Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Breaking with Tradition

This year has been anything but traditional, including how we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Usually we are on our way to my parent's house right after we open presents. But today, we stayed home. We opened presents, we had a lovely breakfast, we played with all the new things, we made cookies, we are having a nice steak dinner (I am waiting for the potatoes to finish roasting). I am thankful for this Christmas Day with my family before we head overseas. Next week all sorts of craziness and chaos will be the norm, but for today, we have enjoyed the relative quiet of our little family of eight.

She wanted this specific kitchen. Never mind the pink model was A LOT cheaper.

He has wanted this for a long time! A metal detector.

The perfect seat to practice playing your new accordion.

Homemade cinnamon rolls that don't take forever. Made with biscuit dough.

His first "treasure" found with the metal detector! I always wonder what happens to all our spoons!

Merry Christmas from our family to you!

ok, so this is not from Christmas Eve, but he was not cooperating yesterday!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Coal for Christmas?

As I tie up all the loose ends preparing for Christmas morning, I decided to pop in for a minute. After spending a week at my parent's house taking care of their dog and my grandmother, I am home with my family. My dad had his surgery and is recovering very well. I really appreciate all the prayers that were said for him.

Last night, I stayed up way too late assembling toys and wrapping gifts, watching old movies and drinking lots of hot tea to try and keep at bay a cold that is threatening to make me feel miserable. The big girls and Tony started out helping, but one by one, they got tired, or rocked a baby back to sleep, until it was just Sophie and me.

This afternoon we will go to Christmas Eve Mass, where Anna and Jack will be in the children's choir. They have been rehearsing for an entire month. I have tried to let go this Advent and really enjoy the time with my family. Believe me when I say that this has taken much grace from God. I do not recommend trying to move overseas at this time of year. There are other kinks in our plans too. Trust. Trust that He knows what He is doing. Rest. Rest in His arms. I repeat that a lot lately.

Which brings me to the title of my post. Instead of getting upset when I saw what I saw, I laughed and grabbed the camera. One determined toddler can make many messes, but when he is trying to clean, how can you get mad?

Sweet little boy wanted to help wash his bottles.
But how did he get up there without any help?

Tony found him already washing the dishes.

Therese offers a clue as she tries to see what is going on.

Up and over is how he did it!

He is not naughty, right? He was just trying to be helpful.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kid Creativity

The kids have been impressing me with their art skills lately. I am very, very thankful for the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure. Our mornings have been so much fun! This morning we started some gingerbread houses too. The buildings are pretty much ready to decorate now and that will be our afternoon activity.

We forgot to inform Sophie, who arrived home for Christmas break last night, that it is a St. Lucy feast day tradition for the oldest daughter to get up early to make cinnamon rolls and coffee for everyone. Cinnamon toast was an acceptable substitute, though she was not up early, so the mom had to make it!

Coloring page from Holy Heroes

Not creative, but he has learned 2 new things: to say 'cheese' and to stay back long enough for me to snap a picture.

lego Nativity Christmas tree ornament by Jack

Therese brought me this drawing today as a present. I love it!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent with kids

I am not good at planning. You would think that I might be, given we homeschool and all, but that is not the case. So planning liturgical celebrations is not my forte. I want to give my kids a love for their faith and celebrating feasts and saints and seasons seems like the perfect way to build that love. So when I stumbled upon this website last night, I was so excited. And this morning, when the kids and I checked out the activities for the day, we were not disappointed. We have had fun and they are learning! 

I may be the only Catholic mama who had not heard of this, but for those of you who are like me and are not good planners, here it is, all sent to your inbox daily! Holy Heroes Advent Adventures!

**I forgot to add that today you can get the CD of St. Juan Diego for free, just pay the shipping!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday was one of those days. If one more person had told me one more thing that was even slightly unpleasant, well, let's just say it was a good thing they didn't! But then I read Jamie's blog and I realized that I needed to find the little things and just be thankful. There is so much to be thankful for!

  • First, I am thankful for Jamie, who helped me to remember where my heart should be.
  • I am thankful that my husband has a job that provides food, shelter, and clothing for us all with some left over for those unexpected bills and maybe even a treat now and then.
  • I am thankful for unseasonably warm days in December, so the kids can play outdoors without having to get bundled up.
  • I am thankful for little boys who like to snuggle in my arms to fall asleep. 
  •  Thankful for a spunky, sassy, full of life 3 year old little girl.

  • Thankful for creative little boys whose Christmas list includes a metal detector and an accordion.

  • Thankful for Caribou coffee, which was on sale at the Commissary.
  • Thankful for the Commissary, where my dollar definitely goes further.
  • Thankful for wonderful friends, near and far, that have made my life much richer.
  • Thankful that God blessed me most abundantly with seven children.
  •  Thankful for Amazon, so I do not have to shop in the crowded stores for Christmas gifts.
  •  Thankful for the satellite radio in my car which allows me to listen to EWTN or maybe a little bluegrass music while I drive. There is something about a good banjo lick that makes my heart happy.
  • Thankful for banjos!
  • Thankful for the ability to knit. I love to create those neat little rows. I love the feel of the soft yarn. I love the pretty colors.
  • Most of all, I am thankful for a new day, a better spirit, and my Catholic faith that sustains me!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Advent starts this weekend. I have been reading blogs about unplugging to help bring the focus where it needs to be. This year is just so hard. I don't know how to juggle all these things that have to get done and keep my heart and mind calm. I want to pull out all the Advent books and calendars and wreaths and cozy up with the kids and just be.

Today, I have to get the house clean by lunchtime so it can be shown by the real estate agent. Tomorrow, I have to travel to visit family, which means a lot of mess when we get home. Then my family will be split for the rest of Advent. Half of us will go to my parent's house and help out there while my dad has his surgery. The other half will remain here until Christmas. Then, only God knows. We have no clear cut plans after that except that the packers will be here the first week in January. Everything is so unsettled, uncalm. (I know that is not a word) The kids are feeding on all this crazy and are just that, wild and crazy. There is also one other big source of stress that I cannot go into right now, but suffice it to say it is a biggie and the cause of much angst.

Remember my beautiful tree from last week?

This morning, I looked out the window and was so sad to see my tree like this...

I feel kind of like this tree looks, tired and sad.

I will try and rally myself and make the best of the situation as it is. My morning coffee is already helping.

Oh, I do have a milestone to report. Peter officially weaned himself this past weekend. I thought I would be so happy to eat dairy again. I found out I don't want cream in my coffee anymore. Who would have thought?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Playing Hookie

I mean, really, who could concentrate on school on a day like this...

My favorite tree in our yard. It has the prettiest colors every fall.

Look at the brilliance of the sky!


looking up through my tree

helping Peter even though he can do it himself

On your mark, get set...

Go! Wheee!

Peter looking a little nervous

They have such fun together

What did I tell you?

My boys

Peter being done with the photo shoot

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lost in translation

Anna was doing her social studies, in which they asked her to look up common last names in the dictionary to see what job had influenced their name. All was fine until the name Brewer.

"Mom. There is only brew and brewery. They don't have brewer."

"Well, then what does the word brew mean?" I prompted.

"To make beer or ale," she read.

"So, one who makes beer or ale would be a....what?" I asked.


I think I might need some alcohol before this lesson is finished!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yarn Along- tying up loose ends

Many months ago, I started making a cute little purse for myself. The knitting was easy and was done quickly. But then, it had a fabric lining to make and sew in. I put the project away for fear of the difficulty that it seemed to present. This week, I pulled it back out and do you know, as it so often happens, the fear was unfounded. It turned out so cute, I think.

My courage bolstered by the success of the purse, I decided to try and fix that crazy neck on the sweater I had made for Peter. After all, it is sweater weather now. I threaded some waste yarn into the first row of the neck and ripped back. I then took the advice of other people who had made this sweater and did a decrease row and then did 5 rows of 1x1 ribbing instead of following the pattern. It is so much better and really did not take that long to complete.

The before pic. The neck was way too big.

ripped back and ready to try again

much better

I am still reading C S Lewis' 'The Screwtape Letters'.

Joining Ginny as usual.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Brought to my knees

There are seasons in our lives just as there are in nature. Seasons of plenty, seasons of want. During those times of smooth sailing, it is easy to become complacent, to forget just how much we need God every minute of every day. But oh, when the storms of life make for very rough seas, they can bring you to your knees in an instant. And that is where I am this morning. Literally on my knees, scrubbing the floor from the juice spilled by a toddler. It is this tiny thing that becomes "the straw" and the tears flow as I realize I cannot do this myself. I think, who can I call? Who could help? Who would listen and understand? All the little things and all the bigger things have all come to this moment and I am humbled to my knees and I know. And He knows. He has quietly been waiting for me to ask for help. How grateful I am to know that  my prayers are heard and that grace is showered down on me so that I can handle this moment and the next and the next.

Friday, November 1, 2013

We carve our pumpkins with drills, yes we do!

What do you do when it is three o'clock on Halloween and you start carving your pumpkins only to discover that they might just be fossilized pumpkins? You panic, that's what! The rind of the pumpkins was so hard that I broke a sweat just trying to cut the hole in the top. After the suggestion to paint the pumpkins produced tears, I got in the car to try and find some not so tough pumpkins. And can you believe that there was nary a pumpkin to be had at three o'clock on October 31st? Returning empty-handed, I suggested we wait for Tony to get home. Maybe he could figure out a solution. And let me say that a woman would never come up with this idea. He got out the electric drill. And it worked. He saved the day!

This is what is left of the carving kit. Even my heavy-duty kitchen knife was no match for these pumpkins.

This year the local thrift store provided most of the items for our costumes. I bought some fabric to make a vest and to decorate Therese's hat. The rest we had on hand. Less than $10 for four costumes and I think they came out wonderful!

Abraham Lincoln (in his lawyer days, as I was told by Jack)

The dalmatian who did not like his hat

The panda bear. I had knitted the hat last year. Also notice that she used her nose to break her fall a couple of days prior to this picture. Not recommended by Therese as the best way.

Han Solo, with a water gun painted black authentic blaster.

Ummm...did I mention she cracks me up? A lot?

Sophie came home for the weekend! Hooray!

Han Solo again

"Could we just go get the candy already?" Actually, he has been running a fever off and on for a week. It's back on today with a vengeance. Poor little guy.

The blaster holders I added to make it look like the real deal.

We made quite a haul of goodies. Now to keep Tony and the kids from eating it all today will be the trick!