Thursday, January 31, 2013

{PHFR}Hairs and Prayers!

round button chicken

Or Funny?  Meg has learned (with the help of YouTube, I think) to put her hair in a bow.  She has been doing it every day, and it's cute, but I am Not. a. Fan. of the bun on top of the the head!

I have gathered my candles for Candlemas on Saturday, assuming I can make it there.  I got some from Trader Joes, found a couple of new votives, and also found my emergency stash of Advent candles that I had lost!


Curling my hair with the "headband method" that I learned from Pinterest.  It's pretty easy to do, and it keeps it out of my face in the mornings at the school table, and then it has nice, big curls when I take it out later.  For my hair, which is "straight as a stick" (Thanks, Mom+), this is awesome.  It takes a while for it to dry (I start with it damp), but it beats standing around with a curling iron!  I could even answer the door, or walk the dog, with it up.  I'd rather not, but I could....

Lots of prayers going up for too many friends in need!  But our Blessed Mother can handle it, if anyone can.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January Knits

 I finished Susie's Reading Mitts that I told you about a couple of weeks ago.  Yarn info is in that post, too. They were pretty quick, not difficult, and fun.  I especially like the surprise scalloped edge that I didn't see coming! I thought they might be good for blogging, and I'm wearing them now, so I can tell you that they aren't.  Particularly.  They're just a little too snug around the hand to allow my pinkies to stretch out fully and reach those shift keys!  But I wouldn't want them any looser, either, so I'll just have to blog with cold fingers.

I had 3 skeins of that yarn, and the mitts used a tiny bit more than one.  I was able to make this long-awaited slouch beanie with the rest of it (I have a tiny little ball left!) which my my girl loves.  She has been wearing it ever since I finished it.  I think I'd like a turn with it because the yarn is so soft and light and warm.  It's delicious.  I don't usually say that about yarn, but it is!

 Cute cables ended just in time, because I had had quite enough of them!

She's such a doll;  I think she deserves an adorable hat.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Want it Now...Book Review

I did a very Veruca Salt thing a couple of weeks ago, and grabbed this book when it was free on Kindle!  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite childhood movies that I have enjoyed sharing with my own children, so I thought I would get a kick out of reading Julie Dawn Cole's memoir.

I was afraid, at first, that after sharing her Willy Wonka escapades the book would deteriorate into her own sordid, life story, as have other memoirs that I've read.  And that sort of ruins the show from then on.  Though Julie does continue into Life After Wonka, her life is not a very sordid one (or she kept the worst stuff to herself out of respect for her readers!)

This was a fun book to read, learning about the interesting facts behind-the-scenes, and some of the techniques the director used to heighten the awe-factor of the chocolate factory.  The 2 girls, Violet and Veruca, became very good friends off-set, and both had crushes on sweet Charlie.  Mike TeeVee was just as obnoxious in real life as he was on screen!  I think Gene Wilder probably pulled his hair out (when they entered the Chocolate Room) as a way to get back at him for being a pest!  After reading this one, I think I'd like to hear the stories from the other children, too, to get their perspectives!

Dying to watch the movie again, I was thrilled to find the DVD at Tarjay the other day for only $5!  We've watched it twice since I bought it on Saturday, and I love it every time.  It even has a sing-along special feature!  Yes!!!

Have you seen it?  Read it?  More importantly, how do you compare the old Willy Wonka movie with the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?  I think the new movie is more faithful to the original book, but it lacks charm and exudes more creepiness in my opinion.

A very interesting detail is that the title of the original book is "Charlie and..." but the old movie was titled "Willy Wonka".  Did you ever wonder why?  As a kid I hadn't read the book, so I didn't know or care, but I did wonder why there wasn't a real Wonka Bar.  Evidently, there was supposed to be one put out by Quaker Oats, but the formula failed and the Wonka Bars were melting in the boxes, so that early promotional tie-in to the movie was lost!  I don't know why they haven't remedied that situation, but maybe they'll get on the ball for the 50th anniversary in 2021.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ombre Cakes and More!

It hasn't been a terribly, terribly, busy week, but I think I used up a lot of energy on the March for Life ATL on Tuesday.  After that, I think I was mentally overhwelmed by the thought of my first AHG meeting since November, and Meg's slumber party yesterday.  I could not get myself together for a couple of simple blog posts!

Father/Daughter Sock Hop 2013 (last Friday)
 And, lest you think I've completely abandoned AHG, I have been to a couple of Special Events, Board Meetings, and busy with my usual Behind-the-Scenes work!

I felt very unfocused this week.  I wonder how much that had to do with slacking off on the morning prayers?  I don't really wonder.  I know.  But can I make a wee confession?  I'm just a little bit tired of reading the Catechism every morning.  I let it go for a couple of mornings and then play Catch-up by reading about 3 days at once.  That doesn't help the tired-of-it aspect, though, does it?  I guess I'll just get over how I feel about it and just do it, because I do enjoy the time in the morning, and the other book I'm reading.  So I just have to make myself do it.  That's where personal growth comes from, right?

Lighting the candles on the birthday ice cream!
 Miss Marge had to go to her American Heritage Girls meeting on her birthday because I made her.  Yes, I made her because I had missed 4 meetings already, and I figured she would enjoy being with her girlfriends at a meeting than just at home with 4 of us!  I was right---she took cookies, and other girls brought food for their own badge work, and they sang to her, and she had a great time.  So, at, like, 9:30 p.m., we just put candles in the ice cream and sang Happy Birthday, and she finally got to open her presents!

Adding the final M&M touches
 No cake ON her birthday (or special dinner) because of AHG, and because we were making this monstrous ombre cake for her sleepover.

This monster needed a lot of frosting!
4 layers is a lot of cake!
 Six sweet girls came over, and the boys escaped for a few hours to Trivia at Starbucks, and most of them slept until their dads came to get them this morning.  I think it was fun, but I haven't had a chance to talk to the birthday girl yet.  One of the neighbors didn't leave at the appointed time---she helped Meg with her chores and then they both left!

I'm so glad Birthday Month is over, and now I can start getting un-addicted to the sugar that has taken over my life since before Christmas!  Yes, it's time to start that New Year's Diet!  How is yours going?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The March for Life is Respecting Women

Tragically, humanity has habitually lost sight of the true gifts we are to one another, and the treasure of maternity was rarely appreciated as the blessing it is, until Jesus; the savior of all was born of a woman.

The lovely Pat Gohn who gives us the Among Women podcast has a piece in the Washington Post today, the sad 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.   Stop by and read it, and then leave her some comment love.  There are so many people who just don't get it,  (I think they don't want to get it) and so they remain enslaved to the false promise of sexual freedom instead of being free to be the beautiful, whole woman that God intended them to be.  We are so much more than those ridiculous pink costumes, and no matter what feminists say about being equal to men, their cause has reduced womanhood to exactly that:  sex objects.

Go see what Pat (and the Catholic Church) has to say about the beauty and dignity of women...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Does Folding Laundry Have to do with Adam and Eve?

My husband read this quote to me this morning from an Inside the Vatican book review entitled "The Will to Disbelieve" by John Jay Hughes.  In his review of Mary Eberstadt's Adam and Eve after the Pill, he says his favorite bit of humor in the book

is an extended quotation from Caitlin Flanagan, an American woman unwilling to accept feminism's demand that men should do the same household chores as women.  They can be cajoled into doing this, Flanagan writes, but they will not do them the way a woman would.  They will do as men have always done:  reduce a job to its simplest essentials and utterly ignore the fillips and niceties that women tend to regard as equally essential.  And a lot of women feel cheated and angry and even---bless their hearts---surprised about this...

I found this delightfully funny in light of the uncharitable thoughts I often have about my sweet husband's laundry-folding abilities.   (Sorry, dear)  But I (usually) hold my tongue and count my blessings that I have a husband who not only works his behind off to support his larger-than-average family, but also takes the trouble to help out in the domestic arena.

If I've learned anything in my 26 years of marriage, it's that men and women are very different and we should celebrate those differences, not try to make everyone just the same.  How could we fulfill our roles in the world and the family if we were just alike?  I shudder to think what my family would be like if he were like me:  indecisive, emotional, lazy...!


In doing my "research" to blog that little tidbit, I took the time to read the entire book review, which is not as delightfully funny as the bit quoted above.  It's a very serious look at the effects of the sexual revolution which are all around us for anyone who has eyes to see:  rampant pornography,  abortion, infidelity, abuse of women, divorce, cohabitation...and the list goes on.  The article is well worth the read, and I expect the book is, too.

Friday, January 18, 2013

7Quick Takes


Life is cra.zay. these days!  Gettin' up to say those prayers, doing our schoolwork consistently, and having time for other stuff that we enjoy.  What is wrong with this picture?


I spent the first week back after Christmas Vacation filling in All the Blanks in our assignment book.  The first part of the year had been just a few weeks at a time, in case we got behind.  Guess what?  We got behind, and I'd adjust the schedule, and we'd get behind again.  During Advent--where I noticed a LOT of blank spaces in the schedule---we got so far behind we'd never finish this year!  So, I've warned the kids not to get behind because we're just Making It All Up if we do.  And I know we can do that because they're quite capable of doing extra lessons per day if they want a day off on Friday.


Yeah, it's only been a couple of weeks, but they are seriously CRANKING out the work.  Pip finishes by 11:00 a.m. most days.    Just kidding, because he has so much extra reading to do that he reads all day long.

Meg takes longer, but that's okay because we are git'n 'er done!


The dog is asleep at my feet because we are retraining him.  He loves to sleep in the pale pink chair that was my mom's.  When he gets shooed off that he's onto the leather furniture, which would be fine except that he's gotten possessive and growly, and just generally thinks he's a person and can do whatever he wants.  I'm here to tell you, Buster---You are a dog and your place is on the floor!  I'd be fine with it if he were cuddly and sweet, but he's not.  He's bossy and aggressive.


Speaking of The Dog...I'm looking forward to a long walk with him this afternoon.  The SUN IS SHINING!  I honestly don't remember the last time we had Sun.  It has been raining daily since Sunday, and before that it was cloudy for days on end.   So, so happy to see the sun again!


The kids and I are listening to The Lord of the Rings on CD now.   I'm shocked by people who don't like it at all (You know who you are!), but I love, love, love it.  It's so rich! Just like the Catholic Church.  I say that because one of the sponsors in my RCIA class used to say that all the time.  It got to be kind of a joke, but it's so true---about the Church and LOTR.


My back is aching from sitting at the computer.  It longs to be up and about---or lying on the floor stretching---so I'll do that and then take that walk.   You have a great weekend!


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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Finding Time to Knit and Read Again

~Joining Ginny's Yarn Along---stop by to see what everyone else is knitting and reading!~

I don't know what's going on here...besides lots of knitting and reading...I haven't had time for these things (outside of Christmas break) in a long while, but suddenly things are much more relaxed around the house.  To be honest, I'm pretty sure it has to do with reigning in the iPhone and computer usage, which was really just getting to the point where I'd had enough of social media, and wanted to do other things!

Loving. It.

(If I'm playing slowly on WWF, that's why.  Busy knitting.  Or reading.  Or both at the same time!)

This book was free on Kindle the other day, so I snatched it up when someone tweeted about it.  (Ahem.  Cut way back.  Didn't quit entirely.)  :-)  It's a fun book about one of my favorite movies of all time---isn't it one of yours, too???  It's a little repetitive with long captions on photos that say practically the same thing the text does, and I'm frustrated that I can't read the photocopied letters that she wrote to her mom (no reprint of those!).  There are also a lot of times when she says that filming such-and-such scene was the "most difficult" or "most uncomfortable."  I guess the takeaway there is that there were quite a few scenes that were hard on the children.  I'm dying to watch the movie again, once I finish the book, but I'm completely dismayed to find that we don't own it on DVD!  I'll be looking for it at the library today.

My knitting project is Susie's Reading Mitts, which might also be called Susie's Blogging Mitts.  My hands get cold here at the computer!  One mitt is complete, and the other is begun.  I'm absolutely loving this yarn which is Universal Dolce Merino---a merino/microfiber blend.  It is so pleasant to work with!

Just a tip---don't bind off too tightly!

Monday, January 14, 2013

January Daybook


Outside my window...
Rainy, rainy, rainy.  It has been dreary, though exceptionally warm, for days.

I am thinking...
About what a nice weekend it was.  It started a little sleepless and crazy with 5 teen boys over for a sleepover on Friday.  We were up late and up early, and busy all day taking down Christmas tress and decorations.  At some point on Saturday I just decided to quit singing in the church choir.  I had missed rehearsal on Wednesday because it was such a long day and I was exhausted, but it felt really good to stay home with my family.  And then I decided I wanted to sit with them at Mass, so I just sent an email to the director Sunday a.m. and took a Leave of Absence of indeterminate length.  It was totally wonderful to sit there with my family and pray!  There are too many things weighing me down these days, and that was just about the only thing I could give up without affecting the organization too much.  The director says I'm needed, but I don't think so.

I am thankful...
That the director was kind about it and very understanding.

From the school table...
Lots of studying planned between now and the end of the year.  No more opportunities to slack off.

In the kitchen...
Paleo, paleo, paleo.

I am wearing...
Jeans, a white tee, and my cheery, red, swing cardigan.

I am knitting...
Yes!  I am!  I started a pair of Susie's Reading Mitts last night.  I've been anxious to make these since last winter and started them last night during Downton Abbey.  Two things though:  I don't know if it will be cold enough to need them this winter, and even when it is, my hands don't usually get cold anymore!  (I think that means my thyroid woke up?!)

I am going...
To stay home as much as possible.  Yay!

I am reading...
Since I'm limiting computer/phone use, I managed to finish a book and start a new one this weekend.  (And start those mitts!)  So far, I'm having a lot of fun with I Want it Now!  I just hope it doesn't deteriorate into true confessions of whom the actress slept with after filming Willy Wonka.

I am hoping and praying...
For lots of people:  Jen Fulwiler, Simeon, Dominic Pio, Fulton Poppe, and my dear friend Barbara.

I am looking forward to...
A peaceful week, getting the sugar out of my system.

Around the house...
The Christmas things are almost gone----I forgot the Advent calendar, pinecone swag, and Christmas cards which are all on the big bay window in the kitchen---where we will see them daily---where I obviously never look.

One of my favorite things...
Clean spaces.  There are a lot of those now that the Christmas decorations are gone.  I also cleaned off 3 hotspots in the kitchen that get junky very quickly.  And, would you believe?  They've stayed clean for a week!

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Just AHG stuff this week.  The usual afterschool stuff for boys, and AHG for me and Meg.  No choir.  That makes me feel so good that there are now TWO nights of the week when we're all home!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
Pip's Settlers of Catan birthday "cake".  Got the idea from Jessica at
Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Controlling the Internet

I love the internet!  I offers limitless possibilities---education, fluff, friendship, keeping up with family and friends, useful information, useless information, movies, lots and lots of opportunities for sin, and more.  There are so many good, legitimate uses for the internet and its offspring, Social Media.

Lately, I've discovered that Social Media is one of the best ways that I stay in touch with God.  It helps me to "pray always" through the neverending prayer requests on Twitter, FB, and blogs.  Some of these people I know through the internet, and many I don't, but I take them into my heart and pray for them.  Maybe there is something about that that makes me less concerned with my own, minor, problems, and so I pray more on my own in thanksgiving for my blessings.

Unfortunately, it has become more clear to me than ever that it really interferes with my primary vocation.  I am so thankful that I did not have the internet or a smart phone when my children were little!  With all due respect to the holy vocation of motherhood, staying home with just littles can be a bit mind-numbing at times, and I, for one, would have been in front of the computer way too much!

Since the New Year, I've been trying to spend the first moments of the day at the kitchen table reading my Daily Catechism, some other spiritual reading, and a little journaling.  Very little. ;-)  I don't actually consider myself a writer; I just want to record what I was thinking, or better, what I was inspired by in that morning's reading.  But please don't be impressed, because I'm fairly sporadic, and since I'm reading the Catechism from my phone, I have to really fight (and often lose) the battle to check email at the same time!

On Wednesday I did my prayers, and had to go almost immediately to take Tom to school (it was Late Day), and when I got home I immediately sat down at the school table.  I practically never do that because I have to decompress after the morning traffic!  The whole day was jam-packed with productivity, and it was awesome.

Productivity plummeted the next day when I saw my Google Reader and there were so many blogs to catch up on!  I spent more time on Twitter and FB, and was trying all day to keep up with everything.   It wasn't a very good day.  It wasn't a very bad day, either, and I certainly understand that there are good days and very bad days whether one prays, or not,  but there was a level of franticness (is that even a word?)  and dissatisfaction all day that hadn't been there on Wednesday.

I also had (what I thought was) a good idea for a blog post, but it got lost in the mire of tweets and blog posts that I spent all day reading.  Not to mention that the time for blogging was sucked into that same black hole that is The Internet!  So, while there were a lot of extra prayers said for those who crossed my path online, there was also a lot of wasted time which St. Peter will probably ask me to account for when I meet him at the Pearly Gates!

This weekend I'll probably be found brutally pruning my online reading list.  :(  I ordered a bunch of books from the library, and bought one free on Kindle today, which is crazy when you consider the amount of time I have not been spending reading books in the past couple of months.  But it's time to remedy that.  I really want to be present in this life, not found reading my phone at any given moment.  Of course, the kids will still need to make sure they divert my attention from a book to them before telling me their important news, but at least my reading will be more satisfying!

Does anyone else have this problem?  I sort of long for the days of the Dumb Phone, but Verizon doesn't sell those anymore, and I do love my iPhone because it can handle so many chores for me,  but it's time to take back control!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

PHFR - Birthday Edition

round button chicken

Pretty Tired here, today.  Yesterday was a long, extremely productive day.  I can't remember when I had a day like that where I didn't take any kind of break to read blogs!  Every change of activity was to another kind of work.  

Part of our work was doing 2 days of schoolwork so we could take today off to celebrate Pipster's birthday.  Naturally, they're sleeping in.

But it was a GOOD day.  Maybe that's what happens when you start your day with God and not email?

I had a difficult conversation on the phone with a lovely lady for over an hour.  It was a conversation that has been hanging over my head lie...a whole year.  I didn't want to have the conversation, but I had to.  And I had lots of people praying for me.  

Thank God for praying friends.  And thank God for people who are truly beautiful, inside and out, and live their faith wholeheartedly and generously.  I wish I could be like that!

Is it funny when your son jumps off a 5-foot wall and hurts his leg so that he's crying and limping?  No.  But it's a little funny that he has enough experience with broken bones to reassure Mom that it is NOT broken this time!


They grow up.  From adorable, chunky babies to 14 year old young men who alternate between being little boys who jump off walls, to guys who want to look grown up at Mass.  The Pipster makes me laugh, makes me sigh, freaks me out, and gives me so much joy!

Happy Birthday, Pip!  I love you!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back To School

I thought about doing a Daybook, but that might take more time than I have.  School starts in 15 minutes and I'm not ready---either mentally or physically.  But our First Days are usually like this, where the planning isn't necessarily all done.  We go through our subjects and books one at a time and make a plan.  They can either move on or they need to review a bit before we do.

We will start reading another book together.  I have it here on my toolbar:  Leaf by Niggle by     J. R. R. Tolkein.  I don't remember what it's about, but I wanted to start it last semester and we never got around to it, so we will start today!  I'm not a huge fan of reading on the computer, mais c'est la vie, I couldn't find a copy in our library system.

As we go through our school day, I will clean out the ginormous school basket that I keep next to the kitchen table.  It has acquired too many books we might use and haven't.  It's overstuffed and lacking space to put things we actually do use.  Does everyone have a basket or bin like that?

Getting back into a routine will be very good for us, and I'll be re-instituting the 15 minute chore break at 10 a.m.  Just as the Fly Lady says, you can accomplish a lot in 15 minutes (especially if you have helpers!), if you'll only start.  So, we'll take our little break every day and make some progress organizing different areas of our home.  It is quite likely that those moments will be spent taking down Christmas decorations a little at a time.  The only effort we have made at that is for DH to remove the outside lights.  The neighborhood requests that they be down by the 6th.

Time's up!  Off to the kitchen/school table I go!  I am grateful for this time spent with my children, and I'm looking forward to getting back to it!

Are you ready?  Or have you already started?  If past history is any guide, (and doesn't History repeat itself?) today will be lovely and efficient, and tomorrow will be the kind of day we don't talk about. ;-)

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Seize the Day Interview on The Catholic Channel

It has been a busy birthday weekend, and I was having a minor freak-out on Friday after I got an email inviting me to be a guest on Gus Lloyd's "Seize the Day" show on The Catholic Channel, so I'm just now getting around to telling you about it.

I was on at 9 a.m. today, so that segment ought to be rebroadcast at 11:30 a.m. and midnight tonight, if you have Sirius XM and want to listen.  I was talking about my conversion, and it was a lot of fun.  Well, more fun than I expected, that is.  He's an experienced host and kept the conversation flowing instead of just giving me free reign to blather on and on.  Or, more likely, and what I was really afraid of, stammer and say a lot of nothing!

If you get a chance to listen, let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Projects for 2013

I've been looking back to see what I got done last year, and here are some of my favorite projects, that I blogged about:

I went on an Annie Sloan Rampage.

I made a valance for my kitchen window that brightens my kitchen and my day.

I made a beautiful blanket for my friend's new baby.

 I learned how NOT to slipcover a chair!

I entered the world of jersey knits with Alabama Chanin.

I made a warm wooly hat for my daughter's boyfriend.

I knitted, not one, but 3 Dr. Who/Tardis hats!

I sewed a medieval princess dress for Meg.

I We gave my laundry room a much-needed makeover.

Looking ahead to 2013, there are a bunch of things on my To Do List for the house:

::Re-organizing my craft room now that Katie has moved out.  I've done a few things in here, but there is still a lot to be done (as you can see)!

::The linen closet needs some work.  No one can find anything in here, and no one understands my organization system---hence the mess.

::Meg suggested that we redecorate the kids' bathroom which has been the same for the 16 years we've lived here.  Fortunately, the wallpaper has stood the test of time better than the kitchen paper which was horribly dated 10 years ago when I got rid of  it!

::She and Pip also want their bedrooms painted and redecorated.  I hope we can get the painting done this summer.  They're both going to be big jobs with lots of primer involved in order to cover the dark colors and stripes!  And it will all have to be done on a budget.

Don't you love all the reading material under the bed?  I do!

::Cleaning out the yarn stash.  I don't have any specific plans there because my knitting is so often a combination of finding the pattern I'm dying to knit, and finding patterns that will work with the stash.  Eh.  Forgot to take that picture!

That's just a snapshot of my life.  It doesn't include the dinners cooked, the grocery shopping, the many loads of laundry, the hugs and kisses, the tears cried and the tears dried, or the many prayers.  It was a good year, and I'm looking forward to this year's challenges and blessings.

Tell me, do you have projects planned for 2013?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Blessings in 2013

Happy New Year!
Photo Attribution

The rest of the household is sleeping peacefully, and I am up far too early on a day when I may sleep in after staying up until nearly 1:00 a.m. 

I told you just yesterday that I don't really make resolutions, but I have a list of action items for the year.  One of those is to clean up my diet:  no grains, dairy, or sugar of any kind for at least a month.  The reason I'm telling you this is because I'm awake.  Yes, I'm up because I have been eating all those things over Christmas, and they give me insomnia.  I wake up between 3 and 4 a.m., unable to go back to sleep for an hour or two, and I spend that time thinking and worrying.  What a waste. 

I know that the wakefulness is caused by my diet---I've made the trial often enough to know!  And I'm tired of it.  Literally.  Do you know what I worry about in the quiet, pre-dawn hours on January 1?  A whole new year of opportunities to fail!  That, my friends, is no way to start the new year, or even a new day!

I can take the words of Padre Pio as my motto:

"Pray, hope, and don't worry."

But it will be a heckuva lot easier if I can sleep all night with a few dietary adjustments!  Pray for me, though, because this will definitely be a challenge during Birthday Month.

May you have many blessings in 2013, friends.


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