Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WYD Return Travel Woes *Updated*

*Update #2*
Ollie called around 2 this afternoon.  She did not sound happy.  Apparently she had been on a bus heading to the airport when the organizers announced her particular group wasn't flying out after all.  She has no idea when she will be leaving Argentina, but she heard they are all ticketed on flights from today through August 3.  I called Delta and cancelled her ticket home from Baltimore.  I can reschedule her once she is Stateside and only pay a $200 penalty.  So now we just wait and pray some more.

*Update #1*
Via email I have learned Ollie and 200 pilgrims are in Buenos Aires and working on getting flights out. Hopefully it will all be sorted out sometime today.  Can you imagine trying to orchestrate last minute flights for 200 people?  Brother Nate and the rest of the pilgrimage organizers could really use your prayers on this one! BTW this will only get Ollie to New York.  From there the pilgrims will take a bus back to DC and then I need to reschedule her flight out of Baltimore to home.  I can't do that until I know when the pilgrims will be back in the USA.

Oleander phoned from the Brazil/Argentina border this morning.  The chartered flight the pilgrims had out of Brazil canceled and the pilgrims are currently deep into a 36 hour bus ride back to Argentina.  They are hoping to get flights out of Argentina on Wednesday and hope to end up in New York on Thursday.  I have Oleander scheduled on a flight back to Utah out of Baltimore Thursday afternoon.  I am pretty sure she isn't going to make that flight. :(

Thankfully, a cursory search on Delta revealed I can still change her flight to another day for only a couple hundred dollars.  I'm trying very hard not to worry.  I know the sisters will take good care of her and eventually she will make it home.  Oh, the stories she will have to tell!  I can't wait!

Please continue to pray for our Oleander and the rest of the pilgrims making their way home from a very long, very exhausting, and very exhilarating trip. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, July 29, 2013

Clouds and Rainbows

The sky here can get pretty dramatic.  It's fun to photograph and good for me to work on camera settings.  I'm shooting more and more in manual and learning to adjust ISO, aperture, and exposure.  These shots are from the sky last night.

It was storming to the east of us and I loved this capture of the ensuing rainbow.

The blues and grays to the Northeast were amazing.

As were the colors of the sunset taken from the Southwest.

These last two are shots of basically the same cloud formation, just different edits for color.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bible Verse Photography Challenge: July 2013

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O LORD. 
Psalm 36:5-6

This is a photo I took last summer, but it really sums up this bible passage for me.  Check out the other photographic interpretations of this verse at Flowers Round the Cross.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} 7/25

round button chicken


We spend much of our time outside during the golden hours of the evening.  It's cooler then and we are usually just bidding time until bed for Lil' Lamb.  The flowers are so pretty during the golden hours and last evening the bees were having a hay day collecting pollen.

I've never seen such lovely bees! They are color coordinated to the flowers.

I love the lone orange stripe across the abdomen.


The garden is doing pretty well this year.  This will be the most successful garden I've nurtured, unless the deer get to it this year.  They've already eaten parts of my tomato plants.  If they get the rest of my garden before I can harvest we are either putting up a big fence or getting a big dog.  Beware, deer, beware!




Lil' Lamb loves the landscaping boulders.  He can't resist climbing them, running along them, and jumping off them.  I laughed as I began editing these photos because of his little tongue hanging out as he geared up to jump.

It cracked me up to see he jumps with his eyes closed.  Or at least lands with his eyes closed.

He ended each landing with a headstand.  We may have a little parkour-ist on our hands.


This is my lone pathetic basil plant.  Why does basil hate me so?  I can't tell you how many little basil seedlings I've killed.  All I want is enough homegrown basil to make some fresh pesto.  Is that too much to ask?

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Texts from Brazil

Text 1 from Oleander:

"Hey mom. I'm texting from a friends phone just letting u know I'm alive.  If I find another place with wifi I'll tell u more. We r in Brazil and I'm about to go to mass so I just thought I'd give u a holler.  All my clothes r wet and stinky.  I haven't showered in 6 days.  I'll try to text later.  Tell everyone love em!"

Text 2:

"Ha ha. Br. David says I smell like the jungle. Not a compliment."

Text 3:

"Don't get worried but the second day in Argentina I sprained my knee playing basketball.  It is fine, I'm having no trouble with it at all but M. Immaculate forbade me to play sports for the rest of WYD.  I fell into a ditch a week ago and have a huge bruise on my foot.  I lost my voice completely at Igauzu Falls."

She sounds like she is having a blast, but may need a new wardrobe when she gets home! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, July 19, 2013

Update on Our Pilgrim, the New Bed, and Dryer Balls

The IVE website has been consistently posting about the WYD pilgrims' travels in Argentina.  I've found several wonderful photos of our girl in just this last week.  You can see her here and here.  It's well worth the time to read about the work they are doing and the sites they are seeing on the road toward Rio.  Check it out here, when you have the time.  Day 15 is especially interesting.  I had no idea there were so many beautiful churches in Cordoba, Argentina.

We've given the new bed a week to work it's magic.  A miracle, it is not, but for the most part we are both sleeping better and waking up with fewer aches and pains.  If I didn't have Lil' Lamb to wrestle with all night long, I think I would see even better results.  All in all, I think hope it will be worth it.

I've been using my lavender infused wool dryer balls for about a week now.  I love them!  They really are cutting down on drying time and I love the way our clothes smell when they come out of the dryer.  The real trick to these will be getting the kids to use them and having to dig them out of the clean laundry after each load.  I'm wondering how long it will be before they disappear like all our wayward lone socks? Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, July 18, 2013

{P,H,F,R} 7/18

round button chicken

{Pretty, Happy and Funny, too}

The neighborhood kids love riding wiggly carts down each other's driveways and on down the road.  My kids have never had so much fun.


This is the yummy cherry pie I made over the weekend.  The power went out just as the pie was finishing up in the oven.  The interior crust wasn't quite finished and thus the fork for support.  I'm attempting to shoot a lot more in manual and I've found I'm still struggling with focus, so this shot is much more blurry than I would have it.  Even with post editing I can not sharpen the focus quite enough.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Skinny Iowa Skinny

If you've never heard of them, Iowa Skinnies are a regional fried pork tenderloin sandwich that are sinfully delicious, but can run upwards of 1000 calories.  Not what a figure conscious girl would want to eat on any given day.  I've made the full calorie fried variety on occasion and they are a family favorite, but I was wondering hoping there could be a healthier skinny version that might be nearly as tasty.  What I found is you just can't replace fried, but this alternative is pretty darn good when you just can't justify the added calories.  My slimmed down version is around 300 calories for the breaded, baked, pork cutlet alone.

The pork is usually sliced tenderloin pounded thin (about 1/4 inch thickness), but at the commissary I can purchase pork cut for scallopini and that saves me a time consuming step.

Skinny Iowa Skinnies
(serves 4)

4 pork scallopini 
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

2 eggs beaten

4 cups unseasoned bread crumbs

Cooking spray

Skinny Chipotle Mayo

1/4 cup regular mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce; minced
juice from 1/2 lime

In a shallow dish or pie plate stir together flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Place beaten eggs in another shallow dish and bread crumbs in a third shallow dish.  Dredge pork in seasoned flour, shaking off excess.  Next coat in egg wash and lastly dredge in bread crumbs, pressing to adhere evenly.
Place coated cutlets on a cooling rack sprayed with cooking spray set over a sheet pan.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray top of cutlets evenly with cooking spray and then bake for 15 minutes.   Turn and bake for another 10 minutes.  Serve on hamburger buns with skinny chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, and mild pickled peppers.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

I Really Didn't Need to Work on That

Our parish has a brand new women's prayer group up and running. It's lovely getting together with other Catholic wives and mothers, praying a rosary, discussing our lives, and working on various motherly/wifely virtues between meetings.

I loved the first virtue we worked on: Being truly present to our children and listening to what they have to say.  I had to really work on stopping my own little busy work, focus on a particular child and what they were saying.  I hadn't realized how often I give only part of my attention, or even none of my attention to my kiddos.  We had some of our best conversations while out weeding in the garden together.

As our dauntless leader was working up our next goal I immediately recoiled.  She asked us to pay particular attention to being the first to say "I'm sorry," to our spouses.  Ugh.  I hate having to say I'm sorry.  To be the first to do so is almost unbearable.  On top of that, I then knew I would be presented with opportunities over the next two weeks to say, "I'm sorry."  I hate that I might not be the perfect wife and that on occasion I might even get snippy or surly or argumentative.  Just being given this task I knew I was going to have snippy, surly, argumentative days with Wingnut. Argh.  Sure enough, I've had to apologize all right.  It was hard, but I felt a lot better after doing it.  I'm hoping this exercise also helps me recognize times or situations I might get snippy and in recognizing this I might become less likely to snip.  Don't you just love being shown the areas you need work?  God's Work in us is never done. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, July 11, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} July 11

round button chicken


Summer is in full swing and the flowers are in full bloom.


In my quest for domestic bliss I've been continuing to use more and more natural cleaners and strategies around the house.  These are balls of lovely quality pure wool yarn from two skeins.  After rolling the skeins into balls, I washed them in extremely hot water and dried them in an extremely hot dryer.

These are now felted dyer balls that have been treated with a few drops of lavender oil.  They replace dryer sheets and fabric softener.  They are supposed to decrease drying time as well as freshen and soften the laundry.  We shall see.


Lil' Lamb is in perpetual motion and almost always has a weapon in his hands. Thankfully, it is usually just a small twig.


Lil' Lamb does not sleep like this very often.  It leaves us with a dilemma.  Do we wake the sleeping giant and begin the day or do we let him sleep and then suffer the consequences later when he stays up past 11 pm?

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Getting Old

Wingnut and I are feeling tired and broken down.  I guess we're getting old.  Neither of us feels refreshed in the morning.  Instead we feel exhausted and in pain.  We think it's the bed.  Lucky for us the local Tempurpedic store needed to move its premium floor model to make room for an upgraded model.  We tried it and a couple other models on two different occasions and spent a good long time on each bed.  We both really loved The Grand Bed and we loved getting it at nearly 50% off with a full warranty (less the time it was on the floor which was around 1 year).  I'm expecting a miracle.  I'm expecting to wake up refreshed and pain free.  Lil' Lamb and I napped on it after it arrived and I slept hard. My hip still ached, but I'm thinking hoping it will just take a little time to work the kinks out.  Its rather an expensive and long term mistake to make if this bed doesn't give me the results I'm hoping for.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013


We have come to the conclusion Lil' Lamb is actually a minion.  He babbles like a minion and basically needs a minion interpreter.  He spits at us when he doesn't like what he hears. He marauds about the house wreaking havoc and destruction. He certainly eats like one.

You may think he looks like an absolute sweet heart with that face, but in this photo he is singing his own little tune: "Mommy dumb". Oh, he is rotten to the core.
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Monday, July 8, 2013


Vintage summer reading fun

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Friday, July 5, 2013

I ❤ Utah

It has been forever and a day since we have lived in a state/county/city that allowed the buying and setting off of fireworks.  In Utah they sell fireworks in the grocery store beginning in June.  You can purchase sparklers, smoke bombs, and pop caps all summer long and as the 4th approaches the offerings expand to fountains, firecrackers, and aerials.

We had planned to drive to a local town to watch a firework display, but then our neighbors invited us over to enjoy their fireworks.  We jumped at the chance to watch from our own neighborhood and avoid the drive, late night, unknown traffic conditions, and an exhausted toddler who hadn't had a nap.  It was a lot of fun and the kids loved being up close to the display.

I've been working on improving my photography skills in various conditions and managed to get a few fairly nice shots of the fireworks last night.  There is definitely room for improvement. I need to work on framing and next time I will get out my tripod and remote release, but I'm fairly pleased with the results.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Palpable Realities of How Bad The Economy has Become Under the Current Administration

As a retired military family, we have commissary privileges, which really helps us out with our grocery budget.  The sequestration will be deeply affecting the commissary, and other base amenities beginning next week.  Until September 30, the commissary will be closed on Mondays.  To us, this isn't all that big of a deal.  I can grocery shop any other day, but to commissary employees, this is a huge deal.  They lose hours which equals lost pay.  Most of these folks are already on fixed incomes and this loss of pay could be difficult to downright devastating financially.  Given the choice, I know the military budget must be spent on our active duty forces in harms way and so the cuts must come from somewhere else, but does this administration know the harm it is causing to so many lower income families?  I'm assuming not, as Obama and Michelle just returned from a multi-hundred million dollar trip to Africa.

Gas prices are soaring once again.  This not only means higher prices at the pump, but higher prices at the register.  Our grocery bill has increased substantially in the last couple months.  While having the teenagers home for the summer would account for some of the increase, I have seen that the price of certain items has greatly risen.  For example, a bottle of real maple syrup went from $4.89 to $6.59 in just the last month.  I was tempted to break down and buy the cheaper syrup that is maple flavored and made from high fructose corn syrup.  I'm not that desperate just yet.

Our two oldest are working at Chili's and McDonald's respectively.  It will be next to impossible for our McDonald's employee to get any more than 25-30 hours per week because once he hits full-time they are required to provide benefits.  The inability to make a living wage (and I'm not proposing raising the minimum raise), makes it unlikely he will gain his much sought after independence from us, unless he takes on a second minimum wage part-time job. Currently that is impossible because he doesn't own a car or have driving privileges.  It's a tough life for our 18 year old right now.

Full-time employment will continue to be a next to impossible dream once Obamacare takes full effect. Thankfully, in his grand wisdom, Obama has decided to postpone enacting the employer required provision until 2015, after the elections.  How convenient.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I Believe We Have a Team

Wingnut Jr. as Catcher

Little League Machine Pitch Baseball has a very short lived season, thankfully.  They play just 8 games  and then they have a quick tournament to determine the winning team.  Our little team struggled all season and ended up with only one W in the win column.  They finished tied for last in the league.  Last night they had their first, and what we believed and halfway hoped would be their only, playoff game. (I know, bad mom moment, but it was nearly 100 degrees!)  They were playing the 5th place team that had a 50% win/lose record.  Low and behold our little team's batting took off and they ended up winning the game by 11 runs.  Immediately following the first playoff game they took the field again for a playoff double-header.  Once again their bats were hot and they defeated the 4th place team by 18 points!  Wingnut Jr. could not be more ecstatic.  He was completely enjoying the moment, waving to the spectators, giving me the thumbs up, and making sure I was following his every move in the game.  It was hysterical. We are back on the field again tonight for the semi-finals. I know Wingnut Jr. is dreaming of a championship run.  I guess it isn't out of the realm of possibility. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, July 1, 2013

World Youth Day 2013 Pilgrimage

This is our sweet 16 year old, Olivia.  She leaves tomorrow for a month long pilgrimage through Argentina where she will work at several different IVE/SSVM missions. On July 21 her group will enter Brazil and make their way to World Youth Day.  Just before she left Utah she found out she had been selected, along with a handful of religious, seminarians, and priests, to attend a special Mass with Pope Francis at the Cathedral of São Sebastião in Rio de Janeiro.  She earned and saved 1/3 of the money for trip on her own. Wingnut and I contributed another 1/3 of the money, and the final 1/3 came from generous donations from family and friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are so excited for her, but not nearly as excited as she is.  This will be a life changing experience for her.  Would you remember her in your prayers over the next month?  If you'd like to follow her group's progress the IVE has set up a live blog on their site.
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