Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

T-15 minutes and counting. Hitch is at a party and everyone else is sprawled around the family room waiting, or sleeping. I'm reading everyone's New Year's Resolutions on their blogs.

I love this. You can go to the website below and answer their questions. They'll tell you what your resolutions should be. It sure beats the work of trying to figure them out yourself, and they'd probably be the same, anyway!

You Should Make 3 Resolutions

Lose Weight

Save Money

Reduce Stress Overall

Since I'm not a big fan of introspection, I took the easy way out.

Actually, I really don't like New Year's Resolutions. Despite the fact that I'm a list-maker, I'm also one who like to fly by the seat of her pants. When I've tried to make resolutions in the past, it has felt hollow, empty, and forced. I'm sure you can guess the outcome. I'm sure I could make a year's worth of Friday Fails on them.

I don't want to get into the habit of waiting until January 1 to be a better person anymore than I want to wait until Monday to start a diet. I remember, as a child, that every time we got a new car the folks resolved that we were going to start wearing seat belts. Well, that never happened---not until my first date with Dh when he buckled me in and told me I had to wear it. Simple as that! Isn't he a sweetheart?

Self-improvement has to be an ongoing effort. Our family goal is to go to Confession once a month, preferably more. That's at least a monthly opportunity to start afresh. But there are opportunities daily. Every day should end with an examination of conscience of sorts where we look at what we've done wrong, or omitted, and how we can do better tomorrow with God's grace. Every moment is an opportunity to say "yes" to God. Mother Teresa, in her writings, said that she never wanted to deny Christ anything He asked of her. Her constant prayer was that she would never say "no" to Him. We have those same opportunities, because every inspiration we have to do good comes from God. Inspirations like calling a sick friend, preparing a meal for someone, getting off the computer to read the Bible or pray a rosary, or answering the cry of a child.

So, my resolutions for this year (because it is now after midnight! Happy New Year!) are the same as my resolutions were yesterday, and the day before that:

1. To pray more frequently throughout the day, and, most importantly, to start my day on my knees.
2. To respond positively to those inspirations from God.
3. To trust in God and stop worrying so much about everything.
4. To be more loving, especially when I feel the least loving!
5. To eat in a healthful manner that helps me to be the best I can be.
6. To end my day on my knees in self-examination.

I'm probably not going to be a dramatically different person this year, but I'm slowly working my way toward sainthood. God willing. I'm sure He is willing. Willing to help me in every way possible, but it all depends on how willing I am to work with him. Mother Teresa wanted to be "a pencil in God's hand" to be used by Him. St. Therese wanted to be like a ball to be played with or tossed aside, whatever He wanted to do with her. That's what I want, but I need to get out of the way, so to speak, and let Him do His work.

May the blessings of Christ be with you and your loved ones throughout the year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The 5th Day of Christmas

....and still on vacation. KT's taking my car for the day, so I'll be forced to stay home and relax!

Knitting, reading, puzzling, a little shopping. I'm starting to think what a shock it will be for school to start next Monday. I probably should put a little planning on my list of things to do while on vacation since we have birthdays to celebrate on the 6th and 10th. Oh, wait, does that mean I have to do more shopping? Dang. Shopping and knitting fish hats.

I almost forgot! I won a giveaway at O Night Divine! I won a Twelve Days of Christmas lapbook from Lindy at Lapbooks for Catholics. I don't think I've won anything in 19 years, since I won a sewing machine from Regis and Kathy Lee. Yes, I did! I was thrilled at the time and I still rely on that machine, but they sure give away much more expensive prizes now!

Anyway, I couldn't waste the 12 Days of Christmas by waiting until school starts, so we're working on the lapbook already. I don't think we'll finish it before the 12 days are up. I'm pretty sure we'll order a couple more after this one---like the one on St. Paul---and I don't know where we'll go after that. We've only done one lapbook before (made up my own on St. Nicholas last year), and it was fun doing it. I think the kids really cement the information as they put each of the little booklets together. These are just the thing for livening up the school days during the wickedly dreary homeschooling days of January and February where we struggle to get motivated each and every day. OMG, just typing that makes me dread the coming of next week.

I'll have to take some pictures of our lapbook. Maybe I'll get my new camera today! It's in the mail! I'm sure you'll all appreciate the photo quality on the blog after this. It will be wonderful to have a screen larger than a postage stamp and 10 megapixels!

I'm going to make a little carry-case for it following this tutorial. I made a beautiful one for KT for Christmas, but it only fits her phone. Maybe it will fit my camera.

Enjoy the rest of your Christmas, ya'll. I know lots of people are taking down decorations, but I'm enjoying mine fully until the 6th. That is, the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Then, and only then, will I think about starting to take them down. A little at a time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We've had a very nice few days here. Dh lit a fire under the teens on Christmas Eve to get them to help me. They discovered what I already knew---that Mom is much happier when everyone pitches in to help, rather than expecting Mom to provide the perfect Christmas unassisted.

Christmas Eve was great because we all worked together and had fun doing it. Everyone got to prepare part of the feast for that evening and Christmas Day. We had our usual celebration: watching movies, eating party food, looking at Christmas lights, and more movie watching (and maybe a little napping) before midnight Mass.

Mass at midnight was beautiful as always, especially the music beforehand! Afterwards, all the sleepyheads woke up and we opened presents at 2 a.m.! Bedtime was around 3:30 and everyone got to sleep as late as they wanted. I think I slept until 10:00 a.m. Then Madden made brunch with Uncle Pat & Aunt Michele's gift of Trader Joe's pancakes and syrups. Thanks, guys! It was great!

We had a great time all day playing with new toys, several of which were very active. HyperDash was a lot of fun with the whole family. I wish I had pictures of that one!

TMax wanted a "slosh tube" that we had seen on Mark's Daily Apple. So, MoW had gone to Home Depot for the parts. It's supposed to be 10' long, but we thought that would be too much for a child, so he had the 10' PVC pipe cut into 4 and 6 foot lengths. One for TMax and one for me. We'll upgrade eventually to the 10-footer.

The tube is half-full of water which makes it a little heavy, not too bad, but the challenge lies in the fact that the water sloshes around and you are constantly working to keep it balanced. Just carrying it across the cul-de-sac or holding it over your head is hard work! Here are a couple of videos showing how unwieldy it is.

This was taken the day after Christmas and TMax has already gotten much better at handling it. I wish we had a video from the first time he picked it up.

Here's another one of me with the 6-footer. Frankly, we think the 4" pipe is too big. It's hard on the wrists and too hard to grasp because you can't get your hands around it. I think we'll go for 3" when we get a 10-footer!

I'm going back to my vacation now. I've informed everyone, repeatedly, that Mom is on vacation. I'm cleaning up after myself, but that's about it. It's hard though! I can't stand the clutter that builds up and I'm not mean enough to stop doing their laundry. But that's what I need to do---stop all cooking and cleaning and washing so they can appreciate me. Actually, I'm not sure I need to be appreciated, just helped.

I'm enjoying knitting fish hats for birthday presents, reading (just picked up Summer at Tiffany), playing with their toys (Wii Outdoor Sports and Hyperdash), and watching TV!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Almost Christmas!

Barbara gave me the best Christmas present, early! She reminded me of Pandora where you can create your own radio station(s) and listen to music of your choice while you're on the computer. So I'm sitting here doing my usual computer stuff to the sounds of Christmas. And not just that, but lots of the beautiful chant and classical music that really puts me in the Christmas spirit. It's a much larger variety than I would have if I played all of our Christmas CDs!

This is wonderful because I've been growing increasingly frustrated with the "holiday" offerings on the real radio. Songs that are about winter, but not Christmas. Songs about breakups occurring over Christmas. Songs that have nothing to do with Christmas except the word "Hallelujah".

Thankfully, the penitential season of Advent is almost over. Have you ever noticed how if you don't prayerfully plan Advent or Lent, God plans it for you? Sometimes He alters your plan despite your best intentions.

I've spent a lot of time since Thanksgiving making gifts, and shopping, and decorating, and baking. In addition to the usual demands of taking care of a large family (which is funny, because I no longer think of my family as large---more like medium-sized!) and homeschooling. I've tried really hard to do the baking on days we were home and not busy. I loved my knitting and sewing projects. I truly enjoyed the time I spent making things for people I love. There were a few failures, which I won't bother to enumerate, but they were also lessons learned.

I did my best not to overwork myself, and I thought I succeeded on the one hand. OTOH, I've been an emotional wreck in the last week and a half that is unusual, even for emotional me. I'm sure there is more to it than just stress.

It's the 2nd Christmas without my Mom, whom I would have called nearly every day to share my triumphs and tribulations over projects.

MoW and I gave a talk on the Sacrament of Marriage to the RCIA class last week. Preparation for that involves more than putting notes on paper; it always involves a big test of our marriage! Thanks to the grace of the sacrament, we emerge from it closer than ever, but it's still a strain.

And sugar is evil. It does terrible things to me and my moods.

Now I'm looking ahead. The Joy is beginning to creep into my soul; I can see a glimmer of Hope as we prepare for the birth of our Savior tonight. I can't wait to sit in the church and sing carols and participate in the Midnight Mass. I look forward to celebrating Christmas for the next month or so.

Merry Christmas, everyone! May the blessings of Christ touch your hearts this Christmas season.

Monday, December 22, 2008

In the Bleak Midwinter

I just had to post this tonight. I listened to it twice this a.m. and just now with dh. It had me in tears, from the beauty of the music, the singing, the words, the mother and her baby. And the just the whole meaning, what it means for me today, as Advent swiftly comes to a close.

Make sure you watch it. You're not too busy. Very few things on those other blogs are this good. ;-)

H/T: the Anchoress I don't read her blog every day, but I was drawn to it today after a long absence. God wanted me to hear this and take it to heart. He really is active in my life. And yours. Look for Him!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

12 Days of Christmas redux

This makes me feel nostalgic for the days when my kids were little and I took all 6 everywhere I went!

H/T: Jennifer

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Fail!

It's getting late, I'll bet you thought I failed!

Actually, I didn't have any failures this week, or, at least, not the kind I'm going to tell you about. There was a Fail last week, but it wasn't mine.

Last week, we were celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with sopapillas and TMax was in the kitchen mixing them up. He's almost 13 and actually quite good in the kitchen. Smart boy. Knows how to read. Knows how to handle a mixer.

Well, maybe not so much on the reading. The recipe called for 4 cups of flour and 4 T of sugar. Now, I'm sure most of you can see that that said "4 Tablespoons" of sugar. Not teaspoons, which is the mistake he might have made as a novice chef. However, he read it as 4 CUPS of sugar!!

When he called me into the kitchen to add the liquid and roll out the dough, I (wisely, I might add) ran through the list of ingredients to double-check that he had added everything.

4 cups of flour?
4 tablespoons of sugar?
Ummmm, did you say tablespoons? I thought it said 4 CUPS!

After a long while and my mixing up a new batch of dough, he decided it was funny after all and said he'd let me use it on the blog. What a sweetheart!

So in the interest of frugality, we had a mixing bowl of flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda sitting on the counter for 4 days until I had time to figure out what I could do with it. Hitch want to bake chocolate chip cookies, so I had him do the math with the recipe so we could use it up. We had to triple the Toll House recipe to use all that flour and sugar. Even then it had more white sugar than brown, instead of equal parts. But we only had 1 small bag of chips which Hitch used 1/3 of the batter for. I added chopped cranberries and pecans to the other 2/3 for the cranberry-nut cookies we had at the Christmas Tour of Homes. Weren't they yummy?

Maybe if you're lucky, I'll have a spectacular Fail next week. For Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Christmas Tree

Last night I came home from choir rehearsal to a quiet house. Dh was asleep on the sofa and the kids were nowhere to be seen. Heard, eventually, but not seen. They were all down in the basement cuddled around the warmth of a laptop or making silly videos.

When we summoned them for evening prayers---our Jesse tree reading and the Christmas Novena---I discovered there were six of them! All six of them! I hadn't seen all 6 of them at once since Thanksgiving! Our tree decorating was tentatively scheduled for tonight, but the boys pointed out that The School had scheduled Vespers and they wouldn't be home until late. So, we had an impromptu tree decorating party last night.

We didn't drag out all the boxes of ornaments, just two. And I picked which ones to put on the tree.

We have so many ornaments it is insane. The children each have a box of their own because they get one from St. Nicholas every year. Plus they collect them from other sources occasionally. KT, girl that she is, likes to buy a couple that she loves every year. I didn't even consider getting their boxes out. It just makes packing up after Christmas a big nightmare!

I'm not sure how we acquired so many. I think it is because I love Christmas and I bought a few every year at the clearance sales. That, and I like to have a different theme every year. Sometimes it's gold---like this year---big gold ribbons and the nicer ornaments. Sometimes it's country with red, cranberry-style garland and more rustic ornaments. Sometimes it's white with pearl garland and predominantly white ornaments. Usually the lights are all white, but sometimes we go crazy and use colored lights, all the ornaments, and no garland.

If my house were larger, I would definitely have more trees. Or if I could afford the trees. I could put a small one in the upstairs hall and one in the basement. That way I could have more than one theme going every year!

I inherited the Nativity-collecting gene from my dad. I must have gotten the multiple-tree gene from him too. He has a small, but sprawling ranch house---basically, 2 bedrooms, den, living room, dining room, kitchen, and 10 trees. All different themes.

Anyway, I wanted to show you some of my favorite ornaments.

When we first got married and had nothing, not even money, we bought a few white tin ornaments. I love their lacy look and my mom taught me to love white things! But at $10 - $15 each, it took a few years to get as many as we have, and there's no picture because they didn't make it to the tree this year!

When KT was a baby and for a couple of years after that, we decorated the tree with those white ornaments, big bows with streamers made of crepe paper from the craft store. The kind you had to unwind with a power drill. And popcorn balls wrapped in cellophane and tied with silver ribbon. I got the idea from Martha Stewart, and I loved that tree!

We like to collect ornaments as a vacation souvenir now. We try to get the pretty gold ones, but not everyone has that style.

I love my Georgia Peach!

These two "Snow babies" commemorate the birth of TMax born during the Blizzard of '96 without the assistance of a midwife.
I painted ornaments like these when I was growing up (did you????) and I didn't know what happened to them. I found a collection of them at Goodwill one day and I snatched them up because they were nicely painted and reminded me of my childhood. I believe some of these are our old ones that Mom gave me before she died. She gave me so many things when I visited---things I discovered I didn't want if it meant that she was dying--- so I don't remember clearly.

Dh gave me this handpainted Russian pair that I love. They always have to hang next to each other on the tree.

I'm also loving this White House ornament that Mil and Fil gave us last year. It's beautiful and it's in the same style as our Mount Vernon ornament that we picked up a couple years ago.

As an aside, sometimes everything comes back to Mom. She's on our minds a lot right now. I can't look at that Mt. Vernon ornament (way up at the top w/ the other souvenirs) without remembering that I was walking around the grounds when my sister called to discuss what was wrong with Mom, whether she had had a stroke and which Dr. she needed to see. She also loved Christmas. What faithful Christian doesn't? And she could decorate a house like nobody's business. When she was dirt poor (hmm, most of her life!) she always had some incredibly gorgeous, unique and inexpensive decorative scheme. I wish I had her talent!

This ornament was given to us last year by one of Mom's good friends in Oklahoma. She had one made for each of us kids. It says:

Merry Christmas from Heaven!

I love you all dearly,
Now don't shed a tear,
I'm spending my Christmas
With Jesus this year.

It's engraved with her name and the dates of her birth and death on the back.

My tree is filled with the memories of past Christmases and the blessings that Jesus has given us. I hope yours is, too!

Tell me what's on your tree and why you love it!

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent Joy

Have I lost my joy? Let me check.....


Yes, I think I have. It must be here somewhere, buried under Christmas decorations, schoolbooks, cookbooks, and laundry.....

Do you need an Advent Attitude Check? Maybe you should read this article from the Georgia Bulletin. It hit home for me even though I have been trying to keep preparations simple and convenient.

I am such a Martha at times. Although I think that if Jesus were really in my home, I would be sitting at his feet letting the dishes wait. Trouble is, He's hard to see here. I know He's there in my children and my husband. I know He's at the church waiting for me to drop in. I'm so looking forward to celebrating His birth with my family, and I love preparing for it, but I'm finding it a bit hard to do on top of just daily living.

I'm pretty sure I know the answer to the problem. Pray more, not less.

Dear Sweet Jesus, in these last days before your birthday, help us to look for our joy in You and Your coming. Help us to be joyful in the present knowing that you are with us always. Help us to take time for the better part of sitting at your feet and worshipping you while the world waits. Help us to love You better each day in all we do. Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 Christmas Tour of Homes

Hi! Welcome to my home. I'm so glad you could drop by! We don't get drop-ins as often as we would like.

This is my favorite Nativity set. It's almost always in the foyer; I like to have this one where the children can move the figures around. It's beautiful, too.

The other one, in the living room is up higher because it's hand-carved olive wood, made in Bethlehem.

Oh, the tree? It still isn't decorated. We just put it up Saturday night and the decorating has to wait until KT comes home from college this week!

I have this little Nativity that stays on my window sill year round to remind me of the Holy Family.

But there's another nativity in the family room your children can play with while we have a cup of coffee and some cookies! I think I inherited my father's passion for collecting nativities, but I have a long way to go to catch up to him.

This is our Jesse Tree which we've been decorating little by little as we hear the story of salvation history from Creation to Zechariah!

Won't you join me in a snack? Today we have two of my favorites: Cranberry-nut cookies and Orange Coconut Balls which I always loved as a child. My mom made them every year and I only re-discovered the recipe last year.

Orange-Coconut Balls

1 12oz. box vanilla wafers
2-4 cups sifted confectioners sugar*
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 6oz. can orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. flaked coconut

Crush vanilla wafers to make fine crumbs. Add sugar, butter, and orange juice concentrate. Mix well. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in pecans or coconut. You can put the pecans in the dough if you don't want to roll them in it. Chill until firm. I freeze them on cookie sheets and then put them until ziploc bags to save for Christmas.

*The original recipe called for 4 c. sugar, but I cut it in half with no problem!

The cranberry-nut cookies started with just a chocolate chip cookie base and I added chopped cranberries and pecans instead of chocolate chips. They're festive and tangy!

I'm so glad you could stop by to visit! Please come again soon.


Seriously, if you're in the neighborhood, just drop by! I love visitors! My house won't be perfect if you don't call first (in fact, it might be downright disastrous), but I'll be happy to see you anyway!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Fail!


I was really hoping I could let this little Friday routine die. But until I change my habits, it probably won't die of it's own accord.

As we were going through the week, I was thinking that there might not be anything to post about this week. Alas, no. And let me tell you---this is a failure in so many ways.

It was my busiest day this week, Wednesday. We had to go to the Farmer's Market to pick up our produce, eggs & milk. Then we went to Joann's to get some more yarn for the scarf, then to Costco to pick up the Christmas cards. All in the pouring, "driving" rain!

Then we came home to lunch and finish up important schoolwork in 1.5 hours, during which time I decided to slice the turnips to roast them before they went bad. Got them in the oven, but they weren't done in time so I turned off the oven before piano.

Forgetting that we were going straight to The School to pick up the big boys and we didn't return until 5. Did I mention the driving rain that was still coming down? Seriously, don't they know we're in an extreme drought and it never rains like this?

So I had 2 hours to straighten up and get some things done before Choir. Fortunately I had gotten dinner into the crockpot. The non-burning kind. The best decision I made all day.

I awoke at 5 a.m. realizing the turnips were still in the oven. Sigh. But since I knew they wouldn't kill me, I turned the oven back on to finish cooking them. I know some of you are shocked, but we're a hardy lot! Our foremothers wouldn't have wasted them!

Between the computer and a much-needed shower, somehow those suckers got over-cooked, and here they are:

Just between you and me, I think it was the computer addiction that led to the demise of the turnips. Just as it led to the demise of my beautiful, broccoli soup the day before. I know you''ll be sorry to hear I didn't take a picture, but I was just too ticked off!

I had only gotten onto the computer for the simple purpose of downloading the Christmas picture onto a disk to take to Costco when I discovered the secret place where Costco hides the order form for Christmas cards. I spent over an hour designing my card (which I ended up NOT loving, after all) while my soup boiled away and burned to a crispy mess on the bottom of my pot. Sigh. My sweet children just thought it needed to keep cooking.

I need to STOP the insanity. STOP multi-tasking. So, today, I'm not going to do anything EXCEPT feed my computer addiction. The rest of the household can wait.

You know I'm joking, right?

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I found this pattern for a scarf, the Feather and Fan pattern, and I love it. Love it. It's beautiful and simple to do and memorize, but to finish it and get it in the mail, I have to knit 7" per day. That is a lot, especially on top of the projects on my dining room table that need to be finished and packages that need to be mailed.

How many other moms are going crazy right now? I'm sure a large percentage of them are in the homeschooling/handcrafting segment of society. At least at this point I'm not adding any new gift ideas to my to do list. Just the "to buy" list. No more hats until after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

100 Things About Me

I had no idea I was so close to 100 posts. It's December 6 and I just noticed I have 98, so it must be time to start thinking about this. And I know you're excited because you've been waiting anxiously to see if I would post 100 Things About Me that you didn't already know!

I don't know of any other way to do this than to start at the beginning and work my way through my life. We'll see what gems I come up with!

1. I was born in Oklahoma.
2. I have 1 brother and 1 sister.
3. My parents divorced when I was 4 or 5 (or both).
4. I moved to Virginia in 1st grade and I love it there.
5. I've lived in the Atlanta area for the last 12 years and I'm starting to love it here. Not sure if GA will ever surpass VA in beauty, however.
6. I'm bored with this already. Are you?
7. If you wanted to know 100 things about me, you could just read the previous 99 posts because I'm sure there are at least 100 things there.
8. I came into full communion with the Catholic Church on April 6, 1996.
9. TMax was baptized at the same time.
10. I learned from my stepmother that "Idle hands are the devil's workshop," so I rarely sit down to watch tv without something to do---knitting or folding laundry. Especially if it's a bad movie---then it's not a total waste of time!
11. Three of my children were born at home and 3 in the hospital.
12. I'll take home over a hospital any time!
13. Have I told you that dh delivered ("caught" I should say) TMax who was born during the Blizzard of '96 and the midwife wasn't there yet? She arrived 5 minutes later.
14. Homeschooling is like the marines; it's the hardest job you'll ever love.
15. I've been homeschooling for 14 years! But that would be much more impressive if I had actually educated someone all the way through high school. Those are the real champions!
16. My mom was an incredibly talented oil painter, but I long to try my hand at photography and watercolors. I'd like to take a class in both. Don't know when I'll find the time for that!
17. I'm only up to 17???? This is hard. I'm tempted to just skip it until I get to 1000, but that would probably be worse.
18. I remember that I loved to walk to my dad's university office when I was little (maybe 4?) because he had a cardboard castle covered in foil with a drawbridge that worked and a little electric light in it. I thought it was the greatest thing.
19. Nearby, we would stop at a drugstore for a cherry coke (you know, from a fountain with real cherry syrup in it!).
20. My family has mafia ties. Don't ask for details; I don't know them!
21. My uncle was kidnapped and held for ransom. I've seen the ransom note and I think it had something to do with #20.
22. Those are really about me, are they? Does telling about my family count?
23. #6, #17, and #17 should tell you something about me. I don't like pointless exercises and I'll do anything to get it done faster! Maybe I also don't like talking about myself.
24. I'm very good at spatial relationships. Just let me show you how good I am at packing the back of a minivan with 8 people's things!
25. I'm a logical thinker. I love "Cheaper by the Dozen" and Mr. Gilbraith's motion studies. I'm all for saving motions/work. Touch it once. I like to do things as efficiently as possible.
26. That doesn't mean I always do it. I am bad about leaving things "for now".
27. I have a beaded/sequined Advent calendar that I started making about 15 years ago. Unfinished. I think I'm giving it to KT for Christmas. She can finish it, or throw it away. Merry Christmas, hon!
28. I have dreams of living in the country. I lived on a rented farm during middle school and it was a great place to grow up. Lots of fresh air and hard work, mowing the grass with a regular gas mower, not a riding mower. Taking care of chickens. Helping in the huuuuuge garden. Running through fields, jumping onto those big rolls of hay, running through cornfields and getting lost and extremely dirty!
29. I loved living in that drafty, old farmhouse with a wraparound porch. Sunbathing on the tin roof outside my bedroom window. Playing in the hammock outside. Exploring all the different cubbies and rooms in that incredible house.
30. I did not love chicken butchering.
31. I used to refuse to eat the fresh brown eggs because they were gross.
32. Now I refuse to eat the eggs from the grocery store and prefer to get them from the farmer's market where I know what wonderful conditions the hens live in.
33. Back to the farm---we had 4 bedrooms and 1 bath with a claw-foot tub.
34. One bedroom had the doorway to the big, scary attic. We all refused to sleep in that room, so it remained empty.
35. So my sister slept in a sleeping porch (I guess that's what you call it) off my room. She had to go through my room to get there and the 3 walls that were not attached to my room were all windows. It was cold in the winter! Though I'm guessing the whole house was pretty darn cold consider how big and old it was.
36. And we were very poor at the time. I remember complaints about the price of heating oil and the need to fill the tank. We spent a lot of time in back half of the house where there was a large fireplace in the dining room. So, we built fires and kept the doors closed.
37. This was in Loudoun Country, Virginia.
38. My stepfather left when I was in 8th grade. We got to go visit him at his new house and see his new baby. Nice.
39. After that we moved to Fairfax County, VA, where I went to the same high school as dh.
40. No, we didn't date in high school. He had another girlfriend, but I dated one of his friends.
41. Also dated the son of an NBC news correspondent from the neighboring high school. I went to the Junior Prom with him (our 2nd date) and I still remember his birthday every year. It drives dh nuts, probably as much as "his old girlfriend Diana" drives me nuts. lol.
42. 42??? Are you kidding me? Not even halfway there? It's fun walking down memory lane and all, but I need a break. You too? Just come back later. You know you want to.
43. I ran track in high school.
44. The mile and the high jump.
45. That amazes my kids that I could high jump.
46. Me too.
47. I have great memories of going canoeing on the Shenandoah River with my church in high school. We went every year and had a blast.
48. When I went to college, my mom sold our house and moved to Manhattan.
49. During the summers after my first and second year of college I lived with her old friends in Virginia.
50. After my 3rd year I spent the summer in New York with her and worked at Lord & Taylor.
51. I slept on the floor in the tiny 1 bedroom apartment that she shared with a college friend, right under the window a/c unit that sprayed a toxic mist into the room and onto me.
52. I got sick that summer.
53. Mom and I took a taxi to the emergency room and found out that I had pneumonia.
54. "Walking" pneumonia because it was only in one lung.
55. So we "walked" back to the apartment! I still think that's hysterical. It was a long weary walk and we stopped many times to rest, but I'm sure she couldn't afford another cab ride after the hospital visit. And I survived. Nor do I blame her for it.
56. Blue is my favorite color. All different shades of blue, from periwinkle to teal.
57. My favorite food is chocolate.
58. My favorite ice cream is something that has chunks of chocolate, nuts, and ribbons of fudge or caramel.
59. Candy? Basically the same thing---chocolate, nuts, ribbons of caramel. Sounds like a Snickers! Yummmm.
60. I love to sing. I sang in the choir in high school.
61. I also sang in the Madrigals group in high school. We met at 6:30 a.m. once or twice a week and sang a capella. There were only 6 or 8 of us and we had to wear medieval costumes.
62. I sang in the Women's Chorus at The University.
63. I was also one of the early members of a group called the Virginia Belles---just 6 or 8 of us who sang a capella, again. That was a lot of fun!
64. I cantor at my parish now. It's sometimes a humiliating disaster, but that's life. Pray for your cantors and be sympathetic!
65. I was on the swim team in high school for a short time. We had to get up and practice at the nearby Club at 6:30 a.m., in winter. It was cold and hard. When we started working on the butterfly, I quit. I still can't do that stroke.
66. I'm a decent swimmer, but when I'm doing freestyle I feel like I'm going to drown. I think it's a touch of claustrophobia, surrounded by all that water, you know!
67. 2/3 finished. Are you still reading?
68. Kathleen is waiting with baited breath. I hope she decides to breathe because this is taking too long.
69. After 44 years you'd think I'd have more to say about myself!
70. I've been married half my life.
71. We lived in Williamsburg, VA for the first 3 years of marriage.
72. I love Williamsburg. What a lovely, small town. It's a great place to raise kids.
73. But it gets hot and sticky in the summer. Last time we were there for a visit, it was 105 degrees. I thought we would all melt!
74. I remember going to Williamsburg when I was little. I loved it then, too.
75. I love roller coasters!
76. When we went to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg (I think we got in free as city residents!), dh and I would ride the Loch Ness Monster repeatedly until the line got to be more than 2 minutes long!
77. I'll still ride coasters repeatedly if there is no line.
78. I can live without some of the super-coasters they build now. Like Superman. I'm not sure why I don't care for it. Maybe it is because it breaks down constantly and I don't feel safe on it.
79. I wanted to cry last summer when LP wouldn't let me go on the Coyote Canyon coaster.
80. Yeah, I'm childish. But you have to be like a child to get into heaven!
81. But when we met up with Tmax and Pipster, we were able to take turns riding the Ninja (yes, repeatedly) and watching LP because there was no line. I had never seen it like that, but all my kids (and my chiropractor) say it's because it is the hardest on your skeleton. But that made me happy---getting several good rides in.
82. Did I say that I love musicals? Even my kids do, and they're unique among their friends. My kids have seen movies that none of their peers have heard of.
83. I read Gone with the Wind in 8th grade. My favorite book and movie for a long time.
84. I tried to read The Lord of the Rings in high school, but couldn't make it through.
85. I read it for the first time when we moved here (1996?) and have read it about 10 times since then. Every time is better!
86. When I'm in a reading mood, I'll get stuck on a theme. I discovered Nicholas Sparks when I read his memoir, 3 Weeks with my Brother, and then I read the rest of his books. The memoir was the best.
87. Then I went on a Dean Koontz kick and read many of his until I got too creeped out by one and had to put it down. I think that was Intensity. Too intense.
88. I don't just read fluff. I read The River of Doubt about Teddy Roosevelt's adventure after his presidency and then got lost in David McCullough's Roosevelt bio and all of this other history books. One of my favorites was The Great Bridge about the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.
89. TMax reminds me of my Everest binge. After talking about mountain climbing with my brother when we were together during Mom's last days, he suggested I read a couple of books about the 1996 disastrous Everest expedition.
90. I think I read about 15 different Everest stories. Many of them were by different people on that same expedition.
91. But I still can't tell you the elevation of Mt. Everest.
92. Another favorite is the Horatio Hornblower series. I love all those books---and the made-for-tv movies with Ioan Gruffud (Yo-an Griffith) rock, too. Too bad they didn't finish the series.
93. I forgot to tell you about the awesome attic in that farmhouse. (Did you skip to the end? Go back and read them all!) It was huge, the entire thing had a floor and if I lived there now I would have it finished into bedrooms or a giant playroom. There was some great stuff up there, during the daytime. There was only scary stuff at night!
94. We had a dirt cellar and a smokehouse, too. My brother hung his rabbit skins in the smokehouse. Rabbits that he raised and then shot because they couldn't survive on their own in the wild. Seriously? Rabbits don't know how to eat grass and run and hide in the wild? Fortunately, he didn't eat my pet or my sister's.
95. I worked at a movie theater in high school
96. It was a great job and my favorite part was going in to "check the theater" during my favorite parts of the movies. You know, the good songs from "Grease"---we knew exactly when they were during the films.
97. Grease was my favorite movie. Still is. Shhh. Don't tell my kids because I don't want them to see it!
98. We drank (free) sprite and use strawberry twizzlers for straws.
99. No one ever read the big sign at the box office that said, "Please hold onto your money. It blows away." And they'd get mad that they had to chase their money across the plaza when it blew away.
1000. Well, it feels like a thousand! And #99 wasn't strictly about me either, but I'm pretty desperate to finish this ordeal.

Have I lost my 12 readers now?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

7 Quick Takes

I'm using Jen's 7 Quick Takes on Tuesday, not Friday. I know ya'll don't want anything to interfere with the Friday Fail. But frankly, things have been good lately, so I may not have anything for ya.

1. I suddenly realized that I'm close to that magical 100th post, so I've been working on 100 Things About Me. It's taking much longer than I expected and keeps me from posting anything else because this is #99! The blog may die here if I can't put down my knitting long enough to finish it.

2. I started yet another knitting project! This time it is a scarf for a man using the feather and fan pattern, also called Old Shale. I wanted to make the one Regina made, but I don't have the extra cash to spend on a book for the pattern. I also wanted to use the multi-colored yarn, but I got a soft brown and it shows up the stitches better. The pattern is lovely. I can't wait until I have a few more inches done and can see it better.

3. I finished another Rose Hill Hat yesterday. It's a pretty, dark rose color. I love that pattern though the bobbles are a nightmare, and I'd like to make one without any mistakes in counting stitches. I have the pattern memorized now, so that's great. I'll probably make another since I bought 2 skeins of the yarn and it used all but about 3 feet from one skein. It was very close!

4. I'm so far behind on Christmas preparations because of all this knitting. Or is it the homeschooling? lol. My dining room table is covered with things I need to get done----gifts to finish, gifts to mail, autumn decorations to put away. Gifts to start are in the corner.

5. St. Nicholas Day was wonderful even though the kids didn't all get up at the same time. We didn't force it this year. Hitch had to open and run because he was scheduled for his last SAT ever, the History subject test.

6. We didn't end up staying for the whole Two Hearts Vigil on Friday. Too much St. Nick stuff to do. So after Hitch finished his test, which was only a 1 hour test, we went to confession. That was our marathon of spirituality because the line was very long----I think the priest forgot that he was supposed to be there because I saw him go in shortly after we arrived! I got a couple of inches done on my hat (#3) that morning! The whole day was wonderful. I love those grace-filled days and we hadn't had one in far too long.

7. Did you see the widget for the Christmas Tour of homes? Up, right? Last year it was fun to see what others had done with their homes. I'm hoping to participate this year if we get some decorating done this weekend.


Stay tuned for 100 Things About Me. Tomorrow? We'll see!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Date Night

I'm so excited. Dh and I have a date tonight! A few of the kids will be tagging along, but that's okay because we're going to the Alliance of the Two Hearts Vigil.

Our home has been enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the past 6 years, and we love these monthly vigils put on by the Alliance, although they have a different enthronement to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We haven't been to one in ages. It's all but impossible during football season.

The vigil will begin at 8:00pm with scriptural rosary and confessions, a 9:00pm Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to be celebrated by Archbishop Emeritus Donoghue, followed with Holy Hours of Adoration and will conclude with a 1:00am Saturday Mass in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It's a marathon of prayer and spirituality but it refreshes the soul. Just what I need in this first week of Advent!

From the Fisheater's Website:
General devotion to the Sacred Heart, the birthplace of the Church and the font of Love, were popular in Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries, especially in response to the devotion of St. Gertrude the Great (b. 1256), but specific devotions became even more popularized when St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a Visitation nun, had a personal revelation involving a series of visions of Christ as she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote, "He disclosed to me the marvels of his Love and the inexplicable secrets of his Sacred Heart." Christ emphasized to her His love -- and His woundedness caused by Man's indifference to this love.

He promised that, in response to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to His Sacred Heart:

  • He will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
  • He will establish peace in their homes.
  • He will comfort them in all their afflictions.
  • He will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
  • He will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
  • Sinners will find in His Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
  • Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
  • Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
  • He will bless every place in which an image of His Heart is exposed and honored.
  • He will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  • Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in His Heart.
  • In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

The devotions attached to these promises are:

  • Receiving Communion frequently
  • First Fridays: going to Confession and receiving the Eucharist on the first Friday of each month for nine consecutive months. Many parishes will offer public First Friday devotions; if they do, you must perform First Fridays publicly. If it isn't so offered in your parish, you can do this privately, going to Confession, receiving the Eucharist, and offering your prayers for the intention of the Holy Father.
  • Holy Hour: Eucharistic Adoration for one hour on Thursdays ("Could you not watch one hour with me?"). Holy Hour can be made alone or as part of a group with formal prayers.
  • Celebrating of the Feast of the Sacred Heart (see below)

Note also that June is devoted to the Sacred Heart.

Coffee Fail

When I titled Tuesdays' post "Back to the Daily Grind" dh immediately thought it was a coffee reference. To be honest, so did I. I thought that post should be about coffee. But I decided it would be better to save for a Friday Fail.

Because it was a serious failure.

When we got back from the beach Sunday evening, the Master of the World went out for necessities, coffee being one of them. Typically frugal, he picked up the cheapest beans on sale.

A guy could seriously lose his title "Master of the World" for a mistake like this one!

I can't remember when I've had such bad coffee! No smooth, mellow, comforting warmth. There's warmth, but it burns my throat all the way down. It's rough and acidic. And it doesn't taste very good on the tongue, either.

I had to go out and buy some of this to mix with it and, hopefully, mellow the experience somewhat. It's much better. Not perfect, but better. Oh, and this one was on sale too, so we didn't just mix the cheap, bad coffee with expensive, good coffee. We mixed it with cheap, good coffee.

Buy good coffee, folks. It's worth it. One of our favorites is Starbuck's Caffe Verona when it's on sale at Target! Or a special trip to Trader Joe's for a really good deal on coffee beans! 'Cuz no one wants to greet the new day by burning away their esophagus.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

St. Nicholas preparations!

Catholic Cuisine is having a St. Nicholas fair and I found this suggestion for stand-up St. Nicholas figures. One mom suggested that they were good candy-cane holders, so I took her idea and ran with it!

The pattern is here at the St. Nicholas Center website. We printed out the pages on white cardstock (since I miraculously had some) and colored them instead of tracing onto colored paper.

Little Princess even wrote a letter to St. Nick asking for sweet candy canes, not minty ones.

It says:
Dear St. Nick
Please give me sweet candy canes that are not mint flavor.

p.s. Pleas do it. O and a box.

I see that she added the "O and a box. Meg" after I took the picture!

We're excited for the feast on Saturday. We're making Speculaas cookies tomorrow and we'll have beignets for breakfast on Saturday. I don't know that they have anything to do with St. Nick, but my kids love them for New Year's Eve, St. Nicholas Day, and the first day of school.

And now, we're off to mail some packages!

A Meditation on Christmas Lights

As I was driving home in the dark last night from choir rehearsal, I was noticing the darkness. I saw the beautiful, lighted tree on the roof of the medical buildings near my home and thinking about how happy the lights make me. Is it because it's so dark out and I don't drive much at night? Or is it because they remind me that Christmas is near?

This past week I've been struggling. I'm struggling with my prayer life, trying to get into the habit again. It always falls apart on vacation.

I'm struggling with trying to bring the Christmas spirit into our home where the younger children all have huge lists of things they want. No talk of what to do for others or give to others. Except that one sweet child did point out a perfect present for me, and he was right!

So, as I was driving home, praying the rosary, and thinking about the lights in the darkness, it occurred to me that Christmas lights and decorations have become a huge business. Every year, it seems that the Christmas section at Target grows. The light display gets more attention than almost anything else. Are we putting on such a grand display outside our homes because we are joyously anticipating the coming of Christ and His birthday? Or do the lights illustrate the darkness in our hearts? Do the displays get grander every year because the world is darker and our hearts are farther from the Lord?

Is everyone seeking The Light, but looking for it here:

Instead of here:

I'm certainly not criticizing anyone for decorating outside and celebrating Christmas. I do it myself. We'll pull out the lights on the 3rd Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday. The children enjoy it, but there's no way we'll ever be able to compete with the Joneses, if it's a competition. We just don't have the desire to climb on ladders and string lights on our very high roofline. Or the desire to spend the money on it!

Christmas lights seem to have lost their meaning. I thought the tradition was a candle in the window to light the way for the Christ child? (I'm not researching links this a.m.---does anyone know?) Then there were lights in all the windows. Now the whole house is illuminated! The whole neighborhood!

But putting up all those lights outside won't dispel the darkness in my heart. That will only happen through prayer and reception of the sacraments. Confession and penitence are an important part of Advent and preparation for Christ's coming. We give up things for Lent (when the priests are wearing purple), but we forget to do it during Advent (that's why they're wearing purple again! It's a penitential season!). Yes, we give up plenty of $$$ during Advent, but it's probably not bringing us closer to God.

So, even though we're late starting, we'll be saying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayer every day until Christmas to remind us what we'll be celebrating starting December 25.

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back to the Daily Grind

We had a lovely, peaceful week at Duck, NC with our family. The weather was great for November---sunny and clear, 40-50 degrees. Just beautiful. We walked every day, usually to town, not to the beach.

The beach, which was a little closer, could only be reached by golf cart. After the first day of walking it, and then walking back with very cold, wet children in their wet and sandy jeans, the golf cart seemed like the way to go. I mean, if they're going to get soaked in November we needed a quick and easy way back to the house! That, and the fact that all the teenagers wanted to drive it.

MoW took the kids to Jockey's Ridge one day to play on the giant sand dunes. I stayed home to make room for a cousin in the car and had a great time by myself. Checking email and reading blogs. But I only did that twice. I took a real vacation from the computer and I didn't miss it at all.

I could go on and on about what we did, but it was a whole lot of nothing. That's what a vacation should be. We did little things, walked, ate, played football, read, shopped, ate, talked, puzzled, ate, knitted, crocheted, ate, drank, watched movies. I think we watched movies as much as we ate with a TV in every room, some large, some small, some HD, even a real movie theater. Very nice.

A 12.5 hour drive home in the rain, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, went a long way toward negating the whole vacation/relaxation thing, but we survived. And we came home to a lot of wet laundry (because it was on the roof of the car) and Advent. I'd had the younger kids dig out the Advent Wreath and the Jesse tree to set up while I was packing last week. So there was a little joy and beauty amidst the clutter of laundry and unpacking.

I'm excited about the Church New Year and beginning the cycle of the seasons again. It's hard to get in the spirit with the stress of picking up where we left off in school (which is waaay behind) and getting organized for Christmas, but Fawndear has a great idea to help with all that.

Have a blessed Advent!


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