Saturday, April 30, 2011

Catholic Art Saturday/Grace

Eric Enstrom is famous for his 1918 photograph of Charles Walden in Bovey, Minnesota. The photo is  known as Grace and depicts Walden saying a prayer over a simple meal. In 2002, "Grace" was designated the state photograph of Minnesota.
I don't think this would be considered, "Catholic Art", but certainly it is Christian. I grew up with this hanging in the dining room at our house, I always thought the man looked like Santa. I'm glad to finally know a little about it's origin.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Phone Limits

My two little boys, Benny and Charlie, have been a REAL challenge to me over the last year and a half. They were fighting most of the time and someone was always crying, yelling, screaming, and or injured. I didn't know what to do other than to pray...hard! I came to the conclusion that I needed to focus on them more and on me less, starting with limiting my phone conversations. For the past month and a half, I haven't spent more than 5 minutes at a time on the phone except for when they are in bed, or with Daddy. What a dramatic difference it has made!!! They are getting along better and I have even spotted some good behavior and genuine care and concern for each other!! Sometimes, I forget how pivotal my role as a mother is, they need to know that I am watching and that I care about what they are doing. Benny has become much more affectionate with me and we have been reading together more often...Charlie even likes to get in on the reading action. I have spent so much time feeling sorry for myself and allowing myself to feel rundown and often, I have felt incapable of changing or motivating myself to wake up and LOVE my family. They NEED me. I am not important to the world, but I AM important to them. Primarily, I will be judged on my vocation as a mother. My other commitments, although very good, don't even come close to that level of importance. It will always be a challenge to maintain that delicate balance of my vocation as a mother and feeling as though I am a contributing member of society....but I must remember that by being a loving and involved mother, I am contributing future well formed God-fearing citizens.(hopefully!!) Mothers have the power to change the world with love, tenderness, and mercy. Sweet Mary our Mother, help all mothers to wear your gentle mantle of grace and selflessness.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Whiney Wednesday

  1. Dear Sun, thank you for taking a break so that Rain could visit, he's gone now, are ya' comin' back or what?
  2. Why doesn't she understand that a spelling word is still wrong even if it's only the ending that is misspelled??
  3. If I have to get hearing aids before I am 50, the bill will be sent to my children.
  4. I think there are a few dozen rats that live in this house, because the kids are clueless at how the house arrived in this condition.
  5. Don and I have NOT had hardly ANY alone time...there is always at least 2-6 children between us!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thred Up Deal

The other day on Money Saving Mom, there was a link to Thred Up with a $13.95 discount, so the total including shipping per box was $2.00!! I had been praying to St. Anthony about finding Charlie and Benny some polo shirts for Mass, so I was delighted to discover the perfect box, 5 polos, 2 pairs of jeans and a zip up fleece jacket. Everything was in great shape.  What a blessing!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cousin Pride

I just had to do a little bragging, my cousin, Joey Koester, rocked the Newton Invitational! Joey is a junior at Bishop Carroll and plays on the varsity golf team. The following articles were published about it.

From Varsity Kansas Click for full article here 
"Five golfers have either been Carroll's top scorer or its second best golfer in its four tournaments: Drew Chadd (80) and Luke Peter (81) at Carroll's own tournament, Joey Koester (72) and Chadd (76) at Newton, Koester (73) and Peter (79) at the first league tournament; and Ben Dreiling (78) and Nate Hoffman (78) at the second league tournamr and Chadd have been surprises. Koester played sparingly on varsity last season, while Chadd played on the junior varsity.
"Joey has shot scratch golf during qualifying a time or two but to do it for 18 holes on back to back days in tournaments with tough competition was a real accomplishment," Berger said."

From Kansas cw click for full article here
"Carroll won the Newton Invitational on Tuesday with a team score of 305. The win was the first for any active golfer on Carroll’s team. Carroll’s victory was made by an even par round from junior Joey Koester. Koester’s first-place 72 at Sand Creek Station followed a 73 from Koester at Tex Consolver the previous day. “Joey played phenomenally well,” said Austin Swisher. “One over par through 36 holes in less than favorable condition is extremely impressive.”

Rock on, Joey!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Few Funnies

Benny brought me this book and explained the cover to me. "Mommy see that thing in the middle? The Germans(aka, the pilgrims) cut the head off of a worm and stuffed it's body with food." Yes, another proud home school moment;)

Benny said, "Mom, you are a girl, and I would like to have you for my wife, except that Mom isn't a girl name."

While praying one night, Charlie was listing his intentions, "God bless Mommy, and Daddy, and Benny, and airplanes, and my pee-pee(potty training has obviously been weighing on his mind), and Noah.....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Johnsonville Sausage

SheSpeaks sent us free Johnsonville Sausage to try. Overall we liked the taste and our favorite was the 4 cheese flavor. We don't usually eat very much of these types of products, so it was a special treat, but the nature of the product is so filling, that I don't find myself craving it. The kids love hotdogs, so they were happy to try was a little chewy for Charlie. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best, we would rate it a 4.

Disclaimer:...Our family did NOT consume this on Good Friday, I forgot to post this review as I had promised to do earlier.  Easter Blessings!

The Way

The cenacle or upper room where the Last Supper was held.

The Garden of Gethsamane where Jesus sweat blood and prayed.

The prison where Jesus was held.

The courtyard where Jesus was tried.

Old Jerusalem

Golgatha or Calvary where Jesus died for us.

The tomb where Jesus rose.
"We adore you Oh Christ and we praise You, because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why Home School?

Occasionally, we are asked why our family has chosen to home educate our children.
  • There are many reasons, but the main reason is because we believe that it is God's will for our family. This decision was based on loads of prayer, research, and in talking to friends who have decided to enroll their children in school and also home schooling friends.
  •  I do NOT believe that God calls everyone to home school. Each family is unique in their calling.
  • We don't home school because we think the school system would fail us, or because teachers aren't good enough. I have always LOVED teachers, and I have even MORE respect for them now.
  •  I don't look at it as us verses them. WE are all working toward the same goal...Heaven. It's been a wonderful blessing to be able to work closely with our parish school, St. Pat's. I am so impressed with the AWESOME teachers we have met who dedicate their time, efforts, and make daily sacrifices to give the children of the diocese a solid education.
  • We get to practice and learn about our Faith together as a family....I am learning SO much!
  • We don't vaccinate our children and that is definitely not very helpful with the current diocesan policy, but that isn't the reason we home school.
  • Yes, I would consider enrolling our children, if circumstances changed or I felt the children weren't thriving.
  • I do enjoy the relationships my children have with each other, they truly are best friends with each other. Of course, they fight and disagree, but they learn to work it out.
  • In a home school setting, the kids enjoy playing with all children, regardless of age/grade.
  • We like having control over curriculum content.
  • Traveling off season is a definite perk.
  • We have learned to work together as a family...not always perfectly, it's a journey.
  • I feel that children need unstructured play time...lots of it.
  • We feel that home schooling helps maintain our children's innocence and purity.
  • In the Catechism, it states that parents are solely responsible for their child's education. Obviously, that doesn't mean we can't send them to school, but it IS our responsibility, no matter which path we travel.
  • Although some days, I get totally stressed out and overwhelmed, I wouldn't trade the time I have been able to spend with my kids...for anything...
Lastly, I wish to share a poem that I feel expresses my experience with home schooling.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

...Robert Frost

Vacuum Crazy!!

When Noah was a toddler he had a HUGE obsession with vacuums, instead of watching cartoons, we ordered free vacuum videos...he loved them. If we went to visit someone, he would ask to see their vacuum. He knew all the brands and the differences between the types, like those with bags or canisters. His favorite toy vacuum was a plastic blue one we found at the Goodwill for .65 cents. Eventually, we let him use our real vacuum and even open it up and see how it worked. He still likes vacuums, but he's not obsessed any longer.
I think Charlie has inherited Noah's obsession. I took him to the store to buy groceries and he said, "I want to look at vacuums, oh, they don't have those here, Mommy?" Last night, Don got up with Charlie to calm him down after I wouldn't nurse him again( I have weaned him except for nursing him 1 time for nap and 1 time for bed.) Anyway, Don decided to let him watch a cartoon or something online, but he didn't want to...until Don found a vacuum advertisement. Then he calmed down and fell asleep. He also likes lawn mowers, he got so excited the other day when the neighbor had his lawn mowed by a commercial lawn service and they had the kind you stand on the back of...Charlie was shaking with excitement.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mystery Shopping

I wanted to tell you about a way to earn a little money that I have found to be very easy, flexible, and fun!
I am a mystery shopper. My friend introduced me to it years ago. With our Dave Ramsey way of life now, it's been a great source of extra income. There are lots of scams out there regarding mystery shopping, if a company EVER wants you to pay them to start, it's a scam! I work mainly for 2 companies, Marketforce is my favorite because I generally am able to get lots of shops. Anyway, just thought I would let you know about it. Let me know if you have any questions!
Here's a link:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blender Geeks

Us eating Shrek Ice Cream
While the kids were at Baker University taking their state assessments, we wandered over to Sam's Club across the street.(Rock Rd)
We were excited to see the Blender of our dreams, The Blendtec Blender, on display and being presented by Brad Wolken, the Blender Blogger, he took our picture and added it to his blog. This blender is the coolest machine, it's got an awesome high speed motor that grinds flour out of rice, popcorn kernels, and of course wheat seeds. It also makes the best Shrek ice cream, its very yummy and also very healthy, here's the recipe:
To make this green vanilla ice cream put 6 ounces of Half and Half in the blender along with 2 tsp. of vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of sugar or your sugar substitute. Add about 2/3 cup of dry powdered milk. I add about 40 ounces (by volume on the jar measuring guide) of baby organic spinach and enough ice to create a perfect frozen dessert- usually about 2 or 2 1/2 cups. Use the Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt button. Vive the green ice cream! Be sure to click on Brad's name above to check out his blog and his delectable recipes...the tortilla soup is fabulous!!
No, we didn't buy the $300+ blender, but we are in awe of it...and someday once it becomes within our means we may just make our blender dream come true!!

What started our "blender love affair"? It was this series of hilarious videos, called "Will it Blend?"  the owner of the company blends various things from shoes to electronics, nothing escapes his experiements! Click HERE to see.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stewards of the Earth

Our faith calls us to be good stewards of the earth and all its creatures.

 In 2007, the USCCB came out with the following,

"We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of God’s creation. Care for the earth is a duty of our faith and a sign of our concern for all people. We should strive to live simply to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We have a moral obligation to protect the planet on which we live—to respect God’s creation and to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for human beings, especially children at their most vulnerable stages of development. As stewards called by God to share the responsibility for the future of the earth, we should work for a world in which people respect and protect all of creation and seek to live simply in harmony with it for the sake of future generations." You can read the complete version HERE.

There are even more references to catechises and scripture references that speak of our duties on this earth, HERE.

I wanted to "defend" recycling particularly through recyclebank. It costs $3.75 per month to be able to recycle. On top of that very small cost, we are able to redeem points for coupons and gift certificates. It's a wonderful incentive, but I would pay the $3.75 even without that incentive. It would cost more to have extra trash carts. It's amazing how much we can recycle, some weeks there is more in our recycle cart than in our trash cart! I think that is AWESOME!! I don't think it could be made any easier..everything just goes into 1 sorting. It would be nice if the trash companies would include this cost free, but really it's a small price to pay to be a good steward of the earth. There are extremists that have given the "green life" a bad wrap, but virtue lies in the middle, and we are all called to care for God's creation. There are other ways to recycle, I have a friend who brings her recycling to our house, I have a friend who takes her's to her parents house, some people take their recycling to different organizations, and there are many other ways to practice good stewardship. One great way, that I have COMPLETELY neglected is to use cloth diapers, but we have decided that if we are blessed with more children, this is what we will do. Feel free to share your "greenness", in what ways do you bless the earth?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Catholic Art Saturday/ St. Dominic's Bouquet

I received some birthday money that I used to make the bouquet, it cost $33 to make, but I am content to have something  to replace our Holy Family statue that was broken. It's a beautiful reminder of our journey.

In a dream of St. John Bosco, St. Dominic Savio appeared with this beautiful bouquet of flowers, each representing the virtues we must have to attain Heaven.

The rose is the symbol of love,

the violet of humility,

the sunflower of obedience,

the gentian of penance and self discipline,

the stalks of wheat for frequent Communion,

the lily of purity,

the sprigs of evergreen of constancy and perseverance."

Friday, April 15, 2011

When You're the Mom

When you're the Mom, you turn invisible
But your children become the moon and stars,
When you're the Mom, no one bakes you a cake for your birthday
But you get sweet handmade cards colored with love,
When you're the Mom, most people forget to ask how you are
But you get to talk about your favorite little people,
When you're the Mom, it's only a party to you, when the spaghetti stain comes out of a shirt,
But everyone celebrates when junior poops on the pot!
When you're the Mom, wearing makeup becomes a budgeting issue,
But all the snuggly kisses would wipe it all off anyway.
When you're the Mom, sleeping is rare,
But you discover, a good night's sleep is better than any vacation.
When you're the Mom, sacrifice is a way of life,
But you realize how much Our Lord didn't deserve His sacrifice.
When you're the Mom, hearing, "thank you" is usually forgotten,
But it makes you appreciate your Mother.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Silver Treasure

If you have any silver coins collecting dust at your house, now is the time to cash in! Silver is at an all time high, they told us at Phil's Coins that today is the highest they have ever seen it.  We took in about $30 face value coins..nickels, dimes, quarters, and a few half dollars....we walked out with $520!! We put that on our credit card debt. WAHOO!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happiness is Free

How many times do I seek things out so I'll finally be "happy?"

If I could just lose these 20 pounds!
If we could afford to give more to others,
If we could take that long awaited family vacation,
If we could just finish remodeling this house,
If I could just be more organized by installing closet organizers,
If the kids would just get along better,
If my kids could all get good grades and high scores on their assessments,
If we could afford to get our children the best of experiences and lessons,
If I could just find a nicer van that didn't squeak when it ran.....etc

Happiness isn't in the distant future, it's today.

It's in the smile of a sleepy 2 year old,
The laughter of a joke that's only shared between parents,
It's the beauty of a blooming spring, happening right out my front window,
It's in feeling that connection to Our Lord during Holy Communion,
The sense of community that is shared in our parish and you realize it's universal.
The simple words, "I love you."
It's the bonding of mothers who share a common goal,
It's the thrill of going downhill after a seemingly difficult uphill bike ride,
It's in the acknowledgement of opening a thank you note,
The butterflies that form in your stomach while swinging high,
It's in the discovery that your 4 year old IS wearing his shoes on the right feet,
It's in the wonder of a nighttime full of stars,
The comfort from a genuine hug,
It's holding a sleeping bundle of a new baby,
The joy of a family gathering,
It's the breath of a new morning,
The discovery of truth,
And it's in realizing that happiness doesn't just happen to us, we must be aware that it is happening right here, right now....and no purchase necessary!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

In an effort to be more thankful of what I already have and to be "content", I thought I would share a few of the things in my life that bring a smile to my face.....aside from my babies and hubby;) Feel free to share your favorites too!

I have this cross-stitch hanging right next to "my side" of the bed, it's still my favorite piece that my friend, Jan made. My house is full of her beautiful art...every time I see them, I think of her and all the time, love, and effort she put into each one. Thank you Jan!

I also have this print of the "Last Supper" hanging in the dining's always a great reminder of Who to thank before we dig in.

My bike has been my companion as our family has been hitting the roads again with the great weather. It's perfect for family rides because it has pedal brakes, no gears and it doesn't go too fast for the kids to keep up...and the best feature is the big seat for my big.....

I love this bench, it was a clearance deal after the summer season last year and it fits perfectly on our porch....our cats love to snuggle here also....just as long as they don't poop on it again..grrr.

Lastly, I love the fresh smell of baking bread wafting through the house, it couldn't be any easier than using a bread machine. I don't bake bread super often, just about every other week or so...but when I do....aaahhhhh. My Mom let me have it since she wasn't using it much anymore. Thanks Mom!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Piano Recital

Waiting to begin

Hannah playing "Contrary Motion Study"

Cookies and Punch

The whole crew

Hannah & Jonah and their BEAUTIFUL piano teacher, Kimberley

Jonah and his Godparents, Jan and Bob
What a blessed day!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Catholic Art Saturday/Holy Water Fonts

One thing that I have failed to do since moving into our home, is to put up our Holy Water fonts. We do keep Holy Water in a small bottle in the kitchen, but I need to find ours in the boxes and hang them up.

St Teresa of Avila says, "From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again. "

According to
Following are some of the petitions the priest makes to God when He blesses water:
“Oh God…..grand that this creature of Thine (water) may be endowed with divine grace to drive
away devils and to cast out diseases, that whatever in the houses or possessions of the faithful may
be sprinkled by this water may be freed from everything unclean, and delivered from what is
hurtful…..Let everything that threatens the safety or peace of the dwellers therein be banished by
the sprinkling of this water, so that the health which they seek by calling upon They Holy Name
may be guarded from all assault.”

Lastly, I wish to share a personal story of the power of Holy Water. Our family uses it all the time, whenever anyone is sick, scared, anxious..etc..we sprinkle it, use it to trace a cross on our foreheads, drink it, apply it to an afflicted body part, and to sprinkle it around the house.

Hannah was an infant and became quite ill. She had a high fever and she was very lethargic and had been like that for a few days, she just didn't seem to be getting better, even after taking her to the doctor. I called my Mom crying for prayers and help. She rushed over with a bottle of Holy Water from Lourdes. We traced it on her forehead and crying, I prayed to my Heavenly Mother for help. In a moment, I could smell roses and noticed it was coming from the Holy Water. My first thought was that at Lourdes, they must put rose oil into it or something. So, I went to our stash of holy water bottles from SEAS, and various other places and smelled them also. All the Holy Water in our home smelled of roses!! We took it as a sign of Mary's presence and within a day, Hannah was totally well. God is really with us...always!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Imaginary Shopping

Do you ever go on a shopping spree for pretend?? I do. Sometimes when the kids were little, I would take the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and write down everything to create the perfect kids room. Then I would share the grand total with Don and have a good laugh. I have been thinking about my kitchen and how I would like to transform it with a few things. So, I thought I would share them with you!

First of all, I would like all new matching countertops, since they currently don't all match. These are just stock laminate countertops from Home Depot, but take a look at that sweet ogee edge! I just wish they came in a darker brown color...but these would do.
Next, we need a new light fixture to replace the dingy yellowed flourescent antique.This is pretty basic, but the trim classes it up a bit. Also from Home Depot.
Now, on to the sunroom! We need something to cover the 10 windows and I have my eye on these pretties from Lowes.

Look at this lovely set from Sam's Club! The sunroom is kind of a narrow room, so regular furniture is just too bulky.
The grand total would be @ $2,500....maybe someday?!?