Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Fine Thank You

I saw the above article online yesterday and it got my dander up.  It's a fine thank you for all we have sacrificed in the 20 plus years we served our country in the military.  Why should this matter? The benefits the administration is considering cutting were promised as a condition of our remaining with the military until retirement.  Wingnut could have jumped at any time after his initial requirement was up.  He could have finished out years ago and flown for the airlines or corporate aviation and made considerable more money, but he felt a calling to serve his country further, and he did.  Benefits are offered as enticement for service members to stay and serve through retirement, and although the pay is not grand, the hours can be long and odd, and the sacrifice might be great, in the end, retired families are offered a thank you in the way of the benefits package.  Those in service to our country in the armed forces risk life, limb, liberty, and livelihood.  Don't they deserve to be treated in good faith?

Retirees are not the only victims of the healthcare cuts.  Active duty personnel and their families will also lose benefits and be forced to pay higher cost shares.  These folks are on the front lines, right now, fighting for our country, our ideals, our liberty.  This is not the gratitude of a thankful president, who not only broke campaign promises to end the wars in the middle east, but then refused to give the military the resources it needed to continue the fight and to succeed in the mission.  This is an absolute travesty of justice.  Who will stand for this?  Not this family.  Once again I'll say, the election cannot come too soon.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Progress Report

We are more than halfway through the school year, and on most days things go fairly smoothly.

We have settled into a workable schedule. I usually leave the house at around 7:15 to take JayP to school. By the time I return at around 8:10, the children have had breakfast and Skoshi A has already begun her school work. Most mornings Wingnut is home helping with getting the morning
started or wrestling with Lil' Lamb. By 8:30, I've got a hot coffee in my hand and we begin our morning prayers. On an off day this may not happen until 9, but for the most part we are off and running by 8:30.

Skoshi A is doing very well and will finish her materials by the end of May. It's wonderful she's learned from older siblings to be a self starter and can do almost all of her school work on her own. We ended up switching science curriculum in January. I never did discover the value of our original curriculum and it required too much of my time. Instead we are using Concepts and Challenges, which is very straight forward, and I have been supplementing with great science experiments and kits from Home Science Tools. Special K and Lil' Wingnut enjoy watching our experiments and Skoshi is truly loving being able to "do" science.

Special K is doing well, but is a bit behind. She hasn't discovered the advantages of being a self starter just yet. We've struggled a touch in math, but she seems to be doing better now that I've allowed her to do only 1/2 the math problems in each lesson. I think she fatigues easily and then she really has trouble focusing. She's a mind and a love for science and has really gotten a lot out of the Behold and See Human Anatomy and Health curriculum. She and Lil' Wingnut especially enjoy the many enrichment resources and activities.

Lil' Wingnut is flourishing. His reading comprehension and vocabulary are extraordinary. He loves math and mapping skills and is flying through his materials. The challenge for him will be finding ways to keep him challenged and engaged in his school work.

Our biggest and loudest obstacle is Lil' Lamb. He is into everything and thinks everything belongs to him. He screams in protest through much of the morning. Most days I have the two girls work independently as much as they can and when one is finished, she will take the baby and feed or play with him so I can work with Lil' Wingnut, correct finished work, and put it all away. A majority of the time, Lil' Lamb is content with this arrangement, and then there are days that he makes completely miserable and I wonder why I even bother trying to homeschool. Thankfully there are enough good days to keep my fighting spirit up.

JayP loves going to school, and to be honest, we love having him at school. He's learned a couple hard lessons in meeting deadlines and anticipating teacher's expectations and he spends most of his time at home doing homework, but to us all it has been worth it so far.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Funny

A friend of ours had this on his Facebook Wall and I found it hilarious.  I suppose this outs my age, but if you didn't know I was an 80's girl before, you do now :)

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Observing Lent

With the move, Advent and Christmas at our house were pretty subdued.  We did very little decorating and very few of our normal traditions were observed.  I missed it, but it was a matter of practicality.

Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent.  I am hoping to do more with the children this Lenten season to help make it more meaningful to them, and to me.  Unfortunately, we aren't having the best beginning.  There may not be Mass and ashes for us today, as Lil' Lamb is running a little fever.

We have discussed briefly what we'd like to sacrifice for Lent this year.  Each of the children chose something particular that had a monetary value to it.  We figured how much a week we spend on that particular item and that monetary amount will be set aside each week for a donation to Catholic Relief Services at the end of Lent.  I felt connecting the sacrificial element to the almsgiving element would make the children's sacrifices more concrete.

Other resources we'll be using are the Magnificat Lenten Companion App, Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church, and some of the great ideas I discovered on Life Teen's website.

Have a blessed and holy Lent!

Now, therefore, saith the Lord. Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and mourning.  And rend your hearts, and not your garments and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God?
--Joel 2:12-14

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Monday, February 20, 2012

New House

Many of our friends and family have asked to see pictures of the new house.  I have about 1/2 of the house finished to my liking, so I'll post those photos now.  As I finish the rest of the house I'll add photos of those rooms as well.

This is the front of the house.  This photo was actually taken in October when Wingnut was house hunting.

Main Entry

Formal Living/Music/Prayer Room--This is my favorite room in the house so far.

Kitchen.  I love the vaulted ceilings, the pantry and appliances.

Kitchen Dining Area

Formal Dining Area.  This is a really open space and I love that feeling.  The former owners took the blinds with them so I'll be replacing those fairly soon. I love the view from the windows.

Skoshi A and Special K's Room.  This room will be completely redone this coming summer.  The girls are going with a tropical theme.  I'll post more befores and then afters when we've finished.

Kids bathroom

Lil' Boys' Room--Star Wars, of course.

Oleander's Room.  This room will be a second guest room, but right now the little girls have claimed it as their "doll room".  Their friends all think they are so lucky to have a room devoted to just dolls.  

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Friday, February 17, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different

We are happy, for the most part, with the new house with one exception.  The previous owners were not diligent in deep cleaning and so there are things within the house that are suffering.  The toilet in the master bath is one of the victims and I've tried, without success, to remove the hard set stains in the bowl. Sufficiently frustrated with the lack of progress, Wingnut and I went online to shop for new toilets on Lowe's website.  Two things became inherently obvious.

First of all, toilets can really run a pretty penny. We saw one toilet that ran upwards of $4000.  From what I could see, it didn't have any particularly special features other than is was one piece and incredibly ugly. Who in their right mind spends that much money on a commode? One particular toilet, the Gabrielle, had a polished band of gold accenting the tank.  This toilet was around $3500, so the gold must have been real.  Seriously?  Lowe's must be catering to one of the Saudi princes.

Our second observation regarded the naming of toilets and led to several minutes of hilarity as we searched the list for a name to top the one before.  There was a San Raphael commode, now that is just wrong!  No toilet should be named after a saint!  There was Memories--in general I try to forget any toilet business, if you know what I mean.  Not to top Memories was the Memoir and the Portrait, really? Would you ever name a toilet after a woman?  Well apparently, poor Kathyrn has one named for her.  Then there was the Revival which is "characterized by a classically romantic 1930s design."  I don't' know about you, but I've never considered the toilet as being particularly romantic.  I'd like to know who gets the job of naming toilets and are they serious about their job or do they just have a wicked sense of humor?

After some window shopping and a bit of giggling, we decided we'd try a few more cleaning tricks to see if we can get rid of those persistent stains.

Say, if you were to name a toilet, what would you choose? Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, February 16, 2012

{P,H,F,R} February 16

round button chicken


This is a view of sunset from my dining room window.

This is the same view, except I used the new telephoto lens my mother-in-law gave us for Christmas.  I'm learning to use the new lens.  I'm not sure which shot I like better, yet.


Lil' Lamb loved his Saint Valentine's lolly.  We couldn't have pried it from his hands had we tried.  I was able to clean the whole kitchen, sweep, and vacuum while he worked on it.  He knows what he likes.


 The JayP could not be happier. He's finally attending conventional school and playing on the basketball team.  He's on the varsity squad, but plays mostly junior varsity, as he doesn't yet know and understand all the plays.  The team actually made the state tournament.  At his last home game I was able to snap a few photos of the boy in action.  Here he is taking an extra point free throw after a foul.

 His form looks pretty good.

 The arc looks pretty good.


And yet it was a miss :(
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Kristen, from  Saint Monica's Bridge, gave me this award and I love the idea of passing on a little love to more little known and under appreciated blogs out there.  Kristen is a talented and prolific writer keeping it real on her blog; writing about her faith, family, and the struggles and joys of having an autistic daughter. While I can't read her posts every day, when I get a chance to peruse her blog I am always inspired.  She and I share a devotion to Saint Monica and at least a couple secular guilty pleasures, such as The Office and reading Jane Austen novels.  Is it wrong to pair Elizabeth Bennet with Dwight Schrute?

Liebster is a German word which means “dearest” or “beloved”.  It can also mean favorite.  The idea behind the Liebster Blog Award is that it is given to upcoming bloggers (with fewer than 200 followers) in order to create new connections and bring attention to wonderful growing blogs.
Now it is my turn to pass on the award, with these simple rules:
·          Add the award to your blog.
·         Thank the giver with a link back to them.
·         List your top five picks and let them know they’ve been given the award by
leaving a comment on their blog.
·         Encourage your followers to “spread the love” to the blogs that you’ve spotlighted.
It isn’t easy to pick 5 ladies to give this award to, but please enjoy visiting these wonderful blogs:

My first choice, and one of the reasons I kept blogging, was due to the positive prompting of Sam from Thy Will Be Done.  Sam and her hilarious and sardonic hubby, Rob, have 12 fantastic children and Sam blogs regularly about life in a fairly good sized Catholic family.  She also posts great recipes, home making and organizational tips, and money saving ideas.

My second awardee is a family blog, Moments of Grace.  They are also a Catholic homeschooling family and have just recently had their fifth baby.  One of their teenage sons attends a minor seminary in Minnesota within the same family as the Aspirancy school our dear Oleander goes to.  This family personally close to us, and when we chose them as Godparents to Lil' Lamb, we knew would have the best of prayer warriors storming heaven for our little one.  Moments of Grace isn't updated nearly as often as I'd like, but when it is, it is one of the first blogs I read in the morning.

One of my absolute favorite blogs, is completely under appreciated.  Rebecca (AKA the Mom) of Shoved to Them is an incredibly talented writer.  She writes some of the most beautiful, honest, and emotionally charged posts in the Catholic blogosphere. And when she isn't tugging at your heartstrings, she can also be quite the humorist.  I have it on good authority she is working on a book and I can not wait for it to be published.

Another daily read is Blessed with Full Hands.  Katie is a busy Catholic homeschooling mom of three adorable boys.  She's an avid runner, certified personal trainer and a life coach.  Recently Katie has been very candid about her family's decision to adopt. A creative and enthusiastic writer, her blog will never disappoint.

My last blog plug is for Mary at Passionate Perseverance.  Mary blogs regularly about writing, books, food, marriage, family, her struggles with exercise, and especially about her beautiful and blessed daughter, Courtney, who is severely disabled.  Mary is a true inspiration as a Catholic, wife, mother, and writer. I was amazed to see she has fewer than 200 followers as she is a true gem of a writer!
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate Cobbler--A Stolen and Slightly Revamped Recipe

He may have been just kidding around, but one evening Wingnut asked for chocolate cobbler dessert. After a quick google search I discovered chocolate cobbler is a southern delight and of course there were recipes galore all over the web. I decided to go with the version The Pioneer Woman reviewed and posted a link to from Tasty Kitchen. It was a huge hit with the family, but I thought I could really pump up the chocolatey decadence by using Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Baking Chips and some espresso.  The next attempt definitely satisfied.  And so, while giving proper credit to the original, I'm posting my substitutions here for you.

Here is the link to the original recipe from Tasty Kitchen:  Granny's Chocolate Cobbler

In my version, substitute 1 1/2 cups of Ghriadelli 60% Cacao Baking Chips for 4 of the TBSP of cocoa powder.  Melt the chips with the butter and once melted add 1 TBSP of instant espresso powder and stir in until dissolved.  Continue to follow the original recipe.  This cobbler should be served piping hot.  It's absolutely molten, but worth a couple burns on the roof of your mouth ;) Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, February 13, 2012

Getting to Know Utahans

Here in Utah, folks are referred to as Utahan. Just in case you were wondering.

In Utah, Mormons refer to themselves as LDS (Latter Day Saints) and not usually as Mormon.  I'm not sure why this is, but it may have to do with a desire to distance themselves from their old Mormon polygamy days.

The Utahans keep apologizing for how little snow there has been this year.  Hey, it's quite alright!  It's been several years since I've had to drive regularly on snow covered roads, so having less snow than normal is just fine with me.  The family does intend to take up skiing next winter, so there had better be a boondoggle of snow come next November.

In Utah, fries are served with fry sauce and not ketchup.  I actually remember fry sauce from high school in Spokane (many of my classmates were Mormon and had imported fry sauce into my home town).  Basically fry sauce is just mayo and ketchup mixed together.  It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it really is.  I LOVE fry sauce and had completely forgotten about it until we got burgers and fries from In-N-Out Burger.  Yum!

In Utah, when one refers to his or her partner, they mean business partner and not the "life"partner thing we might think of in more advanced/liberal/urban areas of the US.

I'm finding our Utah experience to be pretty darn interesting. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, February 9, 2012

To My Daughter on Her 19th Birthday

My dear daughter, a most happy and blessed birthday to you.  I cannot believe it has been 19 years!  At times it feels like just yesterday you were born and at other times it seems like it was an eternity ago.  There are so many memories I have of you.

At 1, we realized how very smart you were.  You walked by 9 months and said at least a dozen words before your first birthday.

At 2, you could recognize all the letters of the alphabet, upper and lower case and you loved to sing the alphabet song to anyone who would listen.

At 3, you knew all the mysteries of the Holy Rosary.  On one occasion you even led the Rosary.  We laugh about it no, because you thought you had to have the microphone right up against your mouth in order for it to work.

At 4, you were already coming up with wonderful and creative games for the JayP and Oleander.  You had an uncanny knack for combining games so that everyone was content.  Our favorites were your nativity plays, with JayP as the drummer boy and Oleander as Mother Mary.

At 5, you were a cat fanatic.  Everything was all about cats, even your pink and purple bike had cats on it.

At 6, we discovered you were so far ahead in your academic abilities, we knew we would have to customize your homeschooling curriculum to fit your talents and needs.

At 7, you could not have been more prepared to receive First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.  You were so excited.  I'll never forget how lovely and holy you looked.

At 8, you were just beginning to discover your gymnastic talents.

At 9, you found a love for music and really began to excel at piano.

At 10, you began to take on more and more responsibility.  You were always a great help.

At 11, you soared academically, musically and in gymnastics.

At 12, you truly began to show independence of thought and strength of character in everything you pursued.

At 13, you were more than ready to make your Faith your own and were independently well prepared for Confirmation.

At 14, you began to discover new talents in art, photography, and especially as a writer.

At 15, more new talents emerged in karate and physical fitness.  It was amazing how disciplined you were, very often getting up before anyone else so that you could finish your school work early in order to help out and to have more free time for your pursuits.

At 16, you took full control over your academics and I could always depend on you to work hard and excel at all you undertook.

At 17, I will always remember your reaction to receiving a new sibling.  Your tears of joy touched us all.

At 18, you proved nothing would defeat you.  Although it was a difficult year for you, you grew again in independence and overcame some mighty obstacles.  We are so proud of your fortitude.

Our hope and prayer for you as you continue to grow in adulthood is that you will adhere to the moral character you were raised in and took on as your own; that you will let nothing shake your Faith; and that you will continue to grow in Grace.  You are a beautiful, talented, and wonderful woman, and you are well loved.  Happy birthday, Nadja!

Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray . . . 

--Sidewalk Prophets

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meet Our New Priest

We had the priest from our new parish over for dinner on Thursday.  Guess what?  He has a blog.  Guess what else?  He's been a guest poster on CMR and hangs with the Crescat and her precocious boy, when in their neck of the woods!  He's a convert from Mormonism and appeared on Coming Home with Marcus Grodi.

He has a wicked sense of humor, but is also deeply devoted to the Faith and completely unafraid to preach orthodoxy from the pulpit.  This past Sunday Fr. Richtsteig gave a wonderful homily on the evils of the HHS mandate, and because our own bishop has refused to stand up and say anything, Father read the letter written by Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix for his diocese.

If you have a free moment, check out Father Richtsteig's blog, Orthometer.  Be sure to peruse his series of posts on banned hymns from Gather.  You'll be nodding your head in agreement and laughing out loud. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, February 6, 2012

Birthday Boy

I can't believe Lil' Lamb is one year old already!  He had a wonderful day and we all had a wonderful time celebrating with him.  Unfortunately one of the items I have lost in the move was the battery charger for my phone.  My new one doesn't arrive until today, so I was relegated to using my iPhone to record our Lil' guy's big day.

 He had a blast playing with the balloons.  He spent most of the day wrestling with them.

 Special K helped me make and decorate the cupcakes.

We used FaceTime on two of our phones so that Lil' Lamb's godparents and Karate Kid could celebrate long distance with us.  Sometimes modern technology really is wonderful.
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Am I Cynical?

The pro-life community had been in a jubilant mood over the Susan G. Komen Foundation's defunding of Planned Parenthood.  I just wasn't feeling it.

First of all, I wondered why it took so long? I have never understood their collaboration. Komen had to have been aware of the studies linking abortion to increased risk of breast cancer.  The foundation had to have also been cognizant of Planned Parenthood's status as the number one provider of abortions in the U.S.  Komen should have broken with PP years ago.

Secondly, Komen cited not PP's association to abortion as reason to break, but that their new corporate donation program excludes PP because of the Congressional investigation PP has been undergoing.  Of course, that reasoning is laudable and plausible, but it really wasn't a reason for pro-lifers to cheer.  I just couldn't get on the band wagon.

I really didn't believe in Komen's sincerity of conviction and I was right not to.  It truly is unfortunate.  Keep plugging away pro-lifers!  Keep up the letter writing and boycotting of Susan G. Komen.  Keep praying for a conversion of heart.  One of these days Komen will stop funding Planned Parenthood and disavow itself completely from the abortion industry.  That will be a victory worth cheering. Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fight the Good Fight

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I believe the president and Kathleen Sebelius are sticking their finger in the Church's eye just for the fun of it.  Remember, President Obama promised in his speech at Notre Dame two years ago, a conscience clause with the implementation of Obamacare.  He's rescinded that promise and is now telling the US Bishops to get over it.  He knows it's a big deal to Catholics but he's banking that we'll just rollover and play dead.

Fox news called the fray over the HHS mandate a holy war, and I think they may be right.  We are seeing our religious freedoms erode before our very eyes and we need to do something about it.  Our best defense is to vote these yahoos out of office.  Until that can finally happen, we need to stomp our feet and make some noise.  

There have been several bishops that have been making a bit of noise.  We need to voice our support.  Write to your bishop.  Let him know you stand behind him in this holy war.  Encourage him to make a ruckus.  

Here is an updated list of bishops that have responded thus far: Bishops Respond to HHS Mandate

Here is the letter I sent to our bishop in Utah this morning. His name is not on the list :(

Your Excellency,

By this time, I am sure you have read about and reviewed the new HHS mandate requiring employers to provide coverage for contraceptives and sterilizations in their federally mandated employee health insurance.  Many of your brother bishops have stood up and admonished the current administration for this obvious violation of 1st Amendment Rights.  Will you not stand with your brothers and your Church and demand a reasonable conscience clause to the current mandate?  We are living in a time when our religious liberties are eroding before our very eyes. As our shepherd, we look to you to protect and defend the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution to practice our faith without reserve or fear.

You will continue to remain in our family's prayers.

In Christ,

Our family

Write your senators and congressmen.  Remind them of their duty to protect and defend the Constitution.  Remind them you are a registered voter and you will use your power to keep them in or push them out of office.

Sign the petition to rescind the mandate here: White House Petition to repeal HHS mandate
Some may argue petitions are pointless.  I don't believe they are.  If we can get enough signatures it may make a little noise, and noise on this issue is not what the White House wants or needs.

It's time to fight the good fight. Print Friendly and PDF