otherwise). I had one more handmade pillowcase to make for one of my little ones and a Christmas Eve meal to think about. At some point I realized I also needed to head back to the store to get a little extra food for our meal that evening. We were going to Mass with my parents at their parish and we were so happy that they also accepted our invitation for dinner afterwards. The amazing thing - there was no one at Kroger on Christmas Eve at 2pm !!!! (Yeah, right!) The whole afternoon and evening were so special with my parents. Mass was long but lovely and our dinner together was lots of fun. After my parents left we hurried the kids to bed and finished preparations. I made an egg casserole to bake in the morning and got all the stuff ready to make caramel sticky buns for our breakfast too. We were up late, but of course it was worth all the smiles on Christmas morning.

And Christmas morning was by far my favorite period of celebration. We got up and searched for baby Jesus hidden upstairs in our bedroom. Nicole found Jesus but she wanted Jacob to be able to place Him in the manger. Brian read us the Christmas story out of their children's Bible before we headed downstairs to see Santa. The children were wide-eyed and so excited to see their Santa gifts all laid out. Jacob's favorite seemed to be his scooter. Nicole fell in love with her Bitty Baby doll and a plain little Ballerina Barbie doll. Andrew was interested in all the toys, especially those that weren't his. :) We had a nice break for breakfast preparations and eating. We opened some presents from my sisters, put Andrew down for a nap and had some more time for Brian and I to open the rest of our presents to each other. After a while we got the house basically tidy and got ready to go spend the day with Brian's parents. We had lunch and more celebration there. It was a fun day! We got home early enough that the kids still had some time to enjoy their Santa toys before bed.

It has been a lovely holiday. We have enjoyed our family time so much. We are full of love and we are also pooped. Shortages of naps were showing their effects and our poor diet wasn't helping. Yesterday we were able to stay home and work around the house. I even managed to get all the toys sorted and organized, as well as some old toys cleared out and put in the van for donating. The children were more on schedule and I think that helps them tremendously. I think even getting things organized yesterday has benefited them greatly. We just aren't used to mounds of toys piled everywhere.

The best part is Brian is still off from work. He goes back on the 2nd and we are so happy to have him around for so many days. Jacob and Andrew have their checkups at the doctor tomorrow morning and then Brian's parents are keeping the kids so Brian and I can have a date for the afternoon and dinner. Can't wait!!!!!! Friday I get to spend a special afternoon out with my dear friend Robin. Can't wait!!!!!! We are also planning a few more visits with family and hope to get our master bathroom painted.

I pray you all had a wonderful Christmas. Despite the tiredness, the busyness, the often times craziness of it all, I wouldn't trade those days for anything. The memories are so valuable to me. And more than anything, it is such a privilege to celebrate our Savior's birth with the children. I want them to love the day because they love Jesus so much. With this in mind, I have been doing something out of the ordinary (for me at least) since Christmas Eve. Usually, I kiss Jacob and Nicole goodnight and then take Andrew to go read a book before bed. Brian then finishes up the last little goodnights, requests and questions. Normally I don't go back in and the kids go on to sleep. These past several nights though I have been going back in to sing a Christmas hymn to Jacob and Nicole. They are quiet with precious, peaceful little smiles, enjoying every note. It is a precious moment for me too. I pray they will remember this and many other beautiful Christmas memories for all their lives.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Jacob!

To my precious first born, my precious first son - Happy 6th Birthday!

Six years ago we were so excited and couldn't wait to meet you. But you were running late. We were expecting you around December 16th, but you decided you were not ready to make your appearance just yet! So as the 22nd rolled around we thought we might try the doctor's silly suggestion and add a little castor oil to a milkshake - just "to get things going." It did and you were born approximately 7 hours later - December 23rd at 4:36 in the morning. What an incredible Christmas present!

And so here we are, six years, 55 pounds and 49 inches later. You are a magnificent boy in every way! You impress me with your thoughtfulness and sensitivity to the things of God. You love to read and learn and I love to watch you do it. You are a super big brother and a big helper to mom and dad. With every day, I enjoy seeing how you grow, hearing what you are thinking and smiling at your bright smile and contagious laughter.

I love you so much Jacob. I want you to know how much more beautiful my life is because of you. I thank God for sending you to me to care for you, teach you, love you and learn from you. Happy Birthday, Son!

Monday, December 18, 2006

And the photos....

Here is Jacob's horse cake! He was so excited to go downstairs and see it the mroning of his birthday party!

Jacob and Nicole pose for a shot at the beginning of the party! Come on! Look happy!!

The littlest cowboy!

Here everybody is playing one of the party games - rope the horse!
My brother-in-law asked what breed of horse this was. I said, "Why, a saw horse of course!"

Time to blow out the candles. Jacob had the most sweet little look on his face when everyone was singing to him. It just made think how old, yet how young he really is!

It was a really fun day and every time I take great pleasure in preparing for their parties and then watching their joy shine forth.

The Birthday Party

Another birthday party has come and gone. Saturday Jacob celebrated his birthday with friends and family, despite missing granparents. :(( He will not turn 6 years old until December 23rd, but we have always celebrated with everyone a little early since we figure a few people might be busy that day each year.

He has been so into horses - horse books, horse riding lessons, watching Cisco Kid - that he had asked for a horse themed party. And so it was. I made the cake the night before. Devil's Food with chocolate buttercream. As I was decorating, he told me, "I like this cake and the icing. I think it is a good cake. I think everyone will like it." Oh, yes. And some of us a little too much! Who? Me???? We had horse games and grilled burgers and hot dogs. I think Jacob really enjoyed himself.

As for me. I was pooped, but so enjoyed my little (?) boy have fun. I can't believe it has been almost 6 years and 6 birthday parties later. Time really does fly by.

P.S. I am having trouble uploading photos, but will as soon as possible!

Friday, December 15, 2006

And a little addition...

Here is our wonderful home (I love my house) decked out in all its lighted Christmas glory!!!!!!

Notice those super duper read and green lights so lovingly hung by my husband!


I really wanted to write a post recently about Santa. There was so much discussion about the jolly old guy going on both at Danielle's website and on others. But I decided to hold off and ponder a while. Often times, after reading things like the comments on Danielle's post, which are all fine and good, mind you, I begin to feel like I am a horrible Mommy because I do not do the same in my family. I question and doubt. I beat myself over the head and I bug my husband about my concerns. Then I think and pray - for days sometimes. Usually, by then, I see the light. Many times I have noticed that it comes down, once again, to the question of whether it is a question of "faith and morals." I think that often helps.

The following photo of our newly finished wooden yard ornament, I believe, just about says it all. It seems to capture so well our thoughts and approach to the whole Santa matter.

Need I say more?

Well, yes. I am a prolific talker and writer. Have been all my life. So yes, I must say more. :)

I grew up "doing Santa." I don't remember my mom making a bigger deal out of Santa than Jesus, but we so enjoyed the thought of Santa coming and leaving our gifts. I recall writing a letter to Santa, at least sometimes. We had Santa decorations. I loved to watch "Santa's progress" on the Christmas Eve news cast. I used to look out my sisters' bedroom window for any sign of Rudolph's nose in the night sky. I would shield my eyes from the downstairs view if I had to cross the landing to the bathroom during the night. It was all magical and fun.

But, you know, I also clearly remember not even being allowed to decorate until AFTER the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I remember how I loved to arrange the Nativity. In our younger years, we would head off to 8am Mass on Christmas morning not long after looking at our presents. I remember searching for Baby Jesus and placing him in the Nativity. I recall the Advent wreath and the emphasis on going to Confession to prepare.

It all seemed to have perfect balance. I think my mother did a beautiful job, in this and area and in so many others, of making sure we understood the truly spiritual aspect of the fun. I don't think I would be able to pass that on to my children if she had not done her job well. I do not believe I was spiritually scarred by our belief in and fun with Santa Claus.

As far as feeling let down or lied to when finding out that Santa's not real, I did not. I know many did and that's OK. Feelings are feelings. I can honestly say I have no clue or memory of finding out. I guess it made no real impression on me. I do remember my parents continued to lay out our "Santa gifts" in our designated spots for many years after we knew the truth. More heartbreaking to me was the year when my mother asked us girls (we were teenagers at least, possibly some of us college age) if we would mind if she just wrapped our presents under the tree. I remember feeling disappointed about that, but of course I already knew the truth and was merely sad to see the Santa years go.

In our home, we will continue to celebrate Santa as we have grown up with and have in past years. I think if anything, we will increase our religious celebrations all the more. I cannot deny my children the magic I so loved. I know someday they will find out the truth. I do not know how that will affect them when they do. Like so many things in this journey, I will have to pray hard and do my best when the time arrives. It is possible they could take the whole Santa thing poorly, but they could do that with so many things in their young lives. We will try to steer them away from any focus on gifts, but I believe in some ways that comes naturally to a child. I think you could leave out Santa, the parents give the gifts and children would STILL anticipate the unwrapping. It is part of childhood. I think it is connecting that excitement with the excitement we feel about the gift of Jesus' birth that helps it develop meaning.

We love Jesus. We love preparing for His coming. The children adore the Saints and love those celebrations. But we also enjoy the magic of Santa. We will do our best to put the focus where it should be and enjoy the whole lot of Christmas fun and joy!

Just as Santa would, may we kneel down in worship and praise before our Precious Infant Jesus.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

He is his father's son

Not that I wasn't already aware of this detail, but today it was made so very clear to me. Jacob, my precious almost 6 year old first born son, showed his true colors today as we walked up and down every aisle of Hobby Lobby.

A little background is necessary. You see, my dear husband Brian has never met a piece of "stuff" he didn't like. He loves garage sales. He drives slowly by impressive piles of trash, I mean piles of unwanted items sitting near the curb. He salvages little things from just about anywhere. In his resourcefulness, I know he thinks, "I might find a use for this someday." Brian is a keeper. But I am a thrower-awayer - quite a ruthless one at that! There was a day years ago that his "saving" bothered me. But I must confess he has rubbed off on me. I don't like to pass up garage sales and often times I find myself glancing at those piles by the curb. I have even been known to rescue a few things. And, I must say, I have been amazed at the times when he HAS found a use for some something he has squirreled away. Nowadays we strive for balance and understanding - it works. :)

Now on to the Jacob part.

As we trudged through the aisles, unbeknownst to his distracted Mommy, Jacob had been starting a collection. I knew he was telling me something about something, but, sad to say, I wasn't listening real well. So towards the end of our shopping trip, I noticed his bag o' stuff. As we made our way around, Jacob had been collecting Hobby Lobby trash! A bent paperclip. A rubber band. A stray artificial leaf abandoned on the floor. A few miscellaneous tags. A handy plastic sack. Several nifty squares of corrugated cardboard. Other pieces of brown paper and cardboard. The discarded paper insert to a roll of scotch tape. And a wooden button. I think he also found a penny.


He was thrilled with himself. He couldn't wait to get home, sort through his treasures and "make something out of them." How priceless! And he did just that. When we got home, he immediately dumped out all his finds on the kitchen table and set to work. It kept him occupied for quite a while. Even Nicole was interested to see what he had collected.

To borrow a little bit from Mastercard and a cute thing Amy wrote the other day:

The cost of Jacob's need to collect and store away: a new house
The cost of Hobby Lobby trash: $0
The cost of smiles and joy at the wonder of such wonderful trash: PRICELESS

Jacob, I love you terribly much - every bit!

When you need a horse shaped cookie cutter

they don't exist!!!

I am sure if I were to be out and about 3 months from now, I would spot them everywhere.

Jacob's birthday party is on Saturday morning (not his real birthday). So, today at Hobby Lobby we finished up a bit of shopping both for Christmas and the party. And I paid $8.99 for a horse cookie cutter!!!!!!!!!!! And 49 other animal shaped cookie cutters that came in the same plastic tub!

So let me just say that if any of you dear bloggers out there need any animal shape, you name it - I've got it! I would be more than happy to let you borrow any. I am sure plastic cookie cutters ship pretty cheaply.

My Mom's Sugar Cookies

This is per a request from Kris at Land of the Wee Ones. She was looking for a good sugar cookie cut out recipe. I would post it in her comments section, but thought more might enjoy it if I posted it on my own blog. As I told Kris, to me these are the best in the whole world. Yes, it's my mother's recipe and I grew up on these, so I guess I'm a little biased. But, oh, well. I know everyone has their own favorite, but here is mine!

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. lemon flavoring
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Mix soft shortening, sugar, eggs and flavoring. Combine dry ingredients. Add to shortening mixture and blend all thoroughly. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight. Roll 1/8 inch thick, cut and bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Do not grease baking sheets. Makes 4 dozen (or so).

P.S. I always use my stoneware so they take just a little longer in the oven.

I decorate them differently depending on the mood. Sometimes I sprinkle lots of colored sugar on before baking and that's it. My favorite, though, especially at Christmas, is to ice with a mixture of milk, powdered sugar and a bit of vanilla and then dump sprinkles on top. I have also dyed the dough before baking and it has turned out good too.

Hopefully we will do some tomorrow - our first batch. I made some thumbprints today and was not pleased with the outcome. Threw away the recipe. Happy baking.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Sorry for all the trouble with the commenting. I think it may have to do with the fact that I switched my blog to the beta format thing - whatever that is. I have had problems leaving comments, at times, on non-beta blogs. Now everybody just needs to switch to beta. Trust me, it was painless!

A Story for Life

I almost forgot about this neat little Sunday evening occurrence until I opened my purse on the way to the grocery store last night.

We went to Mass on Sunday evening since we were all worn out from Saturday. That is our parish's Life Teen Mass and it is very popular. As we walked into Church and through the foyer, a woman and her pre-teen daughter stopped me. She said that she hated to ask the obvious, but I was expecting a baby, right? I said yes. Her daughter handed me a hand crafted cross that she had made in CCE recently. She had carved into the back of the fired clay cross, "He who gives life will live forever." How beautiful! I was so touched and amazed. They apologized profusely for bothering me to stop. Not a problem! I am blessed to have been chosen. It seems the students had been instructed to give their cross to a mom with a newborn or an expectant mom. I won the prize that night! I gave the young girl, Angelica, a hug and thanked her with a hint of tears in my eyes. What a blessing she had been to me. I hope she knows that. I pray that whatever lesson on life this hand-craft was connected with will remain with her forever so that someday she may recall the same words, "He who gives life will live forever," and act upon them!

May God bless her!

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose, make intercession for holy Church, protect the sovereign Pontiff, help all those who invoke you in their necessities, and since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most holy Son the grace of keeping our faith, of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life of burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance.


May your celebration be as lovely as Melissa's. Beautiful job, girl!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Silly Music Question

A really important question for my readers:

Do any of you own any music done by "Mannheim Steamroller"? They used some of the music in Nicole's ballet performance the other night and I love it! But after browsing Amazon, I am overwhelmed by the choices. Thought I might poll you all and see if you have any suggestions.

I would also enjoy knowing what your absolute favorite Christmas album is. Each year finds me wanting to add on to our collection (very limited), but I am always so doubtful as to which would be a good choice.

Oh, choices, choices!

Let me know!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Second Sunday in Advent

Come, O Long Awaited Savior of the World! Come!

If you are looking for a couple of neat things for the older kids, I have been liking these from

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Pajama Dilemma

I know some people out there hang out in their pajamas for half the day - some by choice, some by force. I have decided, after a Saturday morning of not getting up early and readying myself, that I do not like remaining in my pajamas until 11:15am. I got nothing done and now I feel bummed out. I guess it makes the difference if you have a lazy pajama day planned, but I did not. Now, I did enjoy sleeping a little later (till 7:30), but I don't like the results of a morning without being ready by 7am. I suppose it is just the "morning person" in me, but I would much rather get up and get ready early - even on a Saturday. That is why I take my shower at night now and have for the past year or so. I was always a morning shower person, but after Andrew arrived it was getting too time consuming and difficult in the mornings to get the shower done. So I decided to start showering in the evening after the kids were asleep and, when Andrew was a baby, Brian could hold him for 15 minutes or so. I have loved it. This way getting ready in the bathroom takes so little time in the mornings - 10 to 15 minutes. I like to be ready to meet the day. I don't wear much makeup, but I like to have it on. I like to be dressed in decent clothes (not all gussied up, but presentable and attractive) and have my hair fixed (I straighten it and brush it out - not too fancy.) All these things come together to make the start to my day a happy and productive one. Add in my early prayer time and I am usually a happy Mama.

No offense to the pajama lovers who read this, but I think I just had a revelation today and know myself a little better. Even though I think I already knew this deep down.

I also believe that maybe it is a little insight for women who are troubled because they don't get much done in the morning or CAN'T get out of their pajamas until 10am. I find that when I am prepared to meet the day, it doesn't so much matter if anyone else is. And I can deal better with those people who are definitely far from ready to meet the day - little people especially. I think sometimes it is good to rework things so they work for you - so you can have a feeling of accomplishment

Now I do love my pajamas after my shower in the evening. Maybe that's my pajama wearing time of day. But no more pajama mornings for me. Well, maybe Christmas morning is a great exception!

Friday, December 08, 2006


Book and Music updates to the right in the sidebar!

Mary, we love you!

The soup I could eat till I explode

Thought I'd share a favorite recipe. This one comes from our church cookbook, Mary Queen Cooks, and was submitted by a lady named Lisa Williams (just to give her some credit since it is deserved). It is served every first weekend in December at our parish's annual craft fair. It is always popular. The first year I went, I ate the soup and then quickly proceeded to the Women's Council booth where I purchased the cookbook just to get the recipe. I love it. I could eat it by the bucketful. I made it the other night and froze some to have again on Christmas Eve with our tamales from the local tamale truck (that's another story). So here it is - drumroll, please.

Tortilla Soup

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. butter
2 tsp. Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
4 cans chicken broth
3 cans diced tomatoes, do not drain
1 c. Pace picante sauce
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (discard stems)
4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
Prepared rice, amount as desired
Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese, grated
Tortilla chips, broken into pieces

In a large pot combine butter and garlic and saute for 2 minutes; add Tony's seasoning and stir to mix. Add broth, tomatoes and picante sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add chicken and rice. Stir in cilantro and let simmer for 5 minutes. When ready to serve, place tortilla chips in the bottom of the bowl and pour soup over the top. Garnish with cheese.

I freeze it since it is a tomato and broth base with not much in it. It does well since you only add the tortilla chips when you serve it.


Flu Shots

Well, the dreaded day arrived on Wednesday. It was time for flu shots. Last year, Jacob and Nicole got them for the first time. Andrew wasn't old enough. This year all three were getting them. While it made me nervous, especially for Andrew and how he would respond to it, we decided it was a good idea considering our illness track record the past couple of months.

So off we went at 3:30 that afternoon. It was a special clinic at the pediatrician's office so we got in pretty quickly. Jacob had been dreading the event all afternoon. The WORD "shot" makes him bawl. Nicole had convinced herself earlier in the day the she "loves shots" and that she would be brave. And Andrew, well, he didn't know what he was in for.

Nicole was first the first victim. In her decisive and determined little way I'd have to say she took it like a man. :)) She did exactly as she had proposed and was terribly brave. Laid down on the table, received the shot without even so much as a whimper and hopped up and off. Andrew was next. He started crying the minute he hit the table - not because he knew what was coming, but because he is sensitive and even the doctor looking at him makes him cry. He did fine, though, and the crying was over soon after I picked him up. Then the biggie - Jacob. It took much coaxing to get him on the table. Thank goodness Brian was there too. The difference was the nurse. She was fantastic. She talked him through it, told him she wouldn't surprise him and she didn't. What a pro! What an angel! Then they stuck him and it was over. After the upset subsided, Jacob admitted it wasn't so bad. Now if he will only remember that for next time.

They all took it well. No noticeable side effects. Andrew's booster comes in a month, but I feel prepared to handle that one.

May we always be a comfort to the children God has blessed us with. And a watermelon slush from Sonic never hurts either!

Husband test

You know you have an absolutely top-notch, extraordinary husband when he more than willingly agrees to hang your Christmas lights on the house. Big deal, you say! I know many husbands do the same. But you see, mine is different. Brian hung these pretty new red and green icicle lights on our two story roof AFTER he had already hung our plain old string of white lights 2 weeks ago. What a guy!

You know you are pregnant AND a bit crazy when you see these pretty new red and green icicle lights at Wal-Mart and decide they would look so much more festive than that plain old string of white lights your husband ALREADY hung. You then proceed to bring them home anyway, rationalizing that you could always just use them starting next year. What a fruitcake I am! :)

So yesterday morning, dear Brian and Robin's husband Bill set to REhanging the lights. I so appreciate Bill's help. I am a bit disturbed though. He helped out so willingly and seemed to ask so few questions as to why we were rehanging lights. I have concluded 2 things about Bill as well. #1 - He is a super duper fantastic husband too and #2 - He realized long ago that his wife's best friend was a bit nutty. hee hee hee.

Thanks to both husbands, but especially mine. You are mine and I am terribly thankful for that gift. I love you so much. Not just for rehanging our lights, but for loving me beyond compare.

P.S. Brian, thanks for the new faucet in the kitchen too even though the other one wasn't old. :)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I think it is official

What started out as a couple of miscellaneous snowmen here and there several years ago, has blossomed.

I think it officially deserves "collection" status.

They are all just so irresistibly cute! I can't pass up snowmen when I see them. This year I added the skinny one with the black hat and no arms, the fat one with the black hat (towards the back), the adorable snowman head on the spring. I just love them all. I think I spent around $15 on all 3. The first two I got at Hobby Lobby last week and the one on the spring I got at our parish's craft show on Friday. Way too cute. Oh, and I almost for got the little tealight lap on the right that I grabbed up at Lowe's for $6.

I think this collection bug is something I inherited from my mother. She had (and still does) a Santa collection, a Christmas bear collection and an angel collection. I always loved putting them out each year. I adored them all. It was like seeing old friends again. I hope my children will enjoy the little things we collect and decorate with too. Hopefully they will bring happy memories.
First Sunday of Advent!!

Come Jesus, come!

I must say too thanks to Danielle and to "The Curt Jester" for this lovely piece of clipart! I love it!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Not only have we been decorating for Christmas, but I am also trying to prepare the house for Advent so that we can prepare ourselves to welcome the Christ Child. I was over at the Loveliness of Advent Fair browsing through all the wonderful ideas there and I happened upon an idea that charmed me. I was so inspired by all of Cheryl's Advent ideas, but really loved her idea for the lighted garland with the word "PREPARE" in it. So today we made a trip to Wal-Mart for various items and I found the perfect letters for the project. So I came home with garland, lights, letters and purple paint. I don't have a dining room spot to display it, so I opted for the wooden shelf over the children's religious bookshelf in the playroom. Here is how ours turned out. I love it!!!! Now if I could just hide the extension cord.

And here is our Advent wreath. We have had the wreath base since our wedding. It was a gift from our sponsor couple. I added the greenery around it many years ago. This year I was finding it a little boring, so I added some inexpensive (97 cents) woodland type Christmas picks, a purple bow and a lovely shimmery lavender placemat underneath. I love the new look!

This year we are also going to try the idea of adding straw to Jesus' manger. For each good deed or act of love and devotion, I will write it down on a purple sheet of paper and then the children can add a piece of straw to the manger of our family Nativity set. We did a similar activity during Lent, except we made a purple paper chain that hung around the kitchen and got longer and longer.

And of course we will be doing our Jesse Tree activity. We have this wonderful book. When Jacob was young we used the poster option. Last year, Nicole wanted to color ornaments too and so we hung them on a small tree we have instead. We will do the same this year. Someday, I would like to make more intricate handmade ornaments, but for now this works well for the little ones - printing on cardstock and coloring.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

St. Andrew

Before the day is done, I must post this find. Yesterday, Elizabeth Foss posted an entry about a St. Andrew Novena. Since this is our third son's Feast Day (Andrew Clayton), we thought we'd give it a try. We are offering this Novena for our baby on the way.

Attitude of the Heart

Around here fall is an attitude, as is winter. Here in Houston we can never count on the weather being particularly fall-ish or winter-ish when it's supposed to be. So, really, true seasonal joy must be an attitude that is lived out and enjoyed no matter the temperature.

This was so perfectly exemplified yesterday by my children. Might we all be more like them (in some ways and not others :))). It was a balmy 75 degrees outside and the ground had dried out from a recent rain. What's more, our great big Silver Maple tree in the back had finally figured out it was fall and has been dropping leaves like crazy. The kids have been begging me for days to rake the leaves and play in them. So yesterday I obliged. So there we were in our shorts and short sleeves raking, piling, and jumping.

The kids could not have had more fun! They were so creative too. They found more to do with fall leaves than I ever dreamed possible. They raked huge piles and buried each other. They filled the slide with leaves. They rolled trucks down the slide into leaves. They rolled themselves down the slide into leaves. They jumped off chairs into leaves. They made leaf pile forts and sat in the middle. What a joy it was to hear their joy-filled laughter ringing through the air.

You see fall isn't about the right temperature, but about the wonder of the season and the fun it holds. The same goes for winter and Christmastime. I have spent many a Christmas in shorts and if my holiday happiness did depend on the weather, I'd have been disappointed many a year. My children teach me many things. Yesterday they taught me to revel in fall leaves at 75 degrees WITH humidity. What will they teach me next?

Today we revel in drastically different weather. The high for the day was this morning at 7am (72 degrees). In a few short hours it dropped thirty degrees and got very blustery. Yesterday spring. Today winter. Despite the crazy change we are enjoying it. We are flexible. We can go from wearing shorts to building fires in less than 24 hours. From icy lemonade to hot cocoa in nothing flat. Like the Boy Scouts, we are always prepared!

Lord, may my happiness and joy never depend on things transient, but on things lasting, most especially You!

Now I'm off to brew something warm to drink!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Getting to Know Me and My Christmas Spirit

Robin sent this to me in an email and I decided I would put it on my blog instead. And I would like to tag Michele and Nicole.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

I really enjoy spiced tea when it's cold, but I like hot chocolate too. If I drink egg nog these days, it has to be the light version. The original version is just to rich and sweet for me now.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

As in our families growing up, the presents are grouped for each child some where in the same room as the tree, unwrapped.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

We have white lights on the house and last year we switched to white lights on the tree. I like them so much better!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

No, but we always did growing up - it was a really funny plasticy one.

5. When do you put your decorations up?

Sometime during the week after Thanksgiving. It usually takes a while to do it all.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Tamales on Christmas Eve.

7. Favorite Christmas memory as a child.

Really, the anticipation of Christmas morning. I remember looking out of my bedroom window after bedtime searching for Rudolph's red nose. I remember getting up during the night to go to the bathroom. To get to the bathroom from my room you had to cross a big landing that overlooked the den. I always put my hand up to shield my eyes for fear of seeing my gifts.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

I have no earthly idea. I just remember my parents kept laying out gifts like always, even after my sisters and I were much older.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?


10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

Brian gets the tree out of the box and sticks the layers together. Both of us do the shaping (reshaping), but somehow I think I usually do most of it. Then we put the lights on. Then the kids all help put ornaments on. It never takes long. They hang them wherever and for the most part we let them be. At the very end, we move the tree into the corner, I put the tree skirt on and Brian puts the star on top.

11. Snow!

Love it - the 2 times I've seen it, that is.

12. Can you ice skate?

Yes, sort of. I have been several times at the rink at the Galleria. I have to run myself into the walls to stop.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

No, I really don't. We always got so many things we loved. I don't remember one big favorite standing out though.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?

Nowadays, it is helping my children prepare during Advent to welcome Jesus. It is so much fun to share all the fun and joyful celebrations with them - the presents, the decorations, the cookies. But I feel a strong sense of responsibility to help them focus on the right part - Christ our Lord.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?

Cookies, cookies and more cookies. My mom's recipe for iced sugar cookies are my absolute favorite. I love them all, except the Christmas rocks my mother always made. We are going to bake tomorrow.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Decorating. Baking. Actually, I have always loved Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. We haven't been in several years (since before Jacob) and I miss it. There is something about going to Mass in the dark middle of the night that is beautiful and awe inspiring. Hopefully we will do it again soon.

17. What tops your tree?

A red punched tin star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?

I'd have to say both. It is so much fun to give. To my husband because I love to surprise him and please him. To my children because they are just so much fun to buy for. It is fun to put thought into gifts for others. It is fun to receive because it is neat to see the thought other people put in to gifts for me, especially Brian.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?

Hands down, "What Child Is This?" And I think I found the absolute perfect version by Mercy Me. Stunning.

20. Candy Canes! yuck or yummy?


21. Fave Christmas Movie?

The Muppet Christmas Carol, but I love so many of them.


Birthday Meme

I was tagged by Michelle to play this little birthday meme thing. So here goes.

Here's how you play:

1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday
4) List two important birthdays and one death
5) One holiday or observance (if any)

My birthday is September 9th.

3 events:

1776 - The Continental Congress officially names their new union of sovereign states the United States (the United States didn't become a country until the ratification of the Constitution).
1850 - California is admitted as the thirty-first U.S. state.
1956 - Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time.

2 important birthdays:

1828 (N.S.) - Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist (d. 1910)
1960 - Hugh Grant, British actor

1 death:

1087 - William the Conqueror


Japan - Chrysanthemum Day (Kiku no Sekku).

I tag Melissa and Robin. Have fun!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas Mess

I know. I realize it is only November 28th, but I believe we are in for a long month of Christmas mess. It has only just begun. Christmas itself is messy with all the wrappings and boxes and cookie crumbs, but I think I have decided that Christmas decorating is by far the messiest. I guess I should express some thankfulness, because at least it keeps me from being bored! :) We had a long weekend of decorating and refinishing the front door and sawing in the garage. The floors were absolutely horrible, but I knew that vacuuming and mopping at that point would be self-defeating, so I didn't. Yesterday we finished decorating the inside of the house and the boxes are once again sealed and awaiting replacement in the attic. We were very busy with school and decorating yesterday, so I designated Tuesday as the day! And, I must say, after a lovely dinner including lots of sticky white rice, I was glad I had waited - gotta wait till the stuff dries out. So this morning after breakfast (with lots of toast crumbs) I began. I vacuumed the whole downstairs, half the stairway and mopped the kitchen. As I look at the front hall I realize it needs wiping down too. Lots of dirty footprints. While freeing the stairs from the millions of fake garland and Christmas tree needles, I noticed something green and questioned whether or not it was actually Easter grass. Even though we banned plastic Easter grass several years back, I wouldn't be surprised if I were still finding it in every nook and cranny. Now, if everyone could manage not to eat, drink, come in from outside, cut paper or touch the Christmas tree and garland, I might be able to keep the floors clean. Yeah, right.

But you know, it is the mess that reminds me we are living and loving. Mess is inevitable. Happy children and lots of fun and work well-done are worth it all. I know it has been said before, but someday the mess will be gone and so will the children. Maybe I will offer up the messes and clean up 60 more times today with a cheerful, thankful heart. Happy Mess!!!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

An Eight Year Old Tradition

I guess this tradition had its beginning on our honeymoon, as we browsed the Amelia Island shops eight and a half years ago. We bought ourselves a small blue egg Christmas ornament depicting places on the Island. It was our first "married" Christmas ornament. We happily hung it on our tree that December. I think we even got out the camera tripod and took a photo of us hanging it. Then, that first Christmas (we'd been married almost 6 months), Brian gave me another new ornament on the tree - a sweet Nativity that he had written on the bottom of to commemorate the year. Little did I know then that it would become a tradition. Each year Brian "surprises" me with an ornament he has chosen. Now we have eight years of treasured ornaments. Last night, as we sat in front of the tree and the fire with the kids, enjoying the last moments of our long weekend, we tried to find them all. Finally, we did. It was a fun little journey through the ornaments. I love this tradition that my precious husband began - he is thoughtful and sentimental (only 2 of the many reasons I married him). I am excited to imagine 20 years from now the collection of wonderful treasures on our tree. For now, though, I will enjoy the eight we have and look forward to the ninth installment in the series.

The Honeymoon Ornament

1998 - A Kneeling Santa

1999 - A Sparkly White Reindeer

2000 - Another Precious Nativity

2001 - An Old World Cross

2002 - Noah's Ark

2003 - A Lovely Angel

2004 - A Glass Snowman

2005 - A Waterford Snowflake

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Long Awaited Day!

For over a month now, Nicole and I have been eagerly anticipating today and the beginning of a new Mother and Daughter holiday tradition! And today finally arrived.

After lunch, Nicole and I got ourselves all dressed up and hopped in the car for our drive into downtown Houston to see The Nutcracker Ballet. Nicole took a little snooze on the drive and I woke her up just as we were pulling into the parking lot. I found myself getting all choked up at the thought of arriving and getting ready to enjoy this special time with my precious daughter. We marveled at the beautiful theater. It had been so many years since I had been to see the performance, so in a way it was all new to me again.

The performance was absolutely stunning! We whispered our oohs and aahs all the way through both acts. You just couldn't take your eyes off the stage. Nicole excitedly commented several times on how the beautiful costumes sparkled - it must seem magical to her. After the show we went down to the theater lobby and saw several of the dancers in costume - the mice and the soldiers. Then we browsed the souvenir booth. Nicole chose a lovely Nutcracker - she really had her mind made up. We almost skipped along as we went to take our photos in front of the giant Christmas tree before leaving.

It was a magical afternoon. One I know I will treasure all year long. I look forward to many more opportunities to enjoy this tradition and celebrate this joyous season.

I pray that Nicole's dreams tonight are of the Sugar Plum Fairy type. I know mine will be of the graceful Snow Queen and her Snowflakes and of a blessedly happy afternoon with my little ballerina.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It is Saturday after Thanksgiving. As we drive around, running errands,etc., we are seeing more and more Christmas decorations going up, including our own. I wasn't sure I would be ready this weekend. Growing up we had waited until after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. While that was never a problem, Brian and I decided we wanted to do it differently for our family. To me Christmas is a season so full of joy and excitement and we like to begin the celebrations earlier. I really believe it is so much about what you focus on and not so much when. But I appreciate the fact that all families have different traditions and timelines. I think that is what makes family life beautiful. I believe that taking joy in the lights and the tree and the cookies are not bad things. When our focus is on Jesus, then these are beauties and joys that only add to our celebration of Him!

We had contemplated waiting until the First Sunday of Advent, next weekend. But on Thanksgiving, I was feeling festive and we decided it would be fun to at least get started this weekend.

This morning Brian and Bill (Robin's husband with the taller ladder) got all the lights on the house that go way up high. We will finish up the rest of the lights little by little and start working on the rest of the house. Tonight we will put up our tree, enjoy cocoa and tea and hopefully a fire. What a glorious time of year! This year Brian is going to cut out our very first wooden yard decoration - I can't wait!!!!!!

I hope you enjoy your family time together as you decorate, celebrate and prepare!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Thankful Heart

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!"

Psalm 100:4


Today I want to diligently remember and be mindful of all I am thankful for.

* For my God who loves and forgives me.

* An opportunity to start each day anew through the grace of God and with His aid to grow in holiness.

* My dear husband who loves me so much I can't fathom it. He is the answer to many years of prayers and hopes and dreams. I love my life with him.

* My four precious children. Gifts! Enough said!

* The ability to have children and raise them in the Catholic faith to know, love and serve our Lord.

* The chance at Heaven.

* The Eucharist and confession.

* Brian's job and all it provides for us. And the fact that he enjoys it and succeeds in it so well.

* Family and friends who give, give, give and love, love, love.

* Having the great majority of my family close by.

* The opportunity to homeschool, sharing faith and knowledge with my little ones.

* Quilts, quilting and the blessing of time (at least a little) and some money to pursue it.

* Good books and lots of them.

* Food (had to include that one).

* Celebrating the holidays with my own little family and building all kinds of wonderful traditions and memories.

* Digital cameras, computers and the internet - for all the good they are capable of.

* My life - it is all I could have dreamed and more!

And here are a few Thanksgiving turkeys to brighten your day.

Caution: Creative Genius at Work

Inspired by creativity and driven by neccesity, Jacob created this:

A what? A rope knotted between 2 swings. Oh. I know you are waiting for the genius part. Well, you see, Jacob knows how to swing himself. Nicole is yet to master that skill. Either Jacob or someone else has to push Nicole. So, he devised a way to swing her at the same time he swings! A rope knotted between 2 swings. Brilliant? Yes. Dangerous? Possibly. I just love it, though. I set a few ground rules for its use and then let them enjoy it.

Great job Jacob!

Happy Lazy Busy Wednesday

Can a day be both lazy and busy, you ask? Of course it can. It is lazy when you spend the day at home (our favorite) enjoying the sunshine and the smells of baking and the all the Thanksgiving preparations (crafts, reading, cooking). It is at the same time busy when you are doing laundry, checking the crockpot, doing school, reading and crafting and baking. It has been a lovely day! Just the right amount of lazy and just the right amount of busy.

Today the kids spent a little time adding handprints to their Thankfulness Tree in the front hall. They spent a little more time creating feathered turkey pictures.

Later, after lunch and playing in the sunny backyard, Jacob spent a good while creating the knight/crusader battle picture you see. Nicole colored alongside him - some of her best original creations to date.

As for me, I tended the roast in the crockpot, made pumpkin bread, did laundry, cleaned a bathroom (oh, boy), and made a buttermilk pie. We are going to a Thanksgiving Vigil Mass at Church and then we are going to attend the 3rd annual Pie Sharing get together afterwards in the Hall. I am looking forward to that. Hopefully there will be a nice turnout. What's better? Pie and people after Mass.

Enjoy the rest of your day!