Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Blessings of praying as a family...

Back in June of this summer I began to ask Mary to pray for me that I would find an inspiring way to help us pray as a family regularly. Several years ago - something like 14, we had begun the practice of praying the Rosary nightly. It was not long before we felt the benefits in our family life. More peace, more order as well as a sense of well being simply because we were praying as a family, almost every night of the week.

Then about 18 months after we had begun this wonderful routine, we had our sixth baby, moved, and my husband's hours changed at work adding more hours to a day we had just lengthened with a 90 minute commute. In short, evening prayer fell apart as I coped with being a mother who felt as though she were single so rare was the time my husband now had to spend with us. And even then, his hours were spent trying to finish off the basement so that we could enjoy the views of the lake, as a family, while basking in front of the ancient wood stove that smoked down there diligently trying to heat the three stories above it. The 5 ft high windows, on either side, framed the lake and maple trees through their wide panes. The following summers, his spare hours were spent building and repairing outbuildings for the animals on our growing 5 acre hobby farm.

Meanwhile our prayer life remained in neutral and our wheels, as a family, began to spin. Then my husband discovered Opus Dei and I truly could feel the blessings of his time spent in prayer and learning with this very holy society. After many months of his weekly hours of recollection I found that I would notice a lessening of graces that seemed to flow from God through Hugo to me on the occasions he could not attend Opus Dei. I wonder sometimes what kind of graces our family could have obtained had I been less stubborn about the necessity of Hugo being present so we could pray the rosary as a family.

Months turned into years and we were transferred to the US. We sold our animals, and put our little house on the lake up for sale. Nortel paid for our belongings to be packed up and we were moved lock, stock and barrel to NC in January of 1997. A new beginning like that would have been an ideal time for us to start new habits such as praying daily again as a family. Instead, we discovered that once again hours at work were such that my husband could not even continue with Opus Dei, nor daily Mass. Or at least we convinced ourselves of this. We began a long journey into the dessert, but just were not aware yet that that was where we were. We did make an attempt to sponsor a weekly Rosary on Sundays at our house with some of the members of our new Parish. Yet, the will required to make prayer a part of our daily routine still eluded me. The years marched on solidly, children grew and more lovely babies joined our family, some in quick succession.

Our oldest children, now teens, joined a local youth group and while some of them began to pray the rosary daily, as a family, we remained in the dessert unaware of how badly we were thirsting for the graces that come from daily prayer.

God decided to jolt us awake from our slumber in June of 2002. My husband lost his job and I was pregnant with our eleventh child. Thus began our journey with Job, but without his saintly patience. We were more of the attitude of his neighbours and wife. What had we done to offend God? What terrible sin had we committed?

Terrible health problems ensued, attacking especially my husband. Despite great pain, poor health and lack of medical care, my husband pushed on working un-godly hours, building a business in hopes of keeping a roof over our heads and food on our plates, never mind diapers on the bottoms of our babes! Did I yet clue in to the need to start praying as a family? No - I succumbed to bouts of depression and fear. Marilla, of the Anne of Green Gables movie, puts it so well when Anne asks her "Have you never been in the depths of despair?" and she replies” No - to despair is to turn one’s back on God." Well - if that is so, than I gave my back to God as completely as one can, and indeed fell into the depths of despair. I have never felt more alone in my life, and could not wish that misery on my worst enemy.

Then to add to our sadness our eldest daughter went though an incredible crisis of faith and ultimately left the Church. Then this spring, when it was time to baptize our newest baby one of the siblings we asked to be a God parent told us that they did not think they could be a God parent as they too were having doubts about our faith. I was so crushed. Which brings me back to this June. I sat there on my bed in tears asking God, and Mary, what had we done wrong? We had taught both these children their faith so well, we had attended church faithfully… Both children had been so in love with their faith that they had both considered the possibility of a religious vocation. I was filled with fear - what of the other children? Would they too suffer in this way and stray from their faith - possibly never to return?

The answer came to me in one simple word.


I had failed my children by not praying for them daily. And I was continuing to fail them - daily. By not praying. I needed to pray for their faith, for their future vocations and for those who would be called to married life - I needed to pray for their future spouses. If only I had done this the past 12 years, perhaps some of this pain and suffering incurred by my beloved children could have been avoided.

Then and there, I determined not to fail them any more. So I began to pray for inspiration. I knew I was weak and would not pray daily alone. I needed to find a way to encourage all of us to pray, preferably the Rosary. I like praying the Rosary with the family as it is precise, easy to follow and something even the youngest child, who can lisp, can follow. Also - it is Mary's vocation to bring us to Christ and this is done so beautifully through the mediations of the Rosary.

Still – how to do this in a way that would inspire us and keep us on task. I suddenly thought of how we had first begun the habit of the daily family rosary when Gabriela was a baby, 14 years ago. I had drawn a huge rosary on some poster board and bought some flower stickers. For every night that we prayed, we applied on sticker on a bead. The reward for covering all the beads with flowers, or in other words, praying the Rosary as a family for 59 nights, was a trip to Madonna House which was nestled up in mountains of Ontario, in a little community called Combermere.

Each child also had his or her own rosary to fill during the same time that we filled the family rosary poster. If they felt they had prayed well, they were permitted a sticker for their rosary. Once their own rosary was complete they would be allowed to purchase a new rosary on our family trip to Madonna house. Eight to ten weeks later, we set off for Combermere – each of the four oldest chattering happily about what kind of Rosary they wanted, and of course, often punctuating this with “Are we almost there YET?”

Well – back in Canada we were only about three hours from Madonna House, but here in NC we were looking at a two day drive, one way. A lovely thought – but incredibly unrealistic. I could think of no other place similar to Madonna House that was close enough to spend only a day visiting. Then I thought of… the Zoo. Okay – it was not exactly a religious pilgrimage, but it would inspire the children and I knew we needed every ounce of inspiration we could get. I certainly needed it.

Not wanting to wait until I had time, and a car available, to buy poster board; I immediately tore a huge piece of white paper off a large roll that we have. I drew a large Rosary on it and on my first trip for groceries bought flower stickers. I was ready in a day or two, and after discussing it with my husband announced to the children our plans. I have posted a picture of our rosary poster so that you can see how we have been progressing.

Ideally we would be finished now, but we have missed the odd night and have actually forgotten several times to add our flowers to the beads on nights we have prayed. In less than two weeks we will have earned our trip to the Zoo. Mary has already provided the money for the gas – it arrived in a paper envelope the same week we started praying daily.

Best yet – I can actually feel the graces flowing once more. Life is still difficult and money often short. But the graces to bear these difficulties are there in greater abundance than ever before. And I feel so much better knowing Mary is praying with me daily for all of my children, their vocations and for their future spouses. Read more!

Our Rosary Poster

Read more!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This sister's love knows no bounds...

Thankfully Emma has responded to the antibiotic injections she received yesterday, and today the doctor was able to call in oral antibiotics, Nice pink gooey cherry flavoured liquid to be dispensed one and a half teaspoons at a time. Our pharmacist suggested following it up with a chaser - something chocolate maybe...

I strolled through the door laden with bags of groceries, with various chocolate treats hidden between the bananas and jugs of cranberry juice. Nonchalantly I announced to the room in general, I have Emma's yummy medicine. As I feared Emma crumpled to the floor, her happy dance at seeing me halting abruptly. A wail of dismay rose, "Nooooooooo! I don want yummy medatin. Noooooo!"

The others, sensing sheer disaster if we can not get her to take her pink goop - immediately all grouped around me. They began to clamour, one and all, “Oh Mummy! Can I have some of Emma’s medicine? Plleeeease?” They took turns chiming things like, “Oh it looks so yummy – Emma can I try it?” and “Oh look – it has YOUR name on it, Emma Louise!”

Emma was having none of it.

With screams of anger and fear she plugged her hands over her mouth. After her traumatic visit to the Doctors yesterday, complete with two very painful medical procedures as well as two injections, through which at times she cried to me, “Mummy, make them top! Make them top!” I understood perfectly. Still, just as I had to ignore her pitiful pleas yesterday, I had to ignore her cries now and hold her firmly in my arms and administer this foul medicine. Her Daddy heard her and came to help – his gentle and calm voice assuring her we needed to give her this stuff. The children all applauded her braveness as she swallowed mouthful after mouthful of what felt like a never ending dose.

She ignored this applause with an injured countenance, but cheered a little at the pretty smiley face stickers I had bought as a reward. Proudly bearing her badge of honour, she walked away to the living room sucking on her lolli pop thoughtfully. A moment later she returned to the kitchen where I was organizing the groceries, and cleaning of the fridge. With great regality and dignity she drew in a deep breath and announced:
“Tanny Paul tan have my medatin.”

Ah – the love of this sister knows no bounds! Read more!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Prayers please...

Please keep little Emma in your prayers. She is quite ill with a kidney infection. Thank you Jesus for antibiotics! Today she suffered greatly, and tomorrow may need more injections. Poor baby.

mum2twelve Read more!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

26th Sunday in ordinary time

Our Lord does not come down from Heaven every day to lie in a golden ciborium. He comes to find another heaven which is infinitely dearer to Him - the heaven of our souls, created in His Image, the living temples of the Adorable Trinity. St. Therese of Lisieux

Saint for the day: St Sergius (pope) Read more!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Anna does not dissapoint!

Scroll down to the Mice, mice, mice everywhere post, and you will find the new cartoon to go with it. Thank you all for your patience! :-) Anna has been very busy helping us pack for the business while also keeping up with her school work, so I always appreciate it when she takes the time to draw something for my blog. Thanks Anna! Read more!

Ode to Shelia

Shelia has left, moved, died or been eaten. Whatever has happened - she is gone! The children have been speculating the past few days what happened to Shelia, Noah's "pet" spider. He and Teddy had been feeding her grasshoppers the past week, fattening her up it seems. Perhaps Shelia had an image problem and decided to move where the pickings were a little "more slim". At least the children got some awesome photos of her before she departed. A picture they say is worth a thousand words so here is our Ode to Shelia.

(Post script, in orginal posting, I got Shelia's name wrong but soon corrected!) Read more!
To give you some perspective, this is Shelia photographed with Noah, 10, as the backdrop! However, as Noah is further back, the spider looks slightly larger than she was. She was about the size of the large blue mark on Noah's old tee shirt.
Read more!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Comic update...

We have a mound of suitcases, diaper bags, wet laundry, dirty clothes, knap sacks and coolers to unpack, wash and put away. At some point during this task, Anna will get her comic drawn and I will post it. See you then!
Blessings Read more!

Highly trained pets...

We stayed at an amazing hotel on this business trip. It was set up as a complex with several units spread over a number of acres. I am sure I jogged off all the calories consumed during breakfast just by walking back to our room. None the less, it was a beautiful walk through palm grass bushes and under trees that we called "the jungle" that emerged into a small grassy plain.

It was at this point that we heard dogs barking, completly startling the children with me on this trek back from breakie. (I was NOT going to haul eight children to breakfast, on foot, up oodles of stairs so we did it in shifts - I told you I jogged all those calories off.)
I explained that this great hotel even allowed pets!
"Woah!", exclaimed Noah. He joked; "Hey, I could have brought Marzie (his chubby guinea pig) and let him run around here through the palm grass..."
I listened to him rattle on describing all the things Marzie would do, and finally said to him: "But if you let Marzie loose here - you would never see him again, he would run away!"
"Oh, I could only do this if he were a highly trained pet!"
To which Anna whispered to me as she once more grabbed Emma, almost three, and pulled her back onto the path; "I wish Emma was a highly trained pet!" I laughed as I sped up to catch up with this wild "pet" in hopes of getting her through the parking lot in one piece. "Yes! That would be great, wouldn't it?" I called back to Anna. Read more!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mice, mice, mice everywhere!

We have been experiencing a mouse problem of epidemic proportions! So, sadly we have had to resort to... POISON!

Blegh! But - it's the mice - or us! We have been gradually losing turf to them. First it was the drawers so silverware was moved to the counter top, then under the sink we noticed mousie doo. Now we have to cover our plates in the cupboards. It's getting so we are almost afraid to eat without washing everything a second time!

Well, today I decided to check on the box of poison hidden in the back of the now empty silverware drawer. It was mid-day and because I was scheduled to go get groceries I had my contacts in so I could see to drive the ten blocks there. Good thing too. Because as I opened the drawer I disturbed a little grey demon - uh mouse, I mean. I don't know who was more startled, him or me. He certainly jumped the highest, which is what provoked my little scream of surprise. "A MOUSE!"
Emma, almost 3, and Tanny Paul, 5, came running. "Let me tee! let me tee!!!"
Said demon, err mouse, jumped again and I jumped too with another squeak! This startled my audience. If this creature could make mummy jump like that - then this was a monster indeed. Their eyes round, and hair almost on end they both proclaimed; "Ewww! I hate mite! Ewwww!! I cared of mite"

Nathaniel though, all boy, did ask to "Hee de mout" again. I told him; "Oh no, the mouse is gone. He went home!" I did not want him digging around in the drawers looking for it. I was worried he might get bitten, or worse, find the little box of nasty green poison. Teddy, almost nine, being "helpful" opened the bottom cupboard doors. "Oh! He is hiding behind the garbage bags - right there!"

"No, no he's NOT!" I firmly admonished him. "Get - scoot! All of you! The mouse is GONE!!"

Ten minutes later, having almost forgotten the mouse affair, I was settled at my desk trying to finish my grocery list, so I could eventually take those contacts out of my burning, tear streaming eyes. Emma suddenly appeared with a spray bottle of Tub and Tile bathroom cleanser in her little paw!

"Ewwww! I hate Mite! Let me tee the mite! I will kill with dis!" And she brandished her lethal bottle of all natural non-toxic cleanser!

Oh - I wish it was that easy! Just stalk through the house with a spray bottle in each hand calling the little mousies to me. Squirt! squirt! No more mice! Yes, that would be very nice indeed - wouldn't it?

PS - this coming Tuesday when we return from a business trip look for one of Anna's comics to be illustrating this story! She worked on one Saturday, but was unhappy with the proportions with one of his characters.

Saint Christopher pray for safety for us on the road! Read more!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

As my frequent readers know - I have been ill on and off the past month with a variety of viruses and infections. Now I find myself struggling, one more time, with a nasty eye infection. It is rather painful and is making it almost impossible to use my computer as the glare of the screen of my monitor blinds me, causing tears to stream down my face. I have even tried to use sunglasses to no avail.

My husband's laptop is a little easier on my eyes so I will try to use it to post - but it is possible that I will 'dissappear' for a few days, as I wait for my eyes to heal. Please feel free to include me in your prayers!!

Blessings to all!
mum2twelve Read more!

Out of the mouths of babes...

Early in the afternoon, Nathaniel was coming down the stairs when suddenly those eagle sharp eyes of his spied something. Something treasured and that, unbenownst to me, had been missing. Or, at least as far as he was concerned it had been missing. I, hpwever, had placed this little something there on the video case, unaware that it's owner was missing it.

He had given an excited gasp that caught my attention. He stopped and leaned towards the banister and stuck his slim arm though the railings. He grasped a small Winnie the Pooh photo album which contains the only photos we have of him as a baby. "My Album!" he whispered to no one in particular, and then to my surprise he continued with a very sincere; "Thank you God!"

Gabriela was sitting opposite of me and looked at me in surprise. "Did he say Thank you God!" she asked. I nodded. Yes he had, my little five year old who often proclaims come family rosary time; "Oh, I not paying."and then wanders off to a quiet corner of the living room to either play with one of our kid friendly rosaries, or perhaps to line up a row of his little cars.

Because he suffered a severe hearing loss for a period of two years, and as such existed in a world of his own for some time, unable to communicate and at times highly frustrated by this, we are sometimes reluctant to push him. I imagine that at times we are correct in this decision, and other times - too soft. Prayer time has been difficult for me as an area to push with him in particular. I want to gently lead my children to God, not shove religion down their throats. So for the most part what we have asked of Nathaniel is to be quiet and respectful during the Rosaries, but I oftened wondered what was going on in his mind while we prayed.

Clearly something has been getting through and now I think I am succeeding in gently leading him. Such a small statement, but one that gave me a very important insight of my little boy who is not "paying".

Thank you God! Read more!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Elsa... not so sure what to think about rolling over. In fact, she seems to be somewhat insulted by the whole thing. There she is just lying there minding her own business and while innocently playing with her toes and stretching this way and that; she suddenly finds herself face down. She lies there for abit, somewhat startled by this sudden change in events and then struggles to pull her arms from wherever they have landed which is usually under her stomach. but occaisionally is under her face and neck. Then comes the insult to injury, someone finds her in this unprotected position and just has to blow bubbles and kisses into those delicious folds in her neck. What's a poor girl to do, eh? Well, she has no choice but to just lie there and take it, of course.
Well - Elsa soon, all too soon, you will find a great deal of usefulness this suddenly aquired new skill! You will discover you can roll AWAY and make us chase you before we can cover your beautiful neck with our kisses! Roll Elsa, roll! Read more!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

AND it's off to the movies we go!

Well - yesterday I had a HUGE list of things to do ready for myself, but first I needed to lie down with Elsa after breakfast I was, err - I mean she was tired. She nursed quietly for a bit and we both dozed off. I woke with a jolt and hurried downstairs to grab my clothes out of the dryer.

Once dressed, I called the gang together and we said our Rosary. By now it was about 11 am. Well - I thought I still have a little over half a day with which to tackle my ‘to do’ list. Lesson plans times five children so we can get back to school next week. List five items for sale for my husband; help with packing as we are behind since so many of us have been ill. Finish two loads of laundry, prepare supper. Get everyone to do the three o'clock chores, preferably at three for a change. Oh, there were other inspirational thoughts on my list of to do's but at 12, almost exactly twelve, Nathaniel, my five year old handsome red head (not toot, only girls and babies are toot!) remembered that I had promised that I would take him to the movies.

I had been looking at his hair that was badly in need of a trimming so I asked; "Tanny - would you like me to cut your hair today? (Not, btw, on my to do list!) And his little face just lit up as he said; "Oh yeah - so we tan go to the mooies? You haid we would go to the mooies today. "

He had me over a barrel with those big owl round blue eyes that were shining with expectation as well as the confidence that I would keep my word. I had promised. I had promised I would take him LAST Saturday, but I saw no benefit in pointing that out since I had clearly forgotten that promise. My husband's eyes grinned at me over his laptop balanced on his knees. "I have a ton to do with this business plan.", he reminded me. This was also true. I looked at Nathaniel and his happy grin. "Well," I said, "we need to have a bath before we can cut your hair."

He skipped up the stairs ahead of me and made not a complaint while I scrubbed his scalp clean and wrapped him up in a towel in prep for the hair cut. While I was doing this, word got around that 'we are going to the movies'. Bethany pirouetted before me seeking approval of her blouse and pant combo. She got it. Another child checked to see if their hairdo was suitable for the movies. Another child was told he was not invited, no one was sure why but apparently he was not. I quickly put that rumour to rest. So, total count for this trip was eight plus Mummy. Thankfully we were heading for the 1.50 theater.

Finally, all groomed and presentable, my ‘to do’ list completely forgotten, we loaded all the car seats, diapers bags and babies, toddlers and the rest of us into the van. We waved goodbye to Finnegan and left. We made a quick pit stop at Ahmed's to top off the gas and thriftily pack the diaper bag with some candy and tiny cans of pop - cans the perfect size for the youngest to enjoy a taste of soda during the movie. The older kids and I would buy some there.

We got there with time to spare to spare so I ushered all the girls into the Women's bathroom while sending Teddy and Noah to the Men's. I had a mild heart attack when Anna asked me; "Where's Nathaniel?" He, of late, has decided he is too old for the Women's restroom but I had not given him permission to go to the Men’s and did not know if he had done that or gone looking for our movie - Madagascar. I hurried back out and, of course, there was no little red head to be seen. But I did spy a little blond boy about 7 years old. AND he was heading to the Men’s. I cut him off and asked him if he would look for a little red head who was five, or maybe just call out Nathaniel and see if anyone answered. "Sure!" he said as the door swung shut behind him while I tried not to obviously glance in. I strained my ears and I could hear a young voice calling out Nathaniel and I heard other voices. I waited and then clapped my hand to my forehead - of course - I had not asked him to come back out to tell me, so of course... he did not. A few paces back and forth and the boys, all three, trooped back out. By now Gabriela, 14, had joined me in the hallway so I told her watch them all while I went back to supervise the rest of the female pit stop.

Bladders empty and fingers squeaky clean we scooped up two booster seats neatly piled by the door to Madagascar and filed into the empty theater. After all - it was too early on a school day for there to be many children there. Two other families joined us as we settled into our seats and quietly divided out boxes of candies and split up the single box of popcorn I had purchased. Sadly I had not thought to bring some zip locks so I carefully wrapped up handfuls of popcorn times seven and passed them down. We were all ready when the lights finally dimmed and the previews rolled across the screen. Jaws silently chewed, and Emma gave up on her seat since it kept closing up on her like a clamshell regardless of her booster seat. Elsa more or less co-operated, but surprisingly I found that her attention is better held by the grown up movies we have brought her to. Perhaps it was the fault of the much taller seat backs in this theater? None the less, she added to the enjoyment by constantly tackling the wrinkly sounding chip bag on my lap.

Ninety minutes later and it was all over. Not a single bathroom trip was requested and I consider that quite a feat! Madagascar gets five stars from me!

Later, at night, I lay in bed and thought guiltily of my forgotten ‘to do’ list. I felt a bit miserable. I had not done a single thing on it. Nothing had been posted for sale, I had not packed one item, supper had been late and the three o-clock chores were done around seven. But then as I lay there, I looked at the 'got done' list; breakfast together, a little laundry, a pleasant cuddle with an adorable baby, a hair cut, one set of bangs trimmed and happy memories for seven wonderful kids. And most important - a promise kept, even if two days late. Read more!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

We Remember 9/11

We remember the victims and their families. May God continue to bless this great country and protect us from further terrorist attacks. Read more!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A flower for you...

Saturdays have become our yard cleaning days. Now what kid looks forward to a Saturday morning clean fest, eh? None that I know and I happen to know twelve. So when I created this new family tradition this summer, I decided that I would get up early and have a nice hot breakfast ready for everyone, with coffee and bacon smells calling everyone out of bed, instead of me with a cup of water poised just so over one's forehead.

So far - it has been well received and everyone enjoys the special ‘breakies’ I have been concocting, pancakes and fried ham on the side, or fresh bread toasted with eggs sunny side up - you get the idea. Right out of Little Farmer, by Laura Ingles Wilder, only not quite on the same scale. Same menu, only spread over several weekends, not served all on the same Saturday morning.

As some may know, I have been ill. Quite ill actually, so the groceries had really petered out and there was no juice to go with the hot breakfast I was planning on, so I slipped off with cash in my pocket and walked over to Ahmed's Gas Station. As I made my way through the crackly dry, freshly mowed field that lies between us and the gas station I glanced down at the bright yellow mustard flowers. Despite the heat and dryness of the season they were in abundance.

Suddenly I thought of Emma, my soon to be three year old. Actually I thought of all my children when they were of the flower bearing age - sidling up to me poesy in hand. I remembered the delight that always danced across their faces when I accepted this token of love with a smile and a thank you. I thought; ‘How fun it would be to give Emma a little token of love for a change. Children take so much delight in this; it must be so special to them.’ I chuckled mentally at the thought of her face when I surprised her with a little handful of flowers.

I quickly made my purchases of juice, greeted Ahmed and hurried back to the field where I carefully chose a few buds of yellow. I made sure they were long enough to put in a glass of water. When I entered the house through the back porch, Emma was sitting at the computer with one of her siblings playing a PBS kids game online.

"Emma," I called coyly, "Look what Mummy has for you."

She scrambled down off the chair and with her face lit with expectation she hurried to me. I showed her the flowers. "I brought you some flowers Emma." She drew in her breath; "For ME?"
"Yes - for you!"
Anna, twelve, asked her; "What do you say Emma?"

"Your Welcome Mummy!" she breathed as she started to show everyone her flowers before feeding them to Finnegan.

Hmmm, yes. Thank YOU Emma, I thought, YOU give me so much pleasure! Thank YOU! So really - her welcome was quite appropriate! Read more!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Thing One and Thing Two

Well - the puppies are growing. I swear they are double their size since we "adopted" them from the stranger that ambled up our drive that hot dusty Sunday afternoon. Since then they have been de-wormed, vacinated and eaten us out of house and home.

They have been learning how to sit and to "walk easy!" as well as to sit at the door before we open it. However, I have not been able to work with their training much the past two weeks between being ill, and still trying to keep the house going. So I have been worried they would forgot much of their training. But I never thought they would forget their names - or at least one of them forget.

Tonight my son Jonathan came out to the garage where I was hidden, working on the computer for the business. He said; "Madre - did you know we have two puppies named Zack?"

"WHAT?" I asked!

"Yup - tonight I called Zack, and he came bounding across the living room, but then seconds later Ares skidded around the corner, crashing into him. So I waited until Ares was distracted and chewing on a bone and then called him by his name. 'Ares....' no response, he just kept chewing on his bone."

Jonathan continued: "Ares, I called louder, slapping my thigh and clapping. Nope - no response. 'Zack?' I said, and he leaped up and tore across the room to me, with his tail whipping like crazy. So, I guess we now have two puppies named Zack."

I just stared at him in disbelief. But then it is no wonder, as almost none of the younger children get Ares's name right, They keep calling him things like Heiress, Areeeez, anything but Ares.

So, maybe they'll just be "Zack One" and "Zack two", they certainly cause as much trouble as Thing One and Thing Two!

My poor puppies.... I clearly need to get back to their training! Read more!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Lost keys... again!

Earlier this week my husband was once more desperatly searching for keys. Keys for a vehicle that, again, has not been driven for a while. But this time I did NOT climb on a chair and search through bottles and bottles of Baby Tylenol, Children's Motrin and other sundry medicines. I had already cleaned the fridge off, and it was quite empty, so I already knew there were no keys of any sort there.

I did not empty out laundry baskets or sort through the items that are stacked on the shelf over the washer and dryer. I didn't even ask my husband if he had looked in any of these areas - I just stared at my rectangular bruise and bit my lips. I said not a word - I was sure he would find them again without my help and... he did.

I learned this when he walked into the kitchen covered with sweat and announced; "I just walked three miles."

In this heat?

I whirled around to stare at him and asked, "Why did you do that?" He and I have been talking about excercising, but surely there was a cooler, and less busy time of day, to take a walk. Especially a three mile walk.

He wearily wiped his forehead off, with a look of disgust.

"Because the stupid blue van broke down three miles from here, that's why."

I didn't bother to ask where he had found the keys this time. I just called AAA and asked for a tow.

Anyone know of a Patron Saint for old vehicles? Read more!

I am stealing from Danielle Bean...

I am stealing a list of items needed by the Baton Rouge Saint Vincent DePaul Society from Danielle's Web Site. Like so many other's I want to do more than pray and wring my hands while I listen to the suffering that is still ongoing and here is a chance to do so.

Locally there was ONE location in a nearby city that was accepting donations between 10am and 2 pm for only TWO days... Doesn't really seem as if they want many doantions. And we have received a few hundred evacues here in NC.

Given I am still sick and unable to drive, these limited hours and a location more than an hour away kept me from being able to donate the toys my children have chosen to share. I also want to go through clothes we have and share these items as well, but I could not do it before those two dates came and went, so when I saw Danielle's posting I grabbed it to share and to use!
Here is her list and the address is below it:

• Infant Clothing/layettes
• Diapers
• Formula
• Bottles
• Baby wipes
• Children’s Clothing
• Children’s Shoes
• Socks
• Undergarments
• Washcloths
• Towels
• Toiletries
• Blankets
• Children’s Sleeping Bags
• Book bags
• Pillows
• First Aid Items
• Children’s Tylenol
• Baseball Caps to limit sun exposure
• Non-Aerosol deodorant
• Non-Aerosol Bug Repellant
• Coloring Books
• Crayons

Please list contents of all packages on the label. And please package clothing in separate boxes or plastic bags according to size and sex (example: Boys Size 6 or Women’s Size 12) and be sure these are clearly labeled as well.

Please ship packages to:
St Vincent DePaul Society
St Vincent DePaul Place
Baton Rouge LA 70802 Read more!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Check this out...

Here is a URL to a local Mississippi tv station. Here you will find articles as well as video clips of the devastation that the residents of the Gulf Coast have suffered!

I have finally turned the news off and am not so focused on it today. I have done this especially for the children. Still, I feel so much compassion and horror for these poor people, that they are on my mind all day. There are whole towns gone, wiped offthe face of the earth. Because of the immensity of the problems New Orleans faced, it has over shadowed Mississippi's and Alabama's tragedies.

Today and yesterday my children have taken turns going through their toys and we will pass those on. Yet, I wish to do more. Because we travel so much, these are areas we know. In fact last summer we raced, I think it was Ivan, to gather up merchandise that was on the Kessler Base. We were afraid to wait until after it had passed in case we lost our purchases in the storm. While there my husband, Hugo, said; "Hey - we are only about 55 miles from New Orleans, why don't we take a quick detour and head over there." Tired and anxious to get home before the hurricane made land, I replied;
"Nah, New Orleans will always be there, we can check it out another time..."

Now we scour the tv screen trying to catch a glimpse of anything we recognize from Biloxi or Gulfport, and I regret not having gone to New Orleans. Who would ever have thought it would not always be there? Read more!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Where are the keys...

I had a fever, a sinus infection, an eye infection and my chest was hurting. Then because I was feverish and a bit dizzy I lost my balance while standing on a chair. I was trying to help Hugo find the keys to our van. This van has been up on blocks for WEEKS and we were finally ready to test drive it... but the keys were missing.

Earlier that day Hugo had turned his pockets out... I had turned my pockets out... he had dumped his laundry basket... I had dumped the big boys’ basket (and then picked it all up again). No keys.

Later the kids searched through the couch and chair cushions in the living room, and searched under these pieces of furniture as well. No Keys.

Eventually I called from my sick bed; "Have you checked the fridge?"
''Oh yes - several times.
"Humph - I thought. Sure you did. I know how well you check on there.

So... I went downstairs and began a through search over the fridge; moving bottles of Advil, boxes of Band-Aids, bags of dog treats etc, found missing nail clippers. And then I stretched a little too far to the right and the chair I was balanced on flipped over out from under my feet. I swung precariously through the air while holding onto the freezer door and managed to land on both feet, but not before banging up my left foot and right leg.

Sporting a gumball under the sole of my left foot, and a bruise 4 inches long and 3 wide on my right leg, I crept back to bed. There I quietly prayed for help from St. Anthony in finding the keys as obviously I was in no shape to keep looking.

I fell asleep and when I woke up the van was gone. THANK YOU St. Anthony I whispered to myself! When my husband got back from his test drive of the van, I asked him where were on earth had he found the keys???
"In the van.” he responded nonchalantly.
"In the van??” I repeated, staring at my black and blue calf.
"Yeah, they were in the ignition." Read more!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Happy Birthday Jonathan!

This month my first baby boy turns TWENTY!!!!

I will then have THREE kids in their twenties, but I still consider myself a “young” mother. As long as I have a child still in the single digits – I figure I can qualify as a young mother… At current count I have five children still in the single digits, but once Elsa hits ten – I will have to think of another way to define young. Read more!
Here is a most interesting blog dedicated to Katrina and her aftermath. There are photos such as you are not seeing on national tv, making it even more personal than the tv coverage has been able to do.

I have not checked it out in it's entirety, so I am not sure how graphic some photos might be. Therfore, I would caution allowing children to view this blog until you have perused it yourself. So far I have not seen anything I would not allow my children see but, as I said - I have not viewed the whole blog.

I continue to pray... Read more!

The Blessed Sacrament is the first and supreme object of our worship. We must preserve in the depths of our hearts a constant and uninterrupted, profound adoration of this precious pledge of Divine Love.
Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier Read more!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

SPAM Comments...

Because I have had what I consider a large number of SPAM comments for what I am assuming is a rather small readership I have added a verification step so that people will have to type letters that they see in a box before posting. I am sorry for that but I feel that it is unfair to everyone to have SPAM posted on our blogs. Has anyone else had this problem? I hope to eventually have my own website and possibly avoid this problem as a result.

I will try to remember to post my email address so that people can write to that if they prefer rather than go through the verification process. I hope it is not too cumbersome. I really enjoy reading people's feedback. If I forget to add my email address you can always roll down a little and find an older post with my email address.

I will republish this explanation for a while. I am sorry for this!

Blessings Read more!

How can we help the victims of Katrina?

I have been extremely restless the past week as I have had my ears glued to Fox News via our XM radio. I have been spared the horrific views of the pain and suffering, but my heart still cries for the hungry, the displaced, the babies, the mothers of these babies. I have listened to the frantic notes of Shepherd Smith’s voice, of FOX News, as he pleaded for help for the people surrounding him on highway 10 exit 235 a. As I listened to him describe fathers helplessly wandering up and down the pavement while jiggling newborns in their arms and describe a mother cuddle her desperately ill 3 year old, I itched to be able to fill my van with water and diapers and head to the highway myself. But this was neither feasible not realistic, but I want to help someway myself.

So I am listing here a number of ways that one can donate to the cause. Many people will have already have done so, but it you have not, and are not sure the best way to help – here are a number of Charities, some that President Bush himself has suggested we give to.

The two suggested by our President are the Red Cross , and the Salvation Army .

Here are some others:
Catholic Online
FEMA's link to many other valid charities

Where to help the pets of Katrina’s victims: SPCA

Please, please – keep in mind that there will many despicable folks, disguised as charities, out there trying to fleece others. It can not be emphasized enough that there will be a number of scams going on. I have heard on Fox News, that at this point, charities such as RED CROSS are too busy actually assisting the victims to be making phone calls soliciting donations. If you get such a call – it is most likely a fraud. Please do not make donations by phone. If you get a phone call ask the caller to mail you documentation so that you can confirm that they are legit. Tell them you will donate by mail after you receive confirmation that they are legit. If they are real – they will only be too glad to mail you this information.

In some situations people do not have the money to send to a charity – in those cases we can go through our closets, bookshelves and pantries and select pieces of clothing, shoes, books, children’s videos etc to donate to local charities to give to the hundreds of shelters for the victims.

We can also volunteer man hours to local charities to help sort through the donations and organize them for deployment.

And, of course, we can continue to pray.

God Bless America and, most especially, the victims of Katrina.

POST SCRIPT a link to FEMA's guidance regarding legit charites vs Frauds Read more!

One Person's Punishment is Another's Game...

Recently my nineteen year old was enjoying himself regaling tales of when he was little to his younger siblings. Somewhat along the lines of "I used to walk 3 miles in barefoot in the snow to get to school" he told of how he and the other three oldest children, would have to share a single can of soda pop.
"You guys have no idea how lucky you are - maybe once a month we would get to share a whole can of soda. Yep, Daddy might bring home one can of soda and would tell us - You can all share this - and we would be so exited. And you guys get a whole can each!!!" He shook his head sagely as he watched their eye get rounder and rounder. Eventually he switched from tales of treats and sharing, to the subject of discipline.
"Do you know what we use to have to do if we got caught running on the stairs?" Pausing for effect, he glanced around the dinner table as our "second" family stared mutely back at him shaking their heads no. One or two stole a sip from their cans of sodas.
"Oh Man - you guys have no idea how good you have it. We had to walk up and down the stairs the same amount of times as we were in age. "
One of the youngest piped up; "So I would have to go up and down seven times?"
He solemnly nodded. All that was missing was a long white beard for him to pull at while he continued. “And you had to walk up and down for that to count as one!”

This was punctuated with the arrival of eight year old Teddy as he landed with a thud at the bottom of the stairs. Unaware of the change in the subject he had flown down the stairs and cleared the last three in a single leap. Jonathan looked at me expectedly and six pairs of eyes fastened on my face. Struggling to keep my face straight I explained to Teddy he would now have to walk up and down the stairs eight times. Nathaniel, five, watched with wide eyes and then got up and came over to me. He pointed to Teddy as the other children counted the trips; “Four….. five….”
“Can I have a turn Mummy?” he chirped eaglerly. He grabbed Jonathan’s hands and said “Tum on Jonaten. Mummy said I can doe up and down too! Tum with me.”
Smothering a chuckle at how the tables had been turned on him, Jonathan joined Tanny Paul as he happily counted steps up, and then down again. What a game he thought it was, while Teddy wearily finished his count of eight. The rest of us started to clean up from supper, a few not bothering to hide our grins as Jonathan continued to help Nathaniel count his steps up and down, up and down and up and down. One person's punishment is sometimes another's game. Read more!