Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Princess and Dragon Music

We listen to classical music fairly often in our family, the kids usually ask for "music with words", but today something different occurred.

In the car I turned on the classical station music and L (2.5) immediately requested as usual her favorite song (on a CD which is perpetually in the car). G (4) said, "NO! This is princess music! This is the dragon part!" As the music changed, she interpreted the parts to be sad or happy, or about various other characters such as step-mothers, wolves, princes, princesses, etc. When a new song came on she still explained what was happening in terms of the princess world.

I have a feeling that the girls are going to be more open to listening to the classical station than they have been, and I am a little bit impressed with G's ability to interpret the music into stories and emotions. Now, if they would only go to sleep for me while M is teaching tonight...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Poached Eggs on Toast, Why do You Quiver?

For my final post of the seven posts in seven days challenge (follow the link to find more bloggers who did this) I give you my Sunday brunch-lunch: eggs benedict with homemade English muffin bread and hollandaise sauce (using the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking).

The making of the sauce. I whisk too fast for the camera. I was aided by my second giant mug of coffee of the day which can be seen photo bombing this picture.

As a girl I always wanted fast whisking skills and admired my mother's ability to whisk.

Sunday brunch. :) M and I have mastered the art of poaching eggs for the sake of eggs benedict.


My Dream Garden

Our current garden (framed and fenced by previous house owner) of two pine trees (planted by previous owner), weeds, a basil plant, six tomato plants and a mean old creeping thistle with lots of shoots.

A few years ago I posted about my dream kitchen, and some of the things are realized (or not needed) in our current kitchen. (Hooray!) And not that we have a yard, I have been thinking about the type of food I would love to grow in it. 

Here are some of the things we have in mind for our future garden:

1. A garden along the length of the back fence.
We would probably go all the way to the gate, though not the depth of the original garden. We are thinking of taking out the shed for more garden space.
2. Lots of vegetables: tomatoes, lettuces, spinach, peppers, summer squash, cabbages, and more!

3. Berry bushes: I am thinking raspberry and blueberry. We spent way more than I would have liked on fresh local berries at the farmer's market yesterday, so why not grow our own.

4. Apple tree and/or peach tree: My parents had a peach tree in their first houses yard. I love peaches, and especially love home-canned peaches. If I have my own tree, then I would have lots and lot to can! M loves apples, so that is why apple would be good. :)

5. A grape vine: There seem to be a number of grape vines on peoples fences in the area. I would love this so that I could have grape leaves for making stuffed grape leaves without spending $7 on a jar of 50 leaves.

6. Learning the art of Japanese gardening with the two pine trees:
This photo is by Quinn Dombrowski posted to flickr.

We are thinking of keeping them small and gnarly. M once had a bonsai plant, but died. Maybe we would have better luck with a tree outdoors?

That is it so far. Any recommendations on books or websites that give really good advice/instructions on vegetable and fruit gardening? I am a total novice here, so I want something really informative.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Seven Quick Takes-July 26

1. We made it to end of July, and it is the weekend my sister and her family were supposed to visit. We delayed it because of the basement water damage, and we learned this week that the the damaged floor tiles that were under the carpet that was ripped up are asbestos tiles. Oh boy! This means we have to get those taken care of before repair work begins. Which means another week of work to get the whole job done. Thus, the whole summer is being taken up by a stupid leak in a pipe...

2. My sister and I spoke yesterday about their upcoming visit and decided no matter what state the basement is in we are going to make this basement happen. It just means that we will have six girls and four adults between three bedrooms. That is not so bad. We might even let the four girls who aged six, four, and two and a half share one room: a cousin sleepover! It will also give F a chance to practice sleeping in a pack n play before we visit St. Louis later in August.

3. M has been teaching a class this summer two nights a week from 5:30-9:30 pm. This means that I have to get the kids to bed alone. It has not been so bad except for that L (2.5) will not stay in her bed for about an hour after I tuck her in. Our bedtime routine consists of her coming out of her room about 30 seconds after each tuck in, and me trying not to lose it with her. When M is home he takes care of the older girls at bedtime, but he is also having the same problem. We have decided to give them about 15 minutes with a dim light and book at bedtime to give them time to settle down in their beds. It worked last night. I hope it continues to work and the time they get to read books is about as long as it takes to get F to fall asleep, so it might work great in terms of timing on the nights M is gone.

4. As I predicted last week, F (8 months) is on the move. The legless army crawl is her motion of choice. She needs her PT aunt and godmother to come and get her up on her knees. Remember my musings of last week about where she would end up once she could crawl? It is not at my feet as I cook. She is making her way to various rooms of the house. I caught her heading into my bedroom earlier.

5. I have gone back to making my own yogurt again, since I can make 8 cups of Greek yogurt for about $3 instead of spending .85 on 6 oz at Aldi. I have never made it plain before, usually flavoring it with vanilla, but I did this time. I am now addicted to a breakfast of Greek yogurt flavored with our homemade jam, and granola. The girls prefer their yogurt with Grape Nuts.

6. I really want to take the kids raspberry or blueberry picking this next week. I think they might be in season by now. I just need to find a good picking place. Anyone reading this in the Twin Cities who knows of a good place?

7. I have seen this vine growing in our yard for a few weeks now.
 M saw it today when he was out playing with the kids and thought it might be a pumpkin vine.  There was a smashed pumpkin in the yard after we closed on it (hidden under the snow when we first saw the house) and we can't remember where it ended up to decompose. A quick image search of pumpkin vines showed me several like our vine, but also other varieties. Anyone know anything about pumpkins? Is this really a pumpkin vine? We might be able to tell once it takes over the yard. It would be pretty cook if we inadvertently grew a pumpkin plant. :)

And now I am linking up with Jen who hosts the Friday Quick Takes.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

God's Providence and NFP

When I was a girl I remember going into my mom’s room with her and seeing a little notebook she had. She also kept a thermometer on her nightstand. She would show me her notebook and I would look at the numbers for each day and a line graph she made charting the ups and downs of the numbers. I really never knew what it was for, except that it was what a grown up woman did to monitor her body or something.

Flash forward to my third year of college. I was engaged, and my fiancé, Mark, and I decided that we should learn how to chart so that we could fulfill the Natural Family Planning class requirement in order to get married in my home diocese. We signed up for an introductory sessions for the Creighton Model Fertility Care System, and we learned there that there is much more to charting than the “family planning” hype surrounding NFP. With this system of charting we had about eight sessions with our own personal practitioner in the first year who personalized my charting to my unique signs but also fit them into the rules that the founder of the Creighton Model, Dr. Hilgers, laid out. It was really great to have someone to bring my questions to who knew my cycles history and kept me accountable for charting correctly. The thing about charting cycles is that it is important to be consistent and thorough, only then can a woman be truly following her cycles.

Because of the consistent charting of women, Dr. Hilgers and those in the Natural Procreative Technology field, have been able to find the cause of many abnormal conditions a woman may have, such as premenstral syndrom, infertility, repetitive miscarriage, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, postpartum depression, and more. Once the cause is pinpointed, then it can be treated. I never had had any of the health issues listed above, but we thought, why not use a method that can help me stay healthy, especially since we hoped that we would be blessed with many children.

After several months of charting, I discovered that there was a good chance that I would be fertile on my honeymoon, and Mark and I were excited about the possibility of having a baby right away in our marriage. We were engaged for 18 months and during that time Mark was applying for graduate school. We were blessed with an assistantship (which we decided was a living wage for a small family) and health insurance for Mark (as a student employee) and his dependants. Thankful for our blessings, we knew that when we were married we would be able to be totally open to the fruits or marriage. We contacted our practitioner to schedule a “pregnancy follow-up” about a month after our wedding. She used my careful charting to determine possible conception dates and project our due date, which is more accurate than a due date projected from the first day of a woman’s cycle. Our first daughter was born nine months and one day after our wedding.

Then we discovered the complication of charting and breastfeeding at the same time. Once again, we had our same practitioner to go over our charts (this time over the phone) and address any questions about charting to. I do not know how we would have understood anything about post-partum charting without her help. For example, you may have heard that breastfeeding suppresses ovulation, but you may not have heard that when the baby does any other sucking (i.e. bottle or pacifier), the mother does not produce as much of the hormone that suppresses ovulation and therefore her cycles are more likely to return sooner.

Two children later, I am still very pleased that we are charting and keeping a record of my health. If it were not for starting my post-partum charting 56 days after the birth of our third daughter, I do not think I would have gone for help with what became a diagnosed case of post-partum depression. The treatment was so simple; an injection of progesterone, which within hours changed my feeling of being mostly overwhelmed by three children under four to a feeling of being able to handle my daily life. If I had not been using a method of NFP where I had a practitioner to talk to and further a doctor who knew the system (which I am so blessed to have!), I may have just credited my feelings to lack of sleep, a long Minnesota winter, and what it is like to have three little kids. I began to enjoy being a mother, instead of feeling resentful and then guilty that I was unhappy with a life I had chosen and wanted.

Now I have heard some say that charting is not for everyone, that people use NFP in with a “contraceptive mentality,” and that the Church needs to define what it means for one to have a “iustae causae” (literal translation: just or fair cause) or a “seriis causis” (literal translation: serious or grave cause). The “just cause” phrase is found in Humanae Vitae 16 (in this translation it is “well-grounded reason”) and “grave cause” is found in HV 10. We know that the ends of marriage are the procreation of children and the unity of the husband and wife, and that the end of the marital act is procreation and union. We also know from Church Tradition summed up in the Catechism that we are to participate in Divine Providence (God’s ordering of all things):
To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it. God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors.(CCC 307)
The ability given by science for a husband and wife to understand the wife’s fertility and her cycles gives them the opportunity to exercise the God-given power to have dominion over nature. They can use their reason to understand her cycles and exercise their will knowing all the circumstances of the family, taking into account it the physical and psychological health of the man or the woman as well as other external circumstances. I am not going to say all couples have an obligation to chart, but God is calling them to be aware of their circumstances and make reasonable choices about when they have children. I do not think this takes away from the ideas espoused in Gaudium et Spes quoted by my fellow Truth and Charity writers. I am including the quotation but also going back further in the paragraph originally cited:
 Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love. Thus they will fulfill their task with human and Christian responsibility, and, with docile reverence toward God, will make decisions by common counsel and effort. Let them thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God. [...]
Thus, trusting in divine Providence and refining the spirit of sacrifice, married Christians glorify the Creator and strive toward fulfillment in Christ when with a generous human and Christian sense of responsibility they acquit themselves of the duty to procreate. Among the couples who fulfill their God-given task in this way, those merit special mention who with a gallant heart and with wise and common deliberation, undertake to bring up suitably even a relatively large family.(GS 50)
We need to remember that God gave us all different strengths and different circumstances in which to serve Him, and the bringing about of a new human is a very important matter. Every child is caused by God and in virtue of divine Providence; the parents provide the matter and God the soul. This is a serious thing, and couples should be reasonable when considering becoming co-creators with God.  This, I think, is why for every couple what is considered to be a grave or just cause to have recourse to infertile times is different. And this is why I think the Church is not going to define this more precisely. When a couple is truly open to God’s plan for them, they may feel they need to postpone being open to another child for a time, or they may feel that they will be able to accept another child at any time. This is between each couple and God.

For some parents, they may not be able to handle “a relatively large family” due to health or other just or grave reasons. They have discerned between them and God that another child would not be prudent at that time. We do not know that in their hearts they will happily accept another child, if God were to bless them with one, but knowing their current circumstances they feel that should not purposefully do so. Other parents have the ability to handle many children and home school them, even children born very close together. Those who do not do so should not feel like they are inadequate; they just have different abilities and means. Some families can afford to send their children to the very best of Catholic schools, and some cannot. Couples who have a lot of support in childcare from their families have different circumstances than those who live far away from their relatives.

We never can know fully another family’s circumstances or what they believe to be God’s will for them, but we can pray that all couples are open to God’s will for them and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to trust in God’s providence.
One last point of interest: In my research for this post I found the Magisterium’s first statement about a couple using infertile times to avoid conception of a child in the Enchiridion Symbolorum compiled by Heinrich Denzinger. Here is the English translation in the latest edition by Ignatius Press:
3148: Response of the Sacred Penitentiary, June 16, 1880:
Question: Is it permitted to have marital union only on those days when conception is more difficult?
Response: Spouses who use this above-mentioned method need not be troubled, and the confessor can, though with caution, suggest the idea in question to those spouses whom he has sought in vain to lead by some other means away from the detestable crime of onanism.
Originally posted on Truth and Charity.

P.S. You also could check out if you have not yet My Tribute to my NFP practioner (who is not an iPod App).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Some Pictures of the New House!

I have heard that the stats of page views on Blogger are maybe not entirely accurate, but my question is why do my Quick Takes which I throw together get more page views than the ones I put more thought into? Such as my post on fighting thistles and the post on fairy tales which are my first two for the week of posting everyday... It seems that you my readers prefers to hear about the house and kids more than my thoughts on life. I just got all the kids finally quiet during afternoon nap/quiet time and I noticed that my house cleaning this morning actually got the house looking clean. So, I snapped a few shots of the living room/dining room area for you curious family/friends/readers. :)

This is our living room. Its windows are full West which makes it a most inconvenient sitting room for the evening, in summer, that is until the sun drops below the trees across the street.
The family altar and our new bookshelves. I have been waiting for five years to upgrade from our $25 ones we have to replace every move because they fall to pieces when carried sideways. True story. The blessed salt is stowed in the altar if you need some.
M's new house splurge: Ikea wing-backed chairs. The best part is that they came assembled except for the legs. He does not care that he windows are full West. He sits in his chair. :) The pillow under the table is hiding an ant trap from the baby. She knows that it lives there, but it hinders her somewhat.
Dining room on the other side of the front room. Same furniture we had before. The table is a little wide for the space, but it is the one we have!
Both of these rooms will be curtained eventually. We just have a few other things we are spending our money on for the house these days, such as insurance claims for a water damaged basement and A/C repairs...

 That's all for now! See you tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Queen in This World: Fairy Tales

Rumpelstiltskin in the Blue Fairy Book.

Once upon a time I wrote a post about nursery rhymes as one of the best forms of first literature for children. Another category of good literature for children is fairy tales. There is something about the strange twists and turns of the world of fairies, princesses, and giants that draws in a child and her imagination. They are drawn up into the story and then they act them out. Children know that the fairy tales are not actually part of real life, but they love to think about them and imagine with them. Further, like nursery rhymes they are apart of the English speaking tradition. The stories also often contain great moral value, teaching children a lesson about how to be virtuous, manners, or simply what makes a person good or bad. Fairy tales do this better then a modern tale, since they tend to not water down consequences, but exaggerate them to make the point more clear. Children love this.

Some of our favorite collections are: The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (and his other colors), Hans Christian Anderson (some of these are really wacky), various versions of the Grimm Brothers tales, The Wonder Clock by Howard Pyle, and the Children's Book of Virtue. I also look for picture fairy tales at the library, including the classic tales such as, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and so on. I will read my kids any version that looks good, except for the over-commercialized Disney princess tales. They know who the princesses are by site, but I do not want that to be there only encounter with princess fairy tales.

And now G (4) is aware that princesses and queens are not just in fairy tales. Tonight as we were getting the girls ready for bed, my husband and I were discussing the new baby prince over in Great Britain causing all the hype in the media. We also said some about the queen.

G looked up at us with bright eyes and asked excitedly, "There is a queen in this world!?!"

Yes, there is sweet child, and there is now way you will ever really get to be royalty in our so-called democratic republic we have here on this side of the lake, but now you know that queens have and do really exist...

Monday, July 22, 2013

On Thistles and the Fall

I am joining in on the "epic blogging challenge" of "7 posts in 7 days", motivated by Jen of the 7 quick takes. I plan to have a post everyday this week Monday-Sunday.


I finally have a yard this summer and now finally have a garden. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have been fighting off a thistle that is in my tomato and basil vegetable garden. Every time I go out to the garden there is a new shoot of this creeping thistle, and every time I dig it up I can't help but think of sin. And how sin is something we have to dig up and seek the root of to be rid of it.

A thistle coming up (again) in the shade of my tomato plant.

If I break the thistle off and not get the whole root it will grow back again and again. The thing about this thistle in my garden is that no one did any gardening last year and this thistle was allowed to run wild. It is a creeping thistle which means that it creeps underground with the same root system. I don't think there is any way for me to pull up all the roots of this thistle; I will just have to keep on digging up the sprouts as they come up and they have spread into at least a ten foot diameter circle of area. Eventually I will wear down the plant. My other option is an herbicide, but here is the thing, it is a garden where I hope to grow food for myself and my family, so digging it is.

Creeping thistle on the lawn of the ecclesial community behind our home.
I will have to go around and did them up!
I never understood what a thistle was like until I met one in person, and a few weeks ago I heard this passage at Mass from Matthew 7:15-16:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?"
Knowing what a thistle was like made this passage make so much more sense. I thistle just won't go away and it is prickly and will choke out other plants. It takes a lot of water to grow, so it will take water from the plants around it. In no way does it bear good fruit except the seeds of more thistles. It makes a great example of sin in our lives. Then reading in Genesis, I discovered that thistles are described as one of the consequences of the Fall:
"And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, `You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:17-19)
It is only just that thistles grow in my garden; laboring with weeds is only part of growing my own food. So, I will fight this thistle, and use it as an opportunity to grow in virtue, offer up the annoyance of weeding the same weed over and over, and hopefully eat some yummy tomatoes and basil this summer.

P.S. According to Wikipedia (see "Uses") the roots and the leaves of thistles are edible, the taproot being the most nutritious. However, since it represents sin, it has the uncomfortable and socially awkward side affect of flatulence.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seven Quick Takes-July 19

1. Jen who hosts the Seven Quick Takes link up is going to post everyday next week and is also going to make a link up for those committed to joining her. Maybe I will give it a try. Though I am scheduled for a Truth and Charity post for next Thursday as well. Let's see if I can pull it off.

2. Another part of the ongoing house saga includes another pipe leaking. This time we were home and got the water off quickly. M and I used our water mitigation skills and 8 bath towels to sop up the water and the dehumidifier is taking care of the rest. The leak appears to be a place where the previous owner drilled a hole in the pipe to connect to the ice machine in the refridgerator that he patched and moved the hole to the first pipe that leaked. M was able to patch this leak on his own with a handy pipe patching kit. 

3. Halfway through the heatwave this week our A/C capacitor and the fan motor died together. We are working on repairs and thankful that tomorrows high is 75°F. Hopefully we can get the house temperature to drop below 80°F.

4. G (4) and L (2.5) and I were talking about people getting old and dying (yes, we talk a lot about death for some reason). G wondered, "If everyone gets old and dies then there won't be anymore people!" I explained to her about how people get married and have kids before they die so that we don't run out of people. Then we moved on to talking about getting married. L then interjected, "We I get married we are going to find a moon!" (We drove through the town where M and I honeymooned while on vacation, and the girls don't quiet get the idea that it is a vacation after a wedding and not a trip to the moon.)

5. M brought home Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen from the "Free Book Box" in the philosophy department. I have been wanting to read this book since it was published three years ago, and never found it at the library. Now I can read it! Hooray! Maybe I will review it here.

6. F (8 months) is getting ready to crawl, but still is mostly satisfied staying where ever she has been plopped as longer as she has something to play with. I am really curious to see where she chooses to go once she has the choice. I am thinking I may be cooking a lot more dinners with a baby underfoot rather than in the other room...

7.  M and I are both still rereading Lord of the Rings. We are both in The Return of the King, and to make reading it less complicated I borrowed a copy of it from the library. I think we are getting a little bit geeky or nerdy or whatever here, but hey, we got to read!

That's all folks! Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Missing My Brother

I have a confession to make: ever since I went to college 10 hours away from home, I have regretted leaving my little brother to pursue my studies. I think that changing my relationships with people to pursue new places and opportunities has always been a source of regret in my life, but the person that I feel it affected the most was my little brother.

He was starting high school the Fall I started college, and our age gap of 3.5 years may seem like a lot, it was so natural for us to have a close friendship. When we were little, we always played together. Being the third and fourth (and two youngest) kids in our family put us together a lot. We spent hours in the summer days building legos, playing cars, trains, and playing with the younger neighborhood kids outside. When our sisters had soccer games in the Autumn, we would explore whatever park we were at. My older sisters had their own friends and their own sleepovers. I was always booted from the room we shared to spend the sleepovers in my brother's room. One sleepover we put the old bunk-bed back together and I spent several months sleeping on the top bunk and chatting with my brother until we fell asleep at night. On family road trips we always shared the middle bench seat and often a set of headphones to listen to all of our favorite songs. We had all the same favorite TV shows, so that precious 30 minutes of television we were allowed was often spent together. And we also both are baseball fans; I was always thrilled to watch his games (since my baseball skills were limited) and we would catch as many pro games on TV and in person as we could.

Thinking back I wonder if things started changing when I started middle school. I think he must have realized that I was going to leave him someday, when he saw me making phone calls to boys. He ran around the neighborhood shouting, "Susanna likes _______!" Which is a crushing sort of thing to do to a middle school girl. But then we remained close even when I was in high school attending various youth groups; I was even really excited for the time when he would be old enough to also be in my youth groups. I never formally dated anyone in high school and I think that made him happy. Both of our other sisters had dated some. He asked me to be his Confirmation sponsor my Junior year of high school (Confirmations are in middle school in the Archdiocese of St. Louis), and I accepted. I was honored, and knew that I had an even greater responsibility to him than that of his sister.

Then I chose to go to college 10 hours away. All summer before I left, he told me that he just knew that I was going to meet a man at college and move away forever. I did. I came home from college that first summer dating M. My brother was pretty annoyed at me; he told me that I was too young to be dating and discerning marriage with someone. Then M and I broke up and my brother told me that it served me right. Perhaps I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to notice that my brother had missed me and maybe wanted to spend time with me when I was not mourning and moping about my heart. I am sorry I was such a jerk that summer. Though we did have a phone conversation while I was in Austria that Fall semester where he apologized to me for being mad at me for dating; you see he had a crush and ended up dating her.

By the time I got back from studying abroad, I was dating M again. Then I spent half of my break with M visiting our house or me visiting his in Michigan. Then I stayed all summer in Steubenville, and then again the next summer. The longest I spent at home between my first summer of college break and my wedding was the four weeks before my wedding, and by then he already knew that he had lost me.

He claims that he does not do well keeping in touch especially through the phone, and honestly our best conversations since I was married have been during in person visits. And I cherish any contact he has with me, be it a text, a rare phone call, or the in person visits. I hoped that one day we might end up back in St. Louis and I would see more of my family, but that has not happened. For now, I must be content being hundreds of miles away.

You see the thing about my brother is that he is so lovable; he is funny, intelligent, and caring. He knows how to treat a lady (he better with three older sisters!). He has his strong Catholic faith. He works through his weaknesses. He does not need me to be there in person to be who God created him to be, but he does need me as a loving sister who prays for him daily. And that I do, and maybe one day I will be able to stop regretting leaving our family home when he was just fourteen. Because if we both get to Heaven, then we can be together forever.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Friday July, 12

1. Is it Friday again already? This summer is just flying along. I was really hoping to get into some sort of schedule of "normal" life once we were back from vacation, but the days just keep on flying by and the week goes by and life it still very unscheduled (except for the kids naps and bedtimes). Oh well, that is the way of summer I suppose and I am doing most things I want to do each day, just in an unstructured sort of way.

2. Speaking of Summer, I am never going to complain about how hot it is outside. I am going to savor how hot it is soak it up and enjoy the lack of snow and negative temperatures. Then I am going inside and going to enjoy our nice cool air conditioned house, which we just had a repairman out to fix some leaks in the A/C unit and give us some nice new refrigerant. I guess the house inspector was serious when he told us that he ha no idea what condition the A/C was in since we had the house inspected in February. We also took that risk with the roof. Fortunately, for us the roof was recently redone... I think roofs (I really want to say "rooves" here) cost more than an A/C tune-up.

3. And now that we are on the topic of the house; the basement is now dry. We had a contractor come out and look at he damage and now he has to write up his report and then send it to the insurance company and when they give the go-ahead we can get some work started on making our basement finished again. Yay!

4. We had our house blessed this week. Our pastor came over for lunch and then he exorcised salt and blessed water to make it Holy Water (using the EF blessings). He then mixed them together and sprinkled the holy water and salt about the house and prayed the old rite (Extraordinary Form) house blessing. I love being Catholic and having our house blessed, I wish I could find the prayers online somewhere to share. If you have not had a house blessing, I highly recommend it, especially in the old rite with all the exorcism prayers.

5. I had a milk stout for the first time yesterday. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:
"Milk stout (also called sweet stout or cream stout) is a stout containing lactose, a sugar derived from milk. Because lactose is unfermentable by beer yeast, it adds sweetness, body, and calories to the finished beer. Milk stout was claimed to be nutritious, and was given to nursing mothers,[17] along with other stouts, such as Guinness.[18] The classic surviving example of milk stout is Mackeson's,[19] for which the original brewers claimed that "each pint contains the energising carbohydrates of 10 ounces of pure dairy milk". In the period just after the Second World War when rationing was in place, the British government required brewers to remove the word "milk" from labels and adverts, and any imagery associated with milk.[20]"
I think it did have a milk texture to it, if that make any sense. But you know it was pretty good, and I am a fan of stouts. For mothers who like beer, this is a traditional first post-partum drink, you know? Why not? Milk makes milk, right? (I know, I know, but it is fun to joke about it.) Though I have heard from lactation consultants that beer supposedly helps with lactation.

6. We had T and his family over for dinner last night, which is why I started my quick takes on Friday and am finishing them Saturday morning. They are the family we rented from last year and now they are back! I think it is appropriate that our first dinner party in the new house is with them We all had a very good time and their six year old categorized us among the "cool families"; I think we have made it. It is only downhilll from here.

7. Have you read my latest post on Truth and Charity, The Necessity of Christian Friendships in the Real World? You should. :)

For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen's Conversion Diary.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Seven Quick Takes-Friday, July 5

1. I bet you are all just dying to know how much jam I made:
8 quarts, or if you want to talk about it in a different way you can say 8 pints and 8 half pints. Or you could say 2 gallons. That is a lot of jam. It only used 7.5 lbs of my 20 pounds of strawberries. We have been eating them a lot. :) The plan for the rest of the berries is freezing and eating. I am going to freeze enough crushed berries to make a triple berry jam when raspberries and blackberries are in. Yum!
Half berries, half sugar, pectin, an lemon juice makes super red jam!

2. I have a small vegetable garden for the first time this year, and by small I mean six tomato plants leftover from a friend's gardening and a wicked creeping thistle plant that I have to dig up constantly or it will surround my tomato plants and kill them. I am hoping for delicious tomatoes and a dead thistle by the end of the summer. I would really love to can some tomatoes this year, but it might be more cost effective to continue to buy the huge can of crushed tomatoes whenever I need sauce until I can grow a larger garden. I am going to research gardening at some point in my life, like maybe when the basement stops flooding.

3. The basement, yeah, I guess water mitigation teams and contractors don't really like to do things in a timely manner. We are waiting, waiting, waiting for them to do something besides rip things out and stick a monster dehumidifier in the basement which probably will double our electricity bill for the month. My only hopes for the project to be finished are that it is done for my sister and her family to visit either the last weekend of July or the second weekend of August. Do you think insurance will cover a super nice guest suite?

4. I am just going to say that the nearly 8 month old baby of mine just ate roasted red pepper slices and roasted broccoli for dinner. She could not get enough of the red peppers. M is doing the dishes and she is still eating dinner. This was the baby who would not let me eat vegetables all pregnancy without gagging.

5. We did our first book on tape audiobook road trip for G this last trip. I wanted to do a Laura Ingalls Wilder book and the first one that came into the library was Farmer Boy. She absolutely loved listening to it and I am fairly certain she followed the story, except for the words she did not understand. The best part for parents about the book is how well behaved the Wilder children were; I have been using Almanzo as an example of good behavior to G ever since we started the book. And another positive thing about the book is that L actually napped in the car (which she never does), whenever we turned on the book she took a nap!

6. One of the fun things about buying a house in April is the surprise of the first Spring and Summer flowers. These are the latest ones:
I love lilies. There are at least 20 more buds of these.

These are on three flowering bushes in front. 
7. This was the theme song for M all week, which he shared with me about halfway through the week. We listened to it for the first time (since a few years ago when we listened to Switchfoot every roadtrip) while we were on the road. We related to the line , "Everything is broken."

For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What 20 lbs of Strawberries looks like...

I took G and L strawberry picking today. These are the best strawberries I have had in a long time. Fresh out of the field in rural Minnesota. We drove out 30 minutes to find these. I did the bulk of the picking, but the girls limited themselves (by listening to me for once) to about half a pound in the field. I have some jam canning to do... I guess this is one way to cope with a soggy basement. Now I have to brave it to get the canner out and see if I have any pectin.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Tale of Two Lakes

Our view of Lake Michigan for a week.
The first post after two weeks vacation is supposed to be about how wonderful and relaxing vacation was and how we are refreshed and ready for normal life. That is was we talked about the whole way home on Saturday; then we got home and M went to use the downstairs bathroom to discover a small lake in the basement (well it was more like a wetland, but I have to call it a lake since we were staying on Lake Michigan). Our plumber was available to come out and fix the clean water leak from a junction in a pipe and I ran out to rent a rug cleaning machine that also works as an extractor. We got several gallons of water out of the rug late into the night (for parents of three four and under, 11:30pm is late).

Sunday we called the insurance since we saw white and green fuzzy things growing on some of the dry wall. Those are the sorts of things we figure are not safe for us to handle on our own. By Sunday night half of our basement had been or was going to be unfinished and hauled out. Now we are waiting for the water to dry and someone to come and get the repairs going. (I was specifically asked by my husband to not post photos of the basement, so use your imagination.) Not the post-vacation week I had hoped for.

But I am okay with not using the basement as long as we have the backyard. We can go to parks, go strawberry picking, and try out the local pool. I will share some highlights and thoughts about vacation when I have the time to remember the relaxing week... thanks for reading!
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