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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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where's the Brotherly Love?

I cut an orange into wedges for Lil' Wingnut the other day. As he was munching down on his fruit, Stat Boy came into the kitchen and sat down at the table with him. As he reached across the table to grab an orange wedge, Lil' Wingnut flew into a rage, "Those are mine! Don't take any!" I jumped into the fray and let the lil' guy know the oranges were for everyone and he needed to share. To no avail. He continued to wail and threaten his older brother for taking "his" oranges. I walked over to the table and moved the plate holding said oranges away from Lil' Wingnut and in front of his older brother. "These oranges are now Stat Boy's," I said, "We'll see if he will share with you." Of course, Stat Boy chose to share his oranges with his little brother.

In the van on the way home from piano lessons yesterday, Lil' Wingnut declared he was hungry. I offered to cut up some oranges for him to snack on while I made dinner. He thoughtfully considered my offer before asking,"Will Stat Boy be home? I really don't want to share."

I'm trying to decide if it is funny or sad, how our sinful nature can make even the smallest of us incredibly ugly.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Are God's Masterpiece

Sweet and uplifting video from the Skit Guys. Got 9 minutes?
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Cranberry Crisp

I found some fresh cranberries at the commissary on Saturday, which meant I just had to make one of Wingnut's favorite desserts; Cranberry Crisp. Never heard of it, you say. Never fear. I have the recipe for you. This is fantastic served with vanilla ice cream while still warm. We also refrigerate the left-overs and have it cold for breakfast. It's the perfect combination of tart and sweet.

Cranberry Crisp

2 bags fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root(optional)

2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 1/4 cup toasted and coarsely chopped nuts (pecans work very well with cranberries)

In large sauce pan combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, water, orange zest, and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce temperature to medium so that fruit is still bubbling and popping gently. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until mixture has thickened. Pour into a 9 x 12 pan and set aside while preparing crumble.

In a food processor combine flour, sugars, and spices. Pulse to combine. Cut cold butter into one inch chunks and sprinkle over mixture. Pulse 10 times using 1 second pulses until mixture resembles sand. Stir in toasted nuts. Spread crumble evenly over the top of the fruit mixture.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until topping is a dark caramelized brown and crisp appears set. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Let's Pretend

Lil' Wingnut has a new game, a sweet little game. He calls it "Mom and Dad." In this game we pretend he is the dad and I am the mom. Simple enough. Not too much is required of me, other than I be engaged in the game, call him "dear," and repeat the lines he feeds me. Really this game is just him re-enacting scenes from our family life and it is a very telling and fascinating role play.

This is what I've derived from his game. First of all, he gets that his daddy loves me very much. In our game, the dad is very helpful and loving to the mom and is constantly asking her what she would like. Secondly, Lil' Wingnut sees his dad as off and on the go, constantly. He is either on a run, going to the store, heading to work, or flying an airplane somewhere. Yep, dad is one busy guy. Lastly, he sees Wingnut as having a VERY sweet tooth. His runs to the store always result in something sweet to eat; gummy worms, cheesecake, coke, cotton candy, and fruit smoothies. Granted, the gummy worms, coke, and cotton candy are all Lil' Wingnut's personal sweet preferences, it's still hilarious to watch his interpretation of dear ol' Dad .
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Thursday, October 15, 2009


Small Successes for this Thursday:

1) I have my lesson plans written and maps printed out for my Ancient Greece co-op class on Friday. There's nothing like getting things done early :-) Now I can relax and enjoy my husband on his day of leave today.

2) We are in the bathroom and one other room this week, if you fly with the Flylady. Our bathroom is spic-n-span and our towels are washed, dried, folded and put away.

3) I've stayed on top of the laundry for a second week in a row. It helps that I finally got a handyman in to clean out our dryer line. It's amazing how much faster the clothes are getting dried. Hooray!

Have any Small Successes? Come share yours at Faith and Family Live.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back Away from the Science Experiment

Stat Boy is using Kolbe Academy's physical science curriculum this year. I really want him to enjoy science this year, as well as develop a life long love for it. I felt the best way to accomplish this is by doing as many of the labs from the curriculum as possible. At the beginning of our school year I went through his text and ordered as many of the materials as I could from Home Science Tools. This particular online company carries most lab supplies a home lab might need, including many chemicals.

Stat Boy had a lab yesterday that explored properties of different metals. It involved using hydrochloric acid (gulp). Stat Boy and I set up our test tube rack, test tubes, pipette, etc. and put on our safety gear. I gathered the needed chemicals, only to realize I was missing magnesium. Darn! I really wanted Stat Boy to do this experiment, could we do it without the magnesium? I did have zinc. Maybe I could substitute zinc in our experiment. We performed our test on the required silicon metal chips, which did not react with the hydrochloric acid (it wasn't supposed to). I decided that we should go ahead and try using the zinc. Stat Boy carefully piped hydrochloric acid into the test tube with the zinc and immediately the zinc began to react, bubbling and smoking mildly. The Boy threw up his hands and backed away. I grabbed the test tube, ran outside with it, and turned on the water hose, rinsing the test tube out onto the driveway.

Sounds a bit scary and not so smart, right? After cleaning up our experiment, I did an internet search to see if what I'd done had actually been dangerous. Much to my relief, observing the reaction between zinc and hydrochloric acid is a common experiment and not dangerous. In fact, we could have watched as the zinc was dissolved completely by the acid. Whew! Still, I really should have looked that up before trying it out, right? Anyhoo, now the Boy doesn't trust me at all with chemicals. Who can blame him? I don't quite trust myself either. LOL!
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cute and Chubby? No Health Coverage for You!

Baby Wingnut at 4 months old and weighing a whopping 17 pounds.

I honestly thought this story was a joke. Of course it isn't. 5 of our 6 children would also have been denied health coverage at 4 months old using this ridiculous criteria.

So, I'm guessing this is a "pro-Obamacare" story about how insurance companies are wreaking havoc on the American people and their health care choices and how badly we need to reform the whole system. Agreed. I just don't want the government involved. Do we really think government healthcare is going to be better about insuring tubby tots? No, we don't!
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Make 'Em Laugh

My blogging buddy and real life chum, Sam, usually makes her Monday blog post a family movie review. Today I'm joining her and posting about a gem of a genre our family just discovered (or would it be re-discovered?), silent comedies, especially Buster Keaton silent comedies. Wingnut just happened to come across Sherlock Jr. while it was airing on TCM a few weeks ago. A couple of our kids came traipsing into the living room to check out what we were giggling about. Seeing they seemed a bit interested, we invited the rest of the kiddos to join us.

Buster Keaton was a comedic genius. It was impressive to see how physically expressive actors had to be to pull off silent comedy, and Buster Keaton had to be one of the best. I was surprised that all of our children were able to follow the story line, but best of all was the laughter. Skoshi A practically fell out her seat laughing over Keaton's high jinks. Really I don't think there is a cuter sound than that of children's laughter. I think we'll be renting more Buster Keaton in the near future.
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Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Co-op 2009

Eight years ago we joined a fantastic home school co-op. Having never been involved in a co-op before, I did an internet search for ideas for classes that might be used by our group. I'll tell you, eight years ago there weren't many ideas out there. I posted our classes from last year and I plan to do the same this year as well. I'm all about helping other home school co-ops out by providing new ideas:-)

This fall we have six different age groups in our co-op: High school, 7th and 8th grade, 5th and 6th grade, 3rd and 4th grade, Kindergarten to 2nd grade and an enormous nursery group.

Classes break down in this way:

High school--Continuation of Church History from last year 1600-present day; Rocket science; Video production which will be a two semester project

7th and 8th grade--Bridge construction and engineering; Ancient Greek history; Greek drama

5th and 6th grade--Ancient Greek history; Earth formations; Aeronautics

3rd and 4th grade--Earth formations; Public speaking; Art history

Kindergarten-2nd grade--General geography; Year of the Priest; 5 in a Row literature series

I've taken on teaching the Ancient Greece classes and I cannot wait. I L.O.V.E. history! I'm planning to pass on tons of information alongside great hands-on activities. Tomorrow we'll be constructing colossal timelines. We should have a great time.
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Little by Little

Small successes Thursday! Where did the week go?

1) Yes! I am on top of the laundry this week. It is all washed, folded, and put away!

2) Last week I posted it was bedroom week. Evidently I was WRONG! Somehow I ended up two weeks off of the Flylady. This week we are in the kitchen, if you fly. This week I've polished up my beautiful espresso machine. Espresso machine, I love you! I also cleaned the oven. I'm just prepping for all that fall baking.

3) I've been trying to spend some one on one time with each of the kids. This last week I took daughter number 2 shoe shopping. It was glorious. She is a shoe girl! I also invited Karate Kid to workout with me. We did the P90X Kempo routine together. She is so fit and fierce. She kept me from dogging out the routine.

What are your successes for the week? Give yourself a shout out and post them at Faith and Family Live.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Get Your Sunny D!

I do not want to get into a vaccine debate here. I get enough of it from my mom, a nurse. I will say a couple things about our family and vaccinations:

1) We do not vaccinate our children. We have several reasons for having made this choice, and believe me it is not an easy decision to make or stick with. We have been questioned at every turn by family, friends, and medical professionals. One of our children had a frightening reaction to the DPT vaccination and that was enough to make us question immunizations altogether.

2) Wingnut is required to be vaccinated fully by the military. He is the only family member to get the flu every single year. The rest of us have had the flu once or twice in 16 years. This, of course, is anecdotal evidence. That is why I was so excited to see this video posted by a friend on Facebook.

3) I've always sent modestly sick kids outside to get the cold cooked out of them. It seems my thinking wasn't too far off base. Getting a few minutes of sunshine every day just may keep the flu away.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Get Their Motors Running

Over our many years of home schooling, we've gone through periods when breakfast just isn't what it should be. I'm sure we are all guilty of sliding the bowl of dry breakfast cereal to our kids in the morning. Certainly, after these many years, I know better. A bowl of Cheerios just does not cut it for brain food. The problem is who wants to get up earlier than we already do and cook up a hot hearty breakfast every day? About once a week one of the children will get up early enough to stir up a batch of muffins for the family. I'm feeling pretty guilty about slacking and serving up cereal or toast the rest of the week.

What do you say to a quick and hearty breakfast recipe exchange? I'll post two new great recipes here today. You, my faithful readers, can post your idea or recipe in the combox or post a recipe on your blog and leave your link in the combox.

Dried Fruit and Nut Couscous courtesy of Giada De Laurentis
*note: I made this yesterday morning and it is really delicious, easy, quick, and hearty!

2 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (you can try using less sugar or even try using honey)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries, choppped
2 1/2 cups couscous
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup skinned hazelnuts (instead of almonds and hazelnuts I used what I had on hand--1 cup of cashews)

In a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar, and dried fruit. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Stir in the couscous and remove pan from heat. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid until the couscous has absorbed all the cooking liquid, about 5 to 7 minutes.

While couscous rests, in a small skillet, toast the almonds and hazelnuts until fragrant, over medium heat, stirring often to be sure they do not burn. Cool and chop coarsely.

Using a fork, fluff the couscous. Add the nuts and toss. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Orange Spice Pumpkin Cake
*note: I make this the night before and serve it for breakfast. It's absolutely wonderful with a cup of coffee!

4 whole eggs
3 cups sugar
1 cup melted and cooled butter
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin works great or you can bake pie pumpkins and make your own puree--even better!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 1/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.

Beat eggs and sugar. Add melted butter and pumpkin. Mix until smooth. Add cinnamon. nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, and orange zest. Mix well.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to pumpkin mix and stir until just combined. Add 1/2 orange juice and stir until just combined. Repeat with another 1/3 of dry ingredients and the rest of the orange juice. Add last 1/3 of dry ingredients and stir one last time until just combined. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.

Bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto serving platter. Cool completely and serve or cool overnight and serve for breakfast.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Bonding Over Shoes

Shhhh. . . don't tell #3, but I think I have a girly girl in that one! Saturday she and I went to DSW while Skoshi A was at her two hour Nutcracker rehearsal. Oleander needed some appropriate shoes to wear with her dress clothes for Mass. Have you ever been to DSW? The place is shoe heaven!

While the girls are little, we buy two kinds of shoes to wear with their dresses, white sandals for summer and black Mary Jane's for winter. Having four girls, I have black Mary Jane's in every size imaginable. As my girls approach 12 years old they reach Mary Jane revolt and refuse to have anything to do with them. Oleander reached that milestone last winter and was able to wear a pair of hand me down dress shoes from Karate Kid, but Oleander's feet are currently the same size as mine and Karate Kid's. It's rather cool and convenient having the same sized feet as my daughters. We can all exchange shoes with each other as we see fit, except my two girls are not too keen on wearing heels of any kind at this point, maybe in a couple years.

Oleander and I decided we should try finding a cute little pair of ballet flats in a brown color. Between the three of us, we have plenty of black shoes, but not enough pairs of brown. DSW had dozens of ballet flats from which to choose. Oleander found the most adorable pair of bronze satin flats that will go with so many of her outfits.

The sweetest treat of all was listening to her describe our shoe quest to her younger sister on the way home. She remembered every pair of cute shoes she saw and described each one with glowing adjectives that would make any mother proud. I do love my boys, but there is nothing like bonding with my daughters over a pair of shoes!
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Is There a Patron Saint for That?

I have friends who, no matter what life throws at them, just keep on truckin' and go with the flow. I'm not like that at all. I wish I were. I'm one of those people that has our daily lives all mapped out and I just can't get my brain to reroute once we hit the road. I feel so sorry for Wingnut. He's the one person that suffers most from my inflexibilities. He could have the greatest idea for getting things done, and I'll have a dozen reasons why his plan does not work. I have this very annoying tendency to hesitate, or even say, "No, that won't work." Later I'll mull the situation over and then decide the new plan is actually better and the obstacles I once saw as insurmountable are really little mole hills. I suppose it's a step in the right direction to realize I'm like this. I take it to confession regularly and lift my stubbornness up in prayer. Is there a patron saint for the inflexible? Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Small but Significant

This week's Small Successes:

1) We survived an incredibly busy weekend: Friday--Science Center, AAU Orientation; Saturday--CCD, Oratory with the nuns, grocery shopping; Sunday--Mass, ballet rehearsal, youth group; Plus we managed to fit in all three of our P90X workouts. I was so glad Monday came around.

2) If you fly with the Flylady, we were in the bedroom this week. I managed to wash all our bedding, between the 12 other loads of laundry we had this week. I love clean sheets!

3) As of today, we've successfully completed four weeks of school. It's going pretty well, with very little wailing and gnashing of teeth. I think the tone for the year has been set and we should have a wonderfully successful year.

Have any small successes? Head on over to Faith and Family Live and leave your link!
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