Saturday, October 29, 2011

Giddy Up..It's Time for Trunk or Treat

Mary Catherine and Benjamin's school principal instituted the first ever St. Paul School Trunk or Treat.

As we have never been to one, I had no idea what to expect and didn't get the memo that we should have decorated our car! I think some large white paper spots on my black mini van would have made the perfect cow!

Anyway, here's some pictures from last night's festivities. Can I just say that I LOVED the little priest...he posed for me all night long. Unfortunately, the lighting was bad and you can't see his cute little black biretta.


Introducing Cowboy Ben, Cowgirl Mary and Luke the Calf...

Mary's classmate, Ella, and her family went all out decorating their minivan.  The theme was "Boo at the Zoo".  I loved how even Dad got into the spirit wearing footie jammies!  :)

This poor student just can't seem to get herself graduated...

Here's the little priest...only he's not wearing his's in his candy bucket!

And another one of my favorites..."Lucia Santos, 1917) (for those not of the three shepherd children that the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, appeared before in Fatima, Portugal).  Her siblings were Lucia's two cousins, but I couldn't get a group picture as those three little ones were all about the candy!

And finally, Mary with her classmates.  She loved every minute of the evening.  Next year, I am so decorating the car!!!

Mary's new BFF, Caroline, adopted from China.  My girl is now obsessed with all thing Chinese! 

Happy Saturday!  Enjoy the weekend with all your little spooks! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just one of many reasons...

...why we pulled our daughter out of public school.

My girlfriend posted this on her facebook page:

"I guess there was a para in Maddie's classroom the other day trying to keep the kids quiet while the teacher was on a very important phone call. The para asked the kids to meditate and sit in Indian style position and say "oooommmm" while they asked for things they wanted. Maddie politely stated, "I only pray to the one true living God!" Another para in the room said, "Now, that's faith!" Oh thank you Lord for a little girl who is not ashamed to stand up for truth!"

And to think this is happening in a one-stop light town in east central Kansas.  If Mary came home and shared this I think I would have come unglued!

Mary Catherine and Maddie were in the same kindergarten classroom together. Maddie still attends public school, but her mom and I had many discussions last Spring over whether or not to homeschool, send our children to private/parochial school, or stay the course. 

Folks, you can't have it both can't fight to keep Christian prayer out of public school and then allow Hindu or Muslim prayer time.  Your school district shouldn't be offering yoga as part of the health/PE curriculum for "stretching and strengthening" while your state legislature grants tax-free status to yoga clinics because it falls under "religious organization" exemption...

If there is to be true separation of church and state in our public schools...then it needs to be for all world religions...not just Christianity.

I'll get off of my soapbox now...I'm not usually this controversial!  :)

“I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.”
G.K. Chesterton


Maybe because he is growing up so fast..

...he actually walked over to me, handed me his sippy cup, and said, "Mom?" and then signed "more"...

...or maybe because so many relatives have commented about how much my two sons look alike...

I had to check it out for myself.

And they do.

While each has their own unique look that God gave them, you can definitely tell these two are siblings...and I can't even tell you how much that tickles me.  Especially since they are nearly four years apart.  

It will be fascinating to watch these two progress in age!

Luke Alexander, Age 15-Months (Oct. 2011)

Benjamin Paul, First Birthday, 12-Months (Nov. 2007)

Benjamin Paul, First Birthday, (Nov. 2007)
I'm not sure about Luke's eyes...they were always that murky blue color, whereas Ben's were always light blue. Today, Ben's are still blue, but Luke's often appear green.

Are You Feeling the Cardinal Love...

Are you feeling some love for the St. Louis Cardinals...?

I know there's an awful lot of Texas bloggers out there who are cheering on their Rangers.  I love you girls too, but...

as most of you know, I'm a St. Louis gal.

Even after having lived in KC for 20 years...just can't find the love for the Royals.  Sorry.

I couldn't stay up for last night's game...I went to bed hoping FB would bring me the good did.

Here's to Game 7 and wrapping up this World Series with a win!!!

Oh...and this amazing guy graduated from the same high school as my public school friends and siblings...

Stole this off my girlfriend's facebook frame: The captions says:  FREESE FRAME!  Cute!

I know there's a lot of tired folks out there this morning! TGIF!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Calling all Bread Makers

As I recently mentioned, my sister and I have become smitten with the whole modern homesteading movement.

For me, it's less about being "green" (politically-speaking) and more about living simply...slowing down...getting back to basics.  It is a way for me to honor God by loving my family...doing those "ordinary tasks with extraordinary love."

But it's going to be  hard...embracing new ways of doing things that I've never done before... baking bread. 

I'm sure that there are going to be some flops...loaves that don't rise...have too much air...are too dense.  I don't have any expectations to make perfect bread right from the start...

...but I do have a few questions as I was paralyzed in the baking section of the grocery store last night!
  With recipe in hand, I set out to purchase all the ingredients necessary to make my first loaf(ves) and quickly came to realize that there are way more choices than I ever imagined or planned on being bombarded with.

So, I ask you...

What brand of flour do you use?  My recipe calls for unbleached, white, all-purpose flour.  I had no idea there were so many choices...Gold Medal, Wheat Montana, Bob's Red Mill.  Is this just a matter or personal preference?  I know that there are different types of flour...whole wheat, bread flour, etc..but regardless of type of flour are some brands better than others?

Yeast  Again, I had no idea about all of the choices.  The recipe website I am using suggested buying yeast in bulk rather than by the packet to save $$$$.  This makes sense, but as I was looking at the jars of yeast I noticed two different seemed like a "traditional" type of yeast and the other said "Quick Rise" yeast.  I didn't know what to do....both jars said "for traditional baking and bread machines".  As I am not using a bread machine...should I have bought the "quick rise"?  I went with Active Dry Yeast.

Loaf Pans  How do you bake your bread?  (I guess I should clarify..bread for slicing/sandwiches)  Do you use a particular brand or type of loaf pan?  Are bread pans different from the loaf pans I have to bake quick breads?  (Clearly, a novice here!)  The recipe I am using doesn't require any type of pan at all...rather, you shape the bread and place on a baking stone.

Okay, I think that's about it for now.  If you are able, feel free to answer my so basic questions in the comment section or direct me to one of your fantastic bread-making posts, as I'm sure many of you have written a post or two on bread-making! 

I'll be back later today to post on how my bread-making adventure goes...

Happy Monday, 

I'm linking up with Jill at The Prairie Homestead for their Monday Barn Hop

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Letting Go

Letting go...

...of bad habits...a certain lifestyle...dreams.

It can be difficult to do...this letting go.

If your a blogger who's into the farm life/homesteading life, than you've probably been following Flower Patch Farmgirl's series of posts on "letting go".  Shannan, her husband and kiddos are making some radical life changes and she's been chronicling their journey and the the changes that require "letting go".  It's a wonderful thought-provoking series and I invite you to go here if you aren't already familiar with her and her super cute kiddos as well as ingesting some great food for thought!

I recently "let go" of a lot of "stuff".  
Baby stuff.

For many of you, this is a no-brainer.

My sweet friend, Erin, lets go of stuff all the time.  And her house looks like it.  

Immaculate.  Uncluttered.  Peaceful.

Completely the opposite of my home.

I've been trying to figure out this "hoarding" problem I have...

No, I'm not eligible to be on TLCs Hoarders, but I do have tons of "stuff" taking over my home.  And it's no longer baby stuff.  Now it's "toddler" stuff..."grade schooler" stuff...

You get the picture.

A simple answer would be to A)  Stop buying more stuff, and B) to simply get rid of the stuff.  

But it's not that easy.  (And we rarely do A. Actually, "A" is really the result of other people buying my kiddos stuff!)  It's me and B that have difficulty.

One thing that I have learned from watching Hoarders is that hoarding rarely results from living a normal day to day lifestyle, but rather, almost always has some sort of "trauma or dysfunction" attached to it.  Death of a spouse or child...growing up in poverty...abandonment/divorce of spouse or parents...mental health issues, etc.

As I look at the baby stuff that I hold onto, I realize that my trauma was infertility.  And even though my husband and I were able to eventually have biological children, it didn't come without a cost.  A deep wound to the very depths of our souls...a wound that heals and creates a scar that is still red and raised and tender to the touch.  That scar is healing...getting tougher and whiter...smoother and less sensitive.  But it's still there. 

I know to outsiders, especially those that have never struggled with infertility, it should seem that our problem has been solved...gone away.  But just because one eventually has a child does not mean that infertility is cured.  It never really goes away.  It's always there...peeking out from behind the curtain.

Sure, I'm happy for folks when they announce they are expecting #6...or have "Big Families are a Blessing" tags on their blogs.  But it always causes me to catch my breath...even if just for a moment.  (Little families are a blessing too!)

So back to the problem at hand.

Stuff.  Baby stuff.  Lots and lots of baby stuff.

I have been doing lots of soul searching, reading, and praying about letting go of stuff.

And so I did.  Last weekend.  

My girl and I held a garage sale.  Our first ever.  (I typically donate to charity...except my baby stuff... and call it a day.)  And truth be known, if my favorite "Big Families are a Blessing" bloggers lived closer to me, I would have just invited you all over to rummage through my rubber maid tubs and donated to you.  We could have had a giant baby clothing give-away and then ate dessert while all our kiddos ran would have been great fun!

But since none of you live close to me I did the garage sale thing.  If for no other reason than to earn some cash for tuition payments!

Whew...that was a ton of work!  Even with my girl helping me. 

It was painful at first.  To watch the beautiful bassinet that we bought for our firstborn be carted off...and then Mary's nursery layette...and then all the holiday dresses.

But what I realized as that beautiful blue basket on wheels rolled down the driveway was that I have attached all sorts of emotion and memories to these objects.  I hold onto objects to "never forget" the wonderment and amazement of creating and expecting new life.  And for a long time I wanted those who bought or got my stuff to LOVE it as much as I do. 

As I watched my girl hock cinnamon rolls to early morning garage-salers I also realized that I don't need "stuff" to remember the "wonderment and amazement of creating and expecting new life."...she was sitting right there next to all her beautiful, loose-tooth, gangly-legged, flaxen-haired beauty. And I could touch her, hold her, take in every ounce of her  I can nurture and love on her and her brothers in the flesh...creating new in the present, not the past.

And I know God blesses me expecting me to bless others in return. 

Most of the clothing...marked $.25 to $.50 was purchased by the Hispanic families that live in our town.  They cleaned me out.  I talked with one father and he explained that they purchase the clothing to mail to family members back in Mexico.

I sold out three tables of baby boy clothing...we've got lots of grandsons in our family!

I think many (not you dear readers!) in society would find this irritating...annoying...problematic.

But it is not unlike what my grandparents used to do in the 1970s and 1980s for extended family in Poland.  My parents would often donate our gently used clothing to my grandmother who would box it up and mail it to relatives suffering under a Communist regime. 

Only the politics have changed...the need has not.

A comment was made to me that "those folks buying my clothing probably didn't have "green cards". "

Do you think Christ would ask to see their "green card" before extending a helping hand...

...I don't either.

Charity starts at home.  By teaching my children that we don't hoard...that what we have in this life does nothing to serve us in the next life except in the way of providing a hand up to others...I teach them to love.

Am I "all cured".  No.  It's going to take some time to heal emotionally and physically (as in boxing up lots of stuff for donation!) from this "hoarding" habit of mine, but with my eye on the prize (heaven), I can learn to...

Let Go.

Happy Saturday,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tomato-Based Beef & Barley Soup...Homestead Style

Last night was Parent/Teacher conferences at Mary's school.

Our girl is doing great academically, but what warmed our hearts more than hearing that she is "on-grade level" or "excelling" in certain academic subjects is that her area of excellence is...


To quote her teacher, 

"Mary sometimes startles me with her deep reverence for the liturgy and understanding of the meaning behind the words of daily prayers such as the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Grace.  It is evident that you take seriously the job of passing on the Faith to your children."
I cried... was just the bit of affirmation I needed to justify the miles we are putting on our car...the gas we are using to drive both kiddos to parochial school...the tuition payments we are making which is making it harder and harder to make ends meet...
 And speaking of making ends meet...

My sister and I have become totally hooked on the movement known as "Modern Homesteading".
I've recently added a new linking bar on the side of my blog for "Homesteaders".  And while I've been bemoaning the fact that we don't live on 5 or 10 acres...

Jill at The Prairie Homestead 
has begun to write a wonderful series of articles about homesteading right where you are!

Many of us that long to homestead don't live on 20 acres out in the middle of nowhere...and yet desire a "back to your roots" sort of lifestyle for our families.  Jill is confident that "homesteading" can be done whether you live in a urban high rise or a suburban subdivision with annoying HOA rules..ahem...

If you are smitten with country living...but dwell in suburbia...please check out Jill's blog to learn more!

 And while I was blog hopping "homesteading sites", I also discovered Homestead Revival. I made Amy's tomato-based Beef & Barley soup for the teacher's dinner on Thursday night.  

It was a huge in totally empty crock pot.

The highest compliment to any cook!

For Amy's Beef & Barley Soup
 click on the link!

I transferred the soup from stockpot to crock pot since there is no stove in the teacher's lounge.  I did have to add a couple more cups of water as it thickened during cooking and I needed to serve about 10 teachers/staff members.

Goes to show you...homestead cooking is the best!

Today, my kiddos are enjoying a day off from school for P/T conferences and I am enjoying the pleasure of their company!  

Wishing you a pleasure-filled weekend with the ones you love,

Friday, October 7, 2011

When Infertility Makes You Laugh

Infertility and laughter are words not often used together in the same sentence.  And certainly, a couple's struggle with infertility is not a laughing matter. But every once in a while, a funny conversation occurs that makes one smile, if not laugh.

One such instance happened at Mass...of all places... this past weekend. 

My husband was on-duty on Saturday (24-hour shift), but our family was assigned to carry up the Offertory Gifts and so my three little ones and I attended Mass by ourselves.  It also happened to be the weekend of my husband's and my wedding anniversary.

Since we had arrived early, Father Pat, our Pastor, put my two older kiddos to work greeting parishioners and handing out bulletins.  Sitting alone in the pew with just our youngest, two sweet little "old" ladies sat down in front of me. 

They oohed and aaaahed over Luke and then somehow it came up in conversation that Sunday was my wedding anniversary. 

So little "old" lady #1 says:  "How many years?" 

To which I say, "Eighteen". 

Little "old" lady #1 replies, "Eighteen.  Don't you just have babies?  What did you do all those years?" 

For the first time, ever, I was able to simply look her in the eye with my head held high, smile, and say, "Infertility".

Chime in Little "Old" Lady #2 who says, "WHAT DID SHE SAY?  SHE CAME EARLY?"  And yes.  She yelled it.  (I don't think her hearing aid worked properly.)

Little "Old" Lady #1 then says, "SHE SAID IN.FER.TIL.I.TY," so loudly that not only could Little "old" lady #2 hear, but so could every other parishioner at Holy Family!

I wanted to die.  Laughing.  And it was all I could do to stifle that giggle.

Is infertility funny.  No.  But gosh darn it, we just need to laugh at ourselves and the situations we find ourselves in at times. 

After four losses, my husband and I were blessed with Mary and then Benjamin.  A fifth loss occurred between Benjamin and Luke. 

And Luke.  A gift from God a mere 3-weeks before my 41st birthday and 17th wedding anniversary.

So, what did we do all those years?

We loved, we lost, we loved, we grew, we loved, we grieved, we loved.

And we thanked and honored God.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October Love...Eighteen Years!

To say I love the season of Fall would be an understatement. 

I adore everything about this season...from back to school in "September"  (does anyone (except homeschoolers) go back to to school in September?...we start mid-August, ugh!), to falling leaves, apple picking, pumpkin-patching, and trick-or-treating. I love it all!

Then we slide right into November where my love for all things yellow, red, orange and brown continues.  The sights, the smells, the sounds. 

Canadian geese, burning leaves, and farm fields being harvested...all make Kansas a patchwork of beauty that delights the senses!

This past weekend, the official turning of the calender from September to October also marked another year of matrimony for my sweet husband and me.

Eighteen years on October 2nd.  And three beautiful children to show for it.

More about our Anniversary Weekend later.

P.S. Not sure that I'm liking the layout of my new blog header, but I do adore the pictures. One might say that I have a bit of an obsession with coordinating my children's Halloween costumes. I'm not sure the older two are going to let me get away with this for much longer...silly independent-minded little things!...but both agreed to one last year of "costumes by mama" so that Luke can be included in the coordination effort! :)

P.S.S.  Someone is reallllly close to walking.  I might not have to carry him into kindergarten after all!

Louisburg Ciderfest, October 2011

I'm Back!

Dear Readers,

I feel like I have been gone forever!  Two and half weeks can feel that way...

My computer was sick.  Very, very sick.  :(

Somehow, somewhere I managed to infect my computer with a/some nasty virus(es).  Awful, terrible things were popping up in windows on my computer.  It was all very disturbing.

Fortunately, my husband "knows" people in the IT department of his part-time job, and they agreed to work on my computer...for free! 

I am happy to report that I am back up and running.

Now, I just have to reinstall Picasa...for some reason, that was one of the things that "disappeared" one day when I turned on my system.  Fortunately, we regularly back up our files, including pictures, with an off-site program.  Whew!

Now, to get my blog banner changed and get some posts drafted!

Be back soon,