Wednesday, November 26, 2014

European Vacation--Travel Day

You may or may not have noticed the complete lack of blog posts here for the last three weeks.  I was keeping a secret.  Wingnut, Wingnut Jr., Lil' Lamb and I just returned from a 10 day trip to Paris, Rome, and Milan.  We've been planning this trip for months, and I can't believe it is already over!  It was absolutely wonderful.

For the next couple of weeks, my blog posts will be my journal entries from the trip and lots and lots of photos.  I was in photographer heaven.

November 9/10

--Travel Day

We were up and out the door by 4:30 am.  This was Lil' Lamb's first time flying and he was pretty excited (we were a bit nervous).  He did really well from Spokane to Seattle and he continued to be quite the trooper from Seattle to Chicago.  Of course, having an iPad along helped immensely.  He and Wingnut Jr. slept about 3 hours on the flight from Chicago to Paris.

As we flew into Paris, the sun was just rising.  We had a beautiful sunrise to start our first day in Europe.  We quickly cleared customs, grabbed our bags, withdrew some Euros and hired a taxi to take us to our hotel.  As it is low season for tourism in Europe, we were able to check into our room at 9:30m am.  We stayed at the Hilton in La Defense, which was extremely lovely and convenient to the Metro (there was a train station right under the hotel).  We showered, changed our clothes and purchased our 3 day passes for the Paris Metro.

Lil' Lamb was raring to go at 4:30 am.  We were in for a loooooooong day, but he and Wingnut Jr. were super troopers.

He may not look it, but he is actually smiling in this photo.  What a goof!  He did wonderfully on the three flights--1, 3, and 9 hours each.

Sunrise over Paris.

The view from our hotel, which was inside a huge upscale shopping mall and above a Metro station.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} November 6

round button chicken


I run by this lone, bare tree a few times a week and I've had plans to photograph it.  I'd just been waiting for a more interesting sky before shooting.  I finally took my opportunity and pulled over the car on our way past, hopped out and snapped away.  My kids think I'm crazy. 

Here is the same photo in color.  I love the drama of B&W, but this one really shows how lovely the blue sky was that day.


The skiers are ecstatic.  There is snow on the mountains at last.  We'll need quite a bit more than this smattering before ski season can start, but just seeing some snow makes them happy.


My boys on Halloween evening.  I have no idea what the little one was doing.  He is the biggest ham.

I mean, really, what is this expression?  What a goof.


I am so grateful I joined the 365 day photography challenge.  I have really learned so much from shooting every day and it has pushed me to find beauty and interest in things I would never have considered before.  Even with everything withered and faded, I am amazed at the beauty still on display in God's creation.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Without an Oven to Bake in

When we purchased this home in 2011, it came equipped with appliances not of my choosing and I have lamented the fact from day one.  First of all, they are all stainless steel, and let me tell you, stainless steel appliances are of the devil!  They are constantly smudged with little fingerprints and have been etched by who knows what.  They are impossible to clean and keep clean.  I have been biding my time until I can replace them.

The worst of our appliances is our Kitchenaid range/oven.  It was purchased by the previous owners in 2010 and has been an absolute dud for us.  We've had it repaired at least 4 times in the three years we've owned it.  People, this is a $4500 top-of-the-line appliance and not one I would have ever considered purchasing myself.  I've loved having a gas range, and for what it's worth, that part of the piece of junk has worked just fine.  The oven, on the other hand, has had the blower motor replaced and I can't remember what other repairs.  At the beginning of October I preheated the oven to bake bread.  The display indicated it was heated to the proper temp, but when I opened the door to pop some bread in to bake, I could tell it was no where close to being 450 degrees.  If you bake as often as we do, you get to know how 450 degrees really feels.  I immediately called to have service performed.  Boy, are we glad we purchased a service agreement on this lemon.

Of course, it was over a week before the repair folks could make it out here and then he was only here to diagnose and then order the needed part, which ended up being the bottom element.  The part usually takes a week to arrive, which thankfully it did arrive on time.  Our repairman was out here on Friday to replace the element but found he was going to need the help of a second technician.  Second technician was dispatched and the two mused and mulled over the problem of replacing the element.

Now, Wingnut and I have replaced an element ourselves on a past oven.  It is usually a fairly common, inexpensive, and simple repair.  Oh, no, not on this range.  For some inexplicable reason, Kitchenaid decided to build the element into the frame of the oven, completely inaccessible to your average home owner and in this case also completely inaccessible to service technicians.  I could hear the techs speaking to the corporate repair headquarters and I heard corporate tell our tech the element on this oven is "non-serviceable".  You've got to be kidding!  The poor guys put our oven back together and apologized, but my oven cannot be repaired.  Can anyone explain to us why we then have a 5 year factory warranty on the element to begin with????

As of Saturday, the Whirlpool Corporation has our case under review and have promised to get back to us in 7-10 business days with a possible offer for a pro-rated replacement.  In the meantime, we are still without an oven.  I am telling you, I will not accept a pro-rated replacement of this oven model.  First of all, I would have never purchased an oven that was $4500.  I'm certainly not going to put down even half that for a replacement.  I am hoping they will offer us a cash settlement.  I already have my new all gas range/oven picked out.  It is not a Kitchenaid or a Whirlpool and it is only $1500.  We are just now hoping for a settlement in time for Thanksgiving.  Otherwise we may be grilling our bird this year. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkins and Costumes

I'm a bit late posting these photos from Halloween, but I've been unable to access the computer lately.  Noodlehead's laptop had a bad hard drive and Wingnut has spent the better part of the last 4 days fixing and then replacing it for her, which meant he needed our computer to back-up and reinstall all her software and files.  It was an arduous process!

This year we grew our own pumpkins in our garden.  We ended up with 10 good sized carving pumpkins and the kids were thrilled to have their pick of the harvest.  I loved seeing the kids' creative spirit as they searched the internet for the templates they wanted to use.

Skoshi A spread her carving wings and found the coolest Smaug template.

Special K ended up designing her own template for her Ninjago-lantern.

Wingnut Jr. did all the tracing for his Storm Trooper

Lil' Lamb just smiled and posed with his Minion.

We saved all the seeds and soaked them overnight in a saltwater solution.  The next morning I drained, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with McCormick's Mediterranean Salt and Spice blend and roasted them.  They were delicious!  While the seeds soaked, the girls and I noticed the cool pattern the seeds arranged themselves in and I had to snap a quick shot.

It's hard to believe we only have two kiddos still young enough to dress up for Trick-or-Treating!  They were awful cute as a Ninjago ninja and Clone Trooper.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} October 30

round button chicken


Wingnut Jr.'s cosmos have fallen victim to fall frost.  Even though faded and wilted, they are pretty.


My little Wingnut Jr. is always ready with a smile.


I was trying to create a photo with Wingnut Jr.'s Pinewood Derby car in which the car rolled into focus and the boys stayed in the background just out of focus.  I shot at least 30 photos with little success as the boys weren't getting the concept of not being the focal point of the photo.  Lil' Lamb was all over the place, as usual and Wingnut Jr. kept vacillating between looking completely bored and intense concentration.  The above ended up being the best photo . . .

. . . but this one completely cracked me up.  This is what "looking interested in the car" meant to them.  Doesn't it look like they are using the "force" on the car?  They are so silly.


Lil' Lamb usually wants to share his morning joy with everyone in the house, insisting we all get up once he is up.  On one occasion this week, he slept until almost 9 am and was the last one to be roused.  Sweet moments like these are fleeting.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pinewood Derby

I've always regretted our oldest son didn't have the opportunity to participate in Scouts.  When he was scouting age, he was just too busy with gymnastics and then with taekwando to join Scouts.  

Our current neighborhood has so many kids scouting age we make up our own troop, and meetings are just down the street from us; making scouting for my younger boys extremely convenient.  Wingnut Jr. absolutely loves it.  He's already been to an all day Scouts camp, bought a pocketknife (with which he promptly cut a neighborhood kid's thumb with while performing a "blood circle) and last night he participated in his first Pinewood Derby.

Wingnut had been pretty busy with work, and Wingnut Jr.'s car kit sat on the counter for over a month, but on Saturday our woodworking expert neighbor helped Wingnut Jr. cut his car and sand it. Then Monday, Wingnut and the boy built, painted, and weighted the car.  Nothing like 11th hour projects, no?

The Derby, itself, was a fun evening.  The boys were pretty excited about their cars and the race. A few of the dads were even more excited.  Wingnut Jr.'s car won all but one of his round's heats; much to our amazement.  It went on to come in 5th overall.  Not too shabby for a last minute build.  

Wingnut Jr. with The Green Dragon.  I love a little guy in uniform.

These photos are pretty grainy. A warehouse is not the best place for a photo shoot, but you should get an idea for how much fun this event was.  This blur of racing cars has The Green Dragon in the lead.

A shot of one of The Green Dragon's wins.  Its fastest time was just under 4 seconds.

I just loved the expression on these boys' faces.

Lil' Lamb discovered a mini racing ramp and spent his time setting up match box cars and racing them.  I have a pretty good idea what might make a good Christmas gift for this little guy.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} October 23

round button chicken


I drove as far up Ogden Mountain as the road would allow me one evening just before sunset.  The sky was spectacular.  This is a view of Ogden and beyond.

More of the dramatic sky and down into the Salt Lake Basin.


We have had a particularly lovely fall this year and the boys have been taking advantage of the wonderful weather and are spending as much time outside as possible. (If I'm being honest, I must confess some of the outdoor time is forced on my part.  They've decided they'd much rather enjoy the fresh air than take a nap.)


Uh. . . I'm not sure how to explain this other than this is our 12 year old.


The leaves are beginning to fall and we've passed peak fall color.  One more good wind storm and the trees will be bare.  Winter is fast approaching.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Totes Ma Goats

Billy goat was delivered last week and he is nearly as sweet and docile as our two does.  The boys and I have made several trips up to treat the goats to the arugula still growing in our garden.  They really love it.  So far no action that we know of, but we will have him for a month and according to the Goat Whisperer, his presence should trigger hormones in the females conducive to kid making.  We shall see.

Billy has had a rough go of it.  He has been sparring with the other billy in his home flock and lost one of his horns.  He does have a sweet disposition otherwise.

I couldn't get the three of them in a photo together as they were perpetually moving about vying for arugula from the boys, but billy is about twice as big as our does.

This is Elsa.

and Anna.
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Thoughts on the Extraordinary Synod

During the synod in Rome, Catholic social media was in an uproar.  There were those who declared the sky was falling and others that scolded not to become overwrought.  It was difficult to sift through what the secular media was writing and read between the lines. While it was distressing to see outright dissent among the shepherds, in the end, I believe good and right thinking won out.

Rebecca wrote thought provoking post. I agree with her premise--In order to believe something, we must first ask questions and seek answers.   Unfortunately, I cannot necessarily join her in thanking Cardinal Kasper for asking the questions.  The problem with priests, bishops, and cardinals like Kasper is not that they are asking the questions, but they have already come to their own conclusions and their conclusions are in defiance of Catholic doctrine and they know it.  Their questions lack sincerity and are merely pretense.  Their questions are meant to be divisive.  

Katrina also wrote a powerful and moving post with her thoughts.  With all the talk of divorced/remarrieds and gays there was no mention of potential pastoral needs of single parents.  As she so aptly put, don't single parent households also have gifts to contribute to the Church?  

For a synod on the family, there was surprisingly very little said about children.  It really makes one begin to think there was a bit of an agenda at play. 

In the end, the synod will be misunderstood and misrepresented by statements such as this: "Unfortunately, today, doctrine won out over pastoral need. " (DignityUSA)

Of course doctrine won out.  It always will.  It is unchangeable.  Pastoral care is only as good as the doctrine it springs from.  A change in doctrine could not possibly result in proper pastoral care.  As our priest pointed out, God's law and his mercy are not opposed to each other.  True pastoral care helps the sinner to see his sinfulness, to repent, and sin no more.  True pastoral care does not accept sin under the guise of mercy.

There were good things that came out of the synod.  NFP and an openness to life were reaffirmed.  Families who welcome children with special needs were lauded for their sacrificial love and faithfulness. Finally, the voices of the theologically sound were heard above the din of discord and were victorious in defending Church teaching.

So, now what? The questions are out there--how does the Church reach out to divorced/remarried couples, homosexual couples, cohabiting couples without compromising Church teaching? These questions are not going away and our society is increasingly accepting of relationships that run counter to Christian values.  I believe now our bishops finally see how deeply counter cultural the Christian way of life has become.  I am praying they will now assemble a united front and teach with faithfulness, clarity, conviction, and charity on these questions.

“Let us pray for those pastors who leave the Lord’s sheep to the wolves of decadent and secularized society, far from God and nature. Sexuality is not a cultural fact, but a natural fact,”  Robert Cardinal Sarah of Guinea

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

{P,H,F,R} October 16

round button chicken

Wing nut and I were on our way to the movies and were witnesses to this spectacular sunset.  Of course, I didn't bring my Rebel with me, so I had to make do with Wingnut's iPhone 6.  Not too shabby.


This is a wonderful time of year for fishing and photography.  I've been bringing my Rebel along on our fishing excursions.  If I'm not going to catch any fish, I may as well catch some scenery.


So this is homeschooling in our house.  She was un-showered, in pajamas, curled up in a blanket, lying on the couch reading her religion assignment.  As I snapped this shot she squealed, "I'm not wearing any make-up!"


These are the last of the wildflowers.  I was actually surprised to find these in the thicket.  Most everything else has died back.  Winter is fast approaching.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Here We Goat Again

With all the synod business goin' down, it seems like every Catholic blogger out there has something to say.  Rebecca's post yesterday was one of my favorites and reminded me I haven't written about the goats lately.  How's that for a segue?

To catch you up on the goat happenings, we were having problems with our LaMancha, Bard.  She was being a very bad goat and we had begun staking her in our yard during the day.  She seemed to be doing better for a day or so, but if we weren't right next to her, she would bleat nonstop.  You could hear her halfway across the neighborhood.  We just tried to ignore her.  After several days she began to resist coming down into our garden.  She had a great little passive aggressive move she would use.  She would trot just outside her pen on the leash and then plop herself on her side and refuse to budge.  The girls dragged her down to our property for a couple days, but it really was obvious she no longer cared to come.  Stupid goat, stay in your pen, then.

Not too long after giving up on staking her, I received a text message from the family that houses the goats in their barn.  They felt Skoshi A and Special K were feeding the goats too much hay.  There would be hay covering their barn floor in the morning and it really could not be salvaged.  My girls assured me they were not giving the goats too much hay and were not laying it on the floor as bedding.  Oftentimes they weren't feeding the goats at night at all, as they seemed to have plenty of hay already on the floor and in their bin for the night.  I was convinced Bad Bard was somehow climbing the fencing and pulling hay down at night.  Our neighbors were positive this could not be possible.  Well, take a look at the photo I found and tell me it's not possible for a goat to get on top of a narrow fence and pull hay off a shelf. . .

Not only was she pulling hay down in the barn, she had found a way out of her pen during the day and was once again jumping on top of the coop and over into the orchard and stripping the fruit trees bare.  Enough was enough, Bad Bard had to go.  Our neighbors listed her online and sold her before the week was out.  I believe they received $15 more than we had paid for her originally.  I'm sure $15 isn't even close to the cost of the damage she wreaked, but we all breathed a sigh of relief to have her off our hands.  As cute, funny, and smart as she was, she was just too much trouble.

This week, our goat mentor is dropping off the stud and we all have our fingers crossed that his romantic advances are successful.  Using my handy dandy goat gestation calculator, we should have kids around March 14th.  I'll keep you posted.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Trouble with the Synod is . . .

. . .  too many eyes to see, too many ears to hear, too many mouths speaking.  Enough already.  Do we laity really need to know everything that is being said?  The Age of Social Media is giving the average Joe too much access to everything.

Trust me, I read much of what was written about the synod the first few days.  It made me angry to think dissident voices were even being given a voice.  I felt like Catholics, faithful to Church teaching, were being misrepresented and hung out to dry.  I've had to defend several of these particular Church teachings on many occasions, even to people close to me and whom I love dearly.  It's not fun or easy to be the one voice in the crowd.  What I was seeing coming out of Rome made me feel defeated and deserted.

Well, no more.  It's not over.  No Doctrine has changed, nor will change.  Our Bishops need our prayers for guidance and clarity.  We don't need to see, hear, or speak until it is over.  Until the final document is published and released I'll be keeping one eye closed, one ear plugged, and two hands over my mouth!

God, eternal shepherd, you tend your Church in many ways and rule us with love. You have chosen your servant bishops to be shepherds of your flock. Give them a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to their care, may they build your Church as a sign of salvation for the world.  Amen.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

10 Prayer Requests: Or Let's Lift Each Other in Prayer

It is an honor to be asked by so many of our friends and family to pray for their intentions.  When I receive a prayer request I say a quick "Hail Mary" for that intention and then I try to lift that same request in prayer as often as it pops into my head.  Unfortunately, recalling prayer requests after the initial "Hail Mary" does not happen as frequently as I would like.  I'm a spiritual slacker when it comes to spontaneous prayer.  A blessed few requests might receive a single decade of our family rosary later in the day.  A blessed few might receive a thought and a quick prayer in the wee hours when I have insomnia.  I'd like to remedy my negligence and what better way than to solicit help from you?  Today I will list 10 prayer requests; some are my own and some are intentions I've received from others.  If you feel drawn, select one or two or ten and please add them to your intentions.  If you have intentions you'd like prayer support for, list them in the comments and I will do my best, with the help of God's Grace, to pray for your intentions throughout the rest of this week.  Thank you in advance for your prayers!

1) Please pray for my adult children as they struggle with growing pains.  Both are trying to make their way in this world with varying degrees of success and failure.  Both are questioning the faith in which they were raised.  Both keep me up in the wee hours with worry.

2) Please pray for our Oleander as she nears a very big decision regarding a vocation to the religious life.  She will graduate from High School this December and is looking to enter the postulancy sometime between January and March of 2015.

3) Please pray for our friends Peter and Katie as they travel to China to finalize the adoption and finally bring home their daughter Felicity.

4) Please pray for our dear friends the Godparents, having just announced the impending arrival of their 7th blessing.  Godmother is struggling with severe exhaustion and morning sickness.  Pray for her strength and comfort!

5) Please pray for the repose of the soul of Leslie Chenet, the father of dear friends of ours.

6) Please pray for the Lenaburg family as they travel the last journey with their declining special needs daughter, Courtney.  Their's is a story that everyone should read.  It is a phenomenal journey Our Lord has asked them to take and they have done it so beautifully and faithfully.

7) Please pray for the repose of the soul of Timothy Nauman, and for the comfort of his lovely wife Mary.

8) Please pray for the mother of our friend Tiffany, who has an incurable type of leukemia and has really struggled with the chemo they are using to give her just a few more months.

9) Please pray for our godson, Freddie, who underwent corrective eye surgery in late September.

10) Please pray a prayer of Thanksgiving for our dear friend, Sam, who through the intercession of the Infant of Prague, was completely healed of Lymes Disease! Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, October 9, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} October 9


Our local Catholic homeschool group took a field trip to a pumpkin patch this week.  It was a beautiful day, nearly 80 degrees, and the kids had a blast.  While our garden has already died back after several hard frosts, things are still growing on the other side of the canyon.  


It was a really great deal for $4 a person.  We got hayrides, small pumpkin pie pumpkins, a tour of the farm, and then could spend as much time as we wanted in their fall wonderland filled with farm animals, hay slides, a bouncy house, a mini train pulled by a real tractor, and these cute farm animal tire swings.  He may look like he's holding on for dear life, but he was truly having a blast!


Wing nut was cleaning out some of his old military issued gear and found these "sport" frames for his prescription glasses.  Lil' Lamb put them on and said he was "Baby Anakin" (this would be from the pod racing scene in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace).  I think he looks more like a minion. LOL.


I posted a photo on my 365 project of a tomatillo last week and had several people ask what it was.  "Is it like a tomato?"  They are from the same family as tomatoes, but aren't exactly like tomatoes.  They are very tart and I use them in southwest inspired soups and stews as well has making green salsa with them.  Many folks will use unripe or green tomatoes as a substitute when tomatillos are unavailable, I'm thankful to have had volunteer tomatillos grow in our weed patch this year.

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