Friday, December 12, 2014

{phfr} - Bad Blogger Update

This time of year gets so crazy for me (and probably for all of you as well) that I find it hard to keep up blogging even the most important events in our family.  Without further ado...
My grandfather (who was almost 95!) recently passed away, so Fritter and I flew back to Wyoming for his funeral.  This has been one of those tough years for my family.  It wasn't long ago that we lost my grandmother too.  So this was a melancholy trip, though it's always nice to see family (see happy below).
Flying back to Wyoming actually means flying into Denver and then driving a couple hours home.  So this was a welcome sight (and a pretty sign!):

As a kid (we traveled a lot!) I always knew I was close to home when I saw the buffalo on the hill.  This time was no different! And I find the prairie so pretty.
Seeing family is always a happy experience.  The day of my (maternal) grandfather's funeral was also my other (paternal) grandmother's birthday.  It was very nice to see her, though she had trouble remembering me. *sigh* We could call this happy and melancholy.
Fritter and I were able to spare a little bit of time to visit with an old college friend and his new baby.  This particular friend held Fritter when he was just a baby.  This time I got to hold his first born.
The happy family!
In other news we had another birthday!  Ladybug turned six (6!) the day before Thanksgiving.  My little girl is growing up. *sob*
And she got her first big girl doll!

She asked for a strawberry cake.  We compromised on a chocolate cake with strawberry frosting.  And butterflies!
 Because my grandfather's funeral was on the feast of St. Nicholas, and we would be in Wyoming, we celebrated here a little early.  (St. Nicholas is good like that!)
St. Nicholas brought us new books (affiliate links):

Dan: The Brothers Karamazov
CMerie: Lucia, Child of Light
Fritter: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey & The Miracle of St. Nicholas
Ladybug: The Very First Christmas &  A Small Miracle
Sunflower (and Froggy): The Night of Las Posadas

And of course chocolate coins!


Here in Arizona, we experience Autumn just as everyone else in the country is having fun with winter. :)  So I sent Fritter out to rake up the leaves in the front yard, and Ladybug followed him out.  Before I knew it, they were running from the end of the block and diving in the pile of leaves.  It looked like such fun the rest of us had to join in.

And then they got crazy and decided to throw the leaves everywhere.  By the time our fun was over, it was dinner time and bath time.  So Fritter had to rake the leaves again the next day.  And he did.  Without complaint!

We finally pulled our Christmas tree out on Wednesday with the plan to set it up and watch Elf together as a family.  But when we plugged in the lights on the tree, only part of the strand lit up.  After going through the unlit sections, light by light, we found at least 20 dead bulbs.  Of course we didn't have that many spare bulbs of this sort to replace them, but plenty of various other bulbs.  (Why, oh why do they not standardize the bulb ends?!)  So I patiently (ha!) swapped out the wrong ends for the right ends on new bulbs and then we put them back into the strand of lights.
The pile of dead lights with tips taken off.
It worked and the tree is lit, but it was only after all the hard work was done that I realized it probably would have been easier (and faster!) to pay $4 for a new strand of lights.  Remind me of that next Christmas, please? 
So we didn't get to watch Elf that night, since by the time we were done, it was past the kids' bedtimes.  We made up for it last night with pizza in front of the movie.
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Monday, December 1, 2014

When Everyone Has A Cold...

It must be time for chicken noodle soup.  Or in this case turkey rice soup with homemade broth, leftover turkey, and leftover ham because there wasn't enough turkey.  Plus a loaf of bread from the freezer.  Yummy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Caterpillar Update

The day after I posted about our caterpillar, we left the house for just a little while and when we came home we found our little guy transformed.  We were disappointed we had to miss it happen, but everyone is still thrilled he (or she?) made it this far!

Do you see him hanging by the zipper?

Yesterday we went with our homeschool group on a field trip to the Butterfly Wonderland.  I guess you could say we're doing an impromptu unit study on butterflies.  I went in a little apprehensive about the thought of butterflies landing on me.  And they did!  Land on me, I mean.  Once on my head (that was my biggest fear actually), another time on my back.  And each child received about the same treatment.  Sunflower is the only one who has inherited my fear of anything resembling a bug or spider, and she was found many times running and screaming away from the butterflies.  She may be scarred for life.  :)

Do you see what's on Froggy's head?  What about on the butterfly bench behind us?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

{phfr} - Goings On and a Happy Birthday

I mentioned before that we had found a caterpillar.  This morning I went to look for him in his little habitat (borrowed from a good friend) and finally found him on the roof.  He has strung himself up and it looks like he may be ready to build his chrysalis.  He's pretty in an ugly sort of way.  :)

Normally this time of year I already have plenty of pureed pumpkin in the freezer from those very cheap Halloween pumpkins.  Alas, this year I was running behind (as I seem to do in most everything nowadays) and by the time I got around to buying pumpkins all I could find were the more expensive pie pumpkins.  I bought four pumpkins anyway, and yesterday cooked them all and pureed them.  Considering each pumpkin was $1.99, and I bought four of them for a total of $7.96, I managed to get the equivalent of seven cans of pureed pumpkin.  A can of pumpkin is around $3.  That's a savings of over $13!  Economical indeed.  Plus, it's also kind of pretty.

We celebrated another birthday around here.  Fritter turned 8 on Saturday.  What else does an eight year old boy want than a real pair of cowboy boots?  We've been hearing an awful lot about rounding up cattle and lassoing things around here lately.

He asked for a volcano cake.  This is the best I could do.  If my kids didn't enjoy my cakes so much I would have turn in my cake making license.
This is more funny in the not so funny way (whatever that means).  Pumpkin seeds.  Sitting on the counter in a colander until I can get around to roasting them.  Ha ha.  Funny.

What's real is that we wouldn't get very far without prayer, now would we?  Without grace we have nothing.
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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Little Life of Jesus Review

My oldest child's reaction (he is seven) upon seeing this board book for the first time was, "Why does Jesus look like a little baby?"  (He was talking about the pictures of adult Jesus).  And his second reaction was, “Why does the angel have blue hair?”  I didn’t have an answer to either question.  And indeed the pictures in The Little Life of Jesus are cutesy.  They are not ugly, just…cutesy.  My initial reaction to anything that seems to talk down to children is to get rid of it. 
That being said, for a board book meant for small children, this book has meat to it.  It tells the story of the life of Jesus (every major event) in an accessible way to the children, without pandering (that is, the book itself doesn’t pander, the pictures do).  This has become one that my smallest children request to bring with them to Mass, (it’s in our Mass bag now), and my three year old repeatedly asks me to read it to her.  “Where’s my Little Life of Jesus?” she’ll ask me again and again. 
This book would have gotten lost long ago if the illustrations were all that carried the book.  But The Little Life of Jesus has continued to hang around because I don't mind reading it aloud.  And unlike most other children's books that tell the story of Jesus, but completely leave out the Eucharistic Feast, this one does include Jesus’ last supper.  “He gives thanks, blesses it, and says: ‘This is my body, which is given for you.’"
I also appreciate how honestly but simply it tells of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. “At the top of a hill, soldiers nail Jesus to the cross. Jesus dies, giving up his life for all mankind.” 
With better illustrations this book would have been a must have!  As it stands, I might still have purchased it to fill an Easter basket (or Christmas stocking).  There are not many books geared for small children that tell the story of Jesus in such a wonderful way.

**I wrote this review of Little Life of Jesus for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. Aquinas and More is the largest on-line Catholic bookstore. I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tattered Hats

This motherhood gig.  It's tough sometimes isn't it?  It's tough not to compare ourselves and our efforts with those of our friends, or those of the internet.  Just this morning I was having a discussion over coffee with my husband before he left for work.  Among other things, we talked about whether we are doing "enough".  Actually, I talked more about if we are doing "enough".  He listened.

I spoke about my feelings of inadequacy.  About how we do not celebrate feast days enough.  How we don't pray enough as a family.  How we don't frequent the sacraments enough.  How hard we are on our children.  Whether I am doing enough to teach my children in school.  How their character flaws are totally our fault.  How slowly we are to correct our own character flaws.  And on and on.  In short, my anxiety about life was busting through and taking me (us) on a roller coaster ride.

And finally, my dear husband could listen no more.  "You work hard for us.  You love us.  You try every day to bring richness and goodness into our lives.  Stop this."

At that point (well to be honest, not right at that point, but soon after :), I realized that I had been letting my own doubts (and someone's lies) trickle in my mind and block out all the goodness and rightness we have here in our home. 

I am far from a perfect mother.  I am far from a perfect housekeeper and cook and teacher.  The hats I wear are many.  And some of them need quite a bit of mending.  Others are just slightly tattered, but still useful.  And some of them are down right nice.  It's hard to admit that.  The doubts keep coming in and if I let them, they can easily take over.

I can only guess and speculate about how my children will turn out.  I can only guess and speculate on what our life will look like ten years from now.  I know what I hope it looks like.  But guessing and speculating (and worry and anxiety) take me away from the here and now.  They take me away from the, "Mom!  There's a crane out front!  Can we go look at it!" and the, "Mom!  Our swallowtail caterpillar has gotten out of his jar!"  (True stories.  Both of those happened in the past ten minutes.)  Those are the minutes I don't want to lose.

Now, it's true that there are some adjustments and improvements our family should make.  Very true.  BUT...That doesn't mean that all the goodness doesn't exist.  The trick is to find the balance between improvement while focusing on what's good and true.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phillippians 4:6-8)

Our caterpillar.  Can you see him?  We're hoping we can watch him turn into a butterfly.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Week of Feasts

First up was the celebration of my hubby's birthday.  When I asked him what he wanted for dinner, he said spaghetti.  Not because he has any special love for spaghetti, but because he knows our children love it.  That's my wonderful husband for you.  So to make the spaghetti a little more festive, I made meatballs, using a mix of Emeril's and Rachel Ray's recipe (how's that for a mix!).  They may not be the prettiest meatballs on the block, but they were tasty.
 I also hadn't made bread for quite some time and have been wanting to get back in the habit.  I use Jennie C's recipe (I couldn't find the recipe there, but it is wonderful), and followed some of the techniques posted on Leila's blog.  The bread turned out lovely.

Cleaning up.
Having tea.

He's older than three.  How about times ten.  Plus....I'm not telling.  :)
 And then of course we had our annual pumpkin carving.  This year we opted for just one pumpkin (it's the adults doing all the carving anyway!), but it was a big one.  Fritter designed one side, and Ladybug the other.  They did the scooping, we did the carving.

Fritter's side, Dad carved.

Ladybug's side, Mom carved.
 This year, we opted to go to our homeschool groups All Saints party.  Normally we trick or treat around the neighborhood, but all of our friends were at the party.  Peer pressure!  Unfortunately, all this week we've been battling colds.  So in the end my dear husband stayed home sick with Froggy.  :(
Froggy-no-costume, St. Cecelia, St. Anthony the Abbot, St. Helena.
 And of course this past week all culminates in today's feast of All Souls' Day.
Eternal rest grant unto them, and may perpetual light shine upon them.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What To Do With Apple Cores?

My dear husband brought home lots of apples from the store today.  So I spent a little bit peeling them and coring them and slicing them.  One batch became an apple pie and there are two more apple pie fillings waiting nicely in my freezer for the next time I get a fancy for pie.  When I was done, I looked over the mess (and there was plenty of it) and couldn't bring myself to throw away all those cores.  I was not too careful about getting all the apple off the core, and it seems there must be some way I can use them.  So I sprinkled them with lemon juice and put them in a zip lock bag in the fridge until I come up with something.

So I thought I'd ask you, faithful readers (of which I think there are two), if you have any idea of what to do with all these leftover apple cores.  The only idea I've come up with is putting them in the crockpot with water and cinnamon sticks and hoping some sort of cider comes of it.  But maybe that won't work?  Any other ideas out there?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

{phfr} - Instagram Dump

Paper roses for the feast of St. Therese made by Fritter.
Ladybug had her first teeth pulled (not the ideal way to get them out, that's for sure) and needed somewhere to put her tooth fairy loot.  So I made her a piggy bank.  I think it's pretty and so does she.
Sisters.  These two just make my heart melt.

After all the rains we've had down here, the fields were finally (finally!) dry enough for us to start our soccer season.  I'm sort of in shock at how big my big boy is. 

And Ladybug gets to play on her very first soccer team!

This little boy has a bit of mischief in his eyes, don't you think?

 {funny, real}
Our nightly routine pretty much looks like this.  These are a little bigger bowls than we normally use, but this particular night was a feast day.  Francis?  Therese?  I don't remember, but it was delicious.  Blue Bell ice cream is my all time favorite!
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Conversation with Ladybug {phfr}

{real, funny}

In which I mentioned how very tired I was this afternoon, after a busy day deep cleaning the house.  (Including windows!  And curtains!  And bathrooms and moving get the idea.)  Ladybug was busy stitching on my bed while I lay there contemplating our afternoon.  She leaned over a whispered, "I have a great idea!  How about we invite all of our friends over, and we'll play very quietly, and you can take a little nap."

Nice try, Ladybug.  Nice try.

{pretty, happy}

And how about an unrelated photo of Sunflower.  Instead of, "Cheeeese!"  She said, "Princess!"

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