Friday, December 30, 2011


We just got back from visiting my family last night. It was wonderful.

I'm popping in briefly to say that I hope everyone had the merriest Christmas and wondering what this weekend holds! How will you ring in the new year? I am asking because I need ideas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yarn Along- So Close and Yet...

Excited that I could possibly finish Olivia's pair of fingerless gloves this past weekend, I left my knitting on the couch, which in hindsight was not the best idea. Therese, being 15 months old, thought it looked awfully interesting and started to play with my knitting. Quickly, I grabbed up the glove and yarn and moved it on top of the mantle. Later that night, I put on the fireplace, got all cozy in my favorite chair and prepared to finish the last few rows. Only the fifth needle was missing. Guessing that it fell between the couch cushions, yet not wanting to leave my cozy spot, I asked Olivia to check. She triumphantly lifted half of a needle in the air as I heard a tiny cracking sound. The other end had caught in the fabric and it snapped right in half!

 I am awaiting a replacement set of needles from Knitpicks. Meanwhile, I made a little something for someone's stocking. Sometimes she reads over my shoulder while I am typing, so that is all I can reveal for now.
My reading these days? "Destination: Bethlehem". Anna and I are loving it. Jack, not as much.

Thanks to Ginny, for being the host of this yarn along.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Not So Normal Morning

This morning started out like any other. Tousle-headed and in great need of a haircut, Jack shuffled into our room just as I was waking up. I had been hearing Olivia getting ready for a while, but laid there for a little bit, asking for God's guidance this day and relishing the warmth of the blankets. I took Jack's hand and we walked down the steps together to the kitchen and each had a glass of orange juice. From above came the coos and giggles of Therese in her crib. Those are some of the sweetest sounds, by the way. I peeked in her room and saw her sticking her foot out between the slats of the crib. I snuck in and tickled those little toes. She gave me a big grin and I scooped her up and hugged her tight. Back down the steps we went and looked at books while she sat on her potty. No success in that department, I put a nice fresh diaper on her and went to the kitchen again to start breakfast. Anna wandered in about this time. After I got them all fed, I sat down to check my e-mail.

The normal squeals and laughter of morning play were in the background. I took a sip of coffee. Then I heard many things falling. Jack cried out, "Oh Mama, I hurt my head!" I walked into the foyer to survey the scene. He had been wiping the "fog" off the storm door and had gotten as high as he could reach. Wanting to reach higher, he pulled over his Tonka dump truck and stood in it. It did not stand still and he fell back on his head on the marble floor. I gave him an ice pack and he seemed fine. Thirty minutes had passed when he came to me and said his eyes hurt. Slightly concerned, I looked at his eyes and one pupil seemed a little larger. I called a neighbor to see if she could watch the other children and got them dressed all the while praying under my breath. We drove to the ER and before I could even get us signed in, Jack started vomiting. Overly concerned, I prayed even more fervently as I sat there, holding Jack and stroking his hair and comforting him. A CT scan revealed that there were no fractures, bleeding, or swelling, praise the Lord.

We are home now, nursing a concussion, resting and not standing on anything that has wheels.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe

Several years ago, I first heard the story of Juan Diego and how Our Lady appeared to him. Ever since, I have had a special place in my heart for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her image is so beautiful, so serene and gentle.

Today, along with two other families, we celebrated her feast day. I found all the ideas for our tea here. We began our morning with a reading of this book. It was so nice to have the kids all gathered together, while I sat in the cozy chair and read the story. I will admit it is very hard to read upside down! How else can the children all see the pictures though?

Then we moved into the kitchen to have our tea. The kids all loved the sombreros. OK, so this might be a stretch, but they were gobbled up and more were made! The ham roses in the tortilla 'tilma' was so cute. I was amazed that most of the kids actually drank tea! Only the littlest ones had apple juice.

 Our 'sombreros'.
Pringles and string cheese.
 The table as I was preparing for our tea.

 Tortilla 'tilmas'.

 'Roses' made from ham slices.
I put a few in each 'tilma' for each kid to find.

 After the tea, we moved onto the craft table, where we made paper roses. I should have realized that we only have a couple pair of scissors and had eight kids. I had originally thought the kids would cut their own petals. We quickly made an assembly line to fold and cut petals for our roses.
 Some roses
 Scattered petals
Working diligently.

It was a lovely day. Happy Feast Day!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Welcome to my crazy cooking for kids with allergies

If I had any talent as a blogger, I would set up 2 columns, side by side so you could easily see how I make changes to our recipes, to accommodate two people who are dairy and soy intolerant. Jack is almost 5 now, and can tolerate some dairy, just not every day, and it is best if it is baked into something and not straight up dairy. Therese, who is 15 months, is still much more sensitive, and I have to be very careful.

I found a recipe on foodgawker a while back that looked yummy, but was filled with forbidden ingredients, so I kept putting off making it, till tonight. It was easy to fix and the results were most delicious. I will note that I doubled the ingredients since this said it only served 2, and made some collard greens as a side.

Sweet Corn, Bacon & Tomato Tart


2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
4T. cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1T. + 1t (or more) cold water

[Here I made a batch of my biscuit dough instead. The ingredients are simply: 1 cup white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. salt, 3 tsp. baking powder, 3/4 cup rice milk, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Tonight I tossed in some flax meal for good measure.]


2 slices bacon, chopped  [ok, so maybe I more than doubled the bacon! I think I used 5 slices.]
raw kernels from 2 ears of corn  [I used one 16 oz. package of frozen corn]
1/4 cup chopped red onion  [I used half of a large vidalia]
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped 
1 tomato, seeded and chopped  [I used my remaining tomatoes from the garden, which came to roughly 2 cups]
1 large egg
2 T. cream + extra for brushing on crust  [2 eggs and 4 T. rice milk and none was brushed on crust]
2 oz. grated sharp cheddar  [omitted altogether, though I had shredded cheese available in a bowl on the table for those who really wanted it.]

Making the crust: Place the flour and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. Add water and pulse. Squeeze the dough to see if it comes together, if its still dry add another 1 tsp. Flatten the dough into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1/2 hour.  [ I combined all biscuit ingredients and let rest while I picked up Olivia from school. Then I coated my hands with oil and pressed the dough into a 9 inch pie plate.]

Making the filling: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat starts to render. Stir in the corn, onion and jalapeno. Cook until the bacon is starting to crisp and the onion is translucent. Let cool a litte.

Whisk the egg and cream together. Stir in the cheddar. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. [Here I obviously left out the cheese and added the rice milk instead. Also, I am much less generous with salt than most people. When we eat out, I am always SO thirsty the rest of the evening! I am assuming it is the amount of salt.]

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease a 6" pie plate with butter. Roll the dough out to about a 12" circle. Fit into the pie plate folding over the edge of the crust to make an edge. Mix the tomato into the corn mixture then pour into the crust. Pour the egg mixture over the top then press down with a spoon to help work through a little. Brush the crust with some cream. [Bigger pie plate. No butter. Did not brush the crust.]

Bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is firm and the crust is golden brown. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

So there you can see that it is not so hard to cook around allergies! It only took me 4 years to get the hang of it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yarn Along

For once, there are multiple projects on my needles. The sock yarn was calling to me when I saw it in the store. I still am not sure I am using it for its intended purpose, but we shall see. I am trying to make a scarf, but it is rolling something awful and I don't have much hope that blocking will tame it.

Olivia's second glove is taking shape and none too soon, for those last glorious warm days have disappeared until spring, I'm afraid.
I finished "I Capture the Castle" at lunch today, and oh how I will miss Cassandra!

I am reading "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" to the kids. I can't help but recall my local theatre's rendition of this when 'local' meant Manchester, Tennessee. 

Thank you Ginny for hosting, as always!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Novena to the Immaculate Conception

What better way to begin this Advent season than to begin a novena to Mary as the Immaculate Conception?

Join me and many others, won't you?

Boy, did you notice I am full of questions today?

Here is the link to follow:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh what fun it is to ride in a go cart

Our time with Sophie home was all too short. She and Tony are on their way back to college, stopping in to check on my mother-in-law tonight. Before they left, we headed over to Fort Eustis to have a little fun. The weather was gorgeous. There was a miniature golf course, go-carts, and a batting cage. I thought for sure that Jack would want to ride the go-carts, but he said he only wanted to play golf. We did not know until we arrived that they only accept cash. While we were discussing who was going to go to get some cash, the employee on duty asked if we were only golfing. We were. He then let us play for free! The kids ran to the shed where the supplies were kept, most excited to start playing.

 score keeper

 I believe that was about 20 strokes!

 Can you tell I am having fun with the manual setting?

It was time to leave when Jack changed his mind about the go-carts. Anna wanted to try it too. Even though it was $6 per cart, they let us use two since $6 was just about all I could scrape together out of the bottom of my purse! Oh my! I forget how competitive my husband can get. His cart was slower than Sophie's, so he got creative on how to catch up with her. Let's just say that the old Army adage, "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" was his motto today. He didn't exactly stick to the course and dirt was flying.
 Safety first.

 straightening the curves

 cutting his own daughter off at the pass
 I love how Jack appears to be holding on for dear life to his helmet.

 A spin out on the track
If you can't read the back of the cars, it says "No Bumping".

That was one rule that got bent a little.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What a long strange trip it was

In preparation to celebrate Thanksgiving, I travelled to Steubenville, Ohio to pick up my college girl. She usually is able to find a ride home, but not this time. Hindsight being what it is, I should have bought her a plane ticket. Still, I am thankful for a safe journey there and back and all the stuff in between.

Back in September, I told you my grandmother turned 100 years old. What I did not mention is that my other grandmother is 97. She lives in West Virginia and it was only a slight detour to go see her. We got a nice early start Tuesday morning, me and the three littlest kids. Tony had to work and Olivia had school. So I plugged Nana's address in the GPS, filled the tank with gas, and we were off.

As we neared the town of Front Royal, a warning bell sounded and all the lights on the dash went out. They came back on but were flickering. Thankful that we were near a largish town, I pulled off the highway to see Wal-Mart's automotive sign from the road. I pulled in and asked if they could help. They could not, but the nice man gave me hand-written directions to the Chrysler dealership down the road. I got there and they took my van immediately and led us to the waiting area. There were more toys there than in my kid's room! They had a blast and were able to run around while I waited for the diagnosis of my van. Turns out my one year old battery had a bad cell. I asked if they could give me directions to the auto parts store where I had bought the battery, since it was under warranty. They printed out directions and I paid them for their trouble and was on my way to getting back on the road. The auto store was just as friendly and quickly exchanged the bad battery for a new one. 

Two hours behind schedule, we headed out onto the back roads of West Virginia. It is such beautiful land. Mountains, valleys, creeks rambling everywhere, and so many beautiful old homes, many of them log cabins. As I pulled onto my Grandmother's street and saw her house sitting so stately at the end of the road, I teared up. It had been 4 years since I had been there. Too long, I tell you. I stepped inside and was flooded with wonderful, happy memories. Doesn't my grandmother look absolutely wonerful at 97?

I spent many an afternoon warming my can on that radiator after playing outside with my sisters, climbing and walking along the fence top, hanging out in the treehouse, exploring the barn, feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs.

We could only stay a short while, since we still had three hours ahead of us to get to Sophie. I am so grateful that we were able to see my Nana.

After spending the night in Steubenville, we got back in the car to head home and start cooking for Thanksgiving. I wish that I could have captured the scenery better, but just trust me when I say that I now know why they are called the Blue Ridge Mountains. The colors were so remarkable and vivid.

 And then we came to this...

...and we spent the next four hours getting through Washington. I decided to stop for dinner once we had navigated through the worst of it. We had planned on being home in time for dinner, but it was clear that was not to be. The kids begged for those golden arches, so I pulled in. We ordered the food, sat down, said our blessing, and Anna took one bite and looked at me with panic in her eyes. I jumped up, ushered her outside, and held her hair as she emptied her stomach in the parking lot. Oh, poor Anna! I am grateful that this did not happen in the car, or the restaurant. I got her cleaned up and Sophie took care of the other kids. I am thankful that I had Sophie to help me. Three hours later, we pulled in the driveway and I don't think I have ever been so thankful to be home!

This morning, Anna is feeling better, and I have been cooking in preparation for a shared Thanksgiving dinner with another family. We were supposed to go to Tony's mother's house like we always do. But yesterday, as I was driving, my mother-in-law was in surgery, having the cancerous portion of her lung removed. We have known for a few weeks now, but until she went into surgery we could not know the extent to which the cancer had invaded her body. Thankfully, it has not spread to the lymph nodes, which was suspected. However, it has spread to one of her ribs. They could not remove that, so she will have to recover from surgery and then face radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Please pray for my mother-in-law as she recovers from surgery and regains strength to undergo the next part of her treatment.

May you all have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving today.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

playing with my camera

This afternoon, instead of doing what I should have been doing, I pulled out my camera to capture the fun my kids were having. The weather was an amazing 73 degrees! I know it won't last, so I snatched up the chance for some photos.

I will say this: I know nothing about photography. I wish I did. I love taking pictures and looking at pictures. There is something so wonderful about capturing a moment just as you see it. So, mustering up some courage, I moved the little dial thingy from "auto" to "manual" and started shooting and changing settings.

 This was on the auto setting. The colors were washed out and dull.

Still on auto setting. Dull, dull, dull.
 Look at the difference! I can't tell you what I set it to. I just moved the dial until it looked like what I saw with my eyes.

Then I accidentally found this!

I took about 50 pictures just so I could get one this good.
I love this one so much.
Back inside, I experimented some more.

Dinner before it went in the oven to be roasted.
 Back on auto setting. Too yellow.
Manual setting, much truer to the colors in my kitchen. No flash, even though it was dark outside.

Until I can afford a more professional camera, I will practice with my point and shoot and hopefully learn a little along the way!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wedding Day

We attended a wedding today. I just love weddings. Tony always whispers his vows again in my ear when the groom says his. He gets very romantic at weddings.

At the reception, Jack was hungry. Hungry for cake, not the food. I told him that he had to wait for the bride and groom to cut the cake. To which he replied, "That's OK, I've got a knife. I can cut it myself." I tried to explain that it is a tradition for the couple to cut the cake together and then everyone can have a piece. He then said, "Then why did they give me a knife?" I knew at that moment that it was going to be an interesting evening!

Oh, I almost forgot! Anna was the flower girl. She loved getting her hair curled, her nails painted, the fancy dress, a kiss of lip gloss, tossing the flower petals....she loved it all!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yarn Along

One trip to the craft store and $10 dollars lighter, I returned home with some new yarn and many project ideas. A dear friend has recently started her own baking business and asked if I might want to make some dish clothes for her shop. This is my first attempt. I have seen many "owl" projects out there and really wanted to try my hand at making a cute little owl. I am really happy with the result.
A skein of a soft, chunky weight yarn in a creamy shade was bought for a dual purpose. I am making one more hat for the little one with cancer. It should keep her little head very warm as the weather becomes cold. When I am finished with the hat, Anna will receive the rest of that yarn to add on to her scarf. I also bought some self-striping sock yarn. I am not sure what it will become, but it is fun deciding.
I am still reading "I Capture the Castle". Slowly, very slowly.

Thanks, Ginny, for hosting.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Adventures in Toddlerhood

Who says silverware is necessary?
 The one-hand approach

 The two-hand bowl hold


 The concerted effort

 The slurp

 The lip

 "I think I lost one up here somewhere"

"That was fun!"