Monday, January 30, 2012

End of January Days


Outside my window...
Dark.  My guess is that it will be clear and cool, in the 50's today.

I am thinking...
Thinking, thinking, thinking about AHG and issues we have in the troop.  Thinking about what has been said, what could be said, what could be done.   It seems as if every spare moment I have is occupied with these problems and how to shape our troop going forward.  It's Mondays like this when I just want to say that I've been Assistant Troop Coordinator for 2 years, and Troop Coordinator for 2 years, so I'll be happy to step down now and let someone else do the job!  Unfortunately, I don't think that's what God wants right now, and I keep hearing and reading these Bible verses that tell me that doing His will is not meant to be easy.  Sigh.

I am thankful...
For the Church and her wisdom....for friends who are supportive and encouraging...for my husband who listens and hasn't told me to quit...

From the learning rooms kitchen table...
Trying to limit trips out of the house as much as possible so we can stay on track.

In the kitchen...
Our dishwasher gave up the ghost Saturday night.  :-(  We had to wash all the dishes by hand, and will continue doing so for the next week while we wait for a new one to arrive.  I'll be happy to have all stainless steel appliances at long last!  But I'll be even happier if this new dishwasher works as well as it looks.

I am wearing...
Cozy sweatpants and sweatshirt, ready to take out the pup when he asks and go for a long walk.

I am knitting...
"Finished" my gray sweater this morning.  It needs work, however.  The sleeves are too short, the body is too short, and the neck doesn't curl the way it's supposed to.  Did I bind off too tightly?  I guess I'll let it sit for a bit and work on Pippo's hat and Meg's slippers.

I am going...
To the grocery store today!  woot!   That's the extent of our planned excitement for the day. Aside from that, I think we're going to be washing dishes by hand.

I am wondering...

I am reading...
I'm still reading a review copy of a book which I forgot about over the weekend, and I have Leisure the Basis of Culture on the nightstand waiting its turn.

I am hoping...
The dishwasher comes soon....Our AHG board meeting goes well this week...

I am looking forward to...
The chili-cookoff at church this weekend.  I won it a few years ago, but I just love going to eat the different types of chili!

I am hearing on my ipod...
I recently added the Jimmy Akin podcast to the lineup.  I enjoy his mellow voice and his very thorough answers to questions about the Catholic faith.

Around the house...
Umm...broken dishwasher....KT keeps asking how many more things I have to mark off my to-do list before I'm ready to tackle painting the bathroom and the library and the desk out in the garage.  Well, the desk has to wait for really warm weather---that garage is cold!  (hmmm, unless maybe I take a space heater out there?)

One of my favorite things...
Sitting down on a Sunday to knit and the family room is reasonably clean; there's no laundry to be folded or put away.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Washing dishes....AHG board as usual.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
Last Sunday's Primal Carrot cake.  Made with coconut flour and maple syrup for sweetener.   OMG it was goood!  Everyone loved it.

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Sweets

You'll find much more beautiful Sunday Sweets on the Cake Wrecks blog, but I thought I'd show you our little attempt at a giant cupcake for Meg's birthday.

 The cake on top was made in a pyrex bowl.  Now we have to sculpt the bottom to fit:

 Despite trying to brush off crumbs and apply a crumb-coat, it was still very hard to get the frosting on without crumbs!

 I used my handy zig-zaggy tool to get the ridge edges.  I've had it for years, and have used it less fewer than 5 times!

 A cupcake isn't complete without sprinkles!
 Or a polka-dotted wrapper, evidently.

 So you can tell how large it was:

I used the leftover green frosting and the discarded cake shreds to make cake balls.  They turned into a lovely (not) Shrek-like color, so I called them Shrek Balls.  A name which stuck and turned out to be rather....unfortunate...shall we say.  :-/

Friday, January 27, 2012


I'm really glad Gus is potty-trained now.

He sits at the front door and barks.

He sits at the front door and growls if there is someone nearby (instead of barking).

He sits at the door and rings his little bell.

Sometimes he does all 3.

And sometimes you take him out and he does nothing.

Today I think he's just bored.  And one-third of my walking crew is out of commission.

7 Quick Takes


It's Friday after a long week and we're not getting much accomplished.  Sometimes I wonder if the week is really as long as it seems, or if it's just Thursdays which are over-scheduled and involve way too much driving around.


One child (Pip) is sick with a bit of a tummy bug.  Not very pleasant, but he's not too bad off.  Meg, OTOH, who has a long-awaited Father-Daughter dance tonight, along with a lovely satin medieval princess dress, is beginning to complain of a stomach ache.  Keeping my fingers crossed!  Saying a little prayer for her!


I learned to make Egg Drop Soup last week.  I'd been seeing mentions of it on Paleo boards and thought it might be better than I always imagined---because all those egg shreds looked gross!---so I tried it when Dh and I went out to dinner after Christmas.  It was delicious!  I also thought that it might be the perfect thing for tummy troubles when you need something gentle, but you can't really stand the thought of protein.  There's nothing quite like being a nauseated low-carber and feeling like there's nothing to eat because you don't want toast or crackers!  Pippo has been loving it.


I use the recipe I found at Essential Omnivore.  Thank goodness for Pinterest!  I don't know if I originally found the recipe there, but I had it bookmarked on Pinterest and was able to find it easily for you!


I'm planning to show you a picture of the aforementioned princess dress later---with the Princess in it.  I've got lots of lovely satin scraps left over that I'd prefer not to waste...Any suggestions?


Now that the Princess dress is finished, I can turn my attention to the other projects:  homeless mat, dalek hat, and felted slippers.  I'm determined not to start anything else until they're all finished!  Oops, forgot my cotton sweater.  Yes, that needs to be finished, too!


I love to sit down in front of a good movie or mini-series to do my knitting.  Now that we have the ipad, I can watch something on Netflix with the earbuds while the kids watch Cupcake Wars or Chopped.  I just finished watching The Way We Live Now, a 4-part mini-series, that was fab.u.lous.  It's another 19th century costume drama.  Love it.  So much that I think I'm going to watch it again since I was interrupted so many times during the last episode.  

Send me your suggestions!


Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pinning it Down #3

Today I'm joining Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things, to show how Pinterest is changing lives.

Here's the video tutorial on how to curl your hair with an elastic headband!

I did it to Meg and we used a headband that was too tight and ended up hurting her head after a while.  So use the flat ones that aren't as painful, and then maybe you can sleep in it!

We used slightly damp hair and kept the band in for only a few hours, but it really did work.  Unfortunately, the one picture we have from this day looks like a before, not an after!  Watch the video; the curls looked like hers.  It's great for a little change and not sleeping on curlers.

Double Digits!

Today my baby turns 10!
Showing off her french manicure that she did herself!

 I think we're getting to the point where we can't call her that anymore.  She's not one of the "little ones".  

 She's growing up, getting a sense of her own style, and she really loves girly things---like goofing off with her friends doing "fashion shoots".

 She's a sweetheart and a good friend, and she's a lot like her big sister!

Happy Birthday, Margie Bear!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Church Music

Since we sang a lame song yesterday for our "Gathering Hymn", and the director's pounding on the piano did nothing to dispel the sense of being in a Catholic lounge, I'll point you to Dan Lord's article in Crisis Magazine for yet another explanation of what Church music should be.

I especially like this section:

The Church put specific prayers and chants in place for every Mass many centuries ago, with the intention that we should sing them regularly and ritually: an Introit at the beginning, a Gradual and an Alleluia after the readings, an Offertory and a Communion.
Each is an exquisite gem that inspires everyone who hears. Each bears an aura of antiquity that is astounding: many of them would have been heard and sung by St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Albert the Great.
The Church prefers that we use these chants today, and yet most of us have never heard them before. The Catholic Church does allow for some latitude in the music planned for Mass, but what was intended as an extraordinary exception has become a universal rule. Sunday Mass is now dominated by songs which are quite often musically inferiorthematically inappropriate, and lyrically shallow. The result is a lack of unity in God’s family and a watering down of the Mass’s inherent beauty.  (emphasis mine)
It's not very long; go read it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes


I was just going to listen to a podcast while I write my Quick Takes, figuring this is an easy post, but I'm learning that I can't multi-task as much as I would like!  The brain doesn't function well doing too many things of that nature.  I do wonder how teens manage to do their homework with music blasting in their ears all the time.  I don't think I ever did that, nor could I now.  They claim that it helps them focus.  What do you think?


My baby is turning 10 next week.  Double Digits.  The reality of that keeps hitting me in the face.  I look at the bookshelf and there are so many books that she hasn't read, or had read to her!  There are PBS shows that the other kids grew up watching that she's not familiar with! Wishbone, anyone?  I feel like I'm running out of time.  At the same time, I'm getting to do more for myself than I have in years.  I'm torn, but I do try to remind myself that in many ways she (and Pip) get more of me than the others did.  


I am doing a little multi-tasking this morning....not NOW, but a few minutes ago....I was knitting while reading blogs.  I'm trying to get a little progress done on Meg's birthay slippers which look like they might not get finished.  It's a gazillion rows of garter stitch (constant, plain knittting, that is) to be sewn together and felted, so I can do it without looking, and I have my handy little counter on my phone to keep track for me.  It even has a little alarm that goes off when I hit the "change color" row!


Yesterday I was reading a post at Mark's Daily Apple on contraception.  Mark did a pretty decent article on laying out the problems with oral contraceptives, but then I made the mistake of reading the comments (or a lot of them anyway).  A couple of people made a case for NFP, but they were pretty much shot down simply because people do occasionally get pregnant while using it.  No one mentioned the unintended pregnancies from contraception. Or the possibility that the users were improperly instructed or ill-informed.  STILL no one seems to understand the difference between "Vatican Roulette" the Rhythm Method and modern, well-instructed, NFP that is the Sympto-Thermal Method.  I find it very frustrating.


More than frustrating, I find it incredibly sad that people are so blase about children and the gift that they are.  So many people either have "absolutely no interest in ever having children" or feel they deserve one on their timetable.


In case you were wondering, the non-hormonal, copper IUD seems to win out as the contraceptive of choice for healthy people that want to do everything as naturally as possible for their bodies.  Real food.  Functional fitness.  No babies.  Makes perfect sense to me. (NOT)


And on that note, I will go awaken my 2 darling, still-at-home children so we can spend our rainy day together, doing schoolwork and curled up by the fire reading books.  Maybe watching a little essential, vintage PBS.


Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pinning it Down #2

Today I'm participating in Pinning it Down at Everyday Snapshots, trying to turn that timewaster that is Pinterest into something useful and lifechanging.
 It seems that I don't waste as much time on Pinterest as some people because I use it on my phone 99% of the time, and it freezes up all the time.  When I think of checking it out on the computer, I can totally see why it becomes such a time sink!
 There are so many great ideas on there, and I love the organizational ones.  I just don't have time for most of those right now.
 So this week I opted to try the new OPI Shatter nail polish that Meg talked me into buying. I didn't think it was that attractive until I saw on Pinterest where someone used it over another color and put the Shatter on diagonally.  I saw it there, but I didn't repin it.  It still counts, right?
 That's it for this week.  Changing my pin at a time.

In the interest of really changing lives though....I'm totally stealing this from Elizabeth Foss.
Take the time to watch this video.  It's 6 minutes that could change your life...or at least your day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January Daybook


Outside my window...
Still dark; sun is starting to lighten the sky and it promises to be another balmy day with a little light rain, I think.  We're having a very warm, springlike winter this year!

I am thankful...
That my brother's radiation treatment has been going well so far.  Thankful that they seem to be hitting the tumor and nothing else important (or we'd know!) like his brain or brain stem. He's able to walk to treatment from his office every day, and now he can wear the Exterminate Bob hat that I knitted!  He needs lots of prayers to deal with the side effects that are going to get worse over the next few weeks.

From the learning rooms kitchen table...
We're still working on catching up from last semester.  It was working well last week.  I hope we can keep up the momentum.

I'm thinking that I want to start a notebook or file for Meg where she keeps track of all the books she has read.  She doesn't love to read (gasp!), and she's a great starter of books, but not a great finisher of books, so I want her to record the ones she has read and build up a history that she can be proud of.  Have you ever kept track of reading, and how did you do it???

The kids are having fun with the new apps I downloaded the other day on the ipad:  Stack the Countries, Stack the States, and the Periodic Table Shoot-em Up.  Okay, they don't love that last one; it's not very exciting.   I got it because we always get hard questions on the periodic table at Trivia Night and I thought it would be useful for that!

I'd still love some homeschooling app suggestions!

In the kitchen...
We've rotated back around to Week 1 of my 7 weeks of menus and shopping lists.  It has been a real lifesaver, but I need to add a couple more weeks using my brand new Make It Paleo cookbook.  I made brownies from it Sunday and they were to die for!

I am wearing...
Sweats since I just took the dog out for our long morning walk.  Got to get up and shower!

I am knitting...
I'm working on a second Dalek/Tardis hat for Pippo because the first one was too big.  I finished the Dalek (Dr. Who) hat for my brother.  My brother's hat uses just the daleks on the bottom and says "Exterminate Bob" (the tumor), and  and I'm knitting a pair of slippers for an upcoming birthday next week.  Shhhh!

I am going...
To stay home as much as possible to get the millions of things done around the house.  I took a bunch of stuff off the calendar for this week and it felt sooo good!  There's still plenty of required driving that will keep me busy.

I am reading...
 The Touch: A Novella for my book club.  I also have a review book on Kindle that I have to read when I finish it.  The Touch is a light read so far, but it's got me hooked.

I am hoping and praying...
My brother continues to do well with his radiation and that his tumor is completely eradicated.

I am looking forward to...
Working on my knitting and watching Once Upon a Time with the kids this week.  I just discovered it and watched a couple of episodes.  Last night we watched the pilot together.   It's kind of edgy, but entertaining.  More like a Grimm's fairy tale than the whitewashed version we're used to.

I am hearing on my ipod...
I'm planning to start listening to Jimmy Akin's show this week to see what that's like.  Have you listened to it before?

Around the house...
Many projects in the works, including decluttering, lots of knitting, and a medieval princess dress for my Little Princess who is going to a Father-Daughter dance soon.  The dress has been a nightmare from beginning to, well, the middle.  It's not done yet, just cut out; there are plenty more opportunities for nightmares!  I won't even bother with the story of all the mis-steps so far.  I thought it would be a fun thing to do after the Christmas stress was over, but I was wrong.

One of my favorite things...
Quiet knitting time with a movie.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
After-school pickup during rush hour thanks to drama.  Ick.  An orthodontist appointment for new braces, and I hope that's it!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
Way too dark; can't see the details!

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, January 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes


Cool photo of Pip with his new light saber.  The Coolest.  Light. Saber. Ever.  (Or so I keep hearing!)  Meg took this picture of him in the pitch dark basement---along with a hundred others.

Gus had his Big Day at the vet getting neutered.  Here's what Katie put on FB after reading the paperwork from the vet:

‎'Your pet has been surgically altered. He may be wearing an elizabethan collar.' <--- The PC way to say that your dog has been emasculated and is probably wearing the Cone of Shame.
 ·  · Wednesday at 7:51pm · 

Oh my, that kept me laughing for quite a while!  Although when I take him for a walk with that thing on, it feels like I'm the one wearing the cone of shame!  If I'm embarrassed, how does he feel?


If you're wondering why he's wearing his leash for the photo, it's because we keep the leash on him all the time in the house.  It's awfully handy for catching him when he's done something naughty and is running away!  Or you step on it when you know he's going to jump---on you, on the furniture, or into the dryer.  Yes, the dryer.  He loves to get in there and steal the laundry!  Or if you see the end of it in the hallway and you know he's in the bathroom trash, you can just step on it and give it a jerk.  He gets the correction and he doesn't even know that you're the one who did it!  It's what the trainer told us to do because he has such a strong tendency to be rebellious when we tell him No.  Best tip ever.  


Meg and I have a big event tonight that we're excited about with the American Heritage Girls.  I'll tell you all about it later, and I hope I'll have some pictures!


I just went to awaken the kids for school (we're sleeping LATE today!), and I noticed that IT'S SNOWING!!!  That's charming and fun and all, but this same event (see #4) was cancelled due to snow and ice last year.  What are the odds?  This is South Town, after all, under the auspices of the Heat Miser!


Simply because the Heat Miser can't be viewed in isolation, here is his brother Snow Miser:

Yes, I know it isn't Christmas anymore, but didn't you just love these guys?


Time for school!  :-)
We've been working hard trying to catch up this week.  It would appear that we're much further behind than I thought, so we're doing several lessons of each subject per day.  Kind of tedious, but it works.

Question for all you homeschoolers:  Have you found any great ipad apps for school?  We have Stack the States and the Singapore Math app, but I'd love to know what else is out there.  There are lots of times when it would be great to have some schoolwork with us when we have to be out.  

(In looking for those links, I found Stack the Countries and Presidents vs. Aliens by the same person, so we'll be trying those!)

Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Epiphany Blessing

We did a little home blessing on Epiphany Sunday.  We were woefully unprepared, lacking a Priest or Holy Water, but we did it anyway hoping that our intentions and our prayers would be of benefit anyway.

 Here we have the chalk in front of the nativity, waiting to be blessed.

 The Father of the home doing his part.

The end result which is a little hard to see.  Maybe you can see it better if you enlarge it.  We used the prayers posted at Feast & Feria.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Birthday Season

As I said the other day, we're in the midst of Birthday Season here.  Today is Pippo's birthday.  AKA The Pipster.  I can't believe that he's 13 years old today!  He's not the boy you might envision when you think "13? Ugh!"  He's fresh-faced and sweet; funny and adventurous.  I love having him around!

 He's wearing his new Dalek hat that I knitted from this pattern.   It doesn't fit very well, and I eliminated the Tardises from the top of the pattern in the interest of time.  I promised I would knit him another one (now that I don't have to hide it!) that fits better.  I'll use the directions from another toque pattern that works much better.

Making a wish--probably for snow--because we already celebrated last night.  The boys have Boy Scouts tonight and he didn't want to be gypped out of his celebration.  His cake is frosted with caramel frosting from the Cake Doctor cookbook, in case you were wondering. Then he dusted it with powdered sugar.

Successfully blew out all the candles!

Here's a picture of Tom receiving another present, the day after his birthday, from the Amazon man.  It's a book of piano music by a composer he likes.  He read my blog on his big day, looking for a birthday post, and was slightly mortified by my comment about the number of birthdays in January.  Lol.  And I didn't even talk about how great he is.  Bad Mom!

Let me tell you:  he is great.  He's smart and funny, sensitive and easy-going.  I love having him around, too.

My children are such a blessing.  I never in my life imagined having 6 children.  I never imagined having 4 boys---they were such a foreign concept to me!  I can't imagine my life without a single one of them.  My daughter got mad at me (I think she was kidding) for calling Tom "the best" on his FB page, but I didn't mean it in the respect that he's the best of my children, just that he's the best Tom.  They're all the best!  It's weird to say that I love them all equally, because I don't think you can quantify love, but I love them all in different ways for their different qualities and personalities.  

Even though I was young and inexperienced and not very wise when I had 2 children, I could see that the Catholic Church's respect for Life was very important.  I think that's the single biggest thing that drew me into the Church; I wanted to be in a place that accepted my children as the gifts they are.

Monday, January 9, 2012


With all the excitement in the blogosphere about Season 2 of Downton Abbey starting last night, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

Dh and I had a big date Saturday night because the kids gave us a gift card to one of our favorite restaurants, and they were going to stay home to have pizza and a movie.  We thought about going to the movies, but there's really nothing out that we care to see.  So I talked him into watching Downton Abbey on Netflix.

I think we watched 4 (!) episodes Saturday night and three more Sunday night to finish the season.  Sadly, we didn't finish in time to watch the premiere of Season 2 on TV.  We'll watch that sometime this week.  Totally hooked, I tell you.  I can't wait to see what Season 2 brings----I do hope it brings more episodes than Season 1.

Are you hooked too???

Watch Downton Abbey Season 2 Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Friday, January 6, 2012

7 Epiphanies


I'll bet you didn't know you could have 7 (seven!) Epiphanies.  In addition to epiphany being the Manifestation of Christ to the Magi, it's also 
• a moment of sudden revelation or insight.


I see my last post was Monday.  And now it's Friday.  Let me just say that the busy-ness of 2012 has started with a vengeance.  Some of that (hello, Last Minute Knitting Projects) is self-imposed, and some of it (oh hey, Driving Here There, and Everywhere In One Day) is not.  Yesterday was crazy.  Today is only slightly less-so.  But I have real hope, keeping my fingers crossed, that next week will be better!


Today is the Feast of the Epiphany and Tom's 16th birthday!  We'll be celebrating all weekend with a little birthday tonight, a birthday party tomorrow, and Epiphany with the rest of the Church on Sunday.  If I were going to start a diet lifestyle as a New Year's Resolution, now would not be the time.  amiright?
One of Tom's favorite, geeky gifts for Christmas.  An essential resource for Academic Team members!

And then on Tuesday there's Pippo's 13th birthday, too.  January is Birthday Month in our families----3 in our nuclear family, both my brother and sister, and 2 nieces!  Sheesh.  There must not be any sports on tv in April!

Back to Epiphany....I really want to do the home blessing this year.  I think we did it once, a long time ago, but it has been a long, long time.

My College Boys are back at school as of yesterday....that was part of the crazy amount of driving I was talking about....we're going to miss their presence.  I love having them around.  They make me laugh and they make me happy.  But I don't have to do their laundry, now, either, so let's focus on that.  I was definitely feeling the laundry strain over break!

It's officially the 2nd day of school here, and we have lots of work to do to start catching up from the crazy-busyness of the late fall.  But I'm taking time to read all the blogs I missed yesterday in the frenzy that was my day.  It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

I really wonder if the retailers have convinced us that we need to get organized in January, or if they're capitalizing on what we were feeling, anyway.  What do you think?

Even though I try not to get caught up in the hype, I can feel the strong pull to start cleaning up and decluttering my home.  However, in an effort to thwart the retailers, I won't be buying storage containers and keeping all our junk squirreled away, but will actually Get Rid of It!

It's also getting to be time to put the kids back to work and turn off the television!

Yesterday was a very good start to the year.  We went to Mass as a family since I didn't have to sing, and it was very nice to be together.

I started cooking when I got home so we could have a proper feast when K & B returned from their New Year's celebrations.  We had to eat at 3:00 so Pip and I could get to the church where we had our homeschool drama production last night.  The kids performed A Christmas Carol as a gift for Our Blessed Mother.  I was a little concerned about how it would go since dress rehearsal was 2 weeks ago, before Christmas, but it was really beautiful and a lot of fun.

After all the cleanup at the church, we came back to snack on leftovers and have ice cream for dessert before bed.  Enjoying having the kids here for a few days longer!

It seems that despite my best intentions, I'm making some plans for the new year.  ;-)  I do think that it should be an ongoing thing, not just a yearly plan, though.  I like Jen Fulwiler's (of Conversion Diary) method of using the major feasts of the Church as an opportunity for reflection and renewal.

In terms of spiritual growth, I'll be working harder at daily spiritual reading and the rosary.  My house is full of excellent resources that I've never gotten to!   Maybe going back to the Daily Office on my iphone.

Personal growth means talking less about myself, being a better listener, and offering to help others more.

The house is an ongoing challenge, but the big project for the year seems to be redecorating the library.  It's the first room you see when you walk in the house and the computer armoire, which won't close, is a constant, cluttered mess.   My Katie is excited to help me re-do it.  I found a desk that I love at Goodwill, and I'm looking forward to painting it and moving it in here!

I should probably take the Before picture today since we'll probably dive right in with some easy stuff today!


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