Thursday, December 31, 2009

Our Year in Review

It should come as no surprise, 2009 shaped up to be a very busy year for our family. Here are the happenings in the most abbreviated fashion:

Karate Kid: karate kicking, talented pianist, college planning, soon to be 17--GET OFF THE ROAD--Here she comes!

Stat Boy: sport loving, statistician, karate choppin’, cookie baking, newly Confirmed, 14 year old frosh.

Oleander: award winning pied-piper, ballerina dancer, artist extraordinare, muffin maker, too soon a teenage girl.

Skoshi A: fun loving 10 year old, piano playing, Kennedy Center performing Nutcracker soldier, living up to her “angelic” name

Special K: new pianist, independent reader, ballerina dancin’, always with a song in her 7 year old heart.

Lil' Wingnut: all boy all the time, sweet talkin’, lady lover, so smart he’ll be taking over the world, and he’s only three!

Wingnut: busy workin’, G-III, G-V, and C32 flying, must have dual citizenship in Texas for as often as he travels there, pre-cana teaching, all around wonderful husband and dad.

Maurisa: chauffeur drivin’, homeschool teachin’, pre-cana mentoring, blog writing, just trying to keep the schedules straight and the house from caving in!

We love our busy crazy lives, and wouldn’t have it any other way. We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

He's a Tarheel, Through and Through

Wingnut surprised Stat Boy with tickets to the UNC/Rutgers basketball game on Monday night. Wingnut, Stat Boy, and Karate Kid drove the four plus hours to Chapel Hill. toured the grounds of the University of North Carolina, had dinner on Franklin Street, and took in a fairly competitive game at the Dean Dome. This was a dream come true for Stat Boy and he's been beaming from ear to ear ever since. He and Karate Kid even got the chance to stand on the court for a great photo op. I don't think we'll ever be able to top this Christmas gift, ever. Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Caroling from a Child's Heart

There is just something about Christmas Carols. For me, carols are among the most beautiful and moving of sacred music. Lil' Wingnut even has a favorite, "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,"or as he calls it "Harold Angel". We received a lovely cd of Christmas Carols sung by L'Angelus and it has been playing in the van's cd player since Gaudete Sunday. Lil' Wingnut insists we play "Harold Angel" over and over and over again. I asked him why he wanted that particular tune, to which he replied,"It's a beautiful song. It says born that men no more may die." Fair enough. I told the little guy his favorite carol may be sung at Mass on Christmas. Unfortunately, it wasn't. This Sunday, however, "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing" was the closing hymn. Lil' Wingnut was beaming from ear to ear.

We had a lovely Christmas this year, very peaceful and yet joyful. The highlight of my Christmas Day was attending Mass that afternoon. That particular Mass closed with the singing of "Silent Night." Special K was standing next to me, belting out the carol and swaying to the music with her whole heart. Her outpouring of joy and love for Jesus was so touching to me, my eyes began to well up and eventually the tears trickled down my face. There is nothing sweeter than the innocent faith of a child, especially at Christmas.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Repost #5

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Repost: Get Your Soul in the Box

Go to confession. If you do nothing else to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child, at least take your family to confession. Jesus loves a pure heart and soul! Enough said.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Movie Review: Arranged

With Wingnut stranded in Texas for Blizzard 2009, I was able to catch up on all the great girly flicks on Netflix :-)

This one was particularly interesting, as well as very respectfully and well done. It is the story of two young women living in New York who are teachers in the same school. Rachel is a 22 year old Orthodox Jew. She works as the special needs teacher of a blind student mainstreamed into the fourth grade classroom of Nasira, a Syrian Muslim. Religious harassment from their principal and innocent yet probing questions from their students result in the forging of an unlikely friendship between the young women.

Despite their religious differences, both young women learn that each is in the process of having a marriage arranged for the other. For Rachel, her family, with considerable input from a matchmaker, dictate which eligible young men would make the best match, whereas Nasira is completely at the mercy of her father to find her a suitable husband.

The reality of arranged marriages taking place in America was very intriguing to me. This film does a wonderful job exploring the process, pitfalls, and advantages of arranged marriages in these two particular sub-cultures. Both girls come from loving families that truly only want the best for their daughters, giving this film the advantage of showing off the idea of arranged marriage in its very best light. Watching, one is left with the thought that there may be something to this idea of arranging one's children's marriages.

Within the last year, I've learned so much more about the Orthodox Jewish community through the wonderful blog on my sidebar "Domestic Felicity" written by a young Orthodox wife and new mother living in Jerusalem. I highly recommend going to her blog before seeing this movie to learn a little bit more about Orthodox Jewish beliefs regarding femininity, modesty, and familial roles.

I thoroughly enjoyed Arranged and highly recommend it, even to men (I may make Wingnut watch it with me again). Due to some subject content and at least one occurrence of profanity, I would suggest this movie would be best viewed by older teenagers and adults.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Recipe: Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are packed with vitamin C, Iron, and Thiamine. They can also be absolutely delicious, if prepared correctly. When I tell folks our family loves brussel sprouts, they tend to be incredulous, until I share our favorite method of preparation.

Start with fresh brussel sprouts. For our family of 8 we need approximately 30 sprouts. Make a V cut at the stem end of the sprouts and remove the stem.

This allows for much easier peeling of the outer leaves from the sprouts. Peel off the leaves as far down into the sprout as possible and place in a colander. Our children help with this task as I prep the rest of our dinner. Rinse and drain thoroughly.

No part of the sprout goes unused, as many of our children prefer raw sprouts and will eat whatever is left of the inner core.

Mince two cloves of garlic. Add two teaspoons olive oil and cloves of garlic to a large skillet and heat over medium low heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle and becomes fragrant, add rinsed and drained Brussel sprouts, toss to coat with oil and garlic. Increase heat to medium high and saute until leaves have wilted and turned a deep, emerald green. Serve.
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Repost #4

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Repost: Keep it Simple

Many people fall victim to the piles and piles of gifts under the tree and the mad rush to unwrap them all, we were no exception. A couple years back, I got this very empty and unsatisfied feeling after watching the kids dive into unwrapping gift after gift without stopping to reflect on what had just been opened. It was so overwhelming for me and I believe for them as well. It was then that I decided we needed to really pare down, refocus, and spread things out a bit more.

As mentioned in a previous post, Saint Nicholas now makes his appearance in our home on December 6th, leaving little trinkets and treats in the children's stockings. On Christmas there are usually only two gifts per child under the Christmas tree; one from Wingnut and I and one from their "roommate". Gifts have to wait until we've gone to Mass and have had a sit down family breakfast. On Epiphany the children will receive one more gift, usually a family game, video, or books. The children are allowed to open packages from distant family as they come in over the days before and following Christmas. It has been so much easier to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate the other wonderful liturgical feasts leading up to Christmas this way. We have ended up becoming more thankful for what we already have, especially for the gift of Christ, himself.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Bracing for the Storm is calling for 10 to 20 inches of snow for our area this weekend. This will be an event for us to look for the silver lining, as it likely means the kit and kabbodle of our anticipated activities will be cancelled: Our parish Christmas Pageant for which Oleander had a staring role, a birthday party for dear friends of Karate Kid, and a Christmas cookie party with our favorite nuns. What is that silver lining? Snow, silly! As disappointing as missing these festivities may be, I don't think the kids would trade them for a good romp in the snow.

We have our boots, snow pants, hats, gloves, and scarves. I'll be stocking the fridge, tonight. Bring on the snow!
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Go, Mom, Go

Small Successes for Thursday, December 17:

1) Cleaned the shower and toilet in the Master Bathroom. Don't you just love the smell of bleach in the morning?

2) Made homemade, completely from scratch, chicken and rice soup and whole wheat bread for dinner last night. It was delicious and so good for us.

3) Shockingly, I reached my goal of running three miles without stopping this week. I reached this goal a full week before I had hoped. I actually got a little emotional over it because it was something I had really wanted to do for myself. Just a note, don't get emotional after running three miles, you just might pass out--I felt just a little hypoxic and realized I needed to calm myself down and focus on cooling down and slowing down my breathing and heart rate before congratulating myself!

Follow the link to Faith and Family Live and leave your list of Small Successes. You know you want to. . .
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Movie Review: Miss Potter

I'm a sucker for costume dramas, and although I'd had this one sitting on the bookcase in it's Netflix envelope for several weeks, I was really looking forward to finally watching it. I'll tell you up front, this one is not for the guys and I did not even attempt to subject Wingnut to viewing it.

Miss Potter is a sweet biopic beginning with the publishing of her first children's books when Beatrix was in her early 30s. The film contains flashbacks of her childhood depicting her inspiration for the illustrations and stories she would become famous and independently wealthy for, and then follows the publishing of her works, as well as the romance that developed between her and her publisher, Norman Warne. As many stories from this time period, this movie explores the struggle of the single woman attempting to break free of the repressive mold of Victorianism (is that a word?), as well as the effort against other social conventions of the time.

This was a lovely and whimsical little film, if not a bit saccharine. The acting was wonderfully done, especially by Rene Zellweger and Ewan Mcgregor. Although light fare, this is a perfect girls night movie and would be completely appropriate for girls of all ages, but may not hold the attention of those under 10 years old.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quality Time

Most evenings find me chauffeuring our six kids to their various activities. It's not one of my favorite chores, but every once in a while I get to experience some actual quality time with my passengers.

Karate Kid and I get to have really meaningful conversations about life, faith, her future, etc. Stat Boy and I talk sports--I really don't listen to him enough. He just trounced me in our fantasy football league :-( Oleander likes to talk ballet and music. Special K likes to hear herself talk, and talk, and talk--LOL! Lil' Wingnut likes to tell me all about Star Wars, or plays his favorite game; "Mom and Dad." Skoshi A just makes me laugh.

Last night, out of the blue she said, "Oh, I just figured out what I'm going to name my children. I'm going to name them after cars. You know, like Toyota and Chevrolet." When I explained that some people really do name their kids after cars, but typically they choose names like Mercedes or Porshe, she got this absolutely incredulous look on her face and asked, "Are you serious? That's just crazy!"

That girl has beer taste to go with her beer budget! I laughed and laughed. What an absolute goof ball!
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Celebrating Advent Repost 3

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Repost:

Hold off on the Christmas decorations and music. During Advent we keep our decorations simple. We make our Advent Wreath the centerpiece, lighting candles during our evening Rosary. We have a small artificial tree we use for hanging up our handmade Jesse Tree ornaments. We put up our nativities, saving Baby Jesus until Christmas morning and the Wise Men for Epiphany. We hang greenery and holly outside on our door, windows, and railing, and that is it for the decorations until the days just before Christmas.

We also prefer to wait on the Christmas Carols. Advent has some beautiful hymns that are so often overlooked due to Christmas Carols. Who doesn't love O Come, O Come Emmanuel? Other hymns include: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, Let Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, On Jordan's Banks, O Come Redeemer of the Earth, and many others, all equally as beautiful as your favorite Christmas Carol.

Employing these few simple ideas truly builds the anticipation for Christmas and keeps us focused on Christmas' true meaning.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Big Day for Special K

Our parish takes preparing our children for the sacraments very seriously. In just a few moments, Special K and I will be leaving for church so that she might make her First Confession. She's been studying, practicing, and preparing for today for several months now. The time has finally come. She's a bit emotional, but well prepared to have her sweet little soul washed clean. Say a prayer for her, today. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, December 11, 2009

Battle Plans

This is Lil' Wingnut's newest game. He loves the dry erase board and will keep entertained drawing his "battle plans" for a good stretch of time. He's been overheard giving orders to his men in his lowest manly voice, "Alright men, we'll start here at the smiley face, and work our way. . . " Only a three year old would think a battle could start with a smiley face. Oh, to be that naive. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This 'n That

Wow, I really had to rack my brain for Successes this week, but here they are:

1) We did school every day this week, even though there were strong temptations to just blow it off.

2) I got out and ran twice this week. I'm up to just over 2 miles without stopping to walk. I'm hoping to reach 3 miles without stopping over Christmas break, weather permitting. I'll let you know how it goes.

3) I kept on top of the laundry again this week. It was a real struggle, but I folded two overflowing baskets worth of clean clothing and put it all away last evening just so I could post it as a success this week.

Do you have any Small Successes to share? Post your link over at Faith and Family Live.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Images from the Web

Quite frequently I post images I've found on the web for my posts, especially religious images. Yesterday, for my post on the Immaculate Conception I posted a pretty holy card image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Not an hour later I received a frantic call from my blogging and real life buddy Amy. Apparently the image I posted had a strange file attached that caused a message to appear on my blog stating something to the effect that I had stolen web content and then had an image of a profane gesture. If you visited my blog during that hour, I am profoundly sorry!

If you are a blogger and like to decorate your posts with images from the web, be careful and never use images posted on Jackbook! The image I used was one that could be found in many places and it was not an original artwork. It was just a holy card. I believe it was the website I used that was "protecting" the image.

One of these days I hope to only post my own photographs or scanned images. "Borrowing" images from the web is convenient and easy. I really try not to use protected or original work by others. Thankfully I have such a wonderful friend looking out for me! Thanks Amy!
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh Mary, Conceived Without Sin

For more information on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of the most misunderstood dogmas of the Church, go here my blogging buddy Sam sent this link this morning with a "laymans" explanation as well as corrections of popular misconceptions of the doctrine.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Repost #3

How to make Advent more like Advent and less like Christmas: Advent Buddies

This works very much like "Secret Santa". We all draw a name from a hat and that person is our Advent Buddy. The mission is to serve our Advent Buddy secretly all throughout Advent. We might say extra prayers, make little gifts for them, make little sacrifices for them, or do their chores when they least expect it. I try to remind the children each day to do something for their Advent Buddy, some need more reminding than others, and of course the little ones need a little help coming up with ways to serve. Eventually they all get into the swing of it. It's truly wonderful to see the children looking for ways to serve one another.
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Celebrating Advent Repost 2

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas

Celebrating Advent Saints

Some of our family's favorite Saints' feast days fall during Advent. We are not always on top of celebrating Saint's feast days during the rest of the year but we tend to be pretty good about it during Advent.

December 6

Our children hang their stockings the night before December 6th, in anticipation of a visit from Saint Nicholas who will leave trinkets and treats in their stockings if they've been good little children all year. Santa does not visit our house on Christmas Eve, but Saint Nicholas visits on his Feast day instead. Celebrating this feast has helped reduce the frenzied anticipation of gifts on Christmas morning.

December 8

Catholics take a break from the stress and press of the commercial Christmas season and head to Mass on this Holy Day of obligation. This is a beautiful Church feast celebrating the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

December 12

Our family has a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. We have a lovely "pilgrim" image given to us by our friends from our time in Oklahoma. This is another beautiful Marian feast. In the Southwest there are often elaborate celebrations with plays, Southwest American Indian costume and dance; all culminating in a special celebration of the Mass in honor of Our Lady. One website I came across suggested serving Mexican food in honor of this feast. I'm looking forward to preparing the food for this feast!

December 13

My family is of Scandinavian descent and my girls are fascinated with this feast day. They have all dreamed of getting up early, dressing in a white dress with red ribbons and a wreath candelabrum, while serving the rest of the family breakfast in bed. Somehow this plan falls flat with the getting up early part. I do recall Karate Kid helping her younger sisters do this one year, but none of us really likes to get up that early. I've been hearing little snippets of Saint Lucia plans here and there from the girls. If all else fails, we'll have breakfast for dinner on Saint Lucy's feast day. Nothing beats pancakes, bacon, and sausage for dinner!

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces

Small Successes for Thursday, December 3rd. Leave your link at Faith and Family Live.

1) We survived Nutcracker week! Hooray! We had a wonderful time, made new friends, and Skoshi A danced her little heart out. She's already looking forward to next year's auditions.

2) Even with all the Nutcracker and Thanksgiving bearing down on us, I managed to stay on top of the laundry. I do have one more basket to fold and put away, put I am satisfied to not have fallen too far behind.

3) The Christmas shopping is completed, the Advent decor is out, and we are deep into celebrating Advent, with a little help from Holy Heroes: Advent Adventure and a wonderful booklet of Advent meditations Oleander brought home from CCD. Here's to a Holy Advent!
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why West Point?

Chris Matthews may have blundered when he called West Point "the enemy camp", but I agree with the idea that West Point was a "strange venue" to make his case for sending more troops to Afganistan. From what I saw of his speech, the cadets were less than enthusiastic with Obama's appearance there. One poor cadet was caught on camera snoozing.

Why in the world did Obama choose this venue? First of all, he most likely got a warmer welcome from the cadets than he would have received from active duty personnel on an actively deployed base. I sure his handlers believed cadets were a better choice due to their youth, idealism, and distance from the realities of war. They were likely counting on a more liberally minded audience among academia.

Did you think Obama appeared arrogant, angry, even hateful during his speech? Either his applause lines were poorly written, or the cadets found very little to applaud, but as the speech wore on I felt Obama's jaw was set tighter and tighter in frustration over the tepid response. I could be projecting, but I think I really did see exactly that happening over the course of the evening.

The speech was a complete failure. The man cannot lead. Gen. McChrystal asked for 60,000 troops, the Dems want us out. Obama compromised and gave the General 30,000. No one is happy with his plan. Compromise in this situation is not leadership. If our goal is to win in Afganistan give the military what it needs to win; the troops, the equipment, the time, and the full fledged support of the presidency. Otherwise, we may as well cut and run. What a complete and utter waste.

And so ends my rant for the day.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sweet 'Taters

Sweet potatoes are awesome! Guess what? They are also incredibly good for you. We substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes quite frequently in our house. They are wonderful baked or mashed, just as one would bake or mash conventional potatoes. Stat Boy's absolute favorite sweet potato application is Sweet Potato Casserole. When he is tasked with making his famous casserole, the added sugar and butter fairly negates any of the health benefits one would get from eating sweet potatoes, in general, but it sure is delicious! You can get that particular recipe here.

I've recently been experimenting with sweet potatoes and have come up with easy recipes for sweet potato hash browns and sweet potato chips.

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large flat bottom skillet heat 1 tablespoon butter along with 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat until butter melts and begins to foam. When foaming as subsided add about half of the sweet potatoes to the skillet, distributing evenly into one layer. Allow potatoes to fry without stirring for 3-5 minutes or until you see the edges begin to brown. Gently turn the hash browns over and allow to fry for another 3-5 minutes until crispy and golden brown, stirring only occasionally and with a gentle hand. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a serving dish and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and potatoes.

Sweet Potato Chips

Two large sweet potatoes, peeled
1-2 quart(s) peanut oil
salt to taste

In a heavy dutch oven heat oil to 350 degrees. While oil is heating use a potato peeler to peel layers from the sweet potatoes. This is the absolute best way to get the sweet potato thin enough to fry up as chips. They may not look pretty at first but once they are fried it they will shrink and crinkle up to a beautiful golden brown. Once oil is to temp add a handful of sliced sweet potato and fry until the chips begin to color and crisp up (about 3 to 5 minutes). Be sure not to over fill the pan as that will reduce the temp of the oil too much and leave you with oily and soggy chips. Remove chips with a slotted metal spoon and let drain on several layers of paper towel. Salt to taste. Allow oil to return to 350 degrees between each batch of chips. Two large sweet potatoes made enough chips for our family of eight to enjoy along with our dinner last night.

Of course these recipes are not nearly as good for you as eating a baked sweet potato with a little plain yogurt as a topping, but they are easy, fun, and delicious and you are at least putting a few more nutrients into your diet than you would if using your typical spud.
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Celebrating Advent Repost

Last year I wrote a series of posts on how our family keeps Advent a holy season of penance and preparation before the arrival of Christmas. Throughout the next few weeks I'll be reposting some or all of these ideas, not only for the newer readers of this blog, but as a reminder for our own family to keep our Advent traditions alive so that we may more fully understand and celebrate Christmas.

Advent is just around the corner and I have been deep in thought, considering how to make Advent more meaningful for myself and my family. Advent is a period of waiting, anticipation, and penance for Catholics. Those who observe Advent faithfully, do not allow Christmas to encroach upon this season of waiting too quickly. Our family has many traditions for Advent we've developed throughout the years and I thought we might share some of these ideas and traditions with you throughout Advent this year.

Here is Celebrating Advent Idea #1:

Do your Christmas shopping BEFORE Advent. I try very hard to do this. I want our focus to be on preparing for the arrival of the Christ Child, not on the arrival of gifts. If I'm stressing over what to get this person or the next I'm not able to focus on preparing my own heart. This takes some planning to accomplish and we have simplified much of our Christmas buying in order to manage doing this each year, but it is well worth the effort. As of this post, I have 90% of the Christmas shopping finished and I will be completely finished by the end of the this first week of Advent. You cannot imagine how much having this piece in place eases my mind and my heart.

May you and yours have a Holy and Blessed Advent!
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Ballet Notes

So far, we are truly enjoying our Nutcracker experience again this year. I had the privilege of chaperoning in the dressing room for Wednesday evenings performance and I was allowed to take the gorgeous photos displayed here today.

Tuesday, Oleander and I had tickets to the dress rehearsal, and if you don't mind bearing with me, I'd like to turn ballet critic for the remainder of this post. I seen several different versions and danced in the Nutcracker and in my humble opinion, this version, choreographed by George Balanchine, is the absolute best. Most versions of the ballet use the Variations to showcase their incredibly talented principal dancers. Audiences are wowed by the unique strengths of these individual dancers, usually featuring spectacular leaps, dazzling turns, or amazing flexibility. This version of the ballet also features the Variations, and the dancers are very talented and put on a wonderful show, but the Variations are truly secondary in comparison to the beautiful choreography of the Corps de Ballet, and even secondary to the parts choreographed for the 70 plus children in the production.

I think most folks familiar to the Nutcracker Ballet would agree The Waltz of the Flowers is most likely their least favorite variation, not so with Balanchine's choreography. Pennsylvania Ballet's Corps pulled off the intricate unison needed for The Waltz to be successful. It was incredibly beautiful and the choreography truly made the Corps appear to bloom like flowers.

By far, the most enjoyable aspect of this particular production are the child dancers. They figure front and center in the party scene, as expected, but then children feature prominently again as toy soldiers, menacing mice, breathtaking angels, foils for the Chinese Tea principal, talented Candy Cane Hoops, and adorable Polychinelles. I am so thrilled to have one of my dancers involved in this show. I'm really looking forward to seeing another performance on Saturday night.
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I'm posting this photo of our Thanksgiving pies as an entry into a contest hosted by Faith & Family Live. You can enter too, just follow the link! Shown here are two pumpkin, cherry lattice(my very first attempt!), pecan, and Dutch apple. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, November 23, 2009

On Tap for Today

1) Grocery shopping in the morning

2) Kids will be working on deep cleaning their rooms this week. Today they tackled their closets.

3) I'm making pie dough for three single crust and one double crust pie. We have been invited to friend's for Thanksgiving dinner--Hooray! I only need to take dessert, cranberries, and sweet potato casserole.

4) Turkey Harvest Salad for dinner

5) Tech rehearsal at the Kennedy Center from 7 to 10:30 pm.

6) I should workout, but I'm just not in the mood. It's grey and rainy and I can't go for a run. Nothing else sounds appealing.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

The Time has Come

Nutcracker performance week is upon us. Skoshi A has several rehearsals in the coming days before the first performance on Tuesday night. I'm going to be busy chauffeuring her to and from rehearsals, chaperoning at the Kennedy Center, and making tasty food for Thanksgiving, so I may not be posting much in the coming days.

I'm incredibly excited to chaperone this year, as this means I will definitely get photos of her in her gorgeous, handmade, soldiers costume. I'll be posting those along with any interesting happenings before the experience is finished.

Merde*, Skoshi A! We're so proud of you!

*In the theater and dance worlds one would never wish a performer "good luck", as it is considered bad luck. Obviously, one would not wish a dancer to "break a leg," either. Dancers wish each other "merde", a French word for "dung".

Prior to the invention of the automobile, Parisian streets were filled with horse drawn carriages and therefore filled with a good deal of horse doo-doo. Pedestrians needed to step gingerly and would caution each other to "not step in the merde". For evening performances it was considered to be a good thing to have masses of merde outside the theater as that meant an abundance of audience in attendance for a performance. Dancers began wishing each other "merde" before going onstage as a way of saying, "Watch your step."
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful for the Small Stuff

Small Successes for Thursday, November 20, 2009

1) We were in the bathroom this week if you fly with the Flylady. I tackled the very scary shower this week. I missed cleaning it last month, and we really cannot miss a month without a good chemical clean! It truly was frightening, and I'd been putting it off, telling myself, "I'll get to it when bathroom week finally arrives." Thank heaven for Tilex!

2) I did a great job staying on top of the laundry this week. I know I post this success frequently, but it has been a goal for me this school year to not let the laundry become so overwhelming. Everything has been washed, dried, folded, and put away. Hooray for me!

3) I am nearly done with the Christmas shopping. I will be completely finished before Advent. This was an important goal for me this year. If you followed my blog last year you know I had a series of posts on observing Advent to the fullest before celebrating Christmas. We really try to avoid the Christmas shopping frenzy during Advent as we truly believe it detracts from our spiritual preparation.

What are your successes this week? Post your link over at Faith & Family Live.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Artist in Our Backyard

Friday was one of those days most moms have from time to time. I was throwing myself a pity party over the bad day I'd had. I couldn't even get dinner on the table for the kids, so we headed to our favorite pizza parlor for fried calamari, sodas, and cheese pizzas.

The kids claimed two tables near the back and next to an elderly couple enjoying their dinner. I especially noticed this couple as the man appeared to have a story to tell. He was crusty in appearance, mustached and wrinkled, dressed all in black, wearing a captains cap on his head and huge turquoise rings on his fingers. I wondered what kind of life he had lived. I imagined he was a formerly a sailor or a fisherman. He just struck me as having come from a life at sea.

We had our pizza in the relative peace and quiet. We enjoyed each other's company and took our time gathering our trash and dirty dishes. As we headed out the door, our crusty sailor stopped us to have a word. He wanted to compliment me on my patience with my children and how wonderfully behaved they were. He was particularly impressed having observed they had each made the sign of the cross and said grace before even taking a sip of their sodas. He went on to proclaim his favorite person in the world was John Paul II. He then went on to describe exhibits of his work throughout the DC and Annapolis area. Come to find out, our sailor was no sailor at all, but a celebrated American folk artist. His works of art have been selected to decorate embassies, statehouses, etc., but for Sy Mohr, his crowning achievement was to have his work The Pope of Life Today selected to be exhibited at the John Paul II Cultural Center.

Anyhoo, Mr. Mohr lives in our hometown just a couple of miles from us. He gave us his business card and invited us to visit him in his home. After perusing the internet for some of his paintings, he has me intrigued. I think we'll take him up on his offer, if only to see some of his work up close. I won't send you to his website, due to the malware warnings I received, but you can safely see examples of his work here, here, and here. I'll post again if we have the chance to visit him in the future. I'm sure it should be a fascinating and educational experience.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spiritual Warfare

In the world of the three year old male, God is packing heat and He can just shoot the devil in the head. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, November 16, 2009

Smile Three Times

My blogging buddy, Dawn, is on a mission, and I'm here to help pass the word. Here is her plan for smiling three ways by helping others. Being a military family, ourselves, we are partial to Way to Smile #2. We'll be working on our letters to service members this week.

Way to Smile #1
Catholic Chicks has been trying to get donations of blankets for the homeless in her community. She has had no luck from any of the major retailers. Take a moment to check out her
Operation Comfort.
Way to Smile #2
From a Military Chaplain in Germany:
During the two weeks prior to Christmas, Ramstein Air Base will have thousands of soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors come transit through the terminal into the
hospital, en route to a war zone, en route back to their home station.
Volunteers put together thousands of gift bags. Everyone gets one.
Whether they are here for 30 minutes or a long stay in the hospital.

Whenever we are asked our greatest need, it is letters!

To reach our goal of 10,000 bags this year we will need to collect
more than 30,000 hand-written letters.
Letters CANNOT:
Be Dated
Ask any questions about war, injuries, killing, etc (Believe it
or not 10% of all letters cannot be delivered because of this)
Be politically motivated or mention politicians or political
Be type written or a photocopy
Be in a unsealed envelope (all letters have to reviewed before
being handed out)
Letters CAN:
Express support and appreciation
include a drawing (if from a child)
Tell about the writer's family, life, likes, etc.
Share personal experiences that motivate
include a return address

Send the Letters to:

Father (Capt.) David V. McGuire
PSC 1, Box 4856
APO, AE 09009

Way to Smile #3
Post this info on your blog. Pass it on to your email list.
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Friday, November 13, 2009


Lil' Wingnut is a ladies man. How could he not be, with those big brown eyes and curly long lashes, right? He absolutely loves our little homeschool friend who comes to our house each Thursday and Friday. As soon as she enters the house he totally abandons me for his one true love, a ten year old heartbreaker.

Yesterday Lil' Wingnut was fawning over our friend, batting his lashes at her.

"Will you marry me?" he asked.

"Ewwww!" she responded, "I'm like seven years older than you!"

Poor little guy. His first proposal of marriage and he was turned down flat.
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hooray for Mom

Small Successes for Thursday, November 12, 2009

1) We are in the kitchen, if you fly with the Flylady. I cleaned and reorganized several cupboards in the kitchen and gave my Passquini Espresso machine a polish. She is so shiny and clean, I might just have to make myself another cup when I finish this post.

2) I actually got my hiney out the door for a walk twice this week. Once I got walking I felt a little extra spring in my step and I began running. On both occasions I ran a mile. Yes, a whole mile! I haven't run since I was in my early twenties, and I actually enjoyed getting a move on. After my little jogs, I decided I definitely needed to trade in my walking shoes for running shoes. I now have some lovely new Gel Asics for the next time I feel a little spring in my step.

3) Wingnut was actually home for Veteran's Day, yesterday. We loaded up the van and headed downtown to the Basilica for confession and then took the whole crew to the Air and Space Museum for a little exploring. We had a lovely day together.

What are your successes this week? Leave your link at Faith and Family Live.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Drs. Sears

Over our many years of parenthood we have come to implement more and more of the advice from the Sears family. Dr. William Sears and his wife Martha were pioneers of the attachment parenting and family bed movements. It took several years for us to adopt the tenets of attachment parenting fully, but by our fourth child we were baby wearing and co-sleeping with great satisfaction and peace.

For many reasons, that will not be listed here, we have decided to delay and even refuse most vaccinations for our children. Over the years we have been approached by concerned young parents seeking our advice on immunizations. As I am not a doctor, nor an absolute expert on vaccinations, I feel very uncomfortable suggesting to other families that they follow our lead and also refuse immunizations for their children. However, I feel completely at ease suggesting The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child, written by the son of Dr. and Martha Sears, Dr. Robert Sears. Dr. Sears does a wonderful job laying out the justifications and real concerns of the current vaccination schedule employed in the United States. He neither fully condones, nor fully condemns immunization, but lays out the current research even handedly, allowing parents to make the best decisions for their own children. He even suggests alternate vaccination schedules.

Recently, we discovered that our youngest daughter, Special K, has a sensitivity to artificial ingredients--really chemicals--used in conventional foods. We started her on the Feingold Diet and with a few tweaks here and there, believe we have eliminated the culprit foods from her diet. My mother-in-law, being the wonderfully supportive woman she is, came across another book by Dr. William Sears called the NDD Book, or the Nutritional Deficit Disorder Book. She sent it to me immediately. It was amazing how many of the hallmark behaviors our Special K displayed that Dr. Sears connected to NDD. The book has some wonderful advice on getting children to eat more naturally and healthily, as well as a plan for getting children off the numerous mood altering drugs doctors too often prescribe for ADD and ADHD. For us, the book gave more insight into how important whole, natural foods are to children's brain development and metabolism. We've added to our list of no-no additives and preservatives and I've begun making more of our food from scratch. It's all a work in progress.

Wingnut and I have been parents for 17 years, and I find it funny how we are continuing to grow and learn. The older and more experienced we become, the more we lean toward more natural strategies, foods, etc. in our parenting decisions. I wonder what more we might learn in the years to come.
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When Homeschool Science Goes Horribly Wrong

One of the draw backs I've personally had with homeschooling is many times science experiments do not turn out as they should. This can often be frustrating for me and for my children who want to see science up close and personal. For nearly eight weeks Oleander and I have been trying to grow mold on a slice of Pepperidge Farm Sandwich Bread to no avail. That got me to thinking, what is in this bread that is keeping it from molding? Am I really allowing my children to put whatever that is into their bodies? It's a scary thought when you really get down to it. Today begins a new day in our house. Today I begin making all or at least most of the bread in our house. Whatever is preserving store bought bread can't possibly be natural or healthy! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, November 6, 2009

Flexibility is the Word. . .

. . . for our first quarter. We finish 1/4 of our school year today, and I am so pleased to write it has gone very smoothly, although we did change up a few things before reaching this point. You can read my original homeschool plan for the year here, here and here.

Karate Kid has done very well, thus far. She is truly enjoying Calculus and the Physics curriculum we chose for her and is doing amazingly well in both. Our co-op is providing some excellent enrichment classes for her as well. The high schoolers will finish up their 2000 years of Church History this year, they are taking a very hands-on rocketry science/engineering class, and they are hard at work on a script for the movie they hope to film this coming spring.

Stat Boy is settling into high school and after a couple little hiccups has gotten the routine down. Wingnut made it a requirement for Stat Boy to show ALL of his work in Algebra II, something I'd been trying to get the boy to do for years, but had had little to no success. Sometimes the order has to come from the principal. The boy is incredibly bright and would do all of his calculations in his head, but if he made tiny errors they would carry and his final answer would then be completely wrong. Writing out his work makes him slow down and work more carefully. We also showed him we can actually give him partial credit for understanding a concept even if the answer is wrong due to small errors. Physical Science began as a challenge for Stat Boy. Kolbe Academy's material is not for the faint of heart, but Wingnut showed Stat Boy a wonderful little flashcard program on the computer, and he's been diligently putting important information for studying into that program ever since. He earned an A on his first exam. What a relief!

Oleander had complained and scoffed at my plan for her for science all summer. She felt using the same science curriculum as her little sisters was beneath her, even though I assured her I would add assignments and expect more from her than her younger sisters. I finally just listened to her and purchased the third book in the Concepts and Challenges series from Emmanuel Books. She is so much happier and doing very well.

Skoshi A has gone with the flow and seems pretty happy with the material she has. She seems to have crossed a threshold in math and is understanding the concepts much better this year. Hooray! Now if we could just do the same with spelling.

Special K begged to begin spelling this year. I haven't the slightest idea why she thought spelling was so much fun, but I went ahead and tested her for readiness, even though the program I use recommends waiting until third grade to begin formal spelling lessons. She tested into the entry level and so we went ahead and added it to her lesson plan. The sweet little thing thinks she should be spelling every word I give her perfectly. I've had a devil of a time trying to get her to understand that she is supposed to be learning to spell and it will take her time to learn words she has never written before. For the first couple weeks our lessons ended with her in tears over missing one or two words. At this point, she is now allowing herself to miss a couple here and there, but I don't think she believes spelling is all that much fun any more. Special K has also made significant progress in reading. She is reading at or above her grade level for the first time. She's even reading on her own just for the enjoyment of it. I love homeschooling!

Another adaptation we had to make was in our history study. We are working our way through ancient world history and I had planned on doing that chronologically. Co-op had other plans. We decided we'd tackle Ancient Greece in the classes for both Oleander and Skoshi A. At home we began with Mesopotamia and then decided we'd head to Greece before Egypt so that our studies at home would be supplemented at the same time with studies in co-op.

If/when you study Ancient Greece, I recommend a very well done video we watched in co-op about ancient Greek weaponry. The History Channel's video Ancient Greece- Weapons of Mass Destruction was a huge hit with the 5th-8th graders. My two high schoolers watched it as well and thought it was incredibly well done, informative, and just what battle junkies love. There are a couple scenes that may be disturbing to younger children, so you might want to preview before showing it to your family.

Lil' Wingnut is much more manageable this year. He entertains himself with drawing on the white board, coloring in his giant Thomas coloring book, or playing educational games on the computer, especially Starfall. The lil' guy is smart as a whip. He's learned to tell digital time, read the compass, and has begun sounding out and reading a few words. Homeschooling him should either be a breeze or an adventure.

We've a great start on the year. Praise the Lord!
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Here's to Success

Small Successes for Thursday, November 5th, where did October go?

1) We've completed our first quarter of homeschooling this year. All in all it is going pretty smoothly. I have a progress report in the works as a post later this week. The kids were pretty stoked to be 1/4 of the way through the year.

2) Sunday I began to feel achy, chilly and pretty miserable. I ended up running a low grade fever for three days, but I tried to take it easy, got plenty of sleep, took my vitamins, and ate a healthy diet. I believe I was able to fight off whatever was attacking me. Karate Kid chalks this "success" up to our superior genetics :-) I think warding off an illness is a small success, don't you?

3) Even feeling under the weather, I was able to keep up with the laundry. I am so thankful to not have piles and piles of dirty clothes waiting for me!

Head on over to Faith and Family Live and herald your Small Successes for the week.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mid-Term Elections are Important. Who Knew?

Confession: I don't always vote in mid-term elections or primaries. Wingnut and I vote absentee in Washington State, and lets face it, it requires spending considerable time in research to place a well thought out vote.

I did know Washington had an important measure on the ballot regarding extending more benefits to domestic partnerships. Wingnut and I wanted to have a say in that, so on Sunday we opened our ballots, did our research, and placed our votes.

There were several initiatives regarding moving city monies around for one thing or another, there was the domestic partnership resolution, and there were several empty judges' seats, city council seats, and school board memberships. Oh, how I love the internets. I was able to find information on nearly every candidate, just by googling their names.

I voted against one candidate for city council because he was endorsed by the State's Democratic Party. That in itself may have been enough, but I also have a wonderful friend, a die-hard-kool-aid-drinking-liberal, who worked feverishly on his campaign. My friend has a heart of gold, but she is on the opposite side, the wrong side, of so many issues. I know I can vote against anyone she supports with an absolutely clear conscience. Sorry, J., I still love ya.

We voted for one school board member because she raised eight children and is a grandmother to many. She had great educational background to boot, but honestly, it was her eight kids that won us over.

Wingnut and I voted for a school board member because she was described as a "lunatic creationist". Ok, that definitely isn't enough to garner a vote, but it was that description that led us to the candidate's website where we were able to read about her many wonderful qualifications and admire her courageous pro-life proclamation. Yep, that's the kind of woman I want on the school board!

After this voting experience, I believe we'll be much more conscientious about voting in mid-terms and primaries. They really can be quite important.

*P.S. As of this morning, it looks like all of our local choices were losers, with the exception of the money issues. Bummer. Thankfully it looks like all the important Governors' races have swung right.
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All Hallow's Eve 2009

This year we spent our Halloween with our good friends from Moments of Grace. They have a family tradition of spending some time in Adoration and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the evils that so often occur on All Hallow's Eve. We all headed to a local Perpetual Adoration Chapel. The chapel was beautiful and the experience was enhanced as Crucian Dad opened a little window on the tabernacle to expose the Blessed Sacrament. I think I gasped audibly at the wonderful surprise! We were all thrilled the chapel was empty so that we could pray a family rosary. We were nearly finished when the church's priest poked his head in and very apologetically let us know that the chapel was really meant for silent prayer and reflection only. Oops!

After our spiritual offering the kids put on their costumes and headed out for some "fricker eating" as Lil' Wingnut put it. The two little ones did not last too long. Partly due to short attention spans, and partly due to too many scary houses. Lil' Wingnut decided he only wanted to visit "happy, happy, happy houses." Who can blame him!

The rest of the evening was spent before a small bonfire, roasting marshmallows, drinking Indian tea, and enjoying each other's company. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends!
Oleander as a Tarheel Fanatic.

Special K as a Japanese Princess. She also wore this costume to the All Saint's Party as Our Lady of Akita.

Skoshi A transformed her Saint Cecilia costume into the Greek goddess, Athena.

Lil' Wingy went as Commander Cody from the Clone Wars. I think we'll glue glow sticks on it next year and he can go as a character from Tron. Does it make me a terrible mom if I just love this photo of Lil' Wingnut? He was picking his nose on purpose while I tried to snap photos of him. It really does suit his personality. As an added bonus, I can use it as fodder when the "pretty, pretty ladies" come to call.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Artistry, Or Lack There Of

Pumpkin carving is a tradition for my kiddos. We've been doing it since Karate Kid was a tyke. It began with the children choosing their own pumpkins each year, and then making a huge scene over having to clean out the goo. So I'd clean out the goo. They'd then choose a pattern for their pumpkin, usually from a Pumpkin Master's kit. I'd hope against hope that they'd choose one of the simpler patterns. Of course they'd choose the most difficult pattern. They'd make a big show out of trying to carve their pumpkins and then I'd end up doing it for them. Several years ago I ended up carving 5 pumpkins. It took hours. I was a glutton for punishment!
This year, they were able to do the work almost completely on their own. I didn't carve a single pumpkin and only had to lend a hand to helping the two youngest with their cleaning and carving. They turned out some real wonderful works of art.

I found a great peg kit for Lil' Wingnut. I helped him clean his pumpkin and I pinned his pattern on the pumpkin for him, but he did the rest of the work. There's nothing more satisfying to a three year old boy than being able to pound pegs with a hammer. He told me so himself.

Special K did all of the work on her pumpkin on her own. I assisted with the carving, but only to help her guide her saw.

Skoshi A chose a fairly difficult pattern. Believe it or not this is an improvement over her pumpkin of last year. It's supposed to be a bat, but she still gets a little confused over what pieces should be removed and which pieces should stay intact. We'll call this our abstract pumpkin.

Oleander did all the work on her skull on her own, with absolutely no guidance. This is her best work to date. She did a wonderful job cleaning her carving to make sure the image was clear and sharp.

Karate Kid found a pattern online for her Boba Fett pumpkin.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Celebrating All Saints with The Sisters

The Sister Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara hold an annual All Saints party at their formation house. The Sisters really know how to throw a party. They had carnival games, a parade of Saints, prayed a litany of Saints before the Tabernacle, and had donuts, cookies, and other refreshments. Many of the Nuns dressed up as their favorite Saints as well. I am so thankful our family has been blessed by getting to know such a wonderful, flourishing, holy and happy order of nuns!

Lil' Wingnut showed the girls how it was done by eating a donut off a string in record time. He cracked the nuns up so much, I'm fairly certain they fed him at least 5 donuts by the end of the festivities.

This sister did a marvelous job with her Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta costume.

I'm not so sure about this sister. I mean, where exactly did she learn to play confidence games?

Sister Angela hammed it up as one of the Church's newest canonized saints, Saint Damien of Molokai.

Sister Meredith enjoyed helping Lil' Wingnut with the fishing game.
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Fall Fotos 2009

We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, yesterday. It was incredibly muddy. I hate mud. I pretty much nagged the kids to grab their pumpkins so we could get out of there. Too bad I was in such a hurry. I usually get some lovely photos there. I do like this one of Lil' Wingnut running to the pumpkin cottage.

I felt bad about hurrying the kids away from the pumpkin patch, so when we got home I made it up to them by helping them make Halloween colored pumpkin balls. I bought these natural vegetable based dyes from The Natural Candy Store, when I purchased our Halloween candy. Should Halloween be capitalized?

The balls did not turn the shade of orange I wanted, but they did come out to be a lovely light orange. No matter, the kids had fun and thought they were delicious. I got the recipe here.

The kids spent the rest of the afternoon raking leaves and jumping into piles. Lil' Wingnut had a blast doing that, as long as the girls didn't bury him afterward. Picky, picky.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009


I actually had to rack my brain for successes this week. Why do I feel like it was so unproductive? Thankfully, even the small stuff counts :-)

1) As of yesterday my hubby and I have completed our first full course of P90X. We begin a second helping today. The workouts are tough, but by the end of the 90 days, we were able to complete every workout in the series. Wingnut is considering doing doubles this time, I won't even consider it. It's been tough just carving out the 50 to 90 minutes a day for one workout. As far as results, I didn't lose a single pound, but my clothes are all much looser. I have much more muscle tone in my arms, stomach, and legs and overall I lost several inches. I decided not to adhere to my weight watchers regime for the 90 days, but this time through I may go ahead and add the diet to the exercise. We'll see how it goes.

2) I finally sewed the elastics on Oleander's pointe shoes for ballet. I felt terrible last week, when she was the only dancer without pointe shoes ready for class. She was so happy I finished them. Have I told you how much I hate sewing ribbons and elastic on pointe shoes? Argh!

3) I pulled Lil' Wingnut's carseat from the van and washed the cover and straps. His seat was filthy! Actually, I had to do this out of necessity, as he had a wee accident while I was driving other children from one activity to the next. I guess when he says he needs to go, he really needs to go.

What small stuff did you get done this week? Come post your link at Faith and Family Live.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Love Ya Bro!

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you may come across the comments my brother leaves in the combox. He is a pretty sarcastic, witty, and zany guy. Sometimes I write posts just to see what my brother will leave for me. Often his comments make me cringe, just a little, but in the end, he always leaves me laughing.

My brother and I were born thirteen months apart and prior to Roe vs Wade, but the nature of our coming into the world still left us in significant danger, if you know what I mean. I am so grateful our mom and dad chose life for us. I can't imagine a world without my brother in it. So, Walt, if you're reading this today, you are awesome and I love you, bro!

*P.S. My baby sister is pretty awesome too, but she deserves a post of her very own :-)
**P.S.S. I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Want Candy, All Natural Candy

Having Special K on her special diet put us in a spot when it comes to Halloween and "schwicker freeting" (as Lil' Wingnut would say). I am so glad I have smart and resourceful friends, like Mallu Mom from Moments of Grace. She suggested we take the kids "trick-or-treating" and then swap out Special K's goodies for all natural treats. Great idea! I found an online company that specializes in all natural candy. Their site is truly wonderful. All of their candy is categorized as organic, vegan, gluten-free, made in the USA, and/or being conducive to the Feingold diet. I ordered several different kinds of candy and the box came within a week. We sampled several different types of candies. They were really terrific! The kids especially liked the Frizz Fizzy candy. As far as cost goes, whenever you go all natural it seems the price increases, the Natural Candy Store is no exception. I spent quite a bit more than if I went with Tootsie Rolls or Kit-Kats or what have you, but Special K is worth it, don't you think? Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Priesthood Sunday

Today the Church is celebrating Priesthood Sunday. Say a prayer for the priests that have administered sacraments to us. Say a prayer for men studying for the priesthood. Say a prayer for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for our priests!

*For a wonderful coloring page of Saint John Vianney, patron of priests check out Waltzing Matilda*

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Little but Important

Small Successes for Thursday, October 22, 2008:

1) We replaced the batteries in one smoke detector and tested our other smoke detectors. We've needed to do this little task for over a year now. I'm so glad we've finally gotten around to it!

2) I helped Stat Boy make an important decision this week. He has finally decided to drop piano lessons. He's been taking lessons for 8 years and to be honest, he only enjoyed it the first three. I kept encouraging him to continue, hoping he would grow to love the piano. It did not happen. The boy persevered all these years only because he likes his teacher and didn't want to let her down. Practicing was a miserable chore for both of us. I'm sad he's done, but happy for Special K. She now benefits from his abandoned spot. I hope she loves it.

3) If I'm correct, we are in the bedroom this week, if you fly with the Flylady. This week I vacuumed our bedroom, including edges, door lintels, and the blades on the ceiling fan. I hope to finish up our room with a good dusting later today.

What are your Small Successes this week? Post your link at Faith and Family Live.
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