Saturday, September 30, 2006


Your little snub nose was completely predictable but your fiery dislike of nap time was not.
The tiny wispy curls on the nape of your neck, highlighted with burnished gold hinted at the delightful auburn red curls that now adorn your head.
But I could not determine if your eyes would be deep brown, or twinkly blue. Still, I am un-sure what colour they will be; as bright and dark as they are.
That you would be a tease was not apparent in your angelic expression in the precious ,and all too short, newborn weeks.
Never would have I guessed, as impatient as you were to walk, that you would still insist on being taxied about, only content to view everyday activities from a lofty vantage. Who would have thought the only way to persuade you to view life from your own precious height would be to sit down myself.
Could we have known how gentle you would be with a kitten when you are so fiercely determined to have your own way. Or that you would be patient enough to clasp your hands all through Grace and not eat until we have finished reciting our prayers of thanks?
Can it be, that it has been 17 months already since your birth? So many changes as you rapidly grow in mind, character and strength. So many more to anticipate as we continue to share in God’s glory that is exposed, as only it can be, through the growth and development of a new life.

Thank you God for the wondrous blessing of life that You have allowed us to share in. Over and over and over… Read more!

Friday, September 29, 2006

As promised...

...only I decided to take pity on you and dressed in long pants, rather than subject you to back of my chubby knees! I feel as though I have cheated because one always looks slimmer in black. I have to say that I am sure that I am bigger than I appear in this picture.

I'll be back next month, and will use the same outfit in hopes that we can see a difference.
At the very least I will post as to whether the pants (still maternity ones) are any looser!
Read more!

Ooohpa Mummy!

Ever had the perfect picture and just as the camera snaps, your subject sneezes or moves, or better yet someone cuts in on you? Well, at our double birthday this week I was snapping pictures of people being silly in the birthday hats I had bought and suddenly - there was Elsa walking towards me in a hat! The hat was just right. The expression perfect. I gasped and snapped the picture.

But when I reviewed it, there was no hat and that 'just right' expression was gone. But the picture actually was perfect - in fact, much better than what I had planned on. It captures just what being a mummy is all about.

Being there, just when you are needed.
Read more!
Read more!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why do we no longer respect historical landmarks...

I have no words to share my sorrow with to see the destruction of a beautiful church such as the one being destroyed in NYC. The least I can do is share the link to the the website decicated to saving this work of art and piece of Irish history.

Go HERE to help save a piece of history!

Go directly to the history of this church ... here.

Here are some more personal photos of this church taken by a friend of a church, who was actually married in it. Lor's photos
Read more!

Crafts all afternoon....

Busy Beavers!

Cutting paper rather than your dress, even "axadently", is much more preferable!

Putting final touches on....

...this awesome car!

The end result of a happy and quiet afternoon that allowed one tired mummy
to take a much needed rest!
Read more!
"Mummy", my son grumbled as he pushed the mop across the kitchen floor. He lifted the mop and looked at how dirty it was on the bottom.

"Emmm," I replied from the stove.

"Nobody washed the floor yesterday... oh wait, that was me!" Read more!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Taking Applications!

My six year old red headed Tanny Paul appears to be quite the ladies's man these days. He is very helpful to the women at all of the dinners at the church. Often pulling chairs, that once folder are taller than himself, to the portable chair rack and offering to help wash the tables. Of course, the ladies are quite tickled by this gentlemanly behaviour. When we were living in the Raleigh area, Tanny Paul actually had a 'girl friend'. One of my closest friends, a very beautiful strawberry blond mum of seven, would often come by to visit and she had a special spot in her heart for Nathaniel. She began to call him her "boy friend." It was special for Nathaniel, there being no aunts or uncles to come and visit, no near by God parents to impart that feeling of being extra special to someone outside the family.

Obviously Nathaniel has been missing his girl friend, Dorry, as yesterday he came and sat down beside me and laid his head on my shoulder. A deep sigh issued from him and he said;
"Mummy, I need a new dirl fweind, when can I det a new dirl fweid."

Having been resting my eyes - they now popped open. He needed a what, a new what? Girl friend? There has been a lot of talk lately about girlfriends, boyfriends and engagements here in our house lately but six years old, well is just entirely too young to be thinking of girlfriends.

I straightened up and looked at my son's round blue eyes.

"Did you say girl friend Nathaniel?" I asked.

He nodded "Yeah, I need a new dirl fweind. When can I det one?"

"Oh, well Nathaniel," I began by taking a deep breath. "You are MUCH too young to be thinking about girlfriends..."

"Oh Mummy!!" he interrupted me. I mean a dirlfwiend like Dorry!"

"Oh!" I said.

Dorry! You had best drop by soon - your boyfriend is looking for a replacement.

Applications can be picked up at the door! Read more!

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Challenge...

I remember a time when I was slim and pretty. My husband would claim I am still pretty but even he has to pause at... slim. Of late I have been coming across photos, after the fourth baby - still slim. After the 6th baby - still fairly slim. After the 8th baby - well, a bit less slim. But then came baby nine and a steady loss of weight when she hit five months. I was elated.

Then came the big FOUR O, followed by babies eleven and twelve! Oh, but there was no more melting of baby fat as I had always experienced in the past. Usually, at just about 5 months of age the baby's appetite would increase to such a point that no matter what number or type of calories passed my lips - the baby fat just fell off. No such luck after 40. That ugly ten letter word, metabolism, is to blame I am certain.

But now... my second daughter is getting married. MARRIED! So, I am looking at bridal gowns and these clearly 27 year old women modeling mother of the bride dresses.... Now short of plastic surgery I can never look that young again and I can probably never get that slim again but I can get a little slimmer!

So dear readers - I am issuing a challenge - to myself. I have no idea of my weight - we don't even own a scale but I do know my dress size and, blush, am too vain to announce it here. So I am challenging myself to drop two sizes (at least) by this coming June.

FOUL! You cry - what challenge is this? If you do not even publish the dress size? Well - I will be adding a photo in a day or two of moi! On my bike! (From the back - again just too vain, I'm sorry to say! Be patient, the Lord is not done with me yet!)

And YOU, dear readers, will get to judge how I am doing as I will post once a month a picture of me - on the bike, in the same shorts and tee and you can decide if you think I am actually dropping in size. I will choose a tee that is somewhat form fitting so that you can see and cheer me on as I battle the war of the bulge! If I meet my goal, I will post a picture of myself with the flower girl in our wedding gear - face forward.

So cheer me on - bycycle laps, crunches and leg lifts here we come! You know - this just might be fun!

(Picture to follow in a day or two, after I recover from a ruptured cyst.) Read more!

Friday, September 22, 2006

It is with grateful hearts...

Roll the camera forward in time by about 8 years to Jenny's tenth summer.

Speed forward 5 years to May of 2006.....

...that we announce the engagement of Jennifer Alicia to John Francis who intend to wed this coming June at Belmont Abbey.

(My apologies to John, when I edited the picture of him alone with Elsa, I wrote the wrong middle name on it. Blush!!!)

Read more!

A picture is worth a thousand words...

...and if that is the case than over the next few days I will be posting hundreds of thousands of words. While I love to write, times are a bit rough in this household and I need to really put my hand to the plow for a little while and so I will try to use the camera as the window to our busy life instead of the pen. (Or the key board, to be more exact!)

Some exciting news will shortly be posted, but first we have been trying to contact close friends nad familly members before posting this announcement. Look for it soon! (Shhh - those of you who already know, no HINTS in the comments section!)

Please pray for our family as we tough out this month. The Lord is, in some ways strangely silent, as we pray and contemplate our financial future and try to grapple with changes we have made and are still making. Yet He has not abandoned us... He is keeping us just barely above water and, in doing so, truely pulling our eyes towards Him. Much like the Chosen people as they followed the pillar of fire through the dessert to the Promised Land. So are we trying to follow Him, but unsure of where He is leading us, we feel full of trepidation - not even sure we will recognize our promised land when we get there. So please do pray for us! Read more!

A lot of little help!

A lot of little help can really slow you down. And in this household of many - there is always a lot of help being offered. You can not even do as distasteful a job as cleaning the litter box without a lot of little hands offering to dust up the litter, hold open the trash bag, and a few eager to actually scoop the litter and not always with the scoop.

Making your bed becomes a challenge with so many little bodies helping to smooth the cover, only the wrinkle it all over again when they can not help but to roll across it, giggling, to get to the wrinkles on the other side.

And as you can see from the post below - baking is NEVER a solitary job in this home. While the saying goes; too many cooks spoil the broth, I think in this case - it just sweetens the pot. Read more!

A little taste of Baking Day in our home!

Hmmmm, what do we need next?

So.... is Mummy looking?

Whilst Emma is thinking "Wow - Baking is MESSY - look at my hands... Elsa continues to sample the brown sugar!

Too much of a good thing!

One the day's finished products!

Read more!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can you believe...

...we were all once this flexible?
Read more!
Read more!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Is this your first?

When you are a young lady growing up in a large family it begins to become tiring that in this society almost every young girl with a child in her arms is assumed to be a single mother. Even as young as 12 can make you suspect, especially if you are tall and look as if you could be in your early teens as my oldest soon learned.

Aimee would often assist me while out getting groceries by either pushing the cart, or more often by holding the current baby. After all, cuddling a little love bug is infinitely nicer than pushing a cold metal cart that is slowly growing heavier and harder to push. She was only 12 when Noah, the 7th baby, was born. Still, she was tall for her, age possibly as tall as I am ( all of 5' 3") and sometimes she would be dawdling behind me as she carried Noah. She would feel embarrased when she could see older women trying to catch a glimpse of her ring finger on her left hand and then sometimes tut tuting. Others would be forward enough to ask; "So is this your first...."

Finally one day, tired and angry with people assuming such a thing of her when the next fellow shopper, someone Aimee described as actually quite a tiny and sweet dottering old lady came up to her and peered at her through heavy lenses and smiling asked her - "Is this your first, Dear?" Aimee dead panned her with:
"No, its my sixth...."
and she waited while this registered. As the poor old woman gasped and grabbed at her chest, Aimee relented and sweetly smiled - "Sibling, my sixth sibling." Read more!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Where are all the children?

“Where are all the children?”

Two weeks ago this was the first sentence out of my husband’s mouth once he had checked on Elsa, whom I had stayed home with. She was fighting a virus and had been just too tired and cranky to take to Mass. I stared at him.
“I mean where are all the children in the Church? Where are they?” He went on to share how sad he had felt throughout the Mass as he had glanced repeatedly about the church. Here and there was a child, sometimes two or three in family. But for the most part - there were few to none there.

This line repeated itself over and over in my head over the next few days. “Where are all the children?“ We were new in the area and had attended two different churches in the vicinity and my husband was right - the children were few and far between. There did not seem much hope of matching all, if any, of our children, up with friends in the same age bracket as themselves. This greatly saddened both my husband and I. But what saddened us even more was wondering about the future of the Catholic church. With the average American family repopulating the country at about .89 children* per family, it seemed as though these statistics were also invading the Catholic church. And if this is true - what does the future hold for our Church?

But then as I pondered this, I wondered if maybe it was just the area we had moved to. It is, after all, an area earmarked with high unemployment with many employers having moved lock, stock and barrel overseas. Perhaps most of the families, with children, had left the area. This would be true across the general public and certainly the Catholic church would not be exempt.

Over the week I thought back to the larger parishes we had attended in the city where we had been living for the past 9 years. Had there not always been cry rooms filled with toddlers, young mums and dads taking turns with a teething enfant in the foyer? I thought about this but then it dawned on me that the difference was not so much in the number of the children, but rather in the number of families. Being in a city, each parish had a larger population to draw from than a small country parish would, and this greater number of families had only lent the appearance of more children because, if my memory served me correctly, while there were lots of families with children - most of them still only had one or two children, a few here and there with three. So naturally if you reduced the number of families, as is the case in our smaller country parish, you are able to see the reality of the situation. Children have become rare. Large families possibly even more rare.

The realization of this really cut me to the heart, and I thought of the selfishness of this situation. While there are indeed legitimate reasons for limiting the size of ones family - can it be that the majority of the Catholic population actually meets one or more of these serious reasons for choosing to say no to life?** I have called this selfish because the decision to limit the size of one’s family doesn’t only affect the family that has made this decision.

It affects the whole Church, it lessens the Community of Saints, giving us less Saints in heaven to pray for us all. It lessens the number of vocations so that we have fewer and fewer religious and Priests to nurture the growth of the church. And individually within each parish it means there are less young faces for the elderly to gaze upon, less cheeks for them to pinch, and less opportunities for the young to learn of being of service to others. And for large families like ours, less peers for our children to make friends with.

Who, each Sunday, is missing from the Eucharistic table who should have been there celebrating with our Catholic family, but were never given the opportunity to even join the Community of Saints because they were not even conceived. Not conceived, but thought of and longed for by Jesus and our Heavenly Father.

* American Census Bureau Stats of 2004

** for just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children,” but we are cautioned that it is every couple’s “duty to make certain that their desire [to postpone or avoid pregnancy] is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2368)

Read more!

Friday, September 15, 2006

How to get mummy's attention...

...when calling "Mummy? Muummy?? MOMMA! Yoohoo Mummmmmeee..." just doesn't get her attention.

Well - if you are lucky enough to have three names like Emma Louise Kathleen, you try this.

"Oh Yoohoo, would Emma Loowese Katween's Mummy peeease button up Emma's sweater!?" Read more!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Today is the Feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross.

Please Jesus, keep true to your promise that you would never lay a cross greater than we can bear upon our shoulders. And when we forget this promise, remind us. Put somone in our way to tell us this, allow a page to open to the right spot in a book, let an image come to us. In some way, remind us of this promise and give us hope, that we might not despair.

When we are overwhelmed, remind us to look no further ahead than this day. Help us to remember to ask for the graces to get through this day and leave You to mind the future for us. Remind us to ask for the graces and the needs of this day to be taken care of.
Remind us to then to thank you for this day.

Further reading on the Exaltation of the Cross

Suggestions as how to celebrate this day as a family.
Read more!

Now a moment from our sponser...

Well - I do not really have a sponser, it would be nice, though, if I did. However I did want to remind people that I do have an online gift shop with a pro life and pro family theme. I had expanded it to allow for more variety of options, but sales have been slow (Err dead is more like.) so I am currently using the free version of this online store. Sadly, this limits my choice of images that I can offer on each item of clothing (ie I can only have one image available to choose from on, say, the baby ts. But if I pay a shop keeper's fee, I could offer several different images as options for the baby ts for you to choose from). Still, it does not limit your choices in clothing or sizes.

And there is a great variety available in clothing articles. There are baby onsies, bibs, hooded jackets and t-shirts, short leeved or long. There are base ball caps and coffee mugs to boot! There are calendars and journals, hand backs and mousepads . Take a moment, if you have the time and peruse my online Country Cupboard. Maybe you will see a gift you would like to put away for Christmas or a birthday coming up. I have purchased some of the items myself to determine the quality of the material. The t's that I bought have held up in colour, have not shrunk and still look very nice. The stein my son chose for himself was very nice. I have not purchased any of the calendars or post cards etc that they have but given my satisfaction with the other products I have purchased I think I will probably order an oversized calendar - with one of my own images - of course! All images that are being used on the articles offered for sale in my little shop are either photos taken by myself, one of our children or is a cartoon drawn by Anna, my fourth daughter, sixth child of the twelve.

So - if you have time, and a little change clanging around in your pocket, grab a piping hot cup of tea and and a biscuit and sit down to explore our Sponser! I am hoping to eventually create my own website and I could then offer these items straight from there.

As a last note as I toot my own horn, I humbly ask for prayers for our family. As most of my readers know we are self employed. This month we are praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance as what we are to do in the future as a gainful means of employment. It is a fearful time for us as we do not know what this prayer will bring, but after five years of struggling with a very promising business that just will not emerge from infancy to full adulthood and hence be a fully profitable business that allows us not only to pay our bills, but pay them on time and regularly. It is a very difficult time for my husband who is working very hard with only our 19 year old son to help him. Please join us in our prayers as we ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us and pray for protection from the devil as he is trying very hard to drive us from this road of guidance. Please also pray that the Holy Spirit will open the doors wide that we may see where He wants us to go. This is especially scary as one can never know what this will entail. Read more!

Some examples of what is available in my shop...

A lovely and useful tote bag, found in my Odds and Ends section.
(If you want to see more - just click on a coloured phrase anywhere in this post.)

Raglan style T, just one option of many in the adult clothing section.

A prolife mug that would make a nice gift for a co-worker or relative celebrating a birthday.

This is a baby onesie.

This is an adult hood sweat jacket.

I have tried to price the merchandise low enough to keep it affordable
and still make a few dollars profit.
I hope, if you check out the shop, that even if you do not purchase anything you will have enjoyed perusing my little online shop. I hope soon to be able to expand again and be able to offer more selections of images per item.

Read more!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ever wonder what we drive in?

Just Joking!

This is the truck my husband has driven many times into the mountains and through a variety of States to pick up merchandise. It is a sound truck and typically he had one of our youngers sons with him on these trips. They loved to pull the horn when he would let them. We have enjoyed owning such a neat truck but the time has come to sell it and I will be quite sad to see it go. I never got to go on any of the trips and kinda always wanted to. Anyway - we need to sell this and hopefully soon. Please pray that our ads on and on eBay will bring a quick sale that moves smoothly and that our truck finds a good home. Read more!

I can only wonder...

Today - my spirits match the weather. It is dark outside and the skies are weeping and my tears mix with the rain. I am consumed by the monstor of envy.

Today I really need a mother. Someone to comfort me, someone I can call and talk to and maybe be cheered a little, and encouraged by to hold on a little longer. Someone to say "Hold on honey, maybe a change for the good is just around a corner." I can only wonder what it is like to have such a person in one's life.

Today I would like a sister, who is my friend - whom I can call and be cheered by. Someone I knew who cared and would always be there for me through thick and thin. Or a brother, older and wiser, or younger and cheerful. Someone who cared and wanted to hear from me, who would call back if he missed my phonecall. Again, I can only wonder what it would be like to know such a person.

What is it like? And as I look around me at those who have mothers and sisters and brothers in thier lives who are interested in how it is going for, who care enough to write or call each other I feel so incrediblly sad and angry. I am grateful for a Dad who cares and a step mum who is there but today I need a mother.

Flesh and blood who can wrap her arms around me and say; "It will be okay. I love you. "

If only I could feel Mary's arms around me as she is the only mother I have, but today - I really want a human being that I can love and talk to and hear her voice, low, gentle and caring.

But for what ever reason - this is not God's walk for me and today -I am rebelious and angry with God for this lonely walk. I can only pray that today will pass and tomorrow will be better and ask any of you who happen to pass by to pray for me to.

I am sorry for such a depressing post - but, if you have been blessed with a loving family - use it to inspire you to call your sister, your brother or your parents and tell them you love them.

In the meantime - I will continue to try and be the mother - I wish I had. Read more!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What do you do?

What do you do when a homeless little beggar moves into your backyard and forlornly begins to follow your children around like a little shadow? Everywhere they turn they see this small, hungry creature who is starving for love, as much as for food. And to boot - he looks like the spitting image of one of their favourite movie characters - Milo of Milo and Otis.

So what DO you do? Well, after telling the children to stay away from this little waif as he could, after all, have rabies you go outside to get the rest of the groceries from the van and you see the little orange slip of a creature dash under the van. In futile you try to ignore him, but then his plaintive mew hits you in the heart and you furtively look over your shoulder to see if any of the kids are watching.

Seeing you are alone, you drop to your knees and call to him softly. When he tentatively come near only to shy away when you try to touch him, you reach into a grocery bag and pull out (shhhh - don’t tell anyone) a container of ice cream and then jump guiltily when your 19 year old son appears out of nowhere and asks “What are you doing there?”

Then, ignoring that question, you scrap a little ice cream off the lid of the container and hold your fingers out. The little kitten simply can not say no to the temptation dripping off of them and creeps near and, with the tiniest little tongue, cleans off your fingers and purring, allows you to pet him. Then, hoping for more of the same treat, the starving rascal climbs into your lap.

Before you know it, after admonishing the children that this extra mouth to feed MUST live in the basement if we are to keep it, you find Milo sleeping in the middle of YOUR bed, two floors away from the basement and the three adult cats - much like a scene straight out of Goldilocks, staring in confusion at this uninvited guest. Read more!

A little privacy please...

Sometimes when you are growing up in a large family, it is hard to find a little privacy. So when you are six, the tenth in a family of 12 and are the youngest of three boys in one room - one must use a little imagination to get some, well, space that one can call his own.... Read more!
Read more!

Monday, September 11, 2006

I was wondering if... being 9/11, I should try to post something thoughtful, insightful and, if possible, uplifting to commemorate the 5th anniversary of this sad date in our history. But, first I thought I should check Danielle's blog and make sure I was not imitating something she had already done.

And lo and behold - there was the perfect answer to my deliema - Daniel John Bean Jr. What better way to remember 9/11 than by celebrating a new life so freshly arrived in the world.

Congratulations Danielle and family. Welcome Dan jr! Read more!
Daniel John Bean Junior, born at 4:39 PM EDT September 10th, weighing in at 6 pounds 15 ounces and measuring 20 1/2 inches.
Read more!

Friday, September 08, 2006


I woke up sleepy, as usual, my back aching, as usual and I groaned at the thought of rising and putting breakfast together for my clan. Then I remembered the lovely loaves of homemade bread sitting downstairs under a clean towel - waiting to be devoured with butter and other delightful spreads. How could I have forgotten that yesterday I had helped Anna , for her first time, bake my bread recipe - 'Janet’s bread'?

My bread recipe ‘Janet’s bread’ is so much more than just a recipe. It is a hoard of memories that go all the way back to my first years of marriage and our first baby - all from during my years of University. In our second year of school Hugo decided to take a course in astronomy and it was there that he met Jim, Janet’s husband. Jim and Janet were a bit older than Hugo and I and already had two children, with their youngest being only a month or two older than our Aimee.

It happened that one of the assignments in Hugo’s astronomy course required signing out one of the university’s telescopes causing them to be in high demand. Jim and Hugo decided to sign one out together and have our little family over to Jim's tiny home allowing Janet and I to meet as well as Aimee play with their two young daughters. I was nervous about meeting Janet but she was so warm and welcoming, when I arrived, that my shyness quickly melted. The children hit it off right away and while Aimee crawled about behind them, Janet put coffee on and I sat down at the kitchen table.

The coffee pot perked away throwing off it’s heavenly scent and I watched Janet professionally tend to her many loaves of bread sitting on the counter. I think, if I remember correctly, there were eight loaves and a few dozen rolls sitting there rising. Their bread for the week. I was amazed. My first and only attempt at baking bread had resulted in a single loaf that felt and weighed more like a door stop than bread. After rolling it across the floor a few times for the cat to chase and enjoying a good laugh at my pathetic attempt to bake bread, Hugo and I had thrown it out - wondering if we should post a caution note on the bag for the garbage man so that he not break his back in the attempt to lift it.

I asked Janet how many times she had had to double the recipe to get this many loaves.

“Oh,” she blithely remarked - “this is just one recipe.” I refused to believe her and continued to tease her that it was not possible to get so many pans of bread from just one recipe. Jim came in rubbing his hands together, anxious for mugs of coffee to take out for himself and Hugo so as to help warm themselves in the cold November night. Hearing my teasing, Jim assured me that indeed this was just one recipe and that Janet made it every week. My eyes, I am sure grew in wonder but soon my tummy was growling as the smell of the baking bread began to warm the air.

It was not long before piping hot golden loaves were pulled from the oven only to be quickly and efficiently replaced by more loaf pans by Janet. Giving the loaves just barely decent time to cool we quickly sawed huge slices off and rolled hunks of butter onto them with butter knives. Her children stopped playing long enough to consume a piece each before resuming their rambunctious play with my baby daughter. Aimee was watching their youngest with delighted eyes. Here was a child her own size walking upright and unassisted. Aimee took her first steps at five months, yet had continued to cruise along the furniture, dropping to her knees to cross from chair to couch and couch to table.

Janet generously offered to give me a copy of recipe but I exclaimed that I could never bake such fluffy white delicious bread. “Phsaw, she said - “you just come by next Saturday. The girls can play and you and I will bake bread together. Looks like Jim and Hugo know how to keep busy so we won’t need to take care of them except to keep their mugs full of coffee.”

After tasting Janet’s bread when he and Jim came in to thaw out for awhile - Hugo quickly agreed that we did indeed need to come back next Saturday.

We were back the following weekend and Janet and I rolled up our sleeves while Aimee tottered behind Janet’s daughters. Having seen someone her size run about she had been inspired and between the two visits had bravely let go of the couch and walked to the chair and from the chair to the shelves - never to look back.

I watched Janet expertly rise her yeast and deftly add the flour to her base. Then in amazement I watched the bread grow and grow and more than double it’s original size. This process was repeated four times through out the day while we feasted on the last of the previous Saturday's baking along with steaming hot spaghetti for lunch, coffee and friendly chit chat. Finally Janet pulled out her pans for the last raising and I sat, astonished to see how tiny each ball was that sat forlorn and lonely in what looked like, in comparison, humongous pans. I could not believe that such a tiny roll of dough was going to become the enormous loaf of bread such as we had just consumed at lunch time.

At the end of the day, we headed home generously loaded up with rolls as well as a loaf of this delightful bread and an invitation to come back often, which we did. And so when I cook up a batch of Janet’s bread, I am never just making bread. I am visiting our old 2 bedroom apartment in the married residence, thinking of old friends, remembering cold November nights and my daughter's first unassisted steps. Sometimes I even share some of these memories with the children as they watch me knead, punch and rise the dough. But I have never, ever been able to make my batch stretch into 8 loaves AND rolls too. I think the closest I have come is 4 loaves and 2 dozen rolls. (This could be because I have never been patient enough to wait through four full risings!) Still it is my favourite bread recipe and always will be.

Janet’s Bread


Boiling water
Tepid Water
Shortening/Butter or Margarine

After putting water on to boil prepare a small bowl of
1/2 cup of tepid water in which you dissolve a teaspoon or two of sugar (or honey)
Sprinkle over this bowl of tepid water 1 - 2 Tablespoons of yeast.

When the water come to a boil
Pour 3 cups of the boiled water over the following ingredients (that have been placed in a large bowl):
1 heaping tablespoon of shortening (or butter or margarine)
1 handful of salt
3 handfuls of sugar (or ½ cup of honey)
Stir until all ingredients are dissolved.

Once the yeast has risen (usually in about 10 minutes) check the large bowl that has the boiled water in it and see if the water has cooled to tepid temperature. If it has not, add enough water until it is tepid.

At this point you add the yeast to the larger bowl and stir it in.

Then you begin to stir/add in flour until the dough begins to come away from the bowl. (This has, for me, varied from 8 cups to as much as 16 cups) When you first begin to add flour you can substitute some of the flour with wheat germ and,or whole wheat flour. I have played around with this a lot - always with delightful results)

Allow the kneaded dough to rise once to just barely double its size in a large greased bowl - covered with a damp towel. After punching it down allow it double or a little more than double its size another full two times. For the fourth rising allow it to rise in the greased bread pans while you preheat your oven at 350.

As the loaves come fresh from the oven, lightly brush with butter for soft, tasty crusts. Enjoy your first slice with a cup of your favourite hot beverage and dream old memories. Read more!

Rain, rain, rain...

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary...

....but in my heart the sun will shine!

(The Whole Poem...) Read more!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A new mini poll, a virus and a hefty Doctor's bill.

I have finally created a new mini poll. Summer, if not officially gone, is waving good bye. The local pools are closed. All schools, even those in the north are open for business again. And we, despite another virus hitting us, and hitting us and hitting us and finally sending me scrambling for a doctor this morning (before having established myself with a new practice) started back to school.

My wonderful children dug out their books from closets, packing boxes and corners, dusted off their notebooks, sharpened pencils and set themselves up while I tiredly carried a very cranky but pathetic 16 month around in my arms. I do not understand why one must stand with her and can not sit but there it is - what else do you do for a baby so obviously miserable and in pain.

A few children are suffering from similar symtoms as Elsa, but bravely hit the books and made great progress despite my absence for a full 2 hours at the new doctors' office. First I had to find the place and while I was told I would find it by following the hospital signs, I was not told there are only two signs and one with it's arrow hidden behind a thick bush. Slowing down and streaching up high in the drivers seat of my tank, er I mean van, I was just able to glimpse the arrow pointing right.

Elsa fell asleep as I wound my way through S. Main searching, searching, searching for those elusive blue hospital signs. Just as I was certain that I must have missed Anna Lewis Lane, a blue sign popped up directing me to the right. I took it and promptly missed Hospital Street. I finally found both the road and the building I was looking for. One look at the busy parking lot and its tiny spots capable only of holding European style cars convinced me to park in the Surgeons' Building whose Cadilac sized parking slots were, strangely, all empty.

Despite great effort not to jiggle Elsa awake as I removed her from her car seat - she still awoke but as she was already in my arms, and I was standing up, I had few complaints from her. We crossed the street and started out our first visit to the new practice on fine footing by opening Door Number One and stepping into - an examination room. An occupied examination room. The doctor pleasantly asked if she could help me and I blushingly asked her where the reception area was. She kindly showed me the door next to hers - marked OFFICE.

I apolozied to the 4 year old patient and his mum and slipped through the OFFICE door. With Elsa precariously balanced in my left arm, diaper bag at my feet and my Mother's daily Planner in hand I filled 12 names into the five blank lines titled LIST ALL CHILDREN STARTING WITH THE ELDEST.

Paperwork dutifully completed, Elsa and I waited for our turn. Before long a cheerful looking nurse came along and showed us a room in the back, which sure enough had its own exit door. I was tempted to lock it, but was worried I would forget to unlock it. Besides - there probably weren't too many other newbies out there that would mistakenly believe that Door Number Sixteen was the OFFICE door.

Elsa and I proceeded with flying colours through the rest of the appointment, weighed ourselves at 22.2 lbs and determined that we did not have a temperature and nor did we have an ear infection. No - no sinus drip but the throat was red. So we did a Strep Culture. Negative. So one hundred and twenty dollars later we determined that we probably have a.... virus. Unless it is chicken pox - which by the way is going around.

So here I sit - somewhat poorer but with a new poll up and I realized I had forgotten to check the stats of my summer long, summer cold poll before posting the new poll. Please accept my apologies. However, I do believe that we are a tough gang here at mum2twelve as at last glance to the stats showed those who pop a sudafed, or the like and then move on were far in the lead!

Enjoy the new poll and I will try to not leave it up all Fall season before changing it! God Bless! Read more!

Animal Planet salutes Steve Irwin...

Our family has memories of many many, nights spent cuddled together on the couch as we watched Steve, the great Croc Hunter, wrestle with his most recent rescue. Benjamin, for a time, was Steve the Croc Hunter, dressed in khakies and wrestling with the huge hard pasatic life like croc his brother gave him for his 4th birthday.

Nathaniel spent many a soundless night watching "Teve" hunt down snakes rescue kangaroos and travel the world with his crew, the two years that he struggled with ear infections and his ensuing deafness. Once sound finally returned to Nathaniel's life - 'Teve's family was part of ours.

My favourite epsiode, of course, was the night we saw Bindi Sue born. I was hoping maybe one day to see a similar episode dedicated to Steve and Terri's infant son, Bob and I was especially looking forward to watching Steve interact with his son.

It was with great sadness that I broke the news this afternoon to our children. We were celebrating a birthday yesterday so Hugo and I kept the news to ourselves for the day. We prayed part of our Chaplet of Divine Mercy for Steve, his family and friends.

We will continue to pray for you Steve, and your family! What a life you lived, what life you gave to the world. It will be a sadder, smaller place without you!

We love you Steve.

Here is a great link where one can celebrate Steve's life and memories!

Animal Planet celebrates Steve...


Monday, September 04, 2006

Recycling only please!

When we first toured this house the owner, whose husband had grown up in the house, proudly showed us the laundry shute that was accesible on two different floors. A most modern convenience that had been outdated by the re-location of the washer and dryer (thankfully) to the main floor from the basement, the owner gleefully showed us how it opened and pointed out the cute flowers painted on the lids of the shute's two locations, the main and second floor. I tried to restrain my inward shudders from showing as I thought of all the dangerous games young children could think of to play with such a device. I determined then and there that we would nail both covers shut as soon as we moved in.

However - before we had moved much of anything in besides our paint and ladders, the kids discovered a most creative use of this shute - place the recycling bin under it in the basement and drop all of the cans down there - straight from the laundry area beside the kitchen.

So I relented. It was after all quite a useful idea.

Then Milo moved in, (another story for another time) resulting in The Lions Den springing up - a club in the basement. This brought with it a new use for the recycling shute.

Knock on it below so that those above on htemain floor knew you wanted to speak to someone upstairs... and if you wanted to speak someone in the "den" below, one simply opened the recycling shute and shouted below.

Nifty idea - until 6 year old Nathaniel stuck his head down it with 3 year old Emma promtly closing the lid - jamming his head. Nathaniel's screams of rage and terror could be heard through out the house, as well as Emma's terrified pleas for help. As I was occupied getting the baby to sleep - Hugo had to deal with it.

The communication box is once again for - recycling only please. And as Nathaniel's bruised forehead and wound below the corresonding eye can attest to - this is all for the best. Read more!

Auto spell check...

The word processor that I am currently using does, as most do, auto spell checks while I type. Today I am tying up new routines, (new house - new routines) and when I reviewed what I had typed I found the following:

First Tuesday of the month:

Sweep and wash B & E's floor during bedtime routine, if not done earlier.

Stairs need to be swept and stiffened

Downstairs hallway - swept and stiffened

What I had typed was swiffered.... swept and swiffered!

I imagine that the children should find it interesting watching me trying to stiffen the stairs and the hallway. Whatever would we do without automated spell checks?! Read more!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Who needs an alarm clock...

...when you have a three year old who, unfailingly, at 6:30 opens your door and with eyes bright and shining with life announces any one of the following:

It's morning time Mummy, tan I turn your light on?

It's morning Mummy and I need my morning baba!

And lastly my most favourite wake up call is:

I love you Mummy! Read more!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

What do you do...

when your six year old mistakenly believes you did not get any of the fresh biscuits baked for breakfast, and so he carefully cuts the small bitten parts off of one of his and then graciously presents it to you with immense delight in sharing.

Why you eat it, of course and delight in his willingness to share even a crumb of these delicious biscuits! Read more!

Friday, September 01, 2006

What's for dinner tonight...

Trying to find some variation to the stero-typical Friday fish fry or baked brown beans, I will be offering the following for dinner tonight.

Black Bean and couscous salad:

Prep time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 people

1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
8 green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a 2 quart or larger sauce pan and stir in the couscous. Cover the pot and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar and cumin. Add green onions, red pepper, cilantro, corn and beans and toss to coat.
Fluff the couscous well, breaking up any chunks. Add to the bowl with the vegetables and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve at once or refrigerate until ready to serve.

(Not being a big fan of its flavour - I do not add the cilantro!)

Found on:

Obviously I have to double this recipe and I will be serving it with (store bought) corn tortillas lightly fried on a dry (no grease or oil) frying pan with hummus on the side to dip the tortillas in.

Bon Appetite!
Read more!

Another trip down memory lane...

As we stood there surveying the smoking remains of our deck and the slick oil that was slewed across the dining and kitchen linoleum with hot melted spots issuing nasty smells my husband looked at me and said; “You know this is really all your fault!’

“Mine?” I asked incredulously. “ How can that be? I was not even here when it happened?”

“Exactly!” he grumbled. “If you had been here, I would not have gotten annoyed with you and distracted. If I had not been distracted, I would not have forgotten I had put the water on to boil before I went out to chop wood. And if I had not been out there, I would have been here to see that I had put the wrong burner on and that the oil was smoking before it caught fire!”

I stared at him and longed to argue with him about the irrationality of his logic but opted instead to feel grateful that he and all the children had survived what had only twenty minutes earlier been a raging fire.

Our then four year old daughter, Gabriela, had been the one to discover the flames licking the kitchen cupboards over the stove and issued the alarm that the house was on fire. Her 4 week old brother Noah was, for a change, quiet and asleep in his swing in the living room beside the dining area that opened off of the galley sized kitchen. I was down the road having a cup of tea with a neighbor while enjoying a friendly chat with her and her husband. It was late in the Canadian spring with the snow gone but with some days still chilled and at times cold and rainy. Cool enough, in fact, to warrant a small fire in the stove.

Rushing to see what Gabriela was yelling about, Amanda, then 12, had hurried out whomever of her siblings that were in the house, not yet noticing her sleeping enfant brother. Then, following her fathers orders, she slid the patio door open and rushed out into the cool crisp air ahead of him while he cautiously slipped out the door carrying the flaming pot of oil ahead of him. Once outside though his sure footing was lost on the damp slippery deck and as he stumbled, the oil sloshed over the sides of the pot forcing him to drop it causing a wall of flames to race across the deck blocking him from our daughter’s view. Her screams of horror raised higher than the flames and the children scrambled around the side of the house to see the flames licking up the tree and curling around the legs of our propane barbeque. All held their breath while my oldest, looked through the living room window saw to her horror, her baby brother still snoozing in his swing - oblivious to all that was happening. She now realized that these 8 foot flames not only separated her from her father, whom she was certain had been engulfed in them, but also from her tiny baby brother.

Bitterly berating herself for not having seen the baby earlier in his swing she stared helplessly at him through the window, wondering how to get him out or how to warn her other siblings that he was there. The flames were between her and the only means of exiting the deck as the section she was trapped on was at least ten feet above the ground. Suddenly a gentle breeze tousled her bangs and instead of the flames being fed by it - they suddenly and completly died. Her father was revealed to her and he yelled at her to wait there as he dashed back into the house. While disaster greeted him - the flames that had been crawling up the wall behind the stove and eating at the edges of the cupboards had also mysteriously died. Simultaneously - it would seem. Instead of finding the whole kitchen engulfed in flames as he had been certain he would, there was only smoke and oil everywhere punctuated with the smell of melted rubber. Once he had made certain no danger remained he allowed the children back in and they excitedly clamored about him asking what had happened and how had the oil spilt all over and why hadn’t the barbeque blown up like they thought it would and how was it the tree did not burst into flames especially since it was a cedar…

Totally oblivious to all of this excitement I had drained the dregs of my tea, refused a second pouring, said my good byes and trudged on home.

It was a whole summer, two series of cupboards being rebuilt, the kitchen flooring torn up and replaced as well as new rugs all downstairs and the whole of the downstairs repainted before I had my kitchen back in working order. And all because I had stayed down the road for a cup of tea. Imagine that! Read more!