Monday, May 31, 2010

Because it's Monday and you need more coffee...

After a brief, shining moment, the week is back, and it wants revenge for all the fun you had without it over the weekend. Distract it with this and maybe it will forgive you and play nice.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ambiguous about amphibians...

While hanging laundry out I discovered a toad, so of course I called the kids over to see. The kids were thrilled! That's "thrilled" in a stand-offish, I'm-not-gonna-touch-it-YOU-touch-it kind of way. The likelihood of anybody laying hand on it was dampened by the spray of pee it emitted as I picked it up. That is one smart little fella. He is relatively unmolested, in one piece, and has resumed his job of happily devouring mosquitoes and the like in my backyard.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Progress on the Ugly Yellow Trailer

Most of the major services are in on the new house!

All the very cool, manly jobs are out of the way. Like the septic football field...

Although there are still plenty of manly, power-tool related jobs left, like a new backdoor. The former owner bolted it to the frame. That job will involve the new sawzall my husband is purchasing today. Oh, yes, he's a happy man!

Now a lot of the jobs involve cleaning and putzing. We had our first meal in the new house--with company--before the water was hooked up.
The Dining Facilities
My lovely new kitchen. I'm planning on repainting that backsplash to get some color other than yellow and brown into the place. To deal with the lack of cupboard space, we'll be hanging the pots and pans from the ceiling. The muffin tins and other baking ware will be mouted on the wall. Maybe they'll look like decorative antiques if I don't scrub as hard after each use!

The whole place is paneled. On the plus side, fingerprints will be easy to manage, but it makes for one long, dark, and spooky hallway.

All that powder on the floor is baking soda to get rid of the cigarette odor.
(Legal disclaimer: it is NOT cocaine)

Now that the water's hooked up, you can use the facilities! Hoot! Hoot!

Those 70s were such a happy, orange and brown era!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Because it's Monday and you need more coffee...

After a brief, shining moment the week is back, and it wants revenge for all the fun you had without it over the weekend. Distract it with this and maybe it will forgive you and play nice.

Speaking of coffee...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Downsize by Father's Day?

I'm not self-motivated. I need goals. I need accountability. What's more, I need to do stuff for people. I know all the televised weight-loss gurus say, "You've got to do it for YOU. You are SO worth it," before everyone dissolves into tearful puddles. Frankly, I don't have the patience to be that self-focused. Don't get me wrong, self-centeredness was a major part of my life and philosophy at one sad and sorry point, but I've since discovered that there is a world beyond my own belly button. Navel gazing only took me so far. Others may still need to plumb those depths, but I have found other people and the world so much more interesting to me than me!

This goes for weight loss and maintenance. I'm in the "overweight" category of the BMI charts. I'd much rather be in the "healthy" one, but if it were up to me alone, it wouldn't happen. However, you add in two motivators--one for that dear, sweet hubby I've got and one for an on-line friend--and I'm ready to roll. Or rather, I'm ready to un-roll, as in to get rid of a roll or two at dinner or a roll (or two--yikes!) around the waistline.

The promise of losing weight for my husband happened like this: One evening while he was admiring my...pajamas...rather emphatically, I, in a fit of unthinking appreciation, said, "You like that? Well, I'm going to lose 20 pounds or so and see how you like that!" He, being the excellently smart man that he is, responded, "I like you just the way you are, honey," but the words were out and the promise already made.

To top it off, within the week an on-line friend asked for help keeping herself accountable for weight-loss and exercise. A whole group of us have taken her up on it. That has pretty much sealed the deal for me--I'm losing the weight. Twenty pounds is going to put me right around my weight in college, which is pretty svelte if I do say so myself. I know that first 10 will be fairly easy. That last 10 is going to be pretty darn tough. That's where I'll need the accountability and the weight of the promise to keep me on track.

Goals: Exercise with Leslie Sansone every day, watch the food intake, and lose those 20 pounds!

Minigoal: Lose a dress size by Father's Day

I'll keep you posted.

Because it's Monday and you need more coffee...

After a brief, shining moment, the week is back, and it wants revenge for all the fun you had without it over the weekend. Distract it with this and maybe it will forgive you and play nice.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring is in the air...

and that means sandals!

It also means it's cleavage season at you local Walmart.

So, let's use an analogy, shall we? As hideous as some of these fashion statements are, our horror knows no bounds when such fashion skill is applied to plunging neck and waistlines. Still working on that patent for the Eyeball Boil-a-matic, so in the meantime, can we hitch those britches there "ladies"?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Taco Soup

It feels like forever since I cooked for you! This is a yummy, easy (other than all the spices--really just dash those in recklessly and irresponsibly) and quick recipe that has a lot of flavor and a very mild kick.

Taco Soup

1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken or sausage)
1 onion diced
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can red beans, undrained
1 can corn, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 small can diced chilies, undrained
small fistful of uncooked spaghetti noodles broken into 1 inch pieces (for a gluten-free alternative, use a corn-based noodle)

Parsley 1 Tbs.
Cilantro 1 Tbs.
Cumin 1 Tbs.
Paprika 1 tsp
Chili powder 1 tsp
Oregano 1 tsp
Onion powder 1 tsp
Dill weed ½ tsp
Garlic ½ tsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Plus 1 Tbs of brown sugar (to cut the tomato bite)

Brown the meat and the onions (drain it if you have to) in the same pot you are going to make the stew in. Add all the other ingredients to the meat. Simmer until the soup thickens (about 20 minutes). Serve with shredded cheddar or pepper jack on top.

Serve as a soup with a side of cornbread and a side salad. Or cook down for about 10 more minutes and serve as a mild, warm dip for tortilla chips.

*Spices Caveat
I cook by nose. I add spices until it “smells right.” These are approximate measurements, trying to recreate what I did. Feel free to add more or less until it “smells right” to you.

**The photo is not of my soup (alas, my memory card is full and I have none other). Mine has little noodles in it. This is just a teaser.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Get busy, people!"

This is one of my all time favorite incidents from the New Testament. Here are these guys standing around with their mouths agape in wonder and awe, when this Angel comes along to say, "Don't you have work to do? Get busy, people!"

It appeals to me for very obvious reasons: I'm a busy mom. Although I try not to be fruitlessly busy or overly busy, my wonderful and awesome moments are necessarily brief. Five little angels are constantly calling me back to the world of duties and obligations, even when they themselves are the reason I am standing stunned (in awe or in apoplexy--hang that concupiscence!).

I particularly like the implications of this story. The visual work of conversions and baptisms doesn't get rolling until Pentecost--11 days from now (counting today). So the important work they were being called to do first was prayer. Sometimes half the battle, or most likely all of the battle, is that interior one of getting your mind fit for the task at hand.

My job is like that. What I consider important is the clean house, the well fed tummies, the fresh diaper, but all of this is merely detail. My real job is to love, and love is both a decision and an action. It is oftentimes an interior attitude adjustment that lets me smile in the place of a frown, sigh in the place of a shout. My real vocation is to be a good wife and mother who turns her whims and fancies into gifts of herself. My first job is prayer. My second is love, and all that that entails.

Although I have yet to live in a diocese that celebrates Ascension Thursday on Thursday--here in Amarillo we move this celebration to this coming up Sunday--I wanted to honor the day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some Great Gifts

Sunday was such a great day. Not only did we have a party, we had a reason! Our little church had mothers to celebrate, and more! We had First Communicants...
Don't they look so sweet!

Here with a proud Monsignor Rex! (He's kinda sweet, too!)

Scenes from the party scene:
This happy gentleman is not only the Voice of Amarillo on St. Valentines Radio, Robert Pleasant, but he is also the honorary grandfather of all of St. Martin's children!

Is that a ham or a purse?

Let her eat cake. (Trust me, you'd just better let her!)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Because it's Monday and you need more coffee...

After a brief, shining moment, the week is back, and it wants revenge for all the fun you had without it over the weekend. Distract it with this and maybe it will forgive you and play nice.

For that special "Monday Feeling"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Day Reflection: There's just something about Mary...

Can you picture her? She was maybe thirteen. Dirty. Fetching the day's water from the town well. Nothing much to mention in earthly terms--just some nondescript girl in a nothing kind of town from a nothing-left country that had been overrun and ruled over repeatedly. Her smallness and poverty and humility are probably the most notable things about her.

What did God see in her? Why did He raise up so lowly a girl so that all generations shall call her blessed (Luke 1:48)? Her "blessedness" does not come from something within herself. She is special because of what God has done to and for her, not through any magnificance of her own. The best explanation of the nature of Mary I've heard is where she is compared to the moon: like the moon reflects the brilliance of the sun, all of Mary's glory is merely reflected glory--as if anything connected to God can also be connected with such a word as "merely." Mary is amazing because God is so incredibly amazing. He (capital H) chose her (lower case h) to be His own mother, to be the Mother of The King.

And like Christ wasn't what the people of His day expected, a wordly power, a king (small k) who would kick those Romans rulers all the way back to Rome, Mary isn't what we'd expect in a Queen Mother! Her greatness is a small greatness--obedience, humility, quiet pondering, and a silent suffering witness to the Child of her body crucified. Any mother has wondered at images like the Pieta and thought, "As much as I could not bear it to hold my child, how much more awful for her to bear her Perfect Son and her God?!"

Pondering beyond that, how much more wonderful was her life? In my motherhood those first awkward steps, that first word, that first brilliant smile almost brought me to my knees with the joy of it. How could she have born the daily thrill of being in the presence of her God, humbled to become one of us and her baby! How extraordinary God makes the ordinary!

I just can't imagine it. I can't fathom it. As much as I am a mother, I feel in my bones her motherhood far surpasses mine. Her pains and even her joys and sweetnesses all have a weightiness mine will never approach. Being so close to God, His mother in fact, she reflects God's Glory that much more in all that she does. As close as I can ever come to that in my own motherhood is to reflect upon the most perfect mother I know--her. In that sense I am like a moon.

Let me be big enough to pray, my God, that I become small.

Happy Mother's Day

This one is for my mom!

This one is for my other mom--Andy's mom!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Really, really, really want that vote!

You've got until the 14th, people!

Michelle asked for the cookie recipe...

another major award ---->

...and I realized I'd let the starry-eyed dreams of a prestigious blog award get in the way of my manners. I know better than to dangle a picture of home-baked goodness without the link to a recipe. Mea culpa!

Here's the recipe, and by the way, as I noted in an update: I baked 3 dozen cookies, ate 6 of them, gained 3 pounds, and garnered 8 votes. My dastardly plot to rule the blogosphere is working! Slowly.

1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
3 cups whole oats
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Put first four ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan and boil for two minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, then add vanilla and oats. Drop dollops onto cookie sheet to cool.

Friday, May 7, 2010


"Is that glitter up there?" He'd finally discovered it--the remnants of a horrific glitter glue accident. No matter how hard you scrub, glitter bonds with other substances at the molecular level. I'd done my best, but there was still a winking accusation of my wifely ineptitude. I humbly confessed the whole sad affair: how the kids couldn't get the silver glitter glue going, how they appealed to me for help, and how I'd managed to aim the sucker about two inches below the ceiling when it blew. He said, "Oh, I just thought it was mixed in with the popcorn ceiling." Blast those quick confessions. To think I could have passed it off as tacky 80s decor!

We were making these...

If you could look really close above the right hand window--there's quite a bright mark there...

Voting has started on the blog awards! On an unrelated note...cookie?

In all the excitement about the blog awards, I found I couldn't sleep last night (slept great). I stayed up making cookies (I really might make them). Wouldn't you know it, our family doesn't eat cookies on Friday (during Lent)! What was I thinking (bribery)?

The 2010 Cannonball Catholic Awards voting began at 12:01 a.m. As you may recall, I humbly accepted the nomination for Best New Kid on the Block (that's "Garden of Holiness" spelled g...a...r...) and urge you to vote early and vote often. Feel free to anticipate the resurrection and let your long lost great uncle twice removed vote a few times (for me) this morning.

Now what to do with all these (potential) cookies?! Hey (it occurs to me that Andy has internet access at work)! I'll send them to work with my wonderful husband (his vote is still up for grabs and he has morally ambiguous friends)!

Update: I'm not very good at this Chicago-style voting. I baked 3 dozen cookies, ate 6 cookies, gained 3 pounds, and have 8 votes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't laugh, it's paid for!

I know a lot of people would cringe at the thought of moving into a trailer, much less a trailer from the 1970s, but we are positively giddy.

Yes, it's small. Yes, it's old and ugly. Yes, the move crimped a wire somewhere so the bathroom lights won't work (we're rewiring it today), but this is ours. All ours. 100% ours. This P.O.J. isn't partially owned by the bank. This bit of land isn't mortgaged. The guys working to get us up and running are under our employ. We're paying them with a check from money we saved and earned and finagled. There's nothing quite like it.

In three years, if all goes according to plan (we actually plan to have the money saved by the end of two years, but we are factoring in the unexpected) we should be moving into our dream house that we planned and built with cash!

The long and the short of it is, we're willing to think outside the box in order to meet our goal of living without the mortgage. We're also willing to put up with a few years of inconvenience and a bit of crowding. Delayed gratification is not something the American culture has been used to, but it is something to think about. Here's some of the creative thinking that we came up with in order to find our particular plan (maybe one of these ideas will spark something for you):
  • Move into a cheap, utilities-included apartment, put money from the sale of the house into savings. Sell extra belongings and all lawn and garden equipment at a yard sale, save like crazy.
  • Rent out the current home (if a sale is not possible and if the going rents will cover the mortgage plus repairs) and rent a cheap apartment. Sell extra belongings and save like crazy.
  • Put a cheap trailer on current land and rent out either it or the mortgaged home. Sell extra belongings and save like crazy.
Other people have thought up better and more creative ways to make life mortgage free. Just google it and see. Now that the big expense is taken care of, we've got to be sure that the little expenses don't start adding up to eat our savings. We'll still be buying cards for the pay as you go phone, living without cable or satellite TV, eating at home (or picnicking), and keeping the wardrobe to a minimum (new stuff is more often "nused"). We don't get to the movies much, but we can play a mean game of Yahtzee!

I think I may stick one of these on the side of the ugly yellow trailer. Who cares if the yellows clash?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Because it's Monday and you need more coffee...

After a brief, shining moment, the week is back, and it wants revenge for all the fun you had without it over the weekend. Distract it with this and maybe it will forgive you and play nice.

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Epic Parent Fail: Life with toddlers

Toddler A wakes. Toddler B continues nap. Toddler A initiates play. Toddler A assesses degree of puzzle difficulty and desires peer level support. Toddler A seeks out and discovers Toddler B in bed. Toddler A greets Toddler B. Toddler B does not return greeting and continues sleeping activity. Toddler A assesses situation and initiates Waking Procedure One (the close proximity stare).

Toddler B does not respond. Toddler A initiates Eye Movement Activation Mode (finger in eye). Toddler B responds. Toddler B activates Simultaneous Defensive and Offensive Maneuvers and bites nearest object (index finger of Toddler A).

Toddler A responds. Toddler A initiates crying and tattling mode.

Toddler B responds. Toddler B also initiates crying and tattling mode.

Elapsed time of incident: 2.5 seconds.
Elapsed time for parent to sprint from hallway to bedside with fully loaded laundry basket: 3.0 seconds.

Incident Analysis: Include laundry basket into workout routine to increase response times.