Thursday, March 31, 2011

Small Successes

It's been a while since I've done this, but we've been battling a really bad cold--maybe the flu--and my immune system is not the only thing that's taken a beating. This seems like a necessary idea today. So here's the "viral" version of Small Successes:

Not only did I get the Netflix Instant Play to work after 4+ months of inexplicable not-working, but I also got to count it as school: we went on a marathon of Sesame Street (reading skills), Liberty's Kids and ancient Greece programs (history), and Dirty Jobs (science?)


I pretty much kept everybody fed, clothed, hydrated, and medicated. I was very foggy for a good bit of the time, and dragging much of the rest, and I would not count this as a success. One night it took me a whole hour to get dinner from the kitchen to the plates on the table. But my husband told me today that as tough as it's been being sick all week, I made it easier on him. I almost cried.


As everybody recovers and starts getting cabin fever, they don't exactly want to use their newfound energy doing chores, however dire the need! So I set them to matching socks, and told them they could have the holey ones. They stuffed the toes with paper and tied them off, and thus made "sock balls," aka throwers, slingshots, and--ahem--nunchuks. They're entertained, nobody gets (too) hurt, and I have some matched socks to put in everyone's dressers. Yea!

What are your Small Successes?


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

10 Facts about Me and My Better Half

Betty Beguiles is a sweetheart in all sorts of ways, not least of which is graciously reclaiming the art of appreciating one's husband. I can't resist jumping on this bandwagon: what's more fun than to revel in the miscellanea of your own personal romance?

I tried to be original and interesting in my first list, but it ended up being so generic read that I got over myself and am flagrantly copying some of Betty's more interesting items, a la meme.

Me and My Love

1. My husband and I first dated when we were 15. We broke up after two months, got back together, and broke up again. Then I moved away.

2. Years later, I sent him a birthday card and got back on his mind (he says I was never gone from it).

3. One of the anniversaries we celebrate is that of our "second first kiss."

4. He followed me to England when I was on a study abroad program and married me there.

5. We have had three home births, including one water birth and one "unassisted" birth with just me and him. He was also the only person in the hospital room when I delivered at 28 weeks, minutes before an emergency C-section.

6. He thinks everything I cook is gourmet.

7. We both honestly like Jane Austen and John Wayne, but I appreciate John Wayne a little more because of my husband, and I think he appreciates Jane Austen a little more because of me.

8. My husband will not let me clean toilets when I'm pregnant.

9. He lets me pick the names for our babies. But I make him have the final say.

10. He is the most devoted, faithful, loving man I know.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Angelus

More about the Angelus here

The Annunciation

The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner. 1898.

Next mystery: The Visitation

Taken from my other blog, Lilies Among Thorns. I will be migrating the blog here little by little. Linking will be inconsistent between the two for a while, but I'd appreciate a note if something doesn't seem to work right, or any other thoughts you might want to share.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

And Baby Makes Eleven

My husband and I, for various reasons, like to keep this kind of happy news to ourselves for so long that I feel a little foolish once we finally make the announcement...
Lilypie Pregnancy tickers

...but will you please send a prayer our way as we prepare for our newest little family member?

I would have loved to share weeks earlier, when some of my favorite people to read online were announcing their own pregnancies (and I'm missing people; who am I missing?), but I was waiting to share with family members first, then for an ultrasound which still hasn't happened, and I'm not sure now that it will.* But in the past few days I have the unmistakeable sensations of this little one dancing around inside me, and I just had to officially acknowledge--yes, we're having another baby! I'll, of course, be talking about it in the next few months (I've already made a few vague allusions to it), and it doesn't make sense to me to just slip it in sideways.

Baby #9 is due at the end of July. July is our month for birthdays--we have four then already. But if history is any indication, I'll go a little over and we'll have our first August baby.

St. Anne and St. Gerard Majella, pray for us!

*For, again, a variety of very personal reasons, we are planning right now to have an unassisted pregnancy and childbirth. Hey, it wouldn't be the first--or even the second--time I've delivered with only my husband in the room!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday: On Waiting

Here’s how the game works: you simply stop, drop and write. Set your words free. Don’t edit them, don’t fret over them, don’t try to make them perfect.

On Waiting:
Sometimes I think I'm pretty good at waiting.

Other times (like when I'm waiting) I find I have to be a little more honest.

I find there are two things that help me when I have to wait. One is distraction. We watch a lot of video at night in the last few months of a pregnancy, for example. I don't know that that's always a bad thing, but I know it's not always a good thing. There are definitely more productive uses for my time. It is like an anesthesia to the tedium and anxiety of waiting, and who wants to be drugged up all the time? There's so much to miss that way.

The other thing is focusing on what I'm waiting for. Working toward a goal--packing for a trip, reading related to an upcoming event, praying for an intention--helps both pass the time and bring the goal closer, as long as it doesn't become just busywork or increase anxiety.

I guess what I need most is to learn to rest, and trust, in the Lord.

Come see the Gypsy Mama for more, and add your own.

{this moment} March 18, 2011

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit soulemama and leave a link to your 'moment.'

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In a delicate discussion at Inside Catholic, Mark Shea says:
Interestingly, the one [mortal sin] that modernity focuses all its energy on -- lust -- has typically been regarded as the least of the seven deadlies (though that's like saying, "Mercury poisoning doesn't kill you as quick as a bullet to the brain").
Juxtapose this with Screwtape's advice to the tempter Wormwood:
Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Of course, Screwtape's advice works equally well (even better?) with more innocuous sins like neglecting your elderly neighbor and bad-mouthing your annoying co-worker, but if Satan had a "pet" mortal sin, lust sure seems to fit the bill.

Other fascinating thoughts at the article previously referenced.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Easy and Awesome Recipe

Jen F.'s Quick Take #6 last Friday was a chicken recipe with a claim to the "best yumminess-to-easiness ratio ever." I challenged that claim in the comments and promised to try to post my own.

Well, appropos of Sunday, here is my Sunday Chicken recipe. Let me first post the source of the recipe, which I tweaked just a tad. There are all kinds of great recipes here, if you want to browse a little. Sunday Chicken is less than halfway down.

For my version, use about a 40-oz bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken. This amounts to 4-5 breasts, but I actually prefer to use tenderloins. Cover with one can of cream of mushroom soup and one can of cream of chicken soup. (Mix beforehand or not--I've done both.) Cut up 8 oz of cream cheese into 8-12 pieces and dot it around the soup. Sprinkle a package of dry Italian dressing mix evenly over the whole thing. Cook on high for 4-5 hours. (You can start with thawed chicken and cook on low for 6-7 hours.)

I've put this together in less than five minutes before. (I was on my A-game that day.) Try serving it with a tossed salad, fruit salad, corn, and some King's Hawaiian dinner rolls to soak up some of that sauce. Excellent!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Five Minute Friday

Get the rules and the prompt from the Gypsy Mama and go...
Here’s how the game works: you simply stop, drop and write for five minutes flat! Set your words free. Don’t edit them, don’t fret over them, don’t try to make them perfect.

I feel the most loved when … husband tells me that dinner that night is his new favorite recipe. Or when he shows me I'm beautiful when I feel like a whale. Or when my older kids make me breakfast for no reason whatsoever. Or when my little boy strokes my cheek with his plump little hand. Or when my baby lays her head on my chest, quietly. Or when I go outside and feel the sun shining. Or when I come back from my communion line and kneel and pray. Or when my parents thank me for letting them visit as they say goodbye (having come bearing gifts of clothes and art and live camellia bushes). Or when my husband tells me it's all right after a waste of a day, and prays over me.

Quick Takes: DVDs for Creativity

Long overdue, here is my list of the Christmas DVDs that got us through the bleak days of winter and are still requested now. Briefly, because it is a beautiful day and we're going outside.

(All images are from, unless otherwise noted. I am not an affiliate and get nothing from posting these.)

1. The Art of Crochet 4 Kids is a cute video with cartoon alpaca siblings and a young boy teaching kids the basics and some tricks of crochet. I'm going to sit down with mine one day and learn this stuff.

2. Kung Fu for Kids: H/T Danielle Bean, who was absolutely right about it being a great way to burn off kid energy.

3. Beginning Watercolor Journaling. I heard about this one from Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart. We are absolute beginners with watercolors, but my girls especially love this one. Another one for me to join them for.

4. The Art Of Drawing for Kids (also image source) may actually be (along with the watercolor one) my favorite. We've only used it once (it was lost for a while), but the drawings the children made were so interesting, and so varied even with them following the same instructions.

5. Rainy Day Art. I have sworn off craft stores until I have depleted some of the supplies we currently have; but it's been hard, because I promised a certain persistent five-year-old with the memory of an elephant and the petitioning abilities of a saint that the supply list for some of these projects would make up our next trip.

6. Crazy Crafts: Jungle Animals. Part of a series of DVDs that is, I think, in some incarnation called "Crazy Quilts"--that's what the hosts call their show in the video, and that's what my four-year-old is always saying he wants to watch.

7. Signing Time Volume 8: The Great Outdoors. I love this series. End of story.

What are your Quick Takes?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A, um, new Lenten commitment

Our main meal this fast day was simple and light. We were having soup and sandwiches, with fruit salad and macaroni and cheese. I had already made the soup: cream of tomato for me, and vegetable for everybody else. Jason was stopping after Mass to get some white cheddar and a "surprise" for the kids, and I would head home to make grilled cheese.

Ash Wednesday

I really do know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches under the broiler; and I had in fact already finished a larger batch of them. But the broiler is a tricky thing to get right it once it's hot. You have to watch it, because timing it according to your usual usage doesn't work, and if you insist on using the top rack to finish the last two sandwiches because it's faster, you better not be dealing with a hormonally altered brain and juggling other food prep when your husband introduces a new distraction in the form of a "surprise."

Eight little chicks on my kitchen counter.

He let me know that my face upon seeing a gaggle of excited kids present me with a box of chicks was something to behold.

Oh, it's been part of our plan to raise chickens for ourselves for a while. He's been threatening preparing me for the step, and although I shared that I didn't feel myself ready for the responsibility, I agreed that it was an important goal, and it would be good for the kids to learn to take care of them. As long as I didn't have to do anything.

I know nothing about raising chickens, Jason having done the research to get started. I do know a little about the mortality rate of chicks and am therefore fearful for my nerves. I have no desire to discourage this new phase, though, of which I know this is only a first step. The kids have been excited all evening about these little guys.

Aren't they heartbreakingly cute?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Something new: Five Minute Friday

So glad to have found this...

I have no less than 35 drafts in my post manager, posts that I start and cannot finish, cannot make perfect enough to share with the world. But I can do five minutes. Right?

So can you. Come see.

(H/T Elizabeth Foss)

When I look in the mirror, I see…

...someone who wants to be so much more than she is. Someone who is more than she realizes. Someone who sees clearly the way to achieve so many of her goals and ideals, even though she may misjudge the distance sometimes...if she can only shed the comfortable chains that hold her, the ones that ache when she twists to break them. The grace is abundantly there, if she will grasp it.

I see a beauty that is elusive, sometimes invisible, at least to me--which makes me wonder, what is beauty if it can't be seen? It frustrates me. But the mirror is not the place to find it, though sometimes it's helpful to check.


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