Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook (the late edition)

Outside my window... is my own little patch of land. I am already dreaming of how to plant it in the spring. Maybe an herb garden under the kitchen window. For the veggies, I may make several small raised garden beds. Oh, warm weather, please hurry up!

I am thinking... of all the changes 2010 will bring to my family.

I am thankful for... a safe return from my parents house.

I am wearing... sweats, socks, and my glasses. It's early and we got home late last night.

I am remembering... how well all the cousins played together. They are good friends.

I am currently Magnificat. We finally finished "A Tale of Two Cities". Next up for literature is "Crime and Punishment". I read with Sophie and Olivia because I have never read most of the books assigned to the girls. For myself, though, I just bought "An Introduction to the Devout Life". I am eagerly awaiting to open its cover and begin.

I am hoping. Still.

On my mind... organizing the house. I am actually really looking forward to this day. I like having a place for everything.

Noticing that... praying for a specific thing to happen requires infinite patience, the virtue I struggle with the most.

Pondering these words... from the Magnificat.."Christmas is a season for song, for God's love reaches from heaven to earth and earth to heaven in the incarnation."

From the kitchen... truly bare cupboards! I used everything that would go bad before we left, so I will have to go to the Commissary today after I plan our weekly menu.

Around the house... slowly the children are waking after a long journey home yesterday. Finding the gifts from Christmas we did not take with us and getting excited all over again.

One of my favorite things~ The feeling I get when I walk into our house after having been gone for days. Home is good.

From my picture journal... the view from the window where I type.

Visit Peggy for more daybooks.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The day before the day before Christmas

In the dark, cold night, my husband and older girls worked hard to assemble a surprise for the little ones. They are at this very moment bundling up to go try out their early Christmas gift.

For breakfast this morning, I decided to use up the leftover squash from the other night's dinner. Thank you Rebekah for this delicious recipe. I made the double batch like she suggested so our Christmas Eve breakfast will be just as scrumptious without all the labor (or the smoke that set off the detector! I tried to fit it all on one cookie sheet, which I wouldn't recommend.)

May God Bless you all this day.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY(December 21)...

Outside my window...the remnants of our snowy weekend. A crisp, cloudless sky. Trees with their last lingering leaves. The sun just peaking over the roofs.

I am thinking...that this is the most calm and relaxed I have ever been with Christmas just days away.

I am thankful for...a husband who can laugh after digging through the recycling in the freezing, dark night, searching for his keys only to have his wife find them in his jacket pocket!

From the learning rooms...quiet. We will tie up loose ends this morning and then school will be out until the new year.

From the kitchen...a tin delivered last night by our neighbors. Inside...delectable sweets. We are so blessed to live across the street from one of the best dessert makers in the world. Plus their family is as sweet as the goodies they brought over!

I am wearing...warm, fuzzy fleece pj's and slippers.

I am creating...Anna's sweater. Both sleeves are finished and I have started on the body.

I am one of our favorite places...the library! Did you know I used to work in a library when Sophie and Olivia were little? That is when I fell in love with libraries. As a child, we almost never went, but my children are as comfortable there as if it were another room in our house.

I am reading...Christmas stories to my children.

I am hoping.

I am hearing...the television. Sad to say I have plopped Jack in front of it so I can finish typing this post.

Around the house...anticipation building for the birth of our Lord!

One of my favorite things...snuggling with Jack in the quiet of the morning, listening to his first thoughts of the day as he sleepily talks to me.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Christmas baking, wrapping gifts, enjoying time with my family.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... because I am thinking of my sweet Ben today.

Stop by Peggy's for more daybooks.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Photo Journal of our Weekend

Before: no knobs was making me nuts! Tony has everything on the counter and ready to go!

After: I think it makes such a nice difference, plus I can easily get in the cabinets!

While finishing the cabinets, the kids noticed something strange outside. SNOW!!! A first for Jack and Anna. Their squeals of delight, running from window to window made my heart dance.

Thank goodness Tony and I went out and found the tree earlier that day. As the flakes fell, my family decorated the tree in the cozy warmth of our new house.

This ornament was given to us the Christmas after Ben died. A beautiful poem accompanied the delicate blue heart and makes me cry each year when I read it.

My kiddos posing for the traditional Christmas photo.

This morning before heading out to Mass, I bundled up the little ones and we actually were able to make a tiny little snowman! Then Olivia and Tony joined us for a lively snowball fight.

I think he's cute!

Now, can I get some cards ready to send to those close to my heart?

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Quick Takes--volume 4

This week our parish hosted an Advent Mission. One evening, there was an elderly gentleman beside us. Everything about him gave the impression of a quiet, gentle soul. But his eyes told me he had seen many things. His eyes were soulful and doleful, deep brown, and they made me want to know his tale.

The man at the mission made me wonder if people can tell by looking at me that I am broken. Some days I don't want to go out because I think that people will be able to see my heart through my eyes. I want to spread joy to others, with a smile and a kind word, yet some days I need those smiles to be aimed at me. And maybe a hug, too.

The mission priest answered a burning question for me. He said that the moment we stop telling stories of someone who has died, that is when they truly die. I hope people don't grow tired of me remembering Ben through retelling his stories, for they keep me alive as well.

I love making bread from scratch. I always picture Mary kneading the dough for her little family. I put a little of myself into each batch that I make. I put my prayers in there, too, as I knead the dough, thinking of all the people who have asked for prayers and for those who God puts on my mind. I also always pray for the dear friend who taught me to make homemade bread.

Have you ever noticed that the more detailed a job you do when cleaning the floor only results in the most and messiest spills immediately afterwards? Just wondering.

Apparently I can have a clean house and uneducated children or a messy house and happy, smart children. Hmmmm. Oh, well, you've been warned if you ever think of coming over for a visit or tea.

From the sublime to the trivial, that is this week's takes and how my mind is usually working. Can it be any other way with a house full of kids?

visit Jen for more quick takes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This morning, Jack played an entire game of Candyland. He sat nicely and played properly, taking turns, "reading" his card, and even stayed put during a potty break for one of the other players. This may not seem like much to anyone else, but to me it is a major accomplishment.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY( December 14)...

Outside my window... a fog as thick as the tension in an awkward conversation.

I am thinking... of the busy day ahead.

I am thankful who cook dinner while my husband and I search for holiday items.

I am wearing... navy sweatshirt, polka-dot pj pants, and knee socks.

I am remembering... the message of last night's speaker at the Advent Mission at our Church.

I am going... to pick up the girls from their early morning workout and take breakfast to my husband.

I am currently reading... STILL A Tale of Two Cities, but I will finish!

I am hoping... to be a better role model for my children.

On my mind... so many things that if one could peek inside my brain, I am sure it would look like a whirlwind.

Pondering these words... "This is why I speak to you, so you can become aware of these people who are calling out to you....Are you aware that in your own family, ....there may be someone who is very lonely, who feels unloved or hurt?"--Mother Teresa

From the kitchen... a mess, and it won't get better til this evening!

Around the house... decorations are going up slowly. I like that we are doing a little each day, rather than trying to accomplish it all in one afternoon. I can reflect about each memento as I place it lovingly in it's proper spot.

One of my favorite things~ The Feast Days of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. They hold a special place in my heart.

From my picture journal...our home altar.

Stop by Peggy's for more!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

traditions old and new

A dear friend of mine graciously sends us books when she and her daughter are done with them. This was how we were introduced to these books. Anna enjoys these books (and so do I!) Laura would bring her plate to Ma to receive a pancake man. I have always brought the pancakes to the table as they come fresh and hot off the griddle, but now Anna stands there patiently with plate held under her chin, her big round blue eyes twinkling with anticipation as I slide a pancake man (or bunny) onto the plate. Then she fairly skips to the table.

It is a new tradition for us, but it also hearkens back to my own weekend mornings when my mother, who is way more artistic than her daughter, would make pancake shapes to order. We would call out our wish, and then there it would be on our plate.

This morning, after the pancake men were made, I started on the round variety for the rest of us. Usually I grab a bigger spoon for these pancakes since they do not require much precision. But I forgot. So the first pancake was tiny. I liked the way it looked, so I continued. They stacked up quickly because I could fit more on the griddle.

Don't they look nice?

They tasted better than usual to me, too. Could it be because while I mixed up batter with goat milk for Jack, Olivia volunteered and made the batter for the rest of us? I think it was a little love in those pancakes that made them so delicious.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Seven Quick Takes--volume 3

I got up early this morning, tip-toed down the stairs so as not to wake any little people, and sat in my comfy chair in front of our home altar with my Magnificat in hand. What a lovely way to start this chilly day!
Tony and the two older girls have gotten up even earlier than me and left in the dark to exercise. This was my husband's idea and I think it is a great one. Before the move, we were members of the local rec department and would swim on a regular basis. We have not been very physically active these last months and it shows on all of us.
One of the "perks" of being a military family is the Commissary. The prices are generally lower than in the local grocery stores. There is one rule of thumb however. Avoid shopping on a pay day at all costs. Since I go once a week, I don't always notice the date. Recently, as I scoured the picked over shelves, I had to buy orange juice with "some pulp" and bring it to a decidedly pulp-free family. Every morning since, Jack's request is the same..."May I please have the orange juice with the not pulp?"
Returning from his trip to the store yesterday, Tony came in with a surprise for us. We have not yet seen the movie "Up", and he rented a copy. Movie night came a day early. My sister had warned me that I would cry. I did.
We are studying 20th century literature with the high school kids. I'll admit it. I am not enjoying "A Tale of Two Cities" at all.
Overall, I am glad to be a home owner once again. This week, I stocked up on baking supplies for the holidays. As I placed the last bag of flour in the pantry, the shelf collapsed. With all the other activity going on, I would have loved to call "maintenance" to handle the problem, like I did frequently when we lived on post. I called my own maintenance man, who is learning on the job, and he fixed the cabinet quite nicely.
I actually cried twice yesterday. First during the movie, and then at bedtime. I was sitting in my rocking chair with Jack cradled in my arms, snuggling and listening to him as he rambled on. All of sudden, he said "I'll be glad when Ben comes home to us." Then he wiped the tear that rolled down my cheek.

Thanks, Jen, for hosting.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I didn't lose it!

Sitting at the classroom table, I often get frustrated with the clutter that accumulates during the week. Random half-finished papers, leftovers from crafts, stray pony-tail holders, pencils, books not in use, and that is only the top layer. So this morning I decided to tidy up while Sophie rewrote a sentence for me from her vocabulary lesson. What I found under the clutter took my breath away...there in the wood, carved with a compass, was a portrait done by an artist that definitely knows the difference between art mediums and a piece of furniture. I drew in a breath, ready to let loose my anger. I said about three words and stopped. I walked up the stairs to relay the event to Tony and then came downstairs calmly. For the crime, I assigned a paper with a relevant topic. Backing up just a bit, when I asked why she had done this, she told me a whopper of a lie and claimed it was an accident. I wanted part of the paper to focus on why it is better to tell the truth than to compound things with lying. I received some pretty serious teen anger, but...... I DID NOT LOSE IT!

Thank you, Mary my Heavenly Mother and role model, for helping me keep my mouth shut.

Breaking Free

From my magnificat this morning...

"Lord our God, you sent your prophets to call all people to abandon their unfaithful pursuits and to return to you with all their hearts in preparation for the day of your coming."

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I was thinking how I desire to change some habits of mine that I feel are preventing me from coming closer to our Lord as well as keeping me from being a better mom and wife. The analogy my drowsy mind thought of was this: I am driving life's roads. I can see the exit ramps that will lead me where I desire to be, but there are these barriers that block my way. They are labeled with these hinderances with which I struggle.

How does one take that "leap of faith" and shed the old ways? For that is what God is daily, gently calling me to do. This morning, I took a little "hop." I got up this morning before the children woke me and went downstairs to my home altar, where I read the morning readings in the Magnificat. I gazed longingly at Our Lady of Guadalupe, imploring her to help me this day. I have always felt a closeness to our Lady, but it deepened when Ben died. She understood this pain I had like no one else. She lost her son too. Then I looked at my picture of the Sacred Heart. There He is, beckoning me, wanting me to allow Him into my heart. It all seems so easy, sitting there in the early morning quiet, just Jesus and me. Why do I not do this every day? It is so nice and I always feel ready to face the world and all it will throw at me. Why do I choose to lay in bed for that extra half an hour until I hear little feet?

This morning is a start, my friend, but I need encouragement.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook

(December 7)...

Outside my window...Frost on the roof of the neighbors house, which is sparkling in the morning sun.
I am thinking...about where I could have placed my Magnificat and the gift card from Target. Why, oh why do I feel the need to appear like an immaculate housekeeper and shove things out of sight?
I am thankful for...getting most of the presents bought while spending time with my husband.
From the learning uniforms are on and morning prayers are being said.
From the kitchen...cookbooks will be opened and poured over to decide which cookies to make for Christmas. My mother is not fond of desserts (how is that possible?) so a tradition has been started. Each of the daughters brings some cookies when we all get together for Christmas.
I am favorite jeans, a black fleece shirt and pink striped knee socks. Even if I always wear jeans and a plain shirt, my socks are usually festive!
I am creating...Anna's sweater, I am almost done with the second sleeve! I also want to knit up a quick little bunny blanket for a friend who is due on Christmas Day.
I am lose my mind if I don't find that pile of papers that I misplaced!
I am reading...daily meditations by our dear Pope John Paul II. They are beautiful, but I am longing to put my hands on my Magnificat. I ordered another copy which should arrive in a day or two.
I am be a good role model for my children. Lord, please send me the graces for this one!
I am hearing...coughing, sniffling, hacking children. They do seem to be on the mend, praise God.
Around the house...preparations for the coming of our Saviour! Advent wreath, calendar, and a countdown chain, plus the stable is empty and waiting.
One of my favorite! I love the sound of the beans clinking as I pour them into the grinder. I love the whir of the grinder bringing me closer to that first delectable sip. I place my cup with a generous amount of half and half beside the coffee maker as I wait for the gurgling machine to do its job. I love feeling my cup warm up in my hands after I have filled it. Then, after a long, deep smell, I put the cup to my lips and savor my morning brew.
A few plans for the rest of the week: return the shirt I bought for Tony for the correct size, take Sophie to the fabric store so she can finish her homemade gifts, and to do a week's worth of school in one week!
Here is picture for thought I am of my favorite photos from this summer. I am not a cold weather kind of gal, so I am praying that the cold days pass quickly.

Visit Peggy for more daybooks.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Plan B

Will I ever have everything ready when Advent begins? After searching in the chilly attic for the candles which I thought I saved, I came to the conclusion that we do not have Advent candles. The best I could do after several stores today was this....

At least we are ready for the Second Sunday of Advent. We did do the meditations a few nights this week, but somehow it was not the same without the candles.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday---vol. 2

We are dropping like flies around here. I am pretty sure it is just a cold, but it is packing quite a punch. In the immortal words of my husband as he ate food from the plate of one of the infected kids, "I never get sick". Guess who went down next? Sophie and I are still healthy but shaking in our boots.


I am feeling spiritually lost this week as I cannot find my December Magnificat. I think I remember seeing it come in the mail, but now it has disappeared. I have been reading other religious material, but I miss my Magnificat. I like how it sits in my hands, the delicate pages and the hope those pages bring each time I open them.


All the hassle of the DMV last week was almost worth it, Sophie's face lit up when she received her learner's permit in the mail yesterday. Here is a recap of events (if you are on Facebook, you can skip this):
Things I learned at the DMV today:

1. pack a snack!

2. if you think you will accomplish everything in the second trip to the DMV, you'd be wrong!

3. your knitting will progress nicely.

4. if you have dyslexia, you CAN get a job at the DMV.

5. if you are under 19, you cannot take the driving portion of the test at the same location as the written portion of the test.

Why do they make getting a license so complicated?


As someone who has a hard time meeting new people, I want to express my gratitude to the mom who approached me at the commissary this week. She remembered me from daily Mass and introduced herself and we exchanged information!! The remaining healthy people here will be going to Mass today and I hope she is there.


Jack makes me laugh all the time! His vocabulary is increasing at such a rapid rate. Last night at dinner, he was not eating his meatloaf and I told him he needed to have some more meatloaf. He looked at his plate and then matter-of-factly told me, "That's OK mom, I already have plenty."

He had a sore throat yesterday and was trying to let me know. He described it this way... "My tongue really hurts. Way in the back."


Still lingering in my mind from yesterday is this post from Margaret.

Do you think I can finish this by Christmas morning?

Thanks, Jen, for hosting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

From the Schoolroom

We are using this wonderful series from CHC as our reading program. Today we were playing the name game on the back. Anna is supposed to pick a letter and add it to the end sound to make words. She sounded out C-O-T. I asked her if she knew what a cot was. She replied, "Of course. Like "caught" up in a rope."

Up Against the System

Without giving too much information, my 17 year old daughter has been experiencing irregular cycles. Enough to make me worry. When I took her to the military clinic this morning, the doctor immediately wanted to put her on oral contraceptives to "regulate" her cycles. No tests, no bloodwork, just straight to pills. Am I overreacting? I find this appalling that the medical profession goes for the easy "put a band-aid on it" fix rather than trying to find the solution to a problem. After explaining that I was not comfortable with this option, he reluctantly ordered blood tests to check for any abnornmalities. We should hear something by tomorrow. Unfortunately, I am not surprised by this visit. There has been only one doctor in the last 7 years that I felt did a thorough job and took the time to really listen and diagnose my children's ailments. This is not a good percentage, in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

With the beginning of Advent here, I have been wondering how to prepare my heart for Jesus. I know, I should probably think of these things before Advent begins. That is another bad habit that needs changing, but one thing at a time. Having a heart full of love seems to be where I was led, and believe me the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak my friend. I had a beautiful day yesterday, however, the moment when love was truly required, did I respond with love? Sadly, I did not. All the intentions to spread love to others was gone as soon as someone was less than kind to me. So, today, I will try again. Prayers will be graciously accepted!