Monday, June 30, 2008

Anna's chocolate chip cookies... with a twist

A long, long time ago - while hunting for a chocolate chip cookie recipe I came across a wonderful recipe on They were absolutely delicious. Recently Bethany (10) has taken over making chocolate chip cookies but I was suspecting, as good as they were, she could not be using the Anna recipe. So I checked and my suspicions were confirmed. I know not where she got the recipe but it just was not "the one." So I suggested she try to find the other recipe, intending to help her. But before I could she had gone online, found it, and printed it. Not only that but like all the good bakers in our house, she had already decided to experiment with it. The last trip out with her father - she got him to buy a LARGE bag of M&M chocolate covered peanuts. ( About a 400 gm sized bag - I need to confirm this.) Was her plan to replace the chocolate chips with the peanuts or add them in addition to the chocolate chips? To find out just click on the


* 2 cup butter ***
* 1 cup white sugar
* 2 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 4 eggs
* 5 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoon salt
* 4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
(And for a really yummy and unique change add one LARGE bag on M&M chocolate covered peanuts)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and eggs one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Finally, mix in the chocolate chips. (And M&M peanuts at this time) Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Remove from baking sheet to cool on wire racks.

Depending on the size of cookies that one bakes you can have several dozen cookies and the cook time can vary from 8 to 15 minutes - again depending on size.
*** when I made this recipe last week, I accidentally left 1 of the 2 cups of butter out - and it made NO discernible difference. We only realized it when we discovered the two butter sticks I had put in the microwave to soften - still in the microwave and the cookies already half gone!)

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy 125th

... to all my fellow Parishioners and our Priests. Today will be a very busy day for our Parish. We will be having a special Mass at a location large enough to accommodate the large number of parishioners that are typically spread over seven Masses. Following this Mass is a reception. Later in the day we will have a ground breaking for the new church. However we will not be attending this as we will be home by then, packing the van for our whirlwind trip/vacation to Ohio. If the auto posting works - there will be a post for Monday and Tuesday, if not - we will see you all on Wednesday. We leave at 3 am sharp Monday morning!

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back Pack update

After wearing her back pack and little else all day, Elsa finally fell asleep and was put to bed. So I took the opportunity to discover just what enough is to a three year old.

Enough for an over night trip is:
3 pairs undies
4 t-shirts
1 pair of shorts
1 dress
1 pair of P.J. bottoms
1 P.J. top from different set than the pj bottoms
1 bathing suit
1 pair of yellow flip flops
3 sheets of paper and 2 pencils

... just enough, eh?


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From the peanut gallery

We are preparing to head to Ohio for one of our whirlwind picks trips. However, this time we have made reservations for a hotel room at a location with an indoor pool. Given we are used to temps of 35 c and the high is 25c, plus the possibility of rain, an indoor pool seem the better plan.

But I digress, as part of my preps I caved in and bought two cute, but rather small back backs for Emma and Elsa. Spying hers at breakfast time, Elsa properly ooohed and awed over it and announced she needed to pack it NOW.

A few minutes later she flew down the stairs in her typical style and fashioned her very full pack hanging from her shoulders for me.

"Oh", I asked, "what did you pack?"

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Something Important....

...very important to think about.

To read about it click here. And for those wondering why we did not return to Canada following my husband's job loss - this is the answer. The crumbling health system is why we sought a transfer to the States. Please take the time to read this article and know - when they say patients are participating in lotteries to see the local doctor - they are not joking. Many towns no longer even have a single doctor's office open. Saint George, New Brunswick is such a town. My father and step mother have to drive to Saint John, a city an hour away, for medical care. As do all the residents of Saint George.

Oh, and in Canada - health care providers can, and do, go on strike. The doctors were on strike when we left Canada in January of 1997. We had an 18 month old son requiring surgery at the time and we were told to wait for our transfer to the States as the waiting list, due to the strike, was so long - he would not get it done in Canada before the strike was over. We were told this in November of 1996.

And keep this in mind. If the Doctor, through negligence, removes your left ovary when he was to remove the right one and so you end up with NO ovaries - who do you sue? His employer? Which is ... the government. Ever hear of anyone suing the government and winning?

Nah, me neither.

So please read this and think very carefully about what you want your health care to look like in few years before you vote in November. I am only 46. The system was broken when we left and that was 11 years ago. The government system came online AFTER I was born. It took less than thirty-five years to fall apart.

Please ignore
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Some of Anna's photos for ...

... Photo Thursday. These are photos Anna (14) has taken in the past year.

A little nature a la brick.

Looking out - Noah 12 yrs

Emma, about 5,
and Elsa 2 yrs

Please ignore the
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A word of warning

Don't anyone, and I mean ANYONE dare read this blog to my youngest child who really hates, detests, despises or in other words barely tolerates her car seat.

Here is a quote from a recent post there:

"The ride there was hilariously bad, with The Baby screaming "SOMEONE HELP ME! THEY ARE CHOKING ME WITH MY CARSEAT!" for a solid HOUR."

Elsa would SO love to have a line like this up her sleeve, so I repeat, do NOT show this blog to my child.

Ignore the
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Updates on prayer requests!


According to a recent email, Nick Y has had surgery and is expected to be in hospital 5 - 7 days. I do not know if he is still in ICU but very well maybe as he has a chest tube. Apparently this happened, to him, once before - five years ago. Please uphold this family in your prayers. While they are part of a very loving parish and will get much support - they are in a particularly challenging situation. In January they were transfered to a nearby State. Nick, due to school, opted to stay in NC. Therefor while the family is here (with ALL of other 7 the children) they do not have a home to call their own. As I said, they have lots of support here, but still - this has to add to the stress!

On a positive note STORY has been released from hospital and has gone home with her two loving parents. To see her enjoying the experience of being at home click here.

Gracie, continues to need much prayers as do her family. Gracie is around 3 to 4 months old and here is a quote from her caringbridge site as to where she is now:

"Options for Gracie:

Spend the next few weeks (1-2 months) giving Gracie physical/occupational therapy, giving her lots of love and food here at Duke, then proceeding to the second open heart surgery and praying that her heart is strong enough. If they decide this, they may also give her a tracheotomy.

#2- Proceed towards transplant because they feel her heart is not strong enough to handle a second open heart surgery. If this is the case, we have no idea when a heart will come and Gracie is very low on sedation…and the ventilator tube is driving her crazy! But if this is the option—she cannot have a tracheotomy because it will change her transplant status.


At this point they have been gradually weaning her off the heart meds and the plan is to do the extubation of her breathing tube this Wednesday - however, if Gracie cannot tolerate this - she will then have a tracheotomy placed and this will, if I understand correctly, eliminate her from the heart transplant list. Please continue to hold Grace and her family in your prayers, especially this Wednesday. To follow her progress click here.

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Too clever by half!

Have you ever been tempted by the very cuteness of your baby to threaten to just "eat her all up"? I have, and Hugo is prone to this also. We have moments when we can not bear their cuteness anymore and tell them we are just going to eat them all up, sometimes just 'cause we are hungry or sometimes for a specific meal. If we follow through with our threat than the child is tortured with kisses and tickles, all over, until they are breathless from giggling and chortling.

Elsa, however, is too clever by half. For instance yesterday when her Daddy announced he was going "eat Elsa for supper" she responded; "You can eat Elta all up for supper, but I am NOT Elta!" and when telling me about this later, he shared how she typically agrees to this threat to be eaten for supper with: "Emma is for supper, I am dessert!"

This is a girl that will not be falling for any pick up lines!

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Urgent Prayer Request

These are good friends of our family. We learned yesterday that Nick was in the hospital and today this prayer request was sent out to our parish via email.

" Please pray for healing and for wisdom for the doctors at (the local) Medical Center. Nick Y., Dean and Bridget Y.'s oldest son, is in ICU with a collapsed lung. He is in serious condition. "
The following Psalm was attached to the prayer request.

Responsorial Psalm
71:1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17

In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
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June 23rd...

Hmmm, what is familiar about this date? Oh yes, at this time on this date, last year, we were scurrying around loading roasts and coolers and meat slicers into the van, counting shoes and socks to make sure none were left behind and gathering special dresses and outfits. Thankfully the guys suits were all already in Charlotte. Then we were counting heads to make sure that in the excitement of heading to Charlotte for John and Jenny's wedding - we didn't leave any children behind. We certainly did not want to have any pairs of shoes without owners once we got up there. It was an incredible day and flew by in the wink of an eye. Shortly after the wedding we received a disk of pictures from our favourite photographer and we were able to share the wedding with my readers. It was such a beautiful wedding, so full of joy and happiness. Below you will find a few high lights again. In the meantime, I want to wish John and Jenny a very happy first anniversary. It will be hard to top this first year guys - you have accomplished so much!
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some photos from a year ago - today.

The flower girls and the ring bearer who bore a crown for Mary, rather than the rings.

Sisters of the bride, including the maid of honour.

Waiting for the orders to march...

Waiting for the bride...

Fighting back tears of happiness as she walks down the isle with her father.

Exchanging vows...

Mr and Mrs Ryan leave the church, no longer single adults but now united as one couple through the sacrament of marriage, a living joyful sacrament.

First dance...

Cutting the beautiful cake, a gift from another young couple. It was as delicious as it looked.

Dancing with joy - celebrating the awesome sacrament that just took place.

A quiet moment as the celebrations wind down...

Off to the honeymoon! Once they returned, we enjoyed a fun slide show filled with beautiful photos from the area they had visited.


There are SO many wonderful photos that Paul Tomas took that captured such special moments through out the day - it was so difficult to chose which ones to share here, but my goal was to just touch on the highlights. I hope you enjoyed revisiting that day with me.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

This weeks question...

"One more thing: Enjoyed the towel plan. Read an article about large families and dirty dishes (family fun magazine). This mom's solution was to pack away all dishes, buy dollar tree clear glass plates, paint names on plates, everyone has one dish (large flat bottom bowl) and washes their own. No more dishwasher. Can't eat if your plate is dirty. Downside was washing dish between courses (dinner, dessert, soup or salad) So here's my Saturday request: how do you handle dishes?"

Well, I have to say that while we were experiencing drainage problems, we were using disposable dishes as much as possible because washing the dishes had become an excruciating chore with whoever was on dishes having to constantly check the level of water in the pail below. More often than not - we experienced an overflow due to the level of water sneaking up on us. Thankfully this is no longer a problem!

I have to admit that the chore of washing the dishes has been a thorn in our family's side for some time. This was due to the tendency of the child on duty for the day ultimately leaving a few dishes behind. This was also my fault. By the end of the day and supper chores time, I am usually quite beat and often do not double check the kitchen so as to ensure that not only all chores have been completed - but have been done thoroughly. This would result in arguments the following day...
Finally the children themselves came up with a solution. They suggested that we make the chores permanent and not constantly revolving. As I mentioned in a previous post, I did not like the idea of the chores being permanent. I want children to experience a variety of chores and then there is the reality that some chores are easier than others. So I compromised and came up with a 3 month revolving list as opposed to a daily revolving list. This semi permanency of the chores has completely eliminated the constant bickering that not properly done or incomplete chores had been causing. I am also finding that children are taking more pride in the areas assigned to them. I imagine because it is evident to themselves they have not done a good job and also realize it is evident to the whole family that, for example, the living room is not swept well - because they did not sweep it well. It has also made it infinitely easier for me to keep track of who is responsible for which chore - which also makes it easier to crack down on sloppy work.

Over all I am happy with this solution and wish we had come up with it sooner. We have tried many ways of encouraging chores to be done well and consistently and this has by far been our best solution.

Thanks for the question Peg! I hope you, and the other readers, enjoyed the response, as well as found it helpful.

Be sure to submit a question you might have about the challenges of parenting a large family - or parenting in general. You can leave it in the comment section or email it directly to me.

Oh, as to the lady who decided to buy one plate and cup per child, I have to wonder what happens if a dish breaks? Did she have some put away as back up or does the kid have to wait and borrow another child's dish until the mum found another dollar dish that would suffice as a bowl/plate. Her idea is quite unique but I know dish breakage would be a definite challenge for us!
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Friday, June 20, 2008


Decided to pop over to Beautiful Day to see what was up over there and almost fell off my chair and said then and there - this is too funny not to share. I am still shaking my head and wondering how this missed the news? Or maybe it made it onto the national news, and because I don't have cable - I missed it!

Well - not to keep you in anymore suspense click here to to satisfy your curiosity. Warning to EXPECTANT mums- empty bladder before reading.

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Finally - Fun Friday!

Nope - I don't have a scanner up and working but decided for the sake of the many new readers that I have I would dig up some old cartoons to share. To see a fun post about how to know if you are a large family click here. The cartoon was drawn by Anna who was 11 at the time. Enjoy! (For this post please ignore the read more link) Read more!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The terrible twos VS the Teen Challenge

As the miles slipped by bringing us closer to our destination, Hanceville Alabama, I listened to the mostly cheerful noises from behind me in our fifteen passenger van. Occasionally the noise was punctuated by the growls of the soon to be three year old who does not enjoy being strapped into her car seat for prolonged periods of time. Lucky us, we only had another five hours to go. As her 17 year old sister tried to entertain her, I began to muse about the difference between dealing with the temper tantrums of the “terrible twos” stage and the emotional difficulties of the teen years. It struck me that the challenges facing the two year old and the teenager were largely the same – that of the struggle to find one’s independence while also dealing with the fear and the unknowns that this very goal brings with it.

I think most parents when asked which they would prefer to deal with – the terrible twos or the rebellious teen years – would resoundingly answer the terrible twos. Perhaps that is mostly because the memories of the teen years are closer in proximity. Yet, I would venture to say that in many cases it is because those rebellious and troubled filled years brought the most tears and gray hairs than did the terrible twos.

However, as I close in on facing my seventh teenager about to join the frays of those change filled years, I am also still dealing with the throes of the ‘terrible twos’ of my youngest. And so I can honestly say I find the teen years with all of its hormones, searching questions and even tears, infinitely easier to live through than the terrible twos. No doubt, upon hearing this, many parents would look at me as if I had two heads or wonder how many milligrams of Prozac I am on.

None the less it is true and I believe the reason for this is that my teens and I have a foundation that supported us through these difficult years.
It was a common foundation and it was, and is, our relationship with God. I am not saying that it was all cozy, warm and fuzzy with all of us simply turning to God in prayer when faced with a confrontation. Rather it was more a matter of my children having an authority even higher than mine to answer to. And this I believe is the true key to not only coming through the teen years, but all the stronger for having gone through them. That, and continued communication. These are what is missing during the phase of the terrible twos.

At that stage not only is the child’s relationship with God just emerging, it is almost impossible to effectively communicate with the frustrated child why he must or must not do something. The child simply can not comprehend why. Nor can she communicate the frustrations she is experiencing beyond screaming and tossing items about. However, teenagers, if communication lines are kept open, can voice concerns, frustrations and even temptations they are experiencing. When at logger heads over an issue most of my children have had spiritual directors to turn to, who in turn directed them back to the Authority over us all. God. What better resource can one have than that?

But this did not emerge over night. My husband and I did not pull God out of a magic top hat on a child’s thirteenth birthday. My husband and I began building this foundation at an early age, with attendance of Sunday Mass, and catechism taught at home. Efforts were made to pray the Rosary on a daily basis as well an attempt to communicate why it was important to pray. We attempted to make it an enjoyable experience. We also made many books of the saints available as examples to strive for. A personal relationship with Jesus and the community of Saints was what we strove for as a family through the frequent reception of the sacraments. It was a continuous, even if sometimes imperfect, effort. Thankfully we did not fall for the secular idea of not introducing our children to God as this was a personal experience, and was not to be inflected on a child. This idea was supported by the professionals who claimed it was better to leave a child to discover a god, or a higher power, of their liking.

I now truly believe it was this faith foundation that helped pull our teens and will continue to pull our current teens through those difficult years when one feels the need to challenge all authority around them, to seek independence and the why for everything. Why listen, why obey, why be different from ones peers. Why dress modestly when all around us don’t? Why be chaste when the message all about us is be hot and sexy? What better answer to these challenges, these whys, than God. What better than to be able to ask; ‘What do you think God wants you to do?’

Because we introduced our children to God at a very early age, we were able to work with Him to guide our teens through these difficult years. With God on our side when we have been faced with these challenging questions of why, my husband and I do not need to be the bad guy. At least, not for long. When we have had to enforce a decision that was not popular, typically it was not long before the teenager saw the sense of it. The teenager was able to see the reasoning because he was able to take it to God, through the sacrament of Confession, through direction from their Spiritual Director, or through his own private prayer life.

My husband and I know we are not perfect parents. I know that as a mother there have been many times when I over corrected, under corrected and just not been as attentive as I needed to be from time to time. However, I am putting my trust in God, that in His infinite mercy, He has blessed my children and us with enough graces to fill in those cracks in my parenting, and it is my continued prayer that He will continue to do so. I pray that He will continue to assist my husband, and I, in building the foundation that will sustain our children though their teens and on into their adult years – the foundation of a personal relationship with Christ. A foundation built through the sacraments offered by our Church.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Well, well, well...

Virtuous Tuesday has rolled around again and I have yet to actually write a post about how family life offers us the possibility to grow in virtue. Sadly today is not going to prove different. Instead I am going to share what is coming up this week on my blog and why I am doing it this way. As regular readers are aware, I have been experiencing back pain and problems with my neck. These are old injuries that a fall back in September aggravated and I am beginning to wonder if sitting at the computer and especially typing is aggravating it... So I thought to myself, this being the last full day of summer vacation for us, I might as well go full out and get as much writing done as possible and then avoid the computer as much as possible for a few days and see if that, along with the changes we have made to our bed, will help my continuous discomfort. (The frame was broken so we removed it and put the bed on the floor to see if that would make a difference.)

So far I have accomplished three posts that are ready to be posted on their relevant days and am hoping to come up with a few more before the end of the day.

I am praying and hoping that taking a short break from the computer will allow some healing to take place. I know that until I can afford to see a chiropractor and get some much needed adjustments I will not find complete relief. However, I believe the last months of sleeping on a crooked bed frame has exacerbated the misalignment of the vertebra in my neck. I am hoping that heat therapy alternated with some icing, along with avoiding the poor posture I fall into at the computer for a few days straight through, will bring some relief from the muscle strain that I feel in my upper body.

I have also prayed for some relief and have felt God's grace in that regard. Please, if you think of it over the next few days, add me to your prayers for God's healing is my best hope for gaining some sense of relief. While I am not in a lot of pain, it is almost continuous and so is very wearing and very tiring which makes the fulfilling my duties as a wife and mother very difficult. I would like to thank every one in advance for their prayers.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

No Pics!

Sorry - this meatloaf was so good that there was not time to take any pictures. Maybe next time I whip it up.


2 lbs ground burger (used the 20/80 mix although I prefer the 10/90)
1 box Lipton Beefy Onion Soup Mix ( 2 pkgs)
1 cup (already steamed) brown rice
1 jar beef gravy or about 1 - 2 cups left over gravy.

I put my rice to cook in our ** rice cooker/steamer, a device we have had since Gabriela was an infant so it is 17 years old and still going strong - knock on wood.

Once it was ready and cool enough to handle I mixed 1 cup of (cooked) rice to 2 lbs of (raw) ground beef and then worked in two bags of the Lipton Soup mix.

I was working on memory here. The first time we ate this meatloaf was 24 years ago and I have not made it in years or more accurately in over a decade so there were several children anxious to see what this mysterious thing called meatloaf was going to look like, never mind taste.

Once all the ingredients were well mixed I patted it into a loaf pan and poured a generous layer of the gravy over it. Inserted it into a preheated oven set at350. Set the timer for 30 minutes as I had no clue how long it would take to cook.

We rolled into the oven, strategically placed here and there, 12 potatoes that had been duly poked by Gabriela, the chef's assistant for that night. Not only had they been poked, but they had been generously rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper. Next time I think I will add the salt and freshly ground pepper to the oil and then rub it on the potatoes and see how that works.

Then I hopped online to see if my estimation of 30 minutes was a good one and determined it might be better to give the loaf a good 50 minutes to bake in peace before I started poking and prodding it to see if was ready.

On the ding of the timer we pulled out a steaming hot loaf and carefully, but quickly placed the pan upside down on a cookie rack set over a tray to catch the fat. I had read of a great idea (after I had already placed the pans in the oven) that one website suggested and that was of buying some cheap loaf pans, poke holes in the bottom so that the fat drains out while baking - into another larger pan of course.

By then even the largest of the potatoes were ready, the salad had been thrown together and placed on the table. The hungry crew gathered and in no time at all there were only a few slices of the loaf left and these were eagerly consumed the next day at lunch time by the ones smart enough to remember before anyone else that there was left over meatloaf in the fridge.

Now I can imagine you all sitting here scratching your heads and wondering what size of loaf pan was this, that it fed this crew and had a few slices left over. Well here is my confession - I actually made two loaves but as most people will not be needing to feed a crew of twelve on the average week night, I only posted the recipe as for one loaf. It was an incredibly easy recipe to make, and easily duplicated so that I actually had two loaves in the over in under 20 minutes from start to finish.

The only thing I might change is to use only one bag of Lipton soup mix per two pounds. When I try that, I will let you know how it fared. And of course, had I had left over gravy that would obviously have been my first pick as a gravy!

I never cared for meatloaf as a child, in fact I detested it as a child as well as an adult so when a friend brought this to the door as a care package meal after Jennifer's birth, I gulped and put on a big smile and graciously thanked her, while wondering how many meals it would take Hugo and 15 month old Aimee to finish off this huge loaf! Perhaps sensing my discomfort, though I was hoping she did not as it was so gracious of her to have brought us a meal, she quickly explained that her meatloaf was not like most others. Intrigued I asked what made it different. She explained about the rice and the gravy and I was hooked. This I had to try - esp if it had real gravy on it.

Later that night we feasted on Cathy's meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. It was an instant hit with the "whole" family, that is the three of us that had teeth and could chew. It became one of Aimee's favourites, especially with green beans.

Time marched on and as my confidence as a cook grew along with my repertoire of recipes, this one eventually fell to the wayside and was forgotten, I don't know if even Aimee remembers it. But a few nights ago, we were sitting around the dining room table talking and something triggered my memory so I told the kids all about meatloaf and they were curious to try it. They had read about it often in books and wondered what it was.

Now they know... and they loved it. If you try this recipe, let me know what you thought and how your family enjoyed it. While doing my research online to help me to determine how many cups of rice to mix in with the beef, I came across several interesting ways to make meat loaf - including adding in grated potatoes and carrots. I might try that some day!

(** Note: I do not know the brand of my rice cooker but this one, being sold at Target, looks the most like ours and falls into about the same price range that we paid 17 years ago. One of Hugo co-workers, originally of Vietnam, had his mother find us one in Montreal, and he picked it up while visiting her and brought it back for us and cooking rice has been a dream ever since!) Read more!

Catholic Face Book?

Check this out! Read more!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

A glimpse of the past years as a father...

There were so many more pictures I wanted to add but started having problems with my neck (old whiplash injury) and then there are the Daddy pictures from with the other older children but they are in albums and as you all know - my scanner is not yet where I can use it.

Thank you Hugo for being a great husband and a wonderful father and for being there whenever we have needed you.

Christi Read more!

Ooops did it again!

Open line Saturday came and left - without a post AND I had a question from a reader too! Well - I will just have to write that this week sometime and post it next Saturday. My excuse? Well, lets say it is a combination of vacation time that is coming to a close all too soon, a double date last night with my husband and our married daughter and her husband and a bit of fatigue caused by some of the health issues I am dealing with at this time.

I will tell you though that it was a lot of fun meeting up with John and Jenny and having dinner out with them and simply enjoying being with some of the adult children. It was very enjoyable and I highly recommend it. I have days when I really miss my adult children and now and then I either get to have a great chat that lasts for an hour with one of them or this new experience - double dating and I realize that while they have left home, they are still very near to me. Read more!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fun Friday...

... with something fun by one of the kids just hasn't happened yet because my scanner is still at the warehouse largely because we can't decide where we would set it up, once brought home.

So instead I will share a funny conversation with, whom else but Elsa, from a few days ago. Again - it involves the stairs. This time we were going down the stairs.

Me to Elsa as she blithely springs from step to step her little baby toes barely curling around the edge of the step before lifting off for the next one.

"Slow down!" I admonish her. "I don't want you to fall!"

"Ohhhtay" she responds and then rather than springing from step to step she began to grip the edge of the step with her toes like a monkey while grasping the railing. In this fashion she stretched her body as far down the railing as her body could physically reach and then let her toes relax so that her feet slumped to the next step where she repeated the exercise. I, in misery, watched this gymnastic feat holding my breath lest she fall.

Finally we reached the bottom step which she sprung off of lightly and I, still tense from watching this incredible feat, called after her in a (somewhat) teasing voice:

"You just live to make mummy worry don't you? I guess you think that's your job, eh?"

"Yup!" She answered me, her little red curls bouncing as joy and energy emanated from her little body as she danced into the dining room.

And it is my job, for now. And before I know it that job will be done - more or less. I will always have the job of praying for her. But all too soon the daily errand of watching closely behind her, scooping her up when she falls and wiping her tears when her feelings are hurt will be done. Oh sometimes she will call and her tears will flow over the phone, but for the most part she will be independent, standing on her own two feet and she won't really need me any more. So I think I will go find her now and see if she might like me to read her a story. Something I don't do enough. See you tomorrow for open line Saturday. Read more!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Photos from the past...

I am only going to post one photo today. It is that of Benjamin with Gabriela and Jennifer. Jennifer is now married and happily settled in a small NC town. Gabriela, of course, is still home and enjoying her younger siblings. Benjamin is now 11 and still enjoys attention! But don't we all?

I have a funny joke to share but will try to see if I can pull off a video of it with one of the kids telling it. However, given the current shape my neck and back are in - I am keeping my time online to a minimum as sitting at this desk seems to especially exacerbate my neck injury and right shoulder. As always - I am open to prayers for healing. Read more!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Stiff neck, sore back, hot one moment, cold the next, then hot again. Then...

Two small pills...

and in short time

I am

not really

fit to


a n y t h i n g....

Hope to see you tomorrow! Read more!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trying to remember this...

"You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him."
St. Teresa of Avila
Read more!

Saint Anthony's Feast Day (This Coming Friday)

Here is a lovely website where one can find three different essays on the spiritual career of Saint Anthony. Saint Anthony has long been a favourite saint in our family and especially of mine. He has been wonderful to us in his frequent answers to our requests for his intercession when looking for something lost. Recently our daughter, living in Ireland, called home at 1:30 am, her time, to ask if her brother Noah would please ask Saint Anthony for prayers to assist her search for expensive missing concert tickets - and the concert was the next day. She and her room mates had just finished tearing the house apart in a frantic attempt to find them.

She requested for Noah's specific prayers as it is often joked that he has a hot line to Saint Anthony. Recently Noah shared what he thinks is his secret for getting such good and usually very quick results when he asks Saint Anthony to assist us with his prayers. Apparently if Noah offers to pray a set of prayers or to make a sacrifice of some sort, Antony never fails in his assistance. This makes sense given Saint Anthony's zeal for the conversion of sinners and his desire to preach to his religious brothers. Wat would motivate him more than the opportunity to oblige someone to spend more time spent in communion with our Lord, through prayer.

With that in mind, I not only asked Noah to pray but I too offered five rosaries to be prayed should Saint Anthony's intercession should be successful. It was and in an unusual way. I suspected that the tickets had probably been thrown out and at about 1:30 am (Aimee's time in Ireland) an email came in announcing that that morning a call to Ticket Master had achieved the release of two more tickets - despite the policy to not not do this. They had been able to attend the concert and really enjoyed themselves.

I am slowly whittling down my fee of five rosaries.

Post script - I originally thought that TODAY was his feast day, as I thought it was the 13th. A dear friend pointed out to me that his feast day was on the 13th and I thought - umm yeah and today is... quick glance at the calender showed me that it was the TENTH. But hey - given that half the time I don't know how old I am (and apparently I am in good company) how can I possibly be expected to know the day's date? Not knowing ones age can be a problem in the ER though. Read more!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Strawberry Fiesta

Today is Baking Monday, but in this heat who wants to bake? (Our high was about 39 c or 102 f) However, I have discovered a most delicious, cold, smooth, and refreshing drink I have been making almost daily. Feast your eyes on the details of this delicious combo that I will admit I have ripped off from watching closely how a national franchise makes their yummy strawberry drinks.

Now this franchise uses a processed strawberry mix that has, who knows, how many calories. They add it to a cup full of ice until the cup is filled to the brim with both the ice and this liquid berry mix. I on the other hand do not use ice cubes - opting instead for individual frozen strawberries that I have purchased in bulk from my nearest and dearest Aldi.

So here is my version of a delicious Strawberry smoothie!

Choose a large cup or mug. I like to use my Got Monks travel mug.

Fill to the brim (loosely, not packed tight) with frozen strawberries

Then add milk (2 %, whole or half and half or variation there of, essentially to your liking. I often use half and half) until the cup is filled.

Pour the strawberry milk combo into your blender.

Add to this 1/2 cup low fat (huh and she is adding half and half?) organic vanilla yogurt.
(I use a soup ladle to scoop the yogurt out of the plastic container. This measure 1/2 a cup)

Most days I have added less than a 1/4 cup of raw cane sugar - not processed white sugar. (Originally I was measuring this as two small fistfuls but finally measured those fistfuls and now know for certain that it is less than a 1/4 of a cup.)

Today I made it sans sugar. It was good but not as tasty as with it - in my humble taste buds opinion.

Hit the grate ice button until the strawberries are well broken up and barely discernible. Then blends for a few more seconds. Pour into your cup - and you will have more than you can fill the cup with. Just as this national franchise always does!

Pick up your favorite magazine, current novel you are reading, sit back and enjoy. YUM! Read more!

A most disturbing article...

...from the Catholic Exchange. In this article we see the comparison made of the Canadian justice system to that of the tribunals of Stalin's Soviet Union as well as Mao's China. Most disturbing and sadly - quite accurate. To read the article - click here. Read more!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Open Line Saturday ... on Sunday!

Oppps! Saturday quite got away on me - but I did get some pics to go along with the post. Just didn't get the post written.

So last Saturday you were left hanging, wondering how I have resolved the problem of never having enough towels for bath time no matter how many times I washed them in a week. Heck, I could wash two loads in a day and they could be all back in a laundry basket before bedtime.

It took a couple of steps to resolve the problem. The first was to buy each child a special towel so that it was easy to identify whose towel was whose. This took care of a lot of problems especially the "name that towel" game as in WHOSE towel has been left on the bathroom floor??? Now there is no guessing. The culprit is immediately identified either by colour or cartoon character.

This solution was not as expensive as I dreaded. For the youngest two I purchased each a lovely colourful beach towel. I believe the price was under ten dollars each. For the next four rungs in our ladder of nine currently residing at home I discovered a lovely purchase at the local super store to the tune of about 5 dollars a piece and there was just the right number of colour selections. Again - they were beach towels. The next two on the ladder were my teen aged young ladies, so I splurged a little and bought them each a set of organic cotton towels complete with bath towel, hand towel and face cloth. Sad to say the price more than the advertised label of organic caught my attention - less than 24 dollars a set.
The oldest, our 21 year old son, brought his own hunter green bath towel when he returned home this summer to pursue some college courses at the local college, so no expense was needed there. That just left my husband and I. However, my recent additions of colour coded bath towels suddenly opened up a whole new gaggle of unclaimed towels to pick from.

None the less, I was still often finding Hugo and I sans a towel when one was needed. This was due to another problem that needed to be resolved before he and and I could begin to enjoy the luxury the children were now experiencing - an available towel whenever needed.

The problem? Broken drain pipes under the sink. For months we had not been able to drain the kitchen sinks properly and knowing our land lady as not in a very good financial situation and yet had been very patient with us when we were often behind in our rent the past year, we were not anxious to bother her with this current challenge. But when the bathroom drains went upstairs we decided it was time to let her know.

Suddenly I know the joy of being able to pour a stale cup of coffee down the kitchen drain without the worry those few ounces may have caused the pail under the sink to over flow, requiring ... towels for the clean up. THIS is where the currently freed up towels were being put to use, often leaving the towel cupboard bare. We all tried to remember to check the pail before dumping liquid down the sink, or while washing the huge piles of dishes that need to be washed daily in our home. Still we experienced an overflow almost daily, and sometimes more often. Occasionally the odd bucket was overturned on its way to be dumped down a a working drain. This was known to sometimes to cause the flowing of more liquids - tears of frustration.

Now that that difficulty has been resolved, the hot weather is upon us and my solution to towels, towels, towels everywhere and yet none to be had is about to face its final test to see if I have the definitive solution or not. Can my stack of colour coded towels meet the demands of daily pool play and shower time? Only time will tell. I'll let y'all know when the verdict is in.

(Pool Pics below) Read more!

Pool Pics...

Read more!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Prayers Please

I have two prayers requests: one of thanksgiving that Holly Marie from Good Remedy has come though her cleft pallet surgery with flying colours and is already home! If you wish to meet Holly and her lovely family click on Good Remedy above.

My second prayer request is for a family I have not met but that my neighbour knows. The two families attended the same preschool group last winter and they are from our neck of the woods here in NC. Their beautiful baby girl was born this spring, with seriously damaged heart. This family has been through the mill, several times, since Grace was born. Now it has been finally decided that a heart transplant is Grace's best hope for survival. And that is what it is all about - survival. This baby has been fighting daily for her life. To meet Grace and her family and to read their prayer requests click here.

Another baby who could use prayers of thanksgiving as well as continued prayers for help is my daughters god father's granddaughter. She was born in March weighing just over a pound and is now closer to eight lbs than seven! Is that not amazing. At this point they are looking at June 11th, the baby's due date, for release from the hospital. However, she is being released still on oxygen and on a feeding tube - not ideal conditions so please keep this new family in your prayers as they face the challenges of caring for a still somewhat fragile, but incredibly beautiful baby. To read her story click here. Read more!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Photo Thursday

Read more!

Photo Thursday continued...

Fonzie was a one of a kind dog and it was with great sadness that he had to be put down in the fall of 2003. He was six and his boy, Jonathan, was 18.

Fonzie joined our family in the spring of 1999, when he and his nine siblings were born in our kitchen. Their mother, Caila, was our Bouvier whom we had hoped to show and eventually breed. However, her breeder and we came to the conclusion that she did not meet the qualities one needed for breeding. It was decided that she would be spayed but upon hearing this through the grapevine, it appears that Caila did not agree with this decision. She slipped out one night and met with the Golden Retriever, Raleigh, who lived down the road. And we were blessed with a litter of ten handsome puppies. This was Caila's only litter as we managed to get her spayed before she had thoughts of more. After their little rendez vous, Raleigh ceased to visit and never did meet his five sons and five daughters.

They were a lovely litter but the Fonz was the man! We still miss him and his mother, who passed away in May of 2006 at the age of almost 13. Read more!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Are we streaking or walking....

Me to 3 yr old Elsa as she scooted past me on the stairs in her birthday suit:

"Hey Elsa - you need to get some clothes on - you can't be running around naked!"

Elsa "But I is walking, not running Mummy!"

Ah - that makes the world of difference - no? Read more!

Prince Caspian

After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that this review cannot follow the style of review that I normally use. This is because the typical viewer will already know the plot from having read the book and readers of my review are looking to learn how closely the movie is following the original story.

My real dilemma is how much of the actual movie do I expose in sharing how closely it does or does not follow the book without spoiling the adventure of watching it in person.

Sadly, I simply have not had time to return to the theater to watch it a second time despite my promise to do so I do not have a really fresh impression of the movie and typically I am reviewing a movie in DVD with the ability to re-watch scenes that are pertinent to my review. Obviously this is not an option.

One of the questions most prevalent in my mind that a reader wanted to know was how much was Aslan in the movie compared to the book. My initial reaction while watching the movie was that Aslan was in the movie about the same as in the book. However in re-reading the book I realized that there are two scenes late in the book involving Aslan that have not been included. These are rather fun and involve some characters that as Lucy says “I wouldn’t have felt safe with Bacchus and all his wild girls if we’d met them without Aslan.” Apparently Bacchus, his wild girls and Silenus are individuals that MR Tumnus told the girls about ever so long ago. Another scene with Aslan and the girls that is dropped is that of the three of them flying through the countryside. I think it would have been a fun addition to the movie. In particular I think this could have been a very funny scene that would have really appealed to the younger member of the family.

Here is a small segment of it:

Aslan and the girls come across a school filled with children especially a group of boys who “looked very like pigs” The teacher is a tired looking young girl who attempting to teach arithmetic to her inattentive pupils. When she catches a glimpse of Aslan “a stab of joy went through her heart.” Ultimately the teacher joins the group of revelers that Aslan, Lucy and Suasn have been gathering over the past few pages. And the little boys “ it was said afterward (whether truly or not) that those particular little boys were never seen again, but that there were a lot of very fine little pigs in that part of the country which had never been there before.”

There is one change that I did not care for and that is the relationship between Prince Caspian and the high King Peter. I will say no more so as not to spoil the plot line for future viewers. Once you see it - you will understand my disappointment.

While there are many deviations from the book, including the addition of a battle not in the book I would have to say, in conclusion, that one can really enjoy the movie especially if you attend with the intention of simply taking pleasure from watching what is a great family/action movie that is both clean and gripping. In this respect, the fact that I had not re-read the book before attending the movie probably enhanced my experience. Instead of constantly comparing the two, I simply sat back and enjoyed the movie as well as watching my two young ones and their reactions to it. I hope those of you who do attend the movie enjoy it as much as we did.

(Please also note that while we brought Emma, 5, and Nathaniel, 7, to the movie and they had no problem with the battle scenes, please keep in mind that these scenes are intensive. Also remember that Nathaniel and Emma, being the younger children in a family of a great mix of ages, have been far more exposed to movies with battle scenes than my older children had been at their tender age. The scenes are not gory but are intensive, and parents might wish to view the movie first before determining what age range in their family is appropriate to view the movie in the big screen which is very different experience from viewing at home on the tv screen. ) Read more!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cranberry Muffins

We enjoyed these muffins last week. They were absolutely scrumptious! I have been dreaming about them all week. Anna discovered the recipe as she wanted cranberry muffins but was not crazy about the recipe we usually baked. The creme le creme is the streusel-toping. It just makes these to die for muffins! Now Anna made a slight change in the recipe as you should be able to tell by the title. We used cranberries instead of blue berries and, drum roll please... we used canned cranberry whole berry jelly.

Now, if only Anna was feeling like baking again despite the 27 degree (celcius) temperatures and the fact that I have only just turned on the AC in an effort to conserve money. I don't know about you - but my tummy is grumbling. A little later a picture of these muffins will be added. (Only five on the plate as I was barely able to snap a photo of them!) Behind the plate of muffins is a bouquet that was the joint efforts of Noah (13) and Bethany (10). It was created out of plants found growing around the yard.

Berries and Yogurt Muffins

  • 1/2 cup plain, vanilla, or lemon yogurt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh red raspberries or blueberries ( OR substitute this cup of fresh berries with 1 cup of whole cranberry sauce)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional (We did not add nuts due to allergies)
  • .
  • Topping:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter


Heat oven to 400°. Lightly grease and flour muffin cups or line with paper or foil liners.

In bowl combine yogurt, milk, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, melted butter, and egg. In separate bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Combine the mixtures, stirring only until dry ingredients are moistened. Gently fold in berries. Spoon into muffin cups.

In a small bowl combine the topping ingredients with a fork until crumbly. Top muffins with crumb topping.

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes about 12 to 15 muffins.

Anna used our Texas muffin tins and had to bake the muffins longer. (We went the grease and flour route.) We find muffins of this size extremely filling and a great way to serve an easy breakfast., especially when planning an early morning departure. Of course, she doubled the recipe as well. Read more!

Nothing to do with food, or baking...

..but very important none the less. An online magazine has a poll going on. To answer the one and the only question in the poll "Should parents need teaching credentials to home-school their kids?" , click here.

Interestingly the article that accompanies the poll is titled "Should Homeschool be illegal?" Results of the poll at this time (8:24 am EST) is 91% declaring no - parents do not need credentials. BTW 15,434 people have voted no compared to the 1553 who voted yes.

Hopefully a few more home school families will vote and leave a comment so that the one currently at the top will get pushed down. This person was obviously too emotional to proof read her comment before clicking the send link! I can just feel her blush once she re-read it after it posted!

Good Luck voting! Recipe and photo to come later today, but now I must away to my duties of the morning... one more lesson plan to update, new chores lists as per a suggestion that was fielded this weekend, and ah, cough cough, a long promised review, call to the real estate agent, a few bills to pay (ouch) and so on. You all know the drill.

See you all around the fountain later today! God Bless!! Read more!