Monthly Archives: August 2012

{SQT} Here’s A Comment, So Comment Back Maybe?

I sat down last night at my computer to type up a {pretty, happy, funny,real} post, when I realized yesterday was Thursday! Gah! Guess that means I’ll have to cram all the blather of a Seven Quick Takes with the photo sensibilities of a {p,h,f,r} post. Two great tastes that taste great together.  *smush* Plus a heapin’ helping of Pin-able pics, cause while some of the pins on my boards make me jealous, I see a lot more that make me think, Pffffpt! I can create something like that! 274 repins? For real???


1. After processing so many tomatoes I wanted to die, I finally moved on to processing the watermelons. At first, I wasn’t sure what I would do with the almost one dozen melons collecting on my deck. I’d seen some recipes for canning watermelon, and even watermelon rind and there was no way I was making any of that, and then trying to force it down my kids’ gullets in six months. Then a friend suggested cutting it up and freezing it. Genius! Better yet, I took the watermelon flesh, ran it through the blender and poured it into popsicle  molds. The kids loved them! Plus, I just poured blended flesh into gallon bags and laid them in the freezer to scoop out later for smoothies. Three watermelons later, I had eight trial pops and seven bags of blended flesh. One watermelon has rotted so only eight more melons to go. I hope the kids really like popsicle and smoothies.

2. We finally made it to the dollar store to collect the last of the school supplies and allow the kids the feeling of living large. The older three each had three dollars apiece to spend as they wished. My daughters each took additional funds. I’m thinking, how much crap am I really going to let them buy, $2 maybe $4 worth? I selected what I needed and then stood there for another 10 minutes trying to influence their purchases. “Only one can of silly string please. Oh! Who wants this neat origami kit? Anyone? Edie, really? Another wig? Addie that poster is huge! Do you really think you’ll color that whole thing?”

3. While there, I contemplated buying another small dry erase board because ours were all a mess. I couldn’t do it though, and I vowed to try to clean some of our old boards again, before investing in another. I tried wiping hard with a paper towel, soapy water, vinegar and then lo and behold I tried rubbing alcohol. Did you know it cleans dry erase surfaces LIKE A BOSS?! Forget the dinner prep, I started running around the house cleaning and making everyone look at how shiny the surfaces were and adding, “No you may not draw on it right now! I need to show your father as soon as he walks in the door!”

4. After assaulting my husband with a clean dry erase board, I finished making one of my favorite meals for dinner. Without an additional vegetable mind you, because I’m greater than the food pyramid. Ham loaf and pineapple stuffing are two foods I’ve never found outside my hometown of Lancaster, PA. And now, I present them to you. My ham loaf recipe is a combination of recipes I’ve found in a couple Mennonite cookbooks. The pineapple stuffing was a regular at church dinners growing up and was included in a cookbook released in the early 80′s as a fundraiser. Pretty much every meal I ate growing up came out of that cookbook.

UPDATE: Click for the recipe! If you tried before and it didn’t work, try again, I fixed it!!

5. The Modern Mrs. Darcy, a.k.a. Anne wrote a great article over at Simple Homeschooling about time management for moms. I could relate immensely because Anne homeschools four kids and tries to make time for herself to write and network online. I’ve been upfront from the get go that while this blog is fun for me, I also hope to eventually turn it into something more. What exactly I’m not quite sure. But I do know, writing, commenting and social media is something I’ve been trying to squeeze in around the clock in bits and pieces; a furious and usually fruitless attempt at multi-tasking. These bad habits have led to numerous typos in posts, statuses, tweets, etc that I don’t catch, despite re-reading things a million times. And sometimes, I don’t notice them for hours or days after publication on the interweb. I realized my mind was never fully present during my hasty writing blips. I made stupid mistakes because I was still mentally writing lesson plans, reading a story to the kids, cleaning the kitchen, or worrying about all three. Taking Anne’s advice, I’m going to change some things.

6. And another thing, I’ve acquired the wonderful habit of finding great blogs, commenting on them, forgetting to be notified of follow-up comments and failing to bookmark the site.  I don’t know how many times lately I’ve tried to track down a blog I commented on with no luck. And I’ve got some folks on my Facebook feed, some on Twitter and some in my reader feed. If you’re one of the lucky few I’ve got in all three, you’ll know because I communicate with you. If I commented on your blog once and never returned it’s not because I didn’t find your site interesting, I’ve just got lousy online etiquette. But I’m working on it. I’m hoping to dedicate time just to read, comment, respond to comments/emails, catalogue sites and other assorted social media networking so it doesn’t take away from my writing time. Or pull me away from my kids during school time. “Do history on your own! I’m in a twitter conversation with someone I don’t know but they’re referencing a comment I made…must. scroll.through. browser.history.”

7. From the beginning, I wondered how real and sincere my budding online friendships could become. Could the people I met only through their online identities really become friends? Was it all a game just to gain followers and page views?  But I’ve been surprised, pleasantly, in people who’ve taken a genuine interest in me, what I write and take the time to comment. I’ve found people I admire and I read and comment on because, I genuinely like who they are, at least online. I have yet to meet an online acquaintance in person so I wonder if the feelings would transfer to a face to face meeting. There’s been some uncanny coincidences between myself and those I’ve met which can only led me to believe God can bring people into your life anyway He darn well pleases so don’t discriminate or you might miss out on a great friendship.


Guess that wraps up ramblings here. Someone stop me before I start mutilating more family pictures in PicMonkey. If you’re not interesting in being friends because I’ve hurt you with my callous online behavior, be sure to head over to Jen’s for more Seven Quick Takes written by people who will respond to your comment promptly and otherwise love you.



Filed under Food, Humor, Photography, Seven Quick Takes, Tips and Tricks

My Buckets Overfloweth or A Gallagher Harvest

From our deck, we are able to look out across acres of protected farmland. It’s a wonderful view that lures us into thinking we’re back amongst the fields of Lancaster, minus the manure smell.

The family that farms the fields rotates crops and every year we anxiously wait to see what will spring up. This year migrant workers planted rows upon rows of tomatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon. We were pretty happy because we’re always invited to harvest some for ourselves, and our kids love melon; much more so than the hay the farmer planted last year.

From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. the workers were out spraying, tending or harvesting the crops, and occasionally bringing cantaloupes the size of a beach ball to us as we sat on the deck. We recently noticed a drop in activity, but it was still a surprise when on Friday they walked to our house and announced the fields would all be plowed under the next day, and we were invited to harvest as much as we wanted before then.

They’d already stopped harvesting the tomatoes, and we’d been helping ourselves, but we hardly made a dent. I HATE processing tomatoes so, I’ll admit, I wasn’t going all gang busters picking ‘maters; just enough for salads, sandwiches plus a few to roast and freeze for later.

The hired workers had picked many of the ‘lopes, but many more laid ripening in the sun, while the watermelons had never been harvested. I can only guess that buyers weren’t paying enough to make it worth hiring the labor to collect the fruit.

Faced with so much free food that was otherwise going to be destroyed, something was stirred in all of us to try to save as much of the bounty as possible from the plow. Even my mother-in-law who hates the heat was out for hours picking plum tomatoes.

I turned to the one place I knew I could get help, trusty old Facebook, to drum up workers to bring in the harvest.  Within hours families were showing up and filling their vans with produce. Children ran through the fields, some hidden by weeds and tomato vines looking for the perfect specimen. Wagons and wheelbarrows were rolled and pushed by teams of little hands across the yard. Our deck was awash in reds, greens and smiling sweaty faces. My children especially were distraught at the thought of so much food going to waste, even though I can’t even tell you the last time one of them ate a tomato that wasn’t part of a pizza or dish of spaghetti. I think Addie would have hauled every watermelon in the field onto our deck if I didn’t finally stop her.

Not pictured; another garden cart full of watermelons they picked after I told them we had enough.

We gave away fruit after Mass, took bags of tomatoes with us to playdates and families shared with neighbors and coworkers. I’m trying really hard to process all the tomatoes. I could have enough tomatoes for the year, if I could just buckle down and do something with them. It was suggested to me that the pink flesh of the watermelons could be run through a food processor, frozen, and used for smoothies. I might also try making some popsicles with them so the kids can have local watermelon in January. That is, if I don’t fill them all with booze for an impromptu mom’s social. (The melons, not the kids.) Back to school with a bang!

Of course, in the excitement of the day, some of the watermelons got dropped and were cracked. Some were carried from the field and discovered to have rotten spots. I could have let the chickens, or the compost pile, consume these cast offs, however the sight of a large sledgehammer, a.k.a Sledge-O-Matic, sitting in our barn gave me other ideas.

Was I really the only unpopular teenage girl sitting at home on a Friday night watching old Gallagher movies on Comedy Central?

Don’t answer that.

I did not have a hard time convincing my children on the awesomeness potential of smashing watermelons. I think they  were more surprised the idea came from me, and not their father. We placed several slightly rotten or under ripe melons near an old stump as the anticipation mounted.

I imagined video taping the whole family taking  swings, setting the movie to the 1812 overture, and creating a viral web sensation…..amongst my close family and friends.  However, the kids, impatient as always, smashed all the melons in my absence and much to my dismay, insisted it wasn’t that great. The melons didn’t explode or splatter as much as they hoped. “Anti-climatic” they said. What?!?!  Having watched the Sledge-O-Matic demonstration at least 100 times I knew they must have been doing something wrong. I sent them to collect me a new specimen so I could demonstrate proper technique.

Here is me, in a poor quality video, smashing a watermelon with a über heavy sledgehammer and creating  sizeable splatter. My spectators didn’t need plastic ponchos, but my legs were pretty sticky afterwards. Within five minutes, the chickens were all over this stump cleaning up the mess.

Despite almost dislocating my shoulders, I must admit I rather enjoyed demolishing a watermelon.  It’s a violent release that doesn’t scare anyone, cheaper than a massage and it’s sure to tone my biceps and triceps with regular repetitions. Alone time at the local bookstore might be nice, but can it top smashing a watermelon with a sledgehammer??? Hardly.

I’ve got a few extra melons and a Sledge-O-Matic ready if any stressed out moms need to stop by. The only catch is you’re required to take produce home. Shoot me an email to reserve your spot before the melons are gone!





Filed under Humor, Photography

{SQT} Insert Smiley Face Where There Is A Frown

I contemplated skipping SQT this week because what could possibly top seven things about my new clock? But here I am, neglecting the children again and wracking my brain for seven things that can somehow reflect my week without making me seem like a whiney momasaurus. Prepare the fail button.

1.  My house is loud. All the time and lately, it’s been driving me crazy. Like, send my husband out to by me Jagermiester at 7 p.m. crazy. (Which he did. Love you hon!) Right now the younger two are constantly screaming for my attention, usually over top of one another. Our family went to a playdate on Wednesday and I spent the whole time with one of them either on my lap talking over me, spilling food, pinching my skin or screaming from the floor that he was being neglected. Even at home, no one can talk to me without going through Fulton or Teddy. They are the gate keepers. Woe to those who expect to converse or hug me without the wails of the oppressed ringing in their ears. And don’t even expect to sit next to me lest you take a Hot Wheels to the noggin. I love that my kids love me so much but it’s kinda like scary stalker banshee love right now and it’s make me weary. And irritable. I think everyone else in the house would add irritable.

2. No one wakes up happy in this house. Teddy wakes up by 6:30 every morning screaming like the monster under his crib is gnawing on his leg. If I don’t jump up instantly out of a dead sleep to get him ,the whole house is awake in 5 minutes. And when Fulton wakes up he screams GET ME, I’M AWAKE!  over and over until I do just that. It’s like being shot out a gun into my morning. And I’m the type who loves to ease into my day with some coffee on the porch. I can’t even remember the last time I did that without some child banging on the door behind me, “I want to come outside too!”

3.  I had to drive Byron and a couple of his friends to altar server camp at our church this week. This necessitated me being dressed, Byron being dressed and driving somewhere BEFORE 7:30 a.m. I tip my hat to my friends with kids in school. You think homeschooling is hard? I think running around every morning like a chicken with my head cut off is a nightmare! And that was just for one kid! The reason we’ve had leftovers twice this week? The reason my Quick Takes are late? The reason I passed out last night on the couch at 8:30? Altar server camp. I can’t wait to get back to my normal routine of PJ’s until 10 and a coherent mindset by noon.

4. I will not have an indoor cat. I will not have an indoor cat. I will not have an indoor cat.

Who is that furring up my new school cabinet?!?


5. Cute treehouse photo.


6. I had the talk with my oldest daughter about Aunt Flo this week. It was necessitated by her selecting an American Girl book that mentioned tampons. The talk went well and  she wasn’t scarred thanks in part to our Usborne Science Encyclopedia which did the hard part of actually explaining things. It was like a Summers Eve commercial without the talk of that not so fresh feeling. Definitely one of my prouder mom moments. I mean, I didn’t even snicker when I said vagina and fallopian tubes!

7. My husband said lots of funny things this week. None of which I remember now, but really, he’s an entertaining guy. Hopefully he’ll read this and leave a snarky comment. (Don’t try too hard Tony, just go with your gut!)

Bdee-bdee-bdee-that’s all folks. Stop by Jen’s for more Quick takes.



Filed under Humor, Photography, Seven Quick Takes

Pinning All My Hopes And Dreams On…2012-13 Curriculum

We’ve named our homeschool after St. Bruno the Great. He was awesome and therefore, so is our homeschool…at least in title anyway.


August messes with my head because, on one hand, I’m all “Yay, we’ve finally wrapped up another school year! No school for a month!” while on the other, I’m completely “Aaaaa! Only a month until we start another year of school! I need to write up lesson plans and completely overthink how and why I homeschool!!”

So now that it’s T-minus 10 days (give or take a beach trip) until things start back up, I’m in heavy duty neglect the laundry and scum in the tub planning mode. Thankfully, things are coming together. This will only be my sixth year of homeschooling, and while I continually make mistakes and revise (some times I feel like this whole experience has been a rough draft up to this point) we have found some things that work across the board for our family.

I love learning what other families use for homeschooling, even thought it often sends me into a frenzy of late night researching and second guessing my own curricula choices. In this post, I thought I’d list all the exciting books and text we’ll be using for school. If you’re one of my non-homeschooling readers, I will try to keep you in mind and keep it funny while still being edu-taining for other homeschooling moms. (You can visit my Must Haves page for links to many of the texts. Links provided for other books so you can see what the heck I’m talking about.)

Addie, Grade 5

  • History- Story of the World Year One. Her second time through. I’ll expect her to do much of the reading on her own. I hope to update my History Downloads with some of her favorite books from this year. Tony found some musty tomes on Amazon he’s convinced she’ll love. That is, if he can ever let them out of his sight.
  • Math – She will finish Abeka 4 and start Abeka 5. We also use the test/ speed drill books. I love Abeka. Addie hates it. She’s excellent at math so I win. Ha!
  • Writing – I invested in the Institutes for Excellence in Writing series…finally. But only because I found it so dirt cheap at a conference used curriculum table. (Although because it cost more than $50 Tony almost passed out.) The older three will follow the IEW format using their history, literature and science books for inspiration. I haven’t been satisfied with the narrations I was getting from my older two. Other writing programs combined with assigning more narrations wasn’t helping. I’m hoping this program will help them glean the important details from what they’re reading and convey them more clearly.
  • Spelling – Sequential Spelling with Byon.
  • Literature – Booklist in progress. With Addie, I can usually assign one book a week.
  • Latin- This is Tony’s territory. To the best of my knowledge, he’s using Catholic Heritage Curricula’s program with some supplementary readers for Classical Academic Press thrown in. I know Latin is central to our family’s classical homeschooling philosophy but when it comes to teaching it myself I…zzzzzzzzz.
  • Art – After two years of drawing books and Discovering Great Artists, I decided Addie and Bryon could use a little more formal drawing instruction. I thought the Seton Art 4 book was a step in the right direction.
  • Music- Addie is really gifted with music IF SHE WOULD JUST SIT AND ACTUALLY PRACTICE. I refuse to let her quit piano because I know she would hate me when she’s older but she wants to take another instrument so I said fine, but you have to keep working on the piano so when you get tired of the harp/violin/flute/dulcimer all is not lost. She agreed.
  • Geography/Mapwork – Although SOTW is great with including mapwork in their curricula, since I did not purchase activity books for years 2,3 and 4 I constantly forgot mapwork. We have a globe that I use often but I was not convinced my children knew anything about geography or reading a map accept that New Jersey was the pink state. I purchased the Map Skills work books Level D for Addie and Byron to make sure all the bases are covered.
  • Logic – The Well Trained Mind recommended some brain teaser books for 5th graders to start preparing their minds for the next phase of the trivium. I purchased the Mind Benders Book A1 for Addie and she’s excited to have a ‘puzzle book’ for school.
  • Science -  Most families I know have that one subject that sort of falls through the cracks every year. I love history so we’re on top of history, but science, Meh. I like science but, in the grand scheme of things elementary science just wasn’t that important. This year however, I picked up Christian Kids Explore Biology for all the kids. It’s not the perfect program, but I’m tired of hobbling together science curricula that always falls short or looses steam. (I’m looking at you Physics Kit! Ages 8+ my butt! Try 38+….) We’re using that with the Usborne Science Encyclopedia and Handbook of Nature Study. Addie and Byron will do most of the unit reviews, and experiments, while Edie can focus on the coloring pages and simpler activities.
  • Religion – We try to be very liturgically minded in this house, but I noticed that while my kids were great with traditions (Our Lady of Guadeloupe= Taco Night, Feast of St. Lawrence = BBQ, St. Nicholas Day = chocolate in shoes) they’re weren’t always the best with catechism answers or prayers. So in addition to their CCD work, which is minimal, each is using a Seton Religion Book this year. Addie and Byron will work together on Religion 4.

Byron Grade 3/4

  • History – Story of the World Year One
  • Math – Abeka 3
  •  Writing – Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • Spelling – Up to this point, every spelling program I have tried with Byron has failed to help him learn to spell. Not phonetic based, not copy it a million times based, not play fancy games on the computer based. Nothing. I could say, well he’s just a bad speller like his father and I, and just keep giving him workbooks that teach him nothing, frustrate him and waste our family’s time and money. But, at the suggestion of a friend, I’m trying Sequential Spelling. It can’t make him spell any worse than he already does. And Addie’s going to do it too because she’s an excellent speller and will excel at any program so why not just kill two birds with one stone?
  • Literature – Booklist. Always tough to plan lit for Byron because he reads at a different level than Addie did at the same age so I can’t necessary use the same books. (Shakes fist at children.)
  • Latin – I’ll just add our kids get all their grammar at this point through Latin. I don’t think kids retain intense grammar at this age, but that’s just my opinion. Tony and I think it’s more important for them to be exposed to good writing (and intelligent conversation) where they will absorb good grammar naturally.
  • Penmanship – Handwriting Without Tears 3 – Hopefully I won’t cry when I try to teach him cursive. If you saw my husband’s handwriting, you know I’m fighting a losing battle.
  • Art- Seton Art 4
  • Music – Attempting to play John Williams on the piano as much as I allow him to.
  • Geography/Mapwork- Mapwork D
  • Science – Christian Kids Discover Biology
  • Religion – CCD materials, living la vida liturgical and Seton Religion 4.

Edith Grade 1

  • Phonics – We’re picking up with Explode the Code Book 2 1/2. I love this series and wish I would’ve used it with the older two.
  • Reading/Literature – I decided to use real books instead of readers this year. I looked at suggestions from Veritas Press and The Writing Road to Reading as well as what was on my bookshelf already. Although she can read, Edie prefers to snuggle on the couch and be read to. I’m hoping the use of real books will motivate her to take the initiative and read more on her own.
  • Math – Abeka 1
  • History – Story of the World Year 1, with me reading all the chapters aloud.
  • Writing- I’ll work with her, using the IEW format, to create narrations from her literature books and history selections.
  • Penmanship/Copywork – She’ll continue to work on handwriting by copying her memory work and some narrations.
  • Memory Work – This is another subject I always drop the ball on. Yes I know these little ones are sponges just waiting to soak up all these interesting facts, prayers, bible verses, etc. but I really hate practicing this stuff over and over again. I don’t want to memorize it! This year, I want to record all the memory work in advance on CD and let her listen to my soothing voice with headphones on. Hopefully, recorded mama can keep her cool reciting a Stevenson poem for the 50th time. Here’s some of the things we’re hoping to work on. 
  • Art – Activities from the SOTW Year 1 activity book
  • Music – I’m going to attempt the Introducing Your Child to Classical Music program again this year but playing the songs at lunch time. I’ve already got the playlist set up on iTunes. I just have to shove sandwiches in their mouths and hit play. Then BAM! – Mozart effect.
  • Geography/Mapwork – Maps from the SOTW 1 activity book
  • Science  - Same as the other two but using Usborne books for younger children and lots and lots of coloring! Thankfully, Edie loves to color.
  • Religion – CCD materials and Seton Religion 1


Fulton will also start PreK but that’s another post for another time. I’m exhausted after typing all that. But it looks impressive right? Except for those spots where I keep saying “drop the ball” but, overall one gets the impression my kids are on their way to Harvard right? Right?!?!

If you homeschool, DO NOT leave me a comment criticizing one of my choices. We are blazing ahead with this stuff come hell or high water. I will be off school the month of December; criticism must wait until December when I can add a new book to my Christmas list. If I have one more box of books delivered to the house now, I think Tony will cut up my Visa.

Otherwise, I’d love you supportive and reassuring comments. Now back to my lesson plans!


Filed under Curriculum, Homeschooling

Looking Back And Moving Forward; Blogging Lesson Plans?

Six months ago on February 21, I decided more than six hours of sleep a night was overrated, and jumped head first into the competitive sport of mommy blogging.

I registered a domain and designed a site despite not being entirely certain what I would write about on a regular basis. Would people really want to keep reading about how much I suck at homeschooling and all my ramblings about the ugly, vintage items scattered in my house? How many photos of a stranger’s children dressed in mismatched clothes can people look at? But yet, I kept going. I wrote stuff so I wouldn’t forget it and I wrote stuff because reading it made me laugh (and maybe snort/ geese honk laugh.) I poured my heart into a few posts when I needed to, and people responded with prayers and words of encouragement. I even finally got around to organizing all my history notes and posting them online for others to download and use.

I’m still a small fish in a large pond, but unless I’ve got one or two really persistent stalkers, I racked up a nice amount of page views. I keep telling my husband I’m writing because I like it, not for approval or to make money, but certainly, knowing other people are reading and enjoying my work is satisfying. And the $4 from Google Ads will buy a box of gluten-free brownie mix, which isn’t too shabby either.

The next six months holds the start of another school year, our birthday crunch season (eight birthdays in four months), my husband’s first business trip overseas (GASP!) and Christmas, plus weeks of shower skipping, late entrances and banging my head against a wall.  And, I predict, at least one brush with a stomach virus, because October tends to hate me. My life is really too busy for blogging but yet, my life is too full of good material not to blog.

I feel like I should outline goals for the future of my blog, to keep it on track and focused for those moments (days, weeks?) when the craziness of life leaves me gasping for air and exhausted. I’m really good at writing out lesson plans that look beautiful on paper. Perhaps I need lesson plans for my blog? I already have the perfect binder for them!!

I’d have to establish subjects to cover, materials needed, daily assignments, frequent exams and routine evaluations. First year blogging subjects could include “Weekly Memes; More Fun Than NFP Charting”, “Sincere Comments; Not Just For the Sincere”, “Creating a Filter From Your Head to Your Keyboard” and “The Bloggers 10th Commandment; Do Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Blog Stats”. Materials would be a computer with a super-duper high-speed connection so you can open 30 tabs with all your social media outlets at once, a patient (or absentee) spouse, independent children familiar with basic first aid and a pen to jab into your eye when WordPress/Blogger/”Technology”  unapologetically swallows hours of work with a blip.

This would be schooling I could really enjoy! Too bad I need to focus on the needs of my children, rather than my glorified diary. After all, that’s my job, being a mom and teacher and all. If I didn’t want to do that, there’s a whole building full of teacher’s eating up my tax dollars eagerly waiting to mold my kids from the early morning free breakfast program until the after school programs wrap up.

So until the ideas run out or all the kids graduate, modest goals it will be. Posting three times a week, connecting with more great bloggers online and brainstorming ideas for a really awesome homeschooling book (I’m thinking maybe ‘Homeschooling; The New Ball and Chain and How to Offer Up Your Endless Sufferings’ or some other uplifting/ spiritually edifying title.)

And now, despite it being late morning, won’t you raise a glass with me (or sippy cup  if that’s closer at hand); to six more months! Cheers! Thanks for sticking with me.



Filed under Humor

{SQT} The Clock

1. Cue angelic choir,

part the heavens,

enter in the streams of golden sunlight,


Your eyes do not deceive you. It’s a German beer stein, pipe, accordion, Tudor house wall clock. AND as a bonus it has Roman numerals, which we love cause we’re traditional. This is the only acceptable step up from a sundial or hourglass around here.


This is a dramatic reenactment of the moment at Goodwill when I first laid eyes on the clock. “It has turquoise and red in it, just like the new kitchen! It has a beer stein, pipe and accordion!”

Instantly, my mind was transported back to our crazy night at the Germanfest and I envisioned that this timepiece would turn our new kitchen into this;

I couldn’t believe that someone had willingly donated this clock, with a working battery, to Goodwill. And, just as astonishing was the fact that this item was still on the shelf when I arrived, having been passed over by who knows how many other shoppers.


How do I love thee clock, let me count the ways. I, II, III, IV…

The clock came home with me for $6! Which I had in cash because a few days earlier the kids had thought wrapping all the coins in the coin jar would be fun. I purchased this clock for pennies! Rolls and rolls and rolls of pennies!

4. Tony said I used the biggest screw I could find to hang it up like that was a bad thing. I can’t take a chance that a freak earthquake, tsunami or fat person tripping and falling on my floor would shake it off the wall.


I wanted the cat and the chickens to know I still loved them and that they didn’t need to feel threatened by the presence of the new clock. Whiskas is warming up to the idea of a new clock in the house but the chickens, especially the head rooster, is having trouble adjusting to another alpha male. Yes, I’m pretty sure the clock is a male and I can’t decide whether to name him Otto Von Bismarking Time or Albert Timestein.

6. The clock met with mixed results from the children.

Teddy thinks the clock looks delicious. Mmmm, bratwursts. Or as he would say, “AAAAAA! Pllfpf!”


Obviously Fulton thinks the clock is on par with monster trucks.

Edie holding the clock out the bathroom window. It’s a long story but she likes the clock.

Addie, Byron and Tony are all also in love with the clock but I was unable to capture that sentiment on film despite allowing them plenty of time to caress and hold the clock under my hawklike glances and warm, encouraging prompts. I documented confusion, grimaces and forced smiles but not the true feeling of admiration they surely have tucked deep down in a wee corner of their hearts.

7. It’s fair to say, no matter what numbers the big and little hands are resting on, it’s always half past awesome up in here.

Now that I’ve blown your mind, head over to Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes. 



Filed under Humor, Photography, Seven Quick Takes

Why You Will Not Want To Carpool With My Family

Monday evening Tony and I were sitting outside chatting about our days when I enthusiastically shared with him the description of a handicap van I saw in a hospital parking lot. We’re looking to upgrade to an even larger handicap van/truck/bus/semi-truck in order to transport our whole family once Teddy gets his wheelchair in the next year. The van I saw looked no bigger than our current 15 passenger, but somehow seemed to have enough interior room to fit more than one wheelchair plus bench seating. I pressed my face against the tinted windows of the van and admired the lack of crumbs. I mentioned to Tony that the company decal on the back said ‘Turtle Top”. I was going on and on about the swank interior of the Turtle Top when Tony interrupted me with a laugh and asked “What’s it called again?” “TURTLE TOP!” I said, exasperated that he seemed oblivious to the elegance of the Kardashian of handicap transportation. “Oh, I thought you said plop, turtle plop. Heh, heh. Hey, check me out in my new Turtle Plop. Let’s all go for a ride in the Plopper!”

Today I get an email entitled simply ‘the plopper’ which links to the manufacturer’s site complete with specs and floor plans. And while I’m still in love with the vehicle (it really would be great for our family in the long run) I know that purchasing one would result in years of jokes about ‘the family plopper.’ Tony’s already committed to getting the name painted on the side. Heck, even if we don’t buy this brand, I know the likelihood of any future vehicle being christened ‘The Plopper’ is almost a sure thing. Hug your swaggerwagons tight tonight ladies; you never know when something more sinister might come along.


1 Comment

Filed under Humor

Summer Ramblings Of The Blah, Blah, Blah Variety

Did you ever have that feeling on a Monday night that your week was shaping up to be one of the longest yet one of the fastest weeks in you life? Like you would feel all 168 hours of it in the marrow of your bones, yet you would see and remember none of it as it zipped by at lightning speed?

It’s the kind of day that two glasses of wine at dinner does nothing to relax and an iced coffee at 6:30 p.m. does nothing to invigorate.

But I can’t complain, because, ignoring the 5 hours I logged behind the wheel yesterday, I think my fatigue is related to all things rather stellar. And honestly, any time I need a pick me up I just glance at the new clock I bought for our kitchen. I’m going to devote an entire post to ‘the clock’ at a future date, but let me entice you by saying, on a scale of one to ten it’s ninja awesome. Like, a ninja tossing chocolate-covered bacon throwing stars right into my mouth awesome.

We’re also enjoying another influx of out-of-town family visitors. The kids are in their glory between the break from school and the amount of new people in the house who take a genuine interest in all the things I can no longer pretend to understand/ appreciate. I am so tired of being lectured on Star Wars characters or the rules for their homemade basement carnival games. Finally there is fresh blood willing to listen to the character differences between episodes and the finer points of Byron’s game called “I’m Starving” which to me, looks like a big mouth hacked out of cardboard propped against an old shelf, but apparently, is on par with Dungeons and Dragons in strategy.

I’m also at the apex of school planning. You know that giddy, delicious feeling when you open all the new boxes of curriculum, stoke the glossy covers, inhale the scent of fresh paper,  then scream at the kids to stop playing with the packing peanuts. Cracking open the crisp binding on a new workbook makes me stroke my knuckles and cackle with delight. In the works is a trip to the dollar store to pick up school supplies which we’re all pretty stoked about. Plus, I have the added excitement of pimping out a new school room. It’s small, but I’ve got a whole cabinet packed to the ceiling with books and three used school desks ordered off of ebay. (Aw yeah, some old school bling in da house!)  I cannot wait to push each child’s desk into its own corner and let them work beyond arms length of one another for a change. Tony thinks it’s not going to go as smoothly as I imagine. I keep putting my fingers in my ears and singing “La,la,la,la, la, independent work spaces are the answer,la, la, la, la now cook your own dinner.”

Summer is slipping through our fingers like so many melted creamcicles, but we’re licking off each drip and savoring every moment. I should be ready for September, and all its looming responsibilities, despite the distractions. Namely a playdate bonanza. Two weeks, plus all the families I’ve been meaning to schedule stuff with all summer, equals exhaustion! Yay for procrastination! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to kill myself in order to full-fill all my half-hearted promises. I can’t wait. And I know Tony is pumped for two weeks of   last-minute dinner attempts scraped together from food-like substances currently trapped at the bottom of our freezer.

I would call this a summer to remember, if I thought I would have any brain cells left by the end of August.

How are you wrapping up your summer and easing into school?



Filed under Homeschooling, Humor

{SQT} Seven Things You Should Know About SMA


Since starting this blog, I’ve only briefly mentioned the disease that afflicts my two youngest sons. If you’ve spent any time with me here, you’ve read about wheelchair crashing and hospital stays, but only as they relate to our everyday life. I’ve shied away from talking too much about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA, because this isn’t a blog about SMA. But today, in honor of Spinal Atrophy Awareness Month, I wanted to share some information with those of you who only know me through the computer screen. Heck, some of this info might even be new to those of you fortunate enough to spend personal time with me. Feel free to pin, forward and share this information with anyone and everyone.

7. SMA is a motor neuron disease. People with SMA are missing a gene crucial for providing spinal motor neuron cells with a necessary protein. Without that protein voluntary muscles become weak and can atrophy. Voluntary muscles include those used for breathing and swallowing as well as the muscles used for walking, moving your head, or raising your arms. People with SMA become weaker over time, with more and more voluntary muscles being effected. The degree to which the disease progress varies widely.

6. One in 40 adults is a carrier of SMA. A child of two carriers has a one in four chance of having SMA, a 50 percent chance of being a carrier. Tony and I had three healthy children in a row before conceiving two children with SMA. We were some of the 10 million people unaware of our carrier status.

5. One in 6,000 children will be diagnosed. That’s the same odds of you being killed in a car accident.

4. Approximately 65% of those diagnosed are children with the most severe form, called SMA Type 1. Half of these children do not live to their first birthday. But because SMA presents itself so differently, some children with SMA 1 live into their teens, twenties or later. There are also Type 2, 3 and 4. People are diagnosed with a type based on the age symptoms first appear and the type of symptoms. Fulton was originally diagnosed as a strong Type 1 because he never sat independently for more than 30 seconds.  Teddy is a Type 2; he can crawl, sit up and do most things other children his age can do, except stand or walk.

3. SMA does not affect the sensation or cognitive skills of those effected. If you tickle Fulton or Teddy’s feet they laugh. They will interact with you like any child. Fulton, like many children with SMA, is extremely bright.

2. There is so much research going on, a cure for SMA is not out of the question.

“Our most educated expectation is that with NIH [National Institutes of Health] funding of $20 to $30 million annually, an effective therapy for spinal muscular atrophy can be achieved in the near term of five years or less.”

1. Despite some of these sobering statistics, my boys are not dying from SMA, they are living with it, and so are many other people. This guy for instance is my idol.  As I’ve said before, my normal is not your normal but I don’t spend every minute crying for the children I don’t have. I smile, play, chat and laugh with the ones I do. Fulton and Teddy don’t bemoan the fact they can’t walk, only other people do. We will gladly accept your prayers, but please, don’t mourn my children until God calls them home. If you want to know about Fulton, his story and the wonderful fund set up by our friends to help us with everything from home and van modifications, medical equipment and co-pays click here. A video I created shortly after his diagnosis is here and touches on our devotion to Ven. Arbp. Fulton Sheen.

All that said,  I understand how presenting the horror of SMA and all the young lives lost can motivate people to donate time and money towards research. If you want to learn more, there are many great sites including Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Fight SMA and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

In conclusion, there’s really nothing quick about this post. Be sure to swing by Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes that aren’t designed to tug at your heart strings.


Filed under SMA Posts

{MMD} Perspectives on Life and Love

Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy is hosting a Perspectives on Life and Love blog carnival I couldn’t resist joining. Maybe the recent wedding put me in an extra sappy mood, or our approaching anniversary or it could be my attempt to make amends with the hubby for a recent post that doted on shirtless surf instructors. But whatever the motivation, I’m going to share my perspectives on my life, and the love in it then join up with everyone on MMD on Friday. Be sure to stop by Modern Mrs. Darcy and check out all the posts. 


Somehow, I got lucky in love. Despite all my flaws, annoying habits and tendencies towards selfishness, sarcasm and cynicism, God introduced my future husband to me at the ripe old age of 17.

Yes, our’s is the clichéd high school romance tale with only a few minor twists and turns. He was the co-captain of the football and track teams. I was the art and drama student. I moonlighted as the school’s mascot, donning a foam comet head during half time. Yet we became friends, hung out and amazingly enough, he said yes when I invited him to the senior prom.

We started college two hours from one another, but by graduation were on the same campus. Our relationship saved me from participation in the rampant hook up culture. I drew closer to the faith even as Tony pulled away from me. We broke up, admittedly because I’d become too clingy. However, during the separation I had an a-ha moment in which I realized my life would be fine if it went on without Tony as my partner. Although it was a relief to finally be comfortable with myself, it was also a relief when we reconciled.

We graduated, got jobs,  apartments, new friends and became engaged. I converted and we were married on October 13, 2001. We were each 23, the second couple in our close group of high school friends to marry (the Episcopal priest among us went first). Within a few months of walking down the aisle I was expecting our first child while trying to decorate our new house.

We jumped head first into the American dream. It was never how I planned things, even once I became Catholic. I still felt like a kid in many ways; way too young to be responsible with money, bills, credit cards, mortgages and now a tiny human being! But I never wished we did anything differently up to that point. Even once Addie arrived, I never thought “Wow, the days of hitting the bars four times in one week sure sound good now.” Tony and I didn’t mind that that phase of our lives was done.

I loved my husband immensely before marriage, and now marriage and raising a family together was adding a new layer of love to our relationship. There were the routines and habits that added familiarity and stability. There was also the changing, growing and maturing that we did alongside one another, giving support when needed and not letting each other give up in the face of challenges.

The first serious test to our marriage came after welcoming our oldest son into the world (only thirteen months after our daughter.) Within two weeks of his birth we moved and took over running a business. Our high hopes and grand ideas motivated us to persevere through sleepless nights, long commutes and hurried days that ran one into the other, convinced we were building something great for our family. After learning some life lessons the hard way, we ultimately and painfully realized we were wrong. We sold the business after two years and moved to N.J. laden with debt and expecting number three.

This first taste of trials and suffering stretched us to our limits but ultimately created a stronger bond between us. I thought surviving that ordeal had prepared us to handle anything. In hindsight, perhaps God was warming us up for what was to come.

Life passed peacefully for a few years while we paid off all our debts, joined a wonderful parish, made new friends, searched for a home and prepared for the arrival of number 4.

We moved a month after Fulton’s birth (I went into labor the night after closing) and settled into our new country life on an acre of land, surrounded by farms. And I really think that’s as calm as it ever got around here. Since then we’ve accepted our responsibilities as the parents of two children with Spinal Muscular Atropy on top of the usual stuff that comes with parenting and homeschooling three healthy children.

I do not think I could shoulder the crosses I do, had God not sent such a perfect husband my way. He gave us so much time to figure ourselves out, learn about life, deepen our faith, and build a rock solid commitment to each other as to be unshakeable in the face of tragedy and trials.

Despite marrying young, having a large family and staying at home, my life hardly resembles a 1950′s sitcom. Our choices have flown in the face of modern marriage norms, but despite it all, I’d never wish for any other life. (Except maybe one free of SMA.) We are fire-tested, proven and ready for whatever awaits us. Sometimes I worry, “Oh God, what do you have in store for us now?? I don’t understand why this is happening to us!” but with Him and Tony by side, experience shows, we will manage somehow and grow closer in the process.

I see unhappy marriages everywhere, the dire divorce statistics and I wonder why am I so blessed? How did I get so lucky as to have a marriage others look up to and admire?  I feel like I should have gleaned some insight from our experiences to share with other couples, but alas, all I can think of right now are the words hope and sacrifice. When two people lovingly and joyfully give all they have to one another without reserve, there is always hope for tomorrow. Our experience shows that even if your life is blessed with poverty, sickness or worse, it’s not the end of your marriage. God can bring good from all things if you let Him. We’re in it for the long haul. God doesn’t promise it will be easy, but with Tony by my side,  it doesn’t have to be hard.


Filed under Uncategorized