Friday, January 30, 2015

The Day Has Arrived

Tomorrow I accompany Oleander to Maryland, where on Monday, February 2nd (or Candlemass), she will enter as a postulant with the Sister Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of MatarĂ¡.  She has been waiting, hoping, and praying for this day for so long and we are so happy for her.  I can't believe it will be two years or more before she will be allowed to come home.  We can visit her as often as we like, but Maryland is very far away.  The next time we see her, God willing, will be for her investiture.  Sigh.

Her entrance is a big deal, of course, but an even bigger deal around here is that I am leaving the rest of the kids behind with Wingnut.  That does not happen often, in fact, the last time I travelled and left children home with him was when Oleander was about 3 years old.  Wow!  It may or may not be a huge shock to Lil' Lamb.  He's become quite independent of late and I'm thinking (read hoping) he will be just fine and not even notice I'm gone.

Skoshi A is in charge of the menu and cooking dinner, as well as taking care of dinner clean up.  Special K is in charge of getting her little brothers' lunch and the midday kitchen clean up.  That will leave Wingnut having only to make sure Lil' Lamb gets breakfast.

I'm torn between doing just enough prep work for Wingnut that he doesn't have much to think about and doing too much and treating him like he's completely helpless.  I'm not sure which he'd prefer.  I probably sell him too short.  He's perfectly capable of handling getting everyone to Mass on Sunday(which includes making sure the boys have clean and ironed Mass attire and that they are dressed before leaving the house) and will remember they have CCD afterward, right?  He'll also be in charge of making sure school gets done while I'm gone.  We can't afford any more breaks until Easter.  It will be interesting how he manages to juggle Lil' Lamb while teaching Wingnut Jr. math--something I often struggle with myself.

Anyhoo, it would be wonderful if y'all could send up some prayers for us over the next few days--prayers for safe travels, prayers for Olivia as she enters, prayers for Wingnut and the kiddos I'm leaving in his care.  I'm sure I'll have lots of photos from my trip when I get back.  Pax!

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Jan. 29


Utah is so pretty as the sun sets.  I pulled over at a rest stop to snap this photo of the stormy sky just before entering the canyon.


As the day rapidly approaches for Ollie to depart for her entry into the SSVM, I've been trying to make all her favorite dishes.  It may be as long as 2 years before she comes home!  I'd never attempted chicken and waffles before, but she talked me into it.  It was wonderful, of course, and made the whole family happy.


This is what skiing with Lil' Lamb looks like.  He still loves it, even if Wingnut practically drags him down the mountain.


I haven't been able to touch the computer in days, as Ollie is frantically editing their latest project before she leaves on Saturday.  They have about 15 minutes of film that includes two spoof tv programs and several spoof commercials.  I may post the funnier bits and pieces from "Mordor's Next Top Model", and "My Big Fat Dunlanding Wedding", as well as a couple of the more hilarious commercials.  They've made quite a hobby out of their little movie projects and most are fun to watch.  They had me in stitches yesterday as I watched a few of the clips.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's For Dinner?

After my friend, Joyce, passed away, our parish meal ministry harangued her husband until he agreed to allow us to provide the family with meals once a week.  We did this on a trial basis for six months and recently he admitted, having a meal provided once a week was really helpful and he agreed to another six months.  This means our family makes a meal for their family once a month on a Tuesday.  This really is quite easy for us.  All I do is double what I would make for our family and take it up to their family in time dinner.

Unfortunately, my little guy has come to expect tacos on Tuesdays.  Every morning, the first question he asks is, "What day is it?"  When I say Tuesday, he cheers, "Yay! It's Taco Tuesday!" While I've become quite adept at interpreting Taco Tuesday--beef tacos, chicken tacos, carnitas tacos, barbacoa tacos, and taco soup--I am really rather tired of Taco Tuesday myself.  

Tonight it is my turn to bring Joyce's family dinner.  They may be surprised at not having us deliver tacos of some kind.  I'm hoping they will like something a little different. Loaded Baked Potato Casserole is a yummy dish consisting of bit sized chunks of chicken breast, potatoes, cheese, bacon, and a little cream.  I have to adapt it a bit for the dairy allergies in our family, but I'm hoping it's just as yummy.  I'll be adding a side salad with homemade dressing and Rice Crispy Treats for dessert. Yum!

If you've ever delivered a meal to another family due to a new baby, illness, or passing, what is your favorite go to comfort dish?  

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Friday, January 23, 2015


Yesterday, as I exited the workout room, I walked in on this.  Yes, those are three of my beautiful daughters.  No, they are not dressed as Guns 'N Roses. 

This is what they were up to; lip synching to audio of Celtic Thunder. Uh. . .

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Jan.22


Yeah, that's the view from my dining room windows.

I was inspired as I watched incense smoke curlicue about the room and thought it would be really cool to capture in a photograph.  50 photos later, this was my favorite.


Nothing makes this bibliophile/addict happier than our parish media sale once a year.  Not only did I cull a bunch of duplicate copies of books and other books that we'll never read again from our shelves to donate to the sale, I bought some awesome used finds on the cheap! Yay for me, and the lucky kids I found new reads for.

This one is my favorite.  Most of the pages are just lined blank notebook pages, but the rest has poetry by Shakespeare and some of the loveliest illustrations.

I really couldn't pass it up for must $2.

Absolutely whimsical

and lovely


Inspired by a viewing of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Special K put together this costume and has been milling about the house reciting her favorite lines.  What a goofball this girl is.


So here is the set up I used to capture the second {pretty} photo above.  Getting the lighting just right was one of the reasons ended up taking 50 photos to get just the right one.  What we do for art, right?

For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} go to Like Mother, Like Daughter. Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

American Sniper--Movie Review

Let me start by stating this obvious, this is not light hearted fare in the least.  I can't even say I enjoyed the film, even though it was an incredible movie.  American Sniper is based upon Navy Seal, Chris Kyle's autobiography of the same name.  Director, Clint Eastwood, has crafted a gritty, raw, amazing, inspiring, gut-wrenching, and heartbreaking film.

The story moves back and forth between Kyle's 4 tours of duty during the Iraq War and his home front experiences.  The movie is unapologetic in its depiction of the toll the war took on Chris, his wife, his family, and various other war veterans.

Chris Kyle is credited with 160 confirmed kills in Iraq and at one point, his VA therapist asks if that figure bothers him, to which he confidently replies he feels not only at regarding his service, but that he could meet his maker with a clear conscience that each and every kill was one he could account for as being justified.  His one regret was not being able to save more of his fellow servicemen. Still, it was made clear Kyle was deeply affected by his war experience.  No glorification of war here, and that is fine by me.  War is not glorious or desirable, but it very often is a necessity. Men like Chris Kyle are a necessity.

Wingnut and I have discussed at length our puzzlement and admiration for men, like Kyle, who live so courageously and sacrifice so much for love of God, family, and country.  I've thought long and hard about what is it that goes into making such a man?  It is apparent not many men are made in the mold of Chris Kyle or Marcus Luttrell.  I thank God for men like Kyle, who are willing to make the decisions and sacrifices needed to save the lives of their comrades and to complete the mission set before them by our leaders.

An interesting thing I noticed throughout the movie was that it was unscored. The only music was at the very end and played only during actual footage and photos from Chris Kyle's life and funeral.  There was also no music scored for the credits.  It left the theater eerily and respectfully silent, and the entire audience exited the theater without uttering a single word.  I've read elsewhere of many other viewers having the same experience at the end of the film.  It really was a lovely and brilliant touch by Eastwood.

Bradley Cooper was also absolutely stunning as Chris Kyle.  He put in a truly Oscar worthy performance and I am extremely impressed by him.

I do have one criticism of the movie that I really haven't been able to get past.  While I understand the use of foul, rough language on the battlefield and among our active duty on the front line military personnel, I was extremely disappointed with the depiction of Kyle's wife as being nearly equally foul mouthed as her husband.  True to life of no, I would never want to see myself portrayed that way, even if I were played by the gorgeous Sienna Miller.  I don't know, wouldn't you rather be given the benefit of being portrayed as a lady?  I'm not saying Taya didn't have it rough, and did not have the right to be angry, frustrated, and heartbroken at what the war did to her husband, but did she really have to have such a potty mouth?  It was a huge distraction for me and I felt like it made her come across too much of a spoiled brat, which I'm sure she is not.  She sacrificed so much being married to a Navy Seal during a time of war.  I felt she deserved more respect than she was given.

Due to pervasive profanity, adult content, and frequent battle violence, I would recommend this movie to adults only. Catholic News Service rating--AIII; adults only. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

*Updated--Urgent Prayer Request

*Update:  I've been waiting to update until I had confirmation, but Paul Coakley did indeed pass away in the hospital late this morning.  Please pray for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his wife Annie, their four children and their extended families.

This is such heartbreaking news.  Paul Coakley was diagnosed with an aggressive type of testicular cancer that has metastasized in his lungs just before Christmas.  He is the husband of blogger Annie Coakley of Family of the Eternal Song and the father of 3 plus one on the way. Without wasting time on details, Paul is near death at this very moment.  Please, please, pray for Paul, Annie and their family.  A miracle would be awesome, but I'm sure prayers for grace at his moment of death are very much needed and appreciated.  Pray for comfort and peace for Annie and their 4 babies.  God's Will be done.


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Monday, January 19, 2015

Practice in Virtue and Home Decorating

Have you seen this awesome curriculum from the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia out of Tennessee? We've been using their Virtues in Practice catechesis program for the last two years and I absolutely love it.  The program is divided by grade level and then there are three years for each grade level.  There is a year devoted to each of the three cardinal virtues and then each month is dedicated to a particular Christian virtue.  I'm hoping my two kiddos working through the program are internalizing some of these good habits.  This year we've read stories of Saints who exemplify hope, studiousness, humility, patience, and fidelity.  Anyhoo, I thought I'd share here in case you are looking for a great home catechesis for your family that is free, simple, and can be used across age groups.

Speaking of virtues, I've been redecorating our kitchen recently.  You may ask, "What does home decor have to do with virtue?" Allow me to enlighten you ;)  I have quite a bit of space above my cupboards and pantry and much of it has remained empty and rather boring.  It has taken me some time to find the inspiration to decorate in these spaces.  This fall, I filled the empty space with pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn and I really liked it's seasonal look.  For Advent and Christmas I redecorated with red candles, red lanterns, a wooden angel sculpture, and several miniature fake evergreen trees and then added real evergreen branches here and there.  I loved this look too.  Unfortunately, I really don't want to be redecorating that space every season.  I wanted something more permanent--although I will change out the decor in the fall and around Advent.  I also did not want to spend a whole lot of money on kitchen decor.  I found a few do-dads I really liked at the local craft store and then I took a black lacquer wooden plaque and applied some chalkboard paint to it.  My kitchen space is inspired by the cardinal virtues, which are written on three separate plaques, and then the chalkboard I will use for inspirational quotes.  I'm hoping we all find motivation in the decor to always remember we are Christians in this home and we are working on becoming good and virtuous people at all times.

What strategies do you use to instill Christian virtues in your family?

These were my craft store finds and my blackboard.  This is the space above my pantry.  The quote is from Robert Half (no idea who he is) and says, "Hard work without talent is a shame, but talent without hard work is a tragedy."  This may or may not have been inspired by my last post regarding Special K and our struggles with each other regarding her school work ;)

The "Home" sign is a new find I paired with my G.E. Henn basket collection.

I found the Faith, Hope, and Love plaques at Hobby Lobby.

It doesn't look so empty and blah.  I'm thinking of painting my pantry door, but I don't know what color would look right.  I know black lacquer doors are fairly stylish now, but I don't think black is the right color here.  Any suggestions?  Our interior is mostly earthy tones of browns, yellows, reds, and greens.
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Friday, January 16, 2015

A Little Help

I am at my wits end.  Our beautiful, smart, talented 12 year old is really struggling in school, and it isn't so much the material as the motivation.  I cannot get her to complete assignments on time to save my life, unless I resort to threats, restrictions, cajoling, and at times, yelling.  She struggles a touch more in school than her siblings have and I've made all sorts of adaptations to curriculum for her more kinetic and auditory learning styles.  I have been more than willing to discard material that is not working and replace it with something that suits her personality better.  Still, we battle over certain kinds of assignments--anything that appears to her to be unnecessary or extracurricular to the rest of her materials, especially anything that requires extra reading or writing.  Today I have her sitting at the dining room table working on two writing assignments she has allowed to slide all week; one for religion and the other for literature.  I even adapted the assignments to better match her interests, and still she resisted.  She will be a 8th grader next year.  She cannot afford to slack off now on the cusp of high school.  She has goals.  Does she have the motivation to meet those goals?

Any help here would be appreciated.  How can I motivate this vibrant, intelligent young lady so she might one day be the vibrant, intelligent, talented young lady God wills her to be?  Does anyone have a strategy that has worked for your reluctant student? Sending her off to "regular" school is not an option I would consider, just yet. I'd really like to leave off the yelling, threats, restrictions and cajoling.  Obviously, it is not working. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, January 15, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} January 15


Channeling my inner Ansel Adams with this winter mountain and moon shot.

It's a winter wonderland on the mountain this week.


We met some friends for ice skating this last week.  It's been 15 years since I've put on skates then I had to contend with a three year old who has never skated.  It ended up to be a pretty fun afternoon.   Lil' Lamb has incredible balance and great large motor skills and picked skating up fairly easily with a little help and coaxing.

He had absolutely no problem standing or walking on the skates and was running about the place in no time.

He even skated around the rink several times without my help.  I just stayed close behind him so I could catch him if he did fall.

He still preferred to hold my hand and pair skate with me, my little cutie.


There is an old workshop inside a tin shed in town and on the outside someone has hung this large painting.  It cracks me up every time I see it.  It is just too incongruent!


We made lefse on Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and thus ended our Christmas season.

See more photos of everyday life at Like Mother Like Daughter.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Quickie Movie Reviews

Wingnut and I have a favorite movie theater near Salt Lake City.  It's our favorite because it serves salty, sweet, kettle corn.   Whenever a craving for kettle corn hits we scour IMDB for a movie we just might find tolerable enough to splurge.  We've seen several movies over the last several months, and seeing as I haven't taken the time to review each one individually, I thought I'd write several quick reviews in one post.

Dracula Untold--
Driven by noble ideals, Vlad Tepe chooses to take on evil in this somewhat fresh retelling of the Dracula story.  Cinematically beautiful, with an intriguing story line, it is not the best retelling made, but it was an at least enjoyable kettle corn worthy flick.  Extensive violence and gore, and flashes of more adult thematic elements, I'd definitely recommend this one for adults only. Catholic News Service movie rating: AIII, adults only

John Wick--
Keanu Reeves is in his element in this shoot-em-up revenge film.  In other words, he doesn't have many lines and his character is on the sociopathic side with only one dimension.  This was one I saw only for the kettle corn.  Pervasive gore, violence, adult themes and language make this an adults only movie. Catholic News Service rating: O for morally offensive (oops!  I just saw that rating. Normally I stay away from O movies!)

Wingnut and I were really excited to see this film.  We ended up seeing it in a theater that did not offer kettle corn.  While not the Nolan's best film, I really, really, loved it.  Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway were superb.  The story was a bit plodding at times, but the cinematography was absolutely amazing.  Wingnut was not a fan.  He has some serious philosophical problems with the film and the film makers.  He's explained it to me, and I kind of get it, but if I don't think too much about the incongruence, I'm not nearly as bothered as he is.  I really thought it was a beautifully done film, artistically.  If not for a few uses of foul language, I'd allow my 12 and 15 year olds to see it.  Catholic News Service rating: AIII, adults only

I saw this one with my daughters.  Wingnut is not a Hunger Games fan at all.  Of the three movies released so far, this was my favorite.  Jennifer Lawrence really makes this series special.  This film is not nearly as action packed as the previous two, but the film makers did a wonderful job in setting up the conclusion of the series with this installment. Is Katniss merely a symbol or pawn being manipulated by the rebellion or will she become the true heroine in the end?  Julianne Moore, as President Coin, made a fine contrast to the terrifyingly, sinister President Snow, played so wonderfully by Donald Sutherland.  My girls sang the hauntingly creepy "Hanging Tree" song for days after seeing the movie. We are really excited to see the final film next November.  Mild language, and a touch of violence made this movie a no-go for our 12 year old, but our other older kiddos did see and enjoy this pic. Catholic News Service rating: AII, adults and adolescents

Penguins of Madagascar--
I was a big fan of the TV series and so we were really looking forward to seeing the Penguins on the big screen.  This was indeed a fun family flick, made all the more fun because of the kettle corn ;) I only wish King Julian and Mort were more included in the fun.  I love, love, loved John Malkovich as Dave, the Octopus, the nemesis of the film.  It was a very cute and mostly family friendly movie, with a touch of potty humor. We took our whole family. Catholic News Service rating: AI, general patronage

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies--
Skip this one.  I hated it.  Of the three Hobbit films, this was the worst and most boring.  I am a huge Tolkein fan, and for the most part I was willing to overlook the inconstancies with the books, as Peter Jackson had done such a wonderful job keeping to the Christian themes in his vision of the LOTR series.  Someone really should have reigned Jackson in on this one.  Everything was over the top and at times downright silly.  Really, there was no need for 2.5 hours of battle scenes.  To be perfectly honest I only liked three things from the series of three movies:  Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman; Bard, played by Luke Evans; and Jackson's wonderfully envisioned Smaug, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.  The end.  Our children; from the 12 year old on up; saw the film separate from Wingnut and I, as they knew they would get an earful of our thoughts and observations against the films.  They loved the movie.  I guess there's no accounting for taste.  Catholic News Service rating: AII, adults and adolescents

This one was my favorite movie of the year.  It was beautifully envisioned, filmed, and acted.  Based on the true story of Olympic athlete, turned airman, turned prisoner of war, Louis Zamperini; formidably played by Jack O'Connell.  Directed by Angelina Jolie, it is an inspirational and faithful retelling of his story, that surprisingly did not shy away from aspects of faith, and themes of surrender (to God) and forgiveness of one's enemies. While many reviewers have critiqued the film failing to more strongly establish Zamperini's faith as being responsible for his perseverance, I felt, for  a secularly made film, it was definitely a step in the right direction, if not quite a large enough step. Scenes of incredible true to life brutality at the hands of the Japanese and an extended rear nudity scene (though not sexual in nature) led to our decision to not have our teenaged children view this film. Catholic News Service rating: AIII, adults only

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Dear Whirlpool Corporation, You Have Failed

In October I noticed our professional style oven was not heating up to temperature and I put in a call to the service center.  Because we live so far out in the country, the earliest they could get out to look at the oven was 7 days later.  Our tech looked at the oven and decided it needed a new element.  Apparently, service pros no longer keep appliance parts on their trucks or even in shop.  The element had to be special ordered and delivered to our house, which took another 7 days.  On the morning the element arrived our tech was out at the house to install.  As he diligently looked over the schematics for our oven on his computer he realized he would have to disassemble the oven completely in order to install a new element.  He called out a second technician to assist and put in a call to Whirlpool Corp to double check his solution as being viable.  I listened in on the conversation between our tech and Whirlpool and heard Whirlpool advise the element was not a replaceable item on our particular oven and told our tech to not even consider disassembling the oven.  Uh. . . The techs packed up, apologized and advised us to call Whirlpool Corporation and see if we could get a replacement oven or a prorated refund on our current model.  The element has a 5 year warranty and the oven is only 4 years old, and although the main oven is no longer under warranty, the element is, and seeing as how it cannot be replaced safely, Whirlpool technically should offer some kind of compensation, right?

I called the corporate service line and they took all our information and I was told I would hear back from them in 10 days.  Unfortunately, this was right at the time we were leaving for our European trip.  I was assured Whirlpool would leave a message via answering machine or email while we were on vacation.  When we returned home, three weeks later, nothing.  Thanksgiving was just days away.  What the heck?  We called once more and were told we would be contacted immediately.  At this point, I wanted nothing to do with owning another Whirlpool appliance.  Wingnut took me shopping and I picked out a fantastic GE double gas oven and range.  It was delivered the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, just in time for a cooking frenzy to commence. We continued to wait on Whirlpool. Three days later, still no word.  We called again, and the poor call center employee actually expressed shock and dismay that we had heard nothing.  She spoke to a supervisor who told her to relay to us they would contact us that day.  Another three days later and we finally had a call returned.  Whirlpool offered to replace our unrepairable appliance with the exact same model at a prorated price of $1500.  What?  So, Whirlpool built an appliance that could not be serviced for an extremely simple repair and they were offering to let us pay for a new model of the exact same dud oven?  I don't think so, and I told her so.  I also let her know we had already replaced the oven with a different brand and that we had absolutely no interest in owning another Whirlpool.  I told her I expected Whirlpool to refund part of what the original oven had cost, at the very least.  She informed me she could not help me.  At this point I handed the phone to Wingnut, who handles idiocy like this so much better than I do.  After a prolonged argument with the Whirlpool employee, we were assured an executive would contact us within 24 hours.

Nearly a week later, Wingnut was calling Whirlpool again.  Apparently, we have a nice long file with them and every time we call it is documented and the call center employee has to read through our extensive record to determine what level of corporate to send us to next.  On this occasion we were finally offered a payout of $2300.  We were told we would be contacted by a local contractor who would come out to our house and remove the old oven and turn over a check for the refund within two weeks.  This conversation took place on the 1st of December.

I gave them the benefit of the doubt and waited until after Christmas and New Year's had passed before calling to see what was up with our money.  I was given the number of the local contractor to call.  When I called the local guys, they have absolutely no record of us.  I was assured that it might take a few days longer for Whirlpool to follow through completely.  We are now nearly two weeks past the holidays and nothing.

We have written letters to corporate executives. We've made countless phone calls.  Promises have been made and broken several times by Whirlpool.  We have yet to hear directly from a single executive.  This is absolutely ridiculous and horrible customer service.  At this point, we are taking to the internet.  We are writing about this travesty here and on every site that has a product review link.  If Whirlpool won't listen and respond to us, we'll just make sure we are not the only customers they ever lose over this episode.  Whirlpool, you stink! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, January 9, 2015

What is in a Name?

An acquaintance of mine is a reporter for the Washington Post and has recently begun having her own column run twice a week in the publication.   Her background and perspective is very different from mine, and has definitely played a major part in her formation as a person, a woman, and writer.  I have a distinct feeling she and I may not agree much on much of what she may write about, but I deeply respect her and find it incredibly interesting to read how other women, very different from me, see the world.

Her most recent article is a very personal look into what it means to once again "find herself" after the end of her twenty year marriage.  You can read her article here.

Her piece made me feel very sad for the situation she now finds herself in and caused me to reflect on my own marriage and the decision I made nearly 24 years ago to take Chris' last name as my own.  One reason for taking a spouses name, Ms. O'Neal overlooked, is the Christian ideal that in marriage the two should become one.  I believe this fundamental aspect of marriage is what causes so much misunderstanding in the sacrament itself.  Taking the husband's last name might be tradition and very well might be a paternalistic tradition, but it is a very real symbol of the husband and wife becoming one in marriage.  It was likely very un-feministic of me to take Chris' last name in marriage, but I didn't and haven't even really given it a second thought, until reading Ms. O'Neal's article.

I've always found it curious many women find marriage an obstacle in maintaining their own identity.  I've never understood it.  Maybe I'm not all that deep, but I've never experienced a crisis of identity in marriage, motherhood, or the title of housewife.  Aren't we more than our titles?  Why do so many of our fellow women find worth in titles or actions or accomplishments?

I am me, and for the most part it is enough.  I would definitely like to be a better wife, a better mother, a better human being and holier in general.  I am absolutely a work in progress and I am so thankful to have my Faith and God's Grace to guide me along.  I am not aware if my writer friend has a faith of her own.  I'm hoping she writes about that along the way.

Ms. O'Neal's experiences and perspective are not completely unique and her articles will appeal to many women of our day.  Her experiences and perspective are unique to me, and I'll be reading her with interest and with an eye to understanding what makes the modern feminist tick. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thursday Photos

Just some of my favorite photos from this week.

The mountains are particularly beautiful this time of year.  This is the view as we drive down into the valley after a morning of skiing on the mountain.

Even the bare branches are beautiful in this setting.

The little guys have been enjoying a bit of sunshine and above freezing temps outside.  Lil' Lamb was making some snow angels for me.

This is one of the chanters my three middle girls purchased.  They are going to teach themselves how to play the bagpipes.  It's going to be interesting.  So far, they sound like a flock of dying geese.  I'm not looking forward to the day they actually put the "bags" on their "pipes".  I may be investing in some very good earplugs in the near future.

I caught Special K in an act of kindness toward her little brothers.  Believe me, she wore herself out dragging these two around the yard on that sled.  They absolutely loved it!  Mush!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015


A blogging buddy has posted her word of the year for the last couple of years.  I found it inspirational and have decided to focus on a word of the year of my own.  I mulled trust and joy, but in the end, surrender really spoke to me.  If you know me at all, you may know I am a bit of a control freak.  Over the years I have come to learn I am not the one in control, God is. Yes, we all make our own choices and decisions, but in the end we really control nothing at all except what we do ourselves.  This year I am working on surrendering control to God.  His plan is best anyway.

"If my life is surrendered to God, all is well.  Let me not grab it back, as though it were in peril in His hand but would be safer in mine!"

--Elisabeth Elliot

"The proper good of a creature is to surrender itself to its Creator--to enact intellectually, volitionally, and emotionally, that relationship which is given in the mere fact of its being a creature.  When it does so, it is good and happy."

--C.S. Lewis

"From Mary we learn to surrender to God's Will in all things.  From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone.  From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God!"

--Saint John Paul II

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Creative Parenting

It was nice to have a dear old friend join us for Christmas this year.  He's a single guy, stationed in Wyoming and he made the 6 hour drive and stayed with us through Christmas weekend.  At one point, our older children were telling him stories from their childhood, most of which had to do with some of the creative discipline Wingnut had used on them.  They were all howling with laughter, and our friend encouraged me to write some of it down.  He thought it'd make for a great blog post.  He is right.  Wingnut could write a book on creative discipline.  Here are just a few of the memories our kids were recounting.

Stand Guard:  A couple of our older children were tasked with standing guard outside a younger sibling's door until she fell asleep for the night.  This job was given as punishment for terrorizing her so badly she could not sleep for fear of being eaten or some such nonsense.

Not Daddy's Princess:  Special K's favorite t-shirt had a graphic on it declaring "Daddy's Little Princess".  She loved to wear it when her Daddy was home and he always commented on it, making her grin from ear to ear.  On one occasion she was having a truly rough and rotten evening and a tantrum was definitely looming.  She happened to be wearing her "Daddy's Little Princess" shirt.  Wingnut had her go to her room and change out of it, as her behavior was not the behavior of anyone's princess.  She was heartbroken and many tears were shed, but it was very effective.  It is rare these days for her to get into a battle of wills with her Dad.

Let's Pretend:  Skoshi A was playing a game of pretend with her older siblings.  I believe they were acting out scenes from Lord of the Rings.  Skoshi was a bit too young to identify with LOTR characters and was insisting on being Cinderella.  Being the rigid rule enforcers they were, the older two harangued her and tried to force her to be an LOTR character.  Crying, she went to Wingnut to tattle.  As punishment for their lack of creativity, the older two had to take on characters chosen by Skoshi A, no matter how distasteful.  Gleefully, she chose to be Galadriel (an LOTR character after all) and assigned the other two orc and ring wraith characters.

Creative and unconventional, his measures were very effective at the time.   Today, my kids laugh about it.  I think that is a good thing.  If you think about it, who laughs about the times they were spanked as children?  Wingnut very, very, rarely ever used corporal punishment on the older children, and has never used it on the younger children.  He really hasn't the need to.  With age and experience comes a wealth of wisdom, that is for certain.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

On the Path to a Vocation to the Religious Life

Several people have asked us and I've been mulling this post for a bit, not knowing how much I would/should reveal, but the time has come.  On January 23rd Oleander will officially graduate from high school and will have done so a semester early.  We are so proud of her and her academic achievement.  She will graduate with a 4.0 and will have completed more course work than is required by the state of Pennsylvania to graduate.  She will not have a graduation ceremony (as per her own request), and has already had a graduation party thrown for her by the sisters she has lived among these last 3.5 years.

What next?  At the end of this month, Ollie will enter as a postulant with the Sister Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of MatarĂ¡. I will be traveling with her and witness her entrance on February 2nd. She could not be happier.  From the day she could talk, she has spoken of her desire to become a nun.  She has held firm to that desire her entire life--nearly 18 years now.  Her journey is far from over and is not without obstacles.  She continues to have a few unresolved health issues.  She has come so far in overcoming her extreme introversion and shyness, but she still has a ways to go.  The Sisters have been astounded and pleased with the stubbornness perseverence she has exhibited thus far in pursuing this vocation.  She is a marvel.

Please keep Olivia in your prayers.  The next several months will be a true test of her resolve.  God has much planned for her, and we are sure his work in her has only just begun. Viva la Virgen! Viva!

Olivia with her former classmate, now Sister Clemente at the Novitiate in Upper Marlboro.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Behind Bars

Please remember Sister Hope in your prayers.  She entered the contemplative community of the SSVM in Brooklyn, New York on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  We are so happy for her and thrilled to have her praying for us and our many intentions behind bars.  Sister Hope has wanted to be part of the cloister since her postulancy.  God and the SSVM had different plans for her temporarily.  She has been Oleander's academic instructor at in the Blessed Marie Catherine Formation Program for the last three and a half  years.  Ollie officially graduates from high school on the 23rd of this month, and that event is what finally freed Sister Hope to follow her heart's desire.

From left to right: Sister Hope, Sister Divine Innocence, and Mother Ephesus

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