Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Farm Livin' is the Life for Me

Last week was crazy busy.  Chris and I managed to build the chicken coop over the course of the week and on Friday morning, at 5:45 am the post office called with our chicks peeping in the background.  We are officially chicken farmers!

Yes, this is our chick-McMansion.  We wanted something that would last and could hold other small farm animals (pygmy goats???) in the future.  All that needs to be done now is to add shelving for nesting boxes and roosting bars.  I'm still trying to decide the best way to add a feeder and water.  I've seen some really ingenious ideas on Pinterest.  Once the interior is finished I'll post photos.  It will be at least 5 more weeks until the chicks are old enough to go into the coop.

Until then, this is their temporary home.  For the next week or so, they will be in our kitchen.  I'll be adding another cage as they get bigger and we'll move them into the laundry room.  

They are really cute and funny.  The kids all love to watch them and they've been pretty good about being gentle with these delicate creatures.  In a few days we'll add treats to their diets and the kids can work on hand taming our hens.

So sweet and fluffy.  I believe this chick is one of the Delawares.

I can't resist the photography opportunity found in these cuties.  This is one of the Black Australorps.
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Monday, April 20, 2015

How I Pray

Several weeks ago, Kristen from Saint Monica's Bridge, tagged me in a post and asked "How do you pray?"  Life was a bit too busy for me to answer that question, but I've been mulling my response ever since.  Today I have a bit of free time and I thought I'd finally put down my thoughts.

Who Are You?  I'm the wife to Chris, soon to be married 24 years.  We've been "together" for nearly 28 years.  Wow, that seems crazy long now I've typed it.  Funny, when I picture Chris and myself, I still see us as those two naive 18 year olds.  It's a shock to look at photos of us now!  I am also the mother of 7 kids, ranging in age from 4 years old to 22 years old.  I've homeschooled the majority of them for the last 18 years.  While I have a degree in Sociology and had been working on a masters in Education, all I've ever wanted was to be a wife and mother.  God blessed me with a husband who has supported me wholeheartedly in this.  Currently we live in Utah, and have no plans to move again, but we have lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Japan, and Washington DC, having been a military family for the first 21 years of our married life.

What is Your Vocation?  Obviously, my vocation has been as wife and mother.  I definitely see it as my responsibility in fulfilling God's Will in my life to work towards getting myself, my husband, and my children to Heaven.  This is no easy task and one I am constantly seeking His Grace to accomplish!

What is Your Prayer Routine for an Average Day?  We begin each school morning by praying the Angelus and an Act of Hope.  We make sure to say Grace before every meal, even in restaurants. We end each day as often as possible with a family rosary.  These are the set prayers we do as a family each day.

Do You Have a Devotion that is Particularly Important to You or Effective? I'd have to say the Mass is the prayer most important to me.  Within the Mass, we touch on every aspect of prayer--Adoration, Expiation, Love, Thanksgiving, and Petition--I find this the best way of giving everything I should to God in prayer.

Do You have a Place, Habit, or Way of Praying?  As far as my personal prayer goes, I'm one who attempts to pray throughout my day.  Much of the time it may just be a particular meditation upon an aspect of my daily life.  I try to make everything I do as a wife and mother an offering, much like Saint Therese's Little Way.  I fail at this quite often.  Being a wife and mother 24/7 and doing every small thing out of great love is incredibly taxing and there are days where I surely say, "I will not serve."  Fortunately, the sacrament of confession helps bring me back around.  I also find some of my best prayer time comes during the wee hours as I suffer from insomnia.  Sometimes I wonder if it's my guardian angel prodding me to pray during those quiet hours.

Do You Use Any Tools or Sacramentals? I wear a Brown Scapular every day to help me remember who I am and Whom I serve at all times.  We have prayers posted throughout the house to help all of us remember to pray throughout the day.  During Advent and Lent I use the special editions of the Magnificat.  I also love the prayers in the Pieta prayer booklet.

What is Your Relationship to the Rosary?  Years ago, when Nadja was about 2, we made a commitment to pray a family rosary every night.  Over the years we have encountered varying degrees of success in praying the rosary every night.  In general, I believe we succeed 4 or 5 out of 7 nights.  Praying the rosary with proper attention and respect is a different story ;)

Are There Any Books or Spiritual Works That are Important to Your Devotional Life?  Saint Therese's Little Way, The Pieta, and The Magnificat have all played roles in my devotions.  Off and on I've attempted the daily examen from The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today by Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV.  One thing I really need to work on is not letting my spiritual devotions slip into oblivion.

What is Your Most Recent Spiritual or Devotional Reading? Holy Week I finished Father Neuhaus' book Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth.  It was excellent!  I especially enjoyed the section from his time as a correspondent in the Vatican, covering the death and funeral of Saint John Paul II and the conclave which would elect Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope.  Currently I'm reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.  While not strictly a spiritual work, it contains a considerable amount of theology and philosophy from Bonhoeffer's very Lutheran perspective. My neighbor, who is LDS, lent me the book and we plan on having a nice long discussion once I've finished reading.  She took many notes in the sidebars of the pages and I've been keeping notes on my phone for our discussion.

Are There Saints or Other Figures Who Inspire Your Prayer Life or Act as Patrons?  Without going into detail, I'd say Saint Monica is the saint I most directly feel connected.  Her example and intercession are a big part of my spiritual life.

Have You Had Any Unusual or Miraculous Experiences as a Result of Your Prayer Life? On two occasions, our son, John Paul, was healed of particular ailments due to an intercessory prayer and sacramental.  He was healed of club foot as an infant upon a visit to the healing springs at the Mother Cabrini Shrine in Colorado.  No joke.  He was 9 months old and did not bear weight on the bottoms of his feet, but would flop them over and try to stand on the tops of his feet.  The night after we visited the springs he pulled himself up to standing for the first time.  At a year old, his severely blocked tear ducts were blessed by a fragment of the True Cross at a healing mass in Oklahoma.  The doctors were considering lancing his tear ducts at this point.  The night he was prayed over by the priest, his tear ducts began oozing the nastiest pus.  24 hours later his ducts were completely clear and we never had a problem with them becoming blocked again.  They both seem like such small miracles, but they left a profound mark on me.  If God listens to even to the smallest petitions, he must truly have the deepest love and care for us.

I tag Natalie from Between the Bobseins.  I'd love to read how this firecracker approaches her spiritual life!  I also tag Chere Mama from News From Hobbiton and Kim from Quilts and Canvases. Both of these lovely lady bloggers are new to my blog role and I'd love to get to know them just a bit better.

Of course, this is just for fun, so please don't feel any pressure to participate.  For me, this was a great way to evaluate my current prayer life and I have taken away some things I'd really like to change or better incorporate.  Thank you, Kristen!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} April 16


I love Easter Lilies.  They are so photogenic.

My sister came for a visit over Easter Week and we took her to Arches and Canyonlands for some hiking and taking in of some beautiful scenery.


The boys have been enjoying playing in the mud in our newly tilled field.


The boys had a blast hunting for eggs, but what I loved about this photo is Katerina's pose in the door.  Sometimes I have no idea what I might find on my camera when photos involve her.  If it isn't some crazy pose, it's a silly face.


And this is why much of our garden cannot be planted before May and June in Utah.  Here we are in the middle of April and we had around 2 inches of snow Wednesday and another inch this morning.

For more {P, H, F, R} check out Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015


For many years I've been into more alternative medical treatments for our family.  It stems from the many negative encounters we've had with mainstream medicine over the years.  When our oldest was 18 months I was threatened with dietary counseling because she had lost 2 pound between her 1 year well baby and her 18 month check up.  I was sent home with a list of ways to boost her calorie intake and told to return in a month to have her re-weighed.  It was a daily battle to get her to eat the extra calories and I spent many meals in tears because she just would not drink the prescribed milkshake or eat the side of french fries--true story!  When we returned after a month, she had gained 4 pounds and the doctor exclaimed, "Well, the scale must have been uncalibrated for her 18 month well baby!"  In the months following, the bad experiences came one after another, including a horrific encounter in the ER when our daughter was running an unexplained fever of 104.  The ER docs felt it appropriate to use a catheter to extract a urine sample from our potty trained daughter as they felt she might have a bladder infection.  It took 5 of us to hold her down.  No bladder infection.  In fact, the fever was due to strep throat, which was discovered by her regular pediatrician the next morning at her follow up appointment.

I've gone round and round with doctors during delivery, over vaccinations, over growth charts, and food sensitivities, etc.  It just got to the point where I was just done arguing with people who did not know my children and did not know me. As a result, we rarely see a doctor anymore. We might go several years without a medical appointment.  We only go if there is something truly serious going on--possible broken bone, cuts needing stitches, and breathing issues.  For the most part I treat everyone at home with a combination of homeopathic remedies and rest, with which we have really  been quite successful. Thus, our family is very healthy and we rarely come down with anything more serious than an occasional cold or stomach virus.

Recently I began using essential oils in cleaning and treating minor ailments.  I've read about all the benefits essential oils have to offer and I ended up purchasing a moderately sized kit of various essential oils and blends from doTerra.  Wouldn't you know it, the flu struck many of our friends with a fury over Easter.  Two of my closest friends ended up in the ER, diagnosed with walking pneumonia and pleurisy.  I began giving everyone in our family OnGuard and diffusing OnGuard throughout the house to combat the potential bug.  Leo did start coughing and sniffling this last Saturday.  I started rubbing his chest and back with Breathe and peppermint diluted in fractionated coconut oil.  Sunday, I began feeling a bit run down and had an annoying tickle in the back of my throat which became an annoying unproductive cough.  I started drinking my lemon, honey, ginger tea, upped my UnGuard intake,  and added Breathe to the diffuser.  Here we are Tuesday and we are already greatly improved.  I'm confident there will not be emergency room trips or doctor's appointments and we'll make a full recovery in just a couple more days.  Time will tell if this new course of treating illnesses will continue to be successful, but so far it beats dosing ourselves with heavy cough syrups and cold remedies laced with additives and artificial colors.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"Farm" Update

Well,  Mr. Billy did not come through for us. Anna and Elsa, our two doe goats did not end up pregnant over the winter.  This has been a very tiresome, and expensive venture, and we all decided to call it quits.  The family housing the goats want to move on to raising turkeys and did not want to keep the goats any longer.  The second family has realized they are allergic to goat dairy, and already have three pygmy goats in their small barnyard.  We just do not have the set-up for goats, ourselves; although, we soon will.

By the end of the week we will have a professionally installed fenced in area of about 100 square feet just below our garden.  In two weeks our custom barn kit will arrive and just a few days later our 10 baby chicks will be delivered.  Our barn and yard plan did have enough room to accommodate the two goats, but I was truly worried that what had begun as a three family venture would too quickly become a single family venture, and I did not sign on for that!  Chickens are easy.  Chickens understand.

I am so excited to get started with our chickens.  I have been dreaming of this for years and it is finally happening.  I ordered two female chicks from five different breeds and they should be ready to lay by October, as long as winter doesn't arrive too early here.  We'll be housing our chicks in the laundry room for about 4 to 6 weeks.  I still need to decide on a brooder set up, but I'm sure I'll have it figured out well before the chicks arrive.

Here are photos of the 5 breeds I selected

Black Australorp are excellent egg layers. Their eggs are large brown. They are cold hardy and winter layers and are fairly docile, if not friendly.

Buff Orpington are very good layers.  Their eggs are large brown.  They are cold hardy, winter layers, and are known to be very friendly.

Delaware are very good layers. Their eggs are light brown.  They are also cold hardy, winter layers and are very docile.

Silver Laced Wyandotte are very good layers. They lay large brown eggs. They are cold hardy, winter layers, fairly docile (although I will have to watch them with the other birds as they can be aggressive), and so pretty.

Welsummer are very good layers.  They lay large chocolate colored eggs.  They are cold hardy, winter layers and very docile.
(all photos come from the Meyer Hatchery web catalog)

I can't wait for my chicks to arrive so I can get some photos!

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Monday, April 6, 2015

A Little Dose of Humility

Singing in the choir of our parish has been a mixed bag.  For the most part I really enjoy singing, learning new pieces, and the camaraderie. I love the music we are given. Our choir director has spent many years reading and learning about liturgical music and has a definite traditional bent to his choice of music for Mass.  We sing quite a bit of traditional chant in Latin and English and recently our parish purchased the Saint Michael's Hymnals, which have some of the most lovely, old school Catholic hymns.   I am still struggling with nerves on the occasions I am asked to sing solo as cantor, but it is improving.  Or at least I thought it was improving until it came to the vast amount of material we were given to sing for the Triduum.

For Holy Thursday, several of us were given verses from the chant for the Washing of the Feet.  I had a difficult time learning my tone pattern and it being completely a cappella made it that much more daunting .  Even in the final rehearsal, I needed extra help.  When it came time to sing my verse during the Mass, my mouth was parched from nerves I was so nervous I would mess it up.  It ended up being fine. Phew, first solo down.  One more to go.  My second solo I actually volunteered for, silly me, but I'm trying to conquer my nerves and what better way than to force myself to sing solos, no?  This was for a beautiful piece called Stay Here for the reposition of the Blessed Sacrament.  It was also a cappella and timing was a key issue.  With the rest of the choir 'oohing" in the background, I needed to wait through several rests and make sure I held my half notes correctly.  It sounded fine, although I think key wise it was a bit of a stretch for this alto.

Having come out of Holy Thursday, mostly unscathed, Good Friday was a cakewalk.  As most Catholics are aware, there is very little music if any on Good Friday and I felt no pressure or nerves and was able to relax and sing and pray throughout the entire service.

The Easter Vigil had the most music of the three nights.  The 7 Old Testament readings are paired with a responsorial psalm each.  I was given the third psalm and I knew that baby forward and back, or so I thought. In my eagerness (and pride) I wanted to show I could nail this solo on my own, and even though he offered to go over any of the psalms we wished during the final rehearsal, I chose not to.  I definitely regret that choice now.  After the third reading, I took a deep calming breath and a quick sip of water.  My nerves weren't all that bad and I walked up to the mike to sing.  The chorus sounded fine and I dove into the verses, and then something horrible happened.  I began to notice I was singing a different note at the end of each phrase than the organ was playing.  I then sang an entire line of different notes than the organ.  I could hear our choir director try to correct by changing the notes he was playing.  I'm sure my eyes were huge at this point.  I could not figure out what was going wrong.  Finally it hit me.  Every G is saw on the page I was making into an A!  Ack!  4 verses, and I wasn't able to finally correct to a G until the final line.  It was a bit mortifying, to say the least. I felt absolutely terrible.  I've been shaky on psalms before, but not singing the absolute wrong notes shaky.  Sigh.

Oh well, water under the bridge, as my choir mate has admonished me several times the last couple days.  If nothing else, I have now learned I should not pass up the opportunity to go over a piece, even if I think I know it forward and back.  It was a wonderful little lesson in humility for me, and that is what I'm taking from the experience.  Fortunately, only folks in the choir, and those with a music background even noticed there was a problem.  Most of my own family didn't even realize how bad it was.  I need to remind myself I am not singing for the esteem of others, but for God and I can only do my best and believe He appreciates my offering, no matter how imperfect.

I'm beginning to believe my word for the year should have been humility and not surrender, but then again, for one to surrender to God's Will, one must have the humility to do it.  Surrender and humility go hand in hand.

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