Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Technically Speaking

My middle man is a tech junky. Always been. He's just wired that way- pardon the pun. Driving home from the vet yesterday I inquired....

Me: Hey, did you get a chance to read your catechism today?

Him: Yep. All of it.

Me: Oh, good. Tell me about what you read.

Him: Well, it was about sins. Like...(thinking for a moment) actual sins. And virtual sins.

Me: laughing too hard to even explain what he meant to say.

All I can say is next year the priest is going to get a hoot out of this kid!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tea and Visits

One of my favorite things to do in the early hours or when the house is quiet and I need to get off my feet is to have a hot drink and see what other people around the world (or just in my backyard) are up to. I find great inspiration, motivation and just plain learn things from these people. I have old favorites that I often visit and some new ones that I'd like to share.

First is my friend, Meka, who has introduced me to journaling. Not just "dear diary" journaling but drawing-in my case trying to draw. Meka carries her little black book with her everywhere she goes and can often be found with pen in hand sketching what has caught her eye. She's turned me on to checking out drawing books at the library and falling in deep-like with this form of catching memories.

Next is someone I stumbled on through an old favorite. Laurel is leading an exciting life in a place I can't imagine. Her photos help me to see a world so very far away all the while while my head sings "goin to katmandu...".

And last is one I just found too interesting- Lindsay is in Tel Aviv with her husband and children. Another place I cannot fathom but enjoy seeing a day in the life.

Isn't the blogoball a great place? Oops, tea's empty- that means my time is up. Happy trails.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bells Will Be Ringing

School bells, that is. Today we are back in session after, oh, I can't even remember. Boy we took off some time preparing for Christmas. Today we're back to math, writing, history and geography. I'm feeling a little lax in history with my 4th grader right now. I have planned to start this timeline to plot people and dates in history as we go- I'm only what, three months behind?

We did however get a fabulous geography lesson yesterday at the Pacific Science Center. We saw the IMAX movie, The Mystery of the Nile which followed a group of researchers over 3,000 miles along the river. It was really well done and super interesting. I have always been fascinated with learning about Africa so it was great to see different countries and cultures in the film. Even my little guy loved it. His favorite part? Repelling down the Victoria Falls, "That looks like FUN!" he yelled. Or the parts where the river was treacherous and boats were flipping over in the raging water. "I want to do that!" Yes, I have a brave little spirit on my hands. And the music with this show- I must find it. The gift shop doesn't carry it claiming it's a "Spanish import". What does that even mean?

I'm off to get my whip cracking- that's code for filling up my coffee and relishing the fact that all three kids are still asleep after 8am and it's just me and the rain on the roof. But truly, with coffee in hand I must go work on our history lesson.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Is that....Ratatouille??

Christmas at our house was so nice. So white and beautiful. We were completely stuck in the house (I missed Mass for the second year in a row!), but we made the best of it.

It must have looked so cozy and serene in our little chalet because there was a visitor at our door yesterday, wondering if there were any crumbs leftover.

Yes, that would be a rat. And no, he is not coming in to make soup.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wishing you the peace that Christmas promises. And may we hold onto it as long as possible.

A Really White Christmas

It's been quite a week of snow and ice storms and gearing up for Christmas. There's been lots of baking, sewing, wrapping, putting out fires of all-sized people spending too much time stuck in the house...

We keep throwing bird seed out on the snow pile off of the kitchen. The birds are so thankful.

Candycane tea, the best Christmas CD ever and even more peppermint bark.
Tonight as I sit here on Christmas Eve with the snow continuing to fall I am finally feeling the peace. My checklist is checked. All the preparations are done and it's time to step back and take it all in. I love this night.

The angel outside my door- she's donned in even more snow now.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It'll be Frightful Alright

It's been a blustery wonderland lately. We got snow and with the snow we found ourselves stuck. Our long and lonely road is covered with ice and snow and without good traction, well, we're here. It's been a whole bunch of fun for the past two days baking, wrapping gifts, being together and playing outside.

However, it's been cold. Below freezing and hasn't gotten out of the 20's. Now here comes the bummer part of the winter wonderland. There is another storm moving in tomorrow evening that promises sheets of ice and wind up to 70 mph for those of us in the foothills of the Cascades. My weatherman told me to expect "old testament weather" and to prepare for outages. So we'll have our bathtubs full of water, candles and flashlights ready, a little camping cookstove and many blankets. Hoowee, I suppose it's better than on Christmas day? I still need to get out to civilization at some point and procure myself a few items- in the meantime, I'll work on my patience and try to keep warm.

Some photos to make you feel cold...

Mountain Miracle-A Nativity Story

On the list of books to review for the Catholic Company, I found a children's book. I LOVE this genre and so I jumped on it right away. Another benefit- the opportunity to share this with my children during Advent.

The book Mountain Miracle- A Nativity Story is a quick read but in reading it to children, can't be done in one sitting. The book is comprised of 94 pages and a large print with some illustrations. I found the beginning somewhat hard to follow. It took both me and my children a bit to fully understand who the characters were and what was taking place. Mountain Miracle was originally written in Spanish so perhaps the translation led us to the initial disconnect.

However, a few bedtimes into our reading the author, Alvaro Correa, LC, had us hooked. Without giving away the true miracle on the mountain let me tell you that my voice wavered and my bottom lip quivered as I read about a shepard, a dove and the Blessed Mother smiling. Imagining a nativity story so life-like gave me chills.

This will be a book that I put in my Christmas basket to read for years to come. A special little story that lets one believe in miracles and remember what a true Christmas is all about.

This review was written as part of the Catholic Book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Mountain Miracle - A Nativity Story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Getting a Jump on the Resolution

I broke my leg in mid-August and it still hurts to run. I had no idea it would take this long to heal, none. And with an already paid for number in the Seattle Rock-n-Roll marathon late June, I need to be ready to train.

Enter my slight addiction to advertising...I admit, I confess, I got sucked infomercial. My husband smirked as I ranted on and on for days about it. "You could do it too", I said and his smirk grew larger.

My P90X fitness program arrived shortly after and Josh and I are both on day 6. Guess what? We both like it. This isn't the same old workouts with cheesy music and people- they have made the videos so that men don't feel silly doing them. More importantly, the workouts are tough. I must say that I love my little gym I belong to- I crawl home like a defeated fighter after each session but the gym isn't always easy to get to for a homeschooling mom. So this system works perfectly for me and my family. My kids are enjoying it too. Family workouts are fun-the kids are lunging and stretching and racing around the basement.

There are 12 DVDs designed to promote muscle confusion so that each day a new muscular group is working. Let me tell you, I can feel it. I'm sore in all sorts of places. I detest the pull ups and chin ups- as a matter of fact, I stink in that area. I'm hoping that I can eventually do a set of pull ups, tone up, lose the pooch, and get back to my running days. And for the record, I will absolutely not post my before photo unless I get the results I'm looking for in 84 more days.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Must See Molly

My good friend Molly just sent me the saddest email informing me that she's going to have to close her incredible small business. It seems that government regulations going into effect in February on all goods being sold for children must undergo testing for lead. Sounds good and important, right? Well, the problem is that this testing is absolutely outrageous in cost for a small business owner. In fact, numerous shops that we love may have to close their doors due to this. Toys, clothes, decor, etc- how incredibly sad.

Please check out Molly O Designs to see her sale and read up more about what can be done.

Caps for Sale

I mean sending (we just read that book-it's stuck in my head). Here's a quick and easy little last minute gift idea.

Cut four triangles of fleece and sew right sides together. If you want tassels, make sure (learned this the hard way) to tuck them to the other side before sewing. Then cut two panels measuring the equivalent of two sewn triangles. Fold the panels around the base and sew together. Flip the hat out and voila-chapeaux to go.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How Beautiful Your Branches

To make up for the loss of snow at our house, we took the kids to cut down our own tree up in the mountains. What an experience! We froze our patooties off but made such good memories.

Little does he know, but that one is a bit out of our price range.

There she goes...

He must be wondering about that little stump. I'm wondering if he knows what cold, wet jeans will feel like in a few minutes...

Ah the fire, with frozen toes the warmth feels that good.


Friday night all the weather reporters said to stay home if possible. What was coming was not good. Unless of course you're a kid and you're wildly excited that when you wake up in the morning your mom is going to make you hot cocoa and you're going to go build a snow cave for hours....

This is it at our house. We've been had....

For the Birds

Prior to the major wind/rain/snow/artic blast storm we had this weekend, we made made these sweet wreaths for the birds. Mixing peanut butter, flour, bird seed and water, we shaped and baked until brown. We hung them on various tree branches and watched as the birds tried to nibble.

My little guy spooned some of the leftover mixture into a cup cut in half. We thumbtacked the cup to the tree and put a stick into the sticky seed for birdies to sit on.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You Can Come, Too

If you know me, you know that there's a good chance I'm tired. My usual range is somewhere between manic bouts of energy to a coma-like trance. Why? Blame it on my wiring. Blame it on my wee one. Blame it on a busy mind. I just don't sleep well. Never have, hopefully will.

For the past who knows how many nights I have awoken to anxious Christmas thoughts in my head. I told myself (and others for validation) that I would NOT have an anxiety induced Advent. It was going to be peaceful and joyful and reflective. Hmmm...that's been a challenge. It's not that I'm out fighting crowds and racking up the credit card. It's more that I'm behind in preparations and haven't had the opportunity to do all the things I wanted to do. And, and, and...I'm tired.

So what's a girl to do when her little guy wakes her up at 4:30 (especially when he has taken her spot and is peacefully sleeping in her warm cozy bed)?? Well today, in a blessed moment, I read my Living Faith devotions while waiting for the computer to come alive. And wouldn't you know that it was speaking just to me.

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
What a wonderful invitation! Jesus offers rest from our grueling burdens and arduous efforts. What surprises me is how easily I forget this generous invitation when I am overwhelmed with work or with troubles that inevitably arise. Instead of leaning on the heart of Christ, I give in to anxiety and worry. I work even harder and spend later hours in the office. I squirm and struggle, trying to get things to develop my way. Instead of turning to prayer and giving more attention to my divine resource, I lessen the time, believing it will help me "get more done". What a crazy response to Christ's wonderful invitation. Eventually, I wake up and remember, "Oh, yes, I can find rest. I can receive an easing of what consumes me." This will happen if I deliberately slow down, become still, and turn my heart toward the One who urges, "Come to me." Sr. Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.

Once again, I've been given hope. Here's to "waking up".

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Beunos Dios, and happy feast day to you. You must go visit Waltzing Matilda today and see her link to the tilma craft. Don't forget to print out your coloring pages, too.

I love this day. I love the story of Juan Diego and of Fr. Phil, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Hats are Off

They're on their way.

And what a lesson learned. My daughter made most of them while learning about the state of the world, poverty, compassion, geography and more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crafting Cones

What was more fun, hunting for the pinecones through the trees or painting them? What do you think? And does everyone's table look like this after crafting?

In case you're wondering- it was a tie.

Dashing Through the Rain

Sirens wailing, lights flashing, Rudolph guiding our way...oh what fun it is to ride on the annual firetruck when Santa visits the firestation.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Of Mice and Men- A Day with my Daughter

I loved spending the day downtown yesterday, just my little girl and me. Each year we both anticipate our outing- we get all prettied up and head out for some mommy/daughter time. It's one of our favorite things to do.

We went sightseeing, got my sweetie an ice cream and me a latte, ran around the fountain and saw the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker. Awesome day. My favorite part? Holding hands with my only girl as the lights dimmed and her not letting go...

Cracking up over the very serious poets and then...
Shel Silverstein. We love him!

That would be "my" red dot running and squealing waaaay over there. Doesn't that just look like fun? Too bad for my heels.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Haitien Hats

We've almost hit the deadline to send in hats for MamatoMama’s Caps to Cap-Haitian Project. The downloadable pattern is there with instructions and it couldn't be easier. To learn more about the project read here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One Down

Oh my gosh, I finished it. My first hat!! I hat to improvise on many parts because I didn't follow a pattern and had NO clue how to alternate colors or how to end it. It may not be pretty and it may not fit snug but it's done.

I absolutely love how soft the organic cotton is- no wonder it's so expensive. One Christmas project done and the confidence is building. Now if I could just figure out what these patterns mean...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Proverbial Crickets

are not chirping.

Our new pet is missing. My middle man brought this new family member home yesterday from his animal science class. He and his sister got right to work building him a new home fully stocked with food, water and toys.

Chirpy was put in the boy's closet for safe keeping while the proud new papa and his papa went to scouts. Racing in the door at 9pm to check on his new pet, sadness of an empty box set in. Chirpy was missing.

Perhaps we'll hear his (my son taught me how to tell the sex of the cricket and yes, it's a male) distant sound from some far corner today. Until then we'll deal with yet another childhood heartache.

NEWS BREAK: You can all relax because the cricket has been found. All it took was removing every single item out of the closet and re-arranging the bedroom. (Good timing for mom to get rid of the ill-fitting clothes and to find the missing library book!) And take note that because Chirpy has been so quiet, he is now Sam. Phew....

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's Upon Us

The other day driving home from bed shopping (yes a new, very firm mattress will be arriving next week- say goodbye to the bags under my eyes!) we passed a good 50+ cars with that familiar green shape on top of their car roof. My kids yelled, "ALREADY!?" in an incredulous tone because that's what it was...too early!

I explained to them that traditionally families would put their tree up on Christmas Eve and keep it up past Epiphany. We talked about commercialism (I didn't put it that way-I'm not that much of a Grinch) and how Christmas comes as soon as it can to sell, sell, sell. It's actually not a bad idea with our economy but that's a different chat for another time. And they understood or at least seemed to.

We will s l o w l y decorate the house and eventually get our tree. But for today we'll open our chocolate advent calendar just like always and boy are we excited to that! We'll light our advent wreath on the table- I mean we will as soon as I find it. And we'll work on handmade Christmas gifts because that is a major focus in our house this year.

Here's one that I just finished up for my sister in law. An apron to go with cookie cutters.

Not the best photo. I struggled with my model who had other things on his mind than trying on Christmas aprons...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Table Turkeys

My daughter is always coming up with new ways to decorate for the season and/or holiday. Here's her latest creation.

Her Tutorial
To make these you will need:
*brown or blue or black clay
*yellow, orange and brown paper
*foam and buttons for the Pilgrim tray
*black marker

For the turkey-Roll brown clay into a ball. Trace your finger on the colored paper then cut out the tracings. Those will be your feathers. Cut our a circle of the brown or red paper for the head and cut out a triangle for the beak. Add real feathers for the wings.

For the pilgrim-You will need a lot of blue or black clay. For his stomach roll a ball of clay and then flatten it slightly. Roll the arms and cut hands out of yellow paper. Stick the paper into the clay. Roll the legs out and add yellow paper shoes. Cut a yellow head out and draw face on with a marker. Roll a hat shape out clay and make a belt with paper. Draw a buckle on the belt and stick on the hat. If you want to make a tray, cut a piece of foam and put buttons or beads on a piece of clay and stick onto the tray.

I Call This One

Not quite ready for cereal...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mother Teresa's Secret Fire

When Mother Teresa died in 1997, I, like many others, cried. Why was it so painful to lose such a person of grace? I can speak for only myself- I was concerned about who would fill those shoes and be a role model of Christianity in it's finest. Mother Teresa was known world wide. Her signature white and blue sari is imprinted in our memory. Her good deeds and those of the Sisters of Charity go beyond my imagination.

When Mother Teresa's Secret Fire arrived at my house, I couldn't wait to dive in. Even the cover enticed me - The Encounter that Changed Her Life, and How it Can Transform Your Own.

What encounter, I wondered? What have I missed? What did the author, Father Joseph Langford, know that I didn't?

Well I won't give that away, you'll have to read it for yourself. Father Langford met Mother Teresa first on the cover of a book. In 1972, her picture spoke to him and touched his heart. Years later Mother Teresa would ask him to be in charge of a new community-Missionaries of Charity Fathers. That is when Fr. Langford set out to learn all that he could about Mother's grace. He longed to find out about her "inspiration" and when he finally approached her with his question in 1984, Mother Teresa looked up and said, "Yes, it is true. And one day you must tell the others..." Wow, this along with the copies of the hand written notes were inspiring indeed.

The book touches on what I remember hearing from the media as Mother's "dark night". They claimed that she even questioned God from time to time. Father Langford knew her much better and writes about that darkness along with the light it continues to bring forth.
Emphatically, Mother Teresa's dark night was not a "crisis of faith," nor did it represent a wavering on her part. Far from being a loss of faith, her letters reveal instead her hard-fought victory of faith, the triumph of faith's light that shines even in the darkness, for "the darkness has not overcome it" (Jn 1:5).

Something else in this chapter stuck with me as well.
But even if none of the gloom gathering on our horizon comes to pass, we will still need grace and courage to face the fact that our present tenor of life cannot continue indefinitely. In years to come, we all will know unforeseen suffering; we all will taste deprivation, in health if not in finance. Whatever our present circumstances, a share of personal tragedy will one day touch us all. The normal course of life will bring, along with blessings, disease to our children, accidents to loved ones, responsibility for bed-ridden relatives or a cancer-ridden spouse, loss of employment or loss of relationship, sudden reversals of fortune, or the untimely death of those we cherish. We will all need to find other sources of happiness, purpose, and fulfillment, beyond possessions and ease and protecting the status quo. In the end, the very process of our aging will itself frame the geography of our personal Calcutta.
It almost needs to be put on my bathroom mirror to serve as a daily dose of wisdom, don't you think?

I loved reading the personal examples of how Mother Teresa affected all kinds of people- from Christians to Muslims to atheists. The power of this woman never ceases to amaze me. From the Hindu and Muslim businessmen on the plane asking Mother Teresa to bless their children's photos to the Mafia drug dealer hearing Mother's voice on the radio and having a major conversion- there are many beautiful stories just like these in this book.

I cried when Mother Teresa died but I don't cry anymore. I'm not afraid of the empty shoes that were left because with this book I am reminded that she has touched so many people and her legacy of hope and charity continues. After reading this book I am again making my own life and it's surroundings a "Calcutta". I am revisiting what it means to contemplate on the thirst of Christ and what we care called to do. Good work Father Langford, your book is a light to us all.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Mother Teresa's Secret Fire.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Thank you, Easter, I'm flattered.

Do you know Easter? She has a wonderful blog full of gorgeous pictures of paradise on earth AND she has a new book coming out. Be sure to look for it!

Powdered Noses and Lucy

Fearless as ducks, we headed into the city yesterday- barely able to see through the rain on the freeway. Raincoats on, umbrellas in hand as we hopped over puddles while mommy shouted, "You don't want wet feet all day!"

We ended up at King 5 TV for a tour with a fabulous guide who knew everything about anything and was very familiar with her crew...six year old tiger scouts. She knew all their antics-touching the green screen, reaching for buttons in the control room, wandering off with their curiosities. These boys were actually very good and stayed super quiet while walking past the news on air. (If only the small squirt in my arms behaved the same way...did you hear him?)

The best part at the end of the tour was the boys seeing themselves on the monitors with the city behind them and trying to figure out why the city wasn't truly behind them. They learned that even the men wear make up because after all...a shiny nose is a shiny nose no matter what gender you are. And most importantly, they learned that you have to get up really early in the morning to be a broadcast journalist.

Next we headed over to the Pacific Science Center to become official members. And lucky us because they're giving free passes to see the world famous Lucy exhibit. Do you know about Lucy? She was found not long after I was born in Ethiopia and is over 3 million years old. Knowing these passes usually cost buco bucks, I wanted to get the most of it however, that particular squirt had other ideas. So, I didn't get to read and hear everything I wanted to but I got to see this old gal and that was pretty cool.

As the day wore on and my fatigue set in, we headed outdoors for a cup of coffee and hot chocolates for small people. And wouldn't you know that the skies had cleared and the sun was in full effect. It was nice enough for us to go on our own fossil expedition.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Sunny Start

A little boy burst into my bathroom this morning and excitedly said,
"Mom! From the kitchen is the prettiest view in the world".

I had to check it out- he was right. Darn good way to start the day. (Given the 90% chance of rain today).

I hope yours is just as beautiful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heave Ho, We're Layin' Low

We're fighting a lingering stomach bug over here. Fine one day, down the next- over and over. I suppose you call it a relapse?? Yesterday was a quiet day with one in bed moaning and sleeping, one helping mommy take care of all needs and the other just using his imagination. The weather also led us to feel somewhat like a nap- dark and drizzly the entire day. Until about 3:30 when the sun finally won it's place through the dreariness. From the kitchen window, we saw this patch of light hitting the hillside-what a reminder that the sun is still up there, ready to shine.

And being stuck in the house is also not conducive to sickness when the pantry is scarce. Somehow a bare bones chicken noodle soup was concocted with honey-oat bread to follow. While the soup simmered my daughter and I sipped tea and bonded over magazine crafts and recipes, trying to plan out the Thanksgiving meal. Although I don't even remotely like the sickness, I revel in these days that are out of the ordinary and bring forth closeness.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Viva, I'm Home

I'm sitting here with steaming coffee, surrounded by a dark although luminous fog. Sooo different than waking up yesterday to the bright sunshine and warm temps. I got home last night from my fast weekend away in Vegas.

Now if you don't know me very well, you might tend to think what automatically comes to mind with sin city. Nah, not this weekend. The past three days have been spent catching up with good friends and family, celebrating two 40th birthdays and sucking up the sun in my old stomping grounds.

And how blessed am I to be given a voucher to fly? Very! I appreciate it more than they know. Thank you to the Matthews and Happy, Happy Birthday Dionne and Jim.

Sitting on the patio Saturday morning. It felt as good as it looks.

Sunday morning with the moon visable over the mountains.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rascally Raccoons

They're absolutely adorable but so much trouble. Do you think I'm touching that raw chickeny-juiced bag they left? I think not! Good thing my husband loves me, I leave all the fun stuff for him.