Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Countdown to Advent

In about 2 1/2 weeks it will be the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is a season of preparation, but in our family we need to prepare for preparation!
For the next 2 1/2 weeks the biggest area in our home in terms of preparation will be the kitchen. There will be projects and baking going on and we will, I pray, be preparing other areas of the home and our lives for The Christ-Child and the Second Coming. Most of these kitchen tasks and tips will be taken from The Fly Lady.

Pre-Advent Check List:

  1. Clear the clutter off your counters one at a time. 11/16
  2. Clear the clutter off your kitchen table.
  3. Organize and clean under kitchen sink.
  4. Take a peek at your pantry. Don’t pull everything out and start reorganizing; just take a look, see what you need, and start a grocery list. 11/16
  5. Empty refg/clean thoroughly 11/14
  6. Line refr shelves with press and seal wrap 11/15
  7. Clean microwave inside and out
  8. Clean stove/oven
  9. Straighten drawers/cupboards
  10. Wipe fingerprints off walls
  11. Scrub down cabinet fronts (only a few at a time) 11/16
  12. Repair broken cabinets
  13. Consult I Heart Organizing Blog for visual ideas for organizing cabinets etc.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Menu Plan Monday!

Menu Plan Monday:

  • Monday: Ground Beef Enchiladas
  • Tuesday: Slow-Cooker Chicken Adobo
  • Wednesday: Ground Beef Stroganoff
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: Tuna Melts

Friday, April 19, 2013

And I didn't buy anything new...

A new look with my old clothes. I'm really short so I went for a higher waist look with a long skirt so the length only shortened from skimming floor to skimming ankle. We went out that day and I was really comfortable (carrying infant and chasing small children and all) and I'm really picky out things being comfortable. We just moved from the northwest to the southeast so trying to dress modestly gets a bit trickier. In a month I don't think I will be able to wear this so this next year or two should be an on going experiment on staying covered in the heat in a practical and stylish way.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Journey Back to Whole Foods

After a late summer full of birthdays (and cake, treats, etc.) and pretty much being off my feet after the birth of my fourth child and subsequent hospitalization (birth story still to come), we are slowly adjusting and getting back to normal (although as you can see, still using paper plates; baby steps...). I've been eager to get the point where I can get all the junk and convenience foods and snacks out of the house again and get back to the whole food meals I usually like to serve the kids but was too tired to stay on track with in the latter half of my pregnancy and postpartum (and the much improved behavior and reduction in illnesses). Here are a few of the meals as we are starting out. Looking forward to meal plan Monday!

Chicken Breast and Apple Slices with Cream Cheese, Pecan Butter, and Cinnamon

Spaghetti Squash, Ground Beef and Pork Sausage, and Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

Chicken in Wine Sauce, Salad Greens with Oil and Vinegar, and Oven Roasted Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, and Garlic Cloves

Liver with Onions and Bacon

Crash Hot Taters
Veggie Stir-Fry

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Respect He Needs

I love the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. As a married woman, it is my path to Heaven. Unfortunately in our culture it has been under heavy attack for some time via contraception, divorce, "feminism", and now same-sex "marriage" among many other evils. As a young wife, it has been very difficult to navigate this holy path in such a distorted culture. One of the tools that has helped me is Shaunti Feldhahn's book For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men. I grew up with barely any concept of the differences between men and women. The prevailing ideology of my generation seems to be gender "equality", the denial of the true natures and differences between men and women, and so I went into my marriage clueless. Somewhere along the line I learned the concept that men need respect and women need love but Feldhahn's books really break it down.
I love being the heart of my home. Families are the fundamental unit of a society, an image of The Blessed Trinity; a family should witness Christ's love to the world. As wives we need to put God first in our lives and be faithful and submissive to our husbands as to the Lord and the rest will follow. This list of 5 respect needs for men is another great marriage tool and I know I will need to come back and review it from time to time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Playing and Praying (The Pater Noster)

7 Quick Takes Friday, the Evils of Television, and Getting Organized

 I started writing this 7 quick takes about a month ago but didn't get the chance to finish. So here it is, very late and on the wrong day.

This summer our family has received so many blessings and interesting lessons learned. First of all, the TV and computer are finally out of the house. Our family moved to a new home and the computer and television have been exiled to the garage. The children and family life in general have improved immensely with the complete removal of television and I've decided to spend most of this "7 quick takes" post detailing those improvements and commenting on other more or less related topics.
Some background: We haven't had cable TV for a very long time. We found that even on stations geared toward children, those stations were still full of advertising that was or could be detrimental to our children in a variety of ways. On some channels there was also the risk of shows earlier in the day being fairly appropriate for children's viewing but at some point in the afternoon switching to programming supposedly for a pre-teen or teen audience that were really not even appropriate for a teen, let alone a small child. So for the most part our TV battle involved the use of children's programs on Netflix and games on sites like Nick Jr.
Our ongoing struggle to regulate television began when my oldest was almost two. We had recently moved 3,000 miles across the country and she and I were staying in my parents' RV until we moved into our apartment. It was a difficult environment for a curious toddler and watching TV kept her from flipping all of the potentially dangerous or damaging buttons and switches inside the vehicle. I thought we'd go back to our usual little to no TV life after we moved into our apartment but it was much more difficult than I had bargained for! She was now bored without it and the box would become our crutch for difficult or demanding times (unpacking, arrival of new siblings, morning sickness, military deployment transitions and so on). Since our oldest was two we've had an ongoing fight with the TV, from periods of turning it off altogether (like during Lent), to heavily regulated use, to it being totally abused and overused at times. It was a constant stress for me, especially as homeschooling began to come into the picture. Also, I think the recommendation that children under the age of 2 not being subjected to the screen is a good recommendation, so even if we limited the use of television for our older children, there was still their younger siblings being exposed to its influence and effects. Then one day on an interview with Mrs. Bates, mother of 18 children, she was talking about their family's view on television in the home (the Bates family does not own a TV nor do they have internet in the home) and how she knows that families can use it wisely and be selective about content and regulate the amount of time spent watching TV, but that they knew that they did not have that kind of will-power. If their family had a TV they would eventually be spending too much time in front of it and less time doing chores, school, and other necessities around the house and less time together as a family. And I thought yes! That is our problem. For our family, TV in the home will always be a problem. My husband didn't want to get rid of the TV altogether, wanting to be able to watch our favorite films from time to time, and I needed the internet for many of our lessons and projects, but still didn't want a computer in the house, so my husband came up with the idea of keeping both in the garage, and so far this has been a good solution for our family. ( a note on exiling internet to a remote location, priests and others knowledgeable about the problems with internet temptations often recommend internet in as open and public an area of the home as possible. Neither my husband nor I struggle in the area of internet temptations in the areas of the 6th or 9th commandments and our children are still very young and do not yet use the internet so this may need to be re-worked in later years and may not work at all for other families. )

1. Happier and More Independent
One of the difficulties with cutting down on TV use was that the children would be cranky and bored, used to being passively entertained. Now that it has been completely removed for some time, they seem to regulate their emotions better (especially the little guy) and easily engage in self-directed free play for long periods of time.

2. Improved behavior.
Self-explanatory. Their listening capabilities have noticeably improved. When they watched TV during the week, I was often nervous about focusing on dishes, laundry, or other chores without switching on the box because instead of finding quiet productive activities for themselves they would run off and make a mess or some other mischief. Now they sit quietly and read or play neatly with their toys.
3. Increased attention span and learning.
My oldest two children learned to read this summer, at ages 3 and 5. For the first month or more in the new house the only things I unpacked were the books. The toys were still in boxes in the garage. So all day long they were reading Bob books and looking through picture books. Now a couple months later they can read most of the picture books to themselves, including the ones we bring home from the library. I've loved books from a young age, and so now seeing my children be able to experience the joy of books for themselves is very gratifying for me as a parent. My daughter has also been using the Explode the Code workbooks and Catholic Heritage Curriculum's program for phonics.
4. A smaller house.
I used to think a larger family needed a larger living space but right now I am enjoying a smaller house. All of our children are quite young at this time and in a smaller house I find it much easier to supervise them as I go about the day's activities. And of course there is less to clean.
 5. A bigger (more secure) yard.
Our current place also has a large fenced in yard and I am finding less-stuff, a small house, and a big yard to be a great combination. The little ones can play outside while I do dishes, cook, and keep an eye on them out the kitchen or other window.

6. Less stuff.
We are still in the process of downsizing on stuff. I have gotten rid of most of the toys. For than the first month we were here I didn't even unpack the toys so they read books and played outside all day. Then I finally got around to cleaning out the toys and pared it all down to 3 small to medium storage boxes. One for cars, trains, and other things that go, one for little dolls/figurines/dinosaurs, and one for legos. On a good day the boxes stay in the garage and are taken in one at a time to be played with. The children seem a lot more happy and engaged in their play having just a few simple toys to play with.

7. Being on-the-go a lot, and organization.  
 My mother (God bless her) has been visiting all summer through my husbands deployment and we were traveling around a lot together at hotels and homes of our family etc. This idea made traveling with the kids a lot easier and has become the permanent system in the home for the time being. 
The box on the left are some spare play clothes for when we stay at home all day and they are mostly going to be digging in the dirt etc. The box on the right is usually full and has all the outfits they wear when we go out. The boys have matching polo shirts and khakis and my daughter's dresses and skirts loosely match the colors the boys wear. And we are no longer taking anymore clothes into the house. For now, they are set.

Smile! Homemade Tooth Paste

Received this in a naturopathy newsletter. Looking forward to trying it:

Recipe for homemade toothpaste! 
  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 3 tbs baking soda
  • 25 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1 packet of Stevia
  • 2 tbs vegetable glycerin
 Mash together the baking soda and coconut oil, then mix in the rest of the ingredients to form a paste. Store in a jar and dip in your toothbrush whenever you want to use.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Red Raspberry Leaf

I've been bad lately about making/drinking my pregnancy tea. Red raspberry leaf is a uterine toner that is also rich in iron. I like to brew it with herbal "pregnancy" tea because the mixed tea has some nice flavors. Anyway, my plan of action is using these empty honey jars. They hold two cups of tea and so if I can get down two jars a day I will be taking in the recommended amount per day (3-4 cups).
Making tea each day seems like a long process for me. Boil the water, steep the tea, wait for it to cool, and then drinking the tea. So the plan is to make several days worth at a time.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Isaac curled up in his new Onbuhimo

The past month or so many an afternoon has been interrupted by a cranky sleepy baby/toddler who neither seems to want to be carried nor put down. And so begins the up, down, up, down that is very difficult on the 30 weeks pregnant spine until the little guy finally falls asleep. He has also weaned recently and is still trying to figure out a way to fall asleep. I thought baby wearing might be helpful and comforting to him since when he becomes moody he wants to be on me but pushes my arms away. I have several baby carriers but unfortunately they tie/buckle around the hips and since I carry low I am usually unable to use these carriers during my pregnancies. I decided to purchase an Onbuhimo, a Japanese style baby carrier that like most Asian carriers, is made with a rectangular piece of cloth. The Onbu has only two straps at the top and then a pair of rings at the bottom, and can be tied above high, above the belly.
Just as I was checking the mail Isaac was beginning to throw a fit and I was happy to see that in the mail was my Onbu order! So I popped him in right away and it worked like a charm. He instantly quieted down and I proceeded back to the kitchen chores and the laundry I was folding, with him sitting quietly on my back. He soon fell asleep and I was able to carefully transfer him off of my back still sleeping.
Alice thought the carrier was beautiful and called it a "piggy back carrier" because I was wearing him on my back. She also commented "It's a good thing it's a piggy back carrier, since Isaac is a piggy" (I affectionately call him piggy sometimes because he eats a lot). 

I purchased this custom toddler size Onbu from

Monday, June 11, 2012

Corpus Christi

 Our Parish's Corpus Christi procession was just beautiful. There was a huge turnout, possibly as many as 600! We were also blessed to have Archbishop Peter Sartain offer Mass and attend the procession. The day began cold and overcast and on the way to Mass I was just praying and praying that the sun would come out and I'm pretty sure there were many others praying the same thing! By the time Mass ended the sun was shining and it was just a perfect day for the procession! Deo gratias!

 Alice walked in uniform with her AHG troup.

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.  These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it?  But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?  If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?  It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.  But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him. And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.  After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.  Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away?  And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God." - John 6:51-79 

Blessed be God. Blessed be His Holy Name.

Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.

Blessed be the Name of Jesus.

Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.

Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.

Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.

Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.

Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.

Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.

Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wild Fermentation

Still using disposable cameras, so I apologize for the poor quality, but I still think the color is really pretty! Finally got around to making some home-fermented sauerkraut. This picture is before fermentation, but as of now it has been fermenting for about a week now. It's nice and bubbly and getting more sour everyday.
I recently obtained a copy of Sandor Katz's "Wild Fermentation" which contains all kinds of recipes from sauerkraut to beer to bread.

Friday, June 8, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Camera Troubles - with both digital camera and phone camera not currently useable I've had to resort to disposable cameras. Unfortunately the last disposable camera only developed 9 of the 26 shots.

2. Which means there were some potentially very cute photos that are forever lost, like the several pictures I took of Alice sitting on the bunk bed reading to her baby brother and him listening attentively, and all of the pictures I took of Alice at her American Heritage Girls end of the year ceremony.

3. Alice completed her first year of American Heritage Girls and has crossed over from Pathfinder to Tenderheart. We are so proud of her. Unfortunately when we move there will not be a Catholic American Heritage Girls troop in our area so she will not be able to participate as a Tenderheart.

4. Adventures in Hair Cutting: two months ago the boys went to super cuts with their dad to get much needed haircuts and I really wasn't very satisfied with the results considering the price and so I decided I would cut their hair myself. Since May I have cut all 3 of the children's hair and considering it's a free/DIY haircut they look good. Julius' cut even looks better than the $8 "super" cut in my opinion. I took a few pictures of Julius' layered boys cut on another disposable camera, which hopefully develops better than the last.

5. Alice is hooked on phonics: well, we don't use that particular product, but lately she hasn't been very interested in math and mostly wants to do reading and phonics, especially her "Explode the Code" lesson books, which she says are really fun. After thinking about it I figured that there have been times in the past where she has mostly wanted to work on math and that it will all balance out. After all, I focus on my interests in much the same way, for a few weeks I may cram information on gardening and the next few weeks I'll mostly be interested in various knitting projects and then I won't knit for a time and focus more on catching up on reading good books etc. etc. I figure actual learning and retention of information is much more important than pushing ahead on a curriculum schedule and she is really advancing quickly in her reading skills. Now she will often point out words on signs and such that she is able to sound out or read small simple sentences she spots in my own books and magazines. As I mentioned above, she also reads baby books to her little brothers.

6. Little brothers and homeschooling: when possible I try to do lessons with Alice when the boys are napping, but often Julius is awake and I bought him a sketch book to color in while Alice writes in her lesson books. He absolutely loves Alice's lesson books and will flip through them reading the words and pointing out numbers etc. While she is working he will sometimes glance over and copy some of the words into his sketch book. He can read quite a few little books himself and holds a crayon with the correct grip even though he has never been instructed on how to hold it. He's really never been instructed on anything. He prefers to teach himself what he wants to know. So far he is a very successful "unschooler". Isaac loves to hear his older brother and sister counting and singing the alphabet song. Isaac will point and letters and numbers and lay on the floor flipping through books pretending to count and read like one of the big kids.

7. Number four: I am 27 weeks along as of today. I had an appointment with my midwife this week and everything is going just fine. I'm finally feeling healthy. I was still not quite myself until about week 22! By week 16 I could at least walk around and get out of the house a bit but still easily tired, had a lot of dizzy spells and felt ill as soon as I felt hungry at all, and got motion sick quite easily. It took a little while to build my muscles back up again as well. They had atrophied from the two months spent in bed and I could wrap my hands easily around the middle of my thigh (not a normal thing for me since I have naturally strong muscular legs). But now I'm feeling much better, more energy, and trying to exercise and build up the strength and endurance that I will need for labor and birth. Still no consensus on a name for the little guy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


My 3 1/2 year old is teaching himself to read/write/spell. Unfortunately his favorite learning tool is the wall.
May I introduce you to "A" "E" "I" "O" and "U".

He is also fond of bubble letters.