Friday, May 20, 2011

Breaking and Entering...Into My Own Minivan!!

It was a typical day in midwest homeschooling-finished-for-the-year-now-let's-do something-fun-ville. Some of those days include all points of interest shifting drastically. Last week held one of those days.
I had planned to work in a library visit with the kids, then run some small errands (which may appear small, but with all six kids...even well-behaved...except the 3 year generally becomes bigger than said task seems). Everyone pottied (yes, I like that word..almost Old English as it rolls off the tongue) and were getting shoes on when the call to war was sounded.
"Mom! The van is locked!"
Sweat immediately forms on my brow at these words. I panic inwardly, then try to calm myself. It's's okay...surely he means that the keys are not in the van and it is just locked. Yes, that must be it. whew!
"Mom! The keys are in the van!"
I try for outward calm as I head up from the basement to the garage. This is not good. How am I going to....spare keys! Yes! I bought spare keys! (perhaps now would be a good time to say that I had to call road service to my GARAGE before....twice.) I knew I had spare keys!! So, I try to remember where I put the spare keys so that if we were out somewhere, then they would be on me in case the door was accidentally locked.
The backpack! That was where they were! "Kids," I call out. "Where is the diaper bag backpack?"
"It's in the van...behind your seat."
Slowly....anger replaces any attempts at calm. "Who was playing with the doors and locked them?" Of course, this is when the Not ME! monster from the cartoon 'Family Circus' is unveiled. I stare at six pairs of eyes.
Even Katie has the sense to remain mum. "Okay." I am super-frustrated now. "Everyone in the house. We are not going anywhere until I fix this."
I call my hubby and pray that by some moment of dumb luck he actually has the spare keys.
I realize, with a sense of defeat, that staring down the keys will not be sufficient and I will have to call my auto insurance agent. The phone is ringing.
*sigh* "Hi, Dad."
"What's up?"
...I'm sure you know what I said. So, dad being Dad, encourages me in my resistance to call by giving me some sound advice. "Can you get a crowbar in between the door and van body?"
To put it briefly, I had a crowbar, a screwdriver, and a straightened hanger involved in my madness...for an hour. In a 90+ degree garage, I was sweating with my dad on the speakerphone encouraging me for about 10 minutes....I decided when the tongue is getting closer to the confessional that I need to hang up with dad...first. So, I tell him I will work on it. Calmly walk my sweaty self and lock the door to the house (the kids are wisely hiding from me anyhow) and unleash the beast. I did, try to keep it to old school speak...way old school....
You puffed-up mushroom!
Loathesome Popinjay!
Jumped up pinchpenny nipfarthing!
It was in those moments that I, once again, truly knew that my thoughts that I had become a more patient person withered like dust in the wind. Oh Lord, how well you know me!
Well, least to say, I did get the door pulled away and managed to carefully get the tip of the bent hanger on the unlock release. I pushed.
That hanger bent like an over-cooked noodle.
White dots danced in my vision. They may have been sweat or utter defeat, but there they were.
I would have to call road service....and remove all evidence of my folly before they arrive!
I call road service. They ask for my policy number.
It's in the van, too.
I call my agent back and the ball is rolling. 45 minutes.
A group of young men get out of a vehicle in front of my house with some equipment that looks like and inflatable bath pillow and a fencing epee. They ask for my driver's license for verification. It is in the house. I turn to get it and open the door where my 3 year-old is wailing. A wave of crying and my 2 little guys yelling in a sword fight envelops the garage. The three young men look shocked into stillness for a moment before one of them speaks up.
"Never mind."
In the 30 seconds following that declaration, the door was unlocked.
Just like that.
I definitely need to get me a set of those thing-a-ma-jiggers.
And maybe a glass of wine, too.
And perhaps another spare key....

Monday, April 25, 2011

Alleluia! He has Risen as He Said!...and he created bacon!

Thank you, God, for this past Lenten season.
Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross for us.
Thank you for the blessings and enrichment that our sacrifice brought this Lent and the resulting fruits of that challenge.
I have seen, generally in retrospect, how God used me and the prayers we offered while offering up our meatlessness this Lent. Wow! I must say, the smallest sacrifice is not ignored. It is used for the greater good. And I have seen Divine Intervention at work again and again.
How blessed we are.
I must add, though......that the bacon on Easter morning was DIVINE tasting!!!!! : )

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thought of the Day...

Well, today, I want to be living IN the dryer.
By myself.
Ok.....maybe with a book and.....a box of Trader Joe's Chocolates.
That's all.
Oh.....and a light.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lenten Outlook~Week 4

Well, we are still intact after being meatless during this week four since Ash Wednesday. I am thankful to say that my husband and children are all faring better than I had expected (note that 'cereal' is still a common dinner. *sigh*) There will be no vegetarian cookbook efforts coming from my kitchen anytime in the near future.
This morning, I was reading an article in the 'St. Louis Review', which is our Catholic Diocesan newspaper, about the origin of our sacrifice of being 'meatless' and the nature of fasting. It was very inspiring and historically the fast included, to all who were healthy, eating NOTHING all day on Wednesday (the day of Jesus' betrayal) and also on Fridays (the day of His Passion on the Cross). Over the years, the fast and sacrifice has altered to the standards the Church allows today.
It was an eye-opening day for me to ponder that any sacrifice, as dear St. Therese of Lisieux taught, offered with great love makes a great difference. I am attempting to do that. And believe me, that promise is when I realize my weak humanity.
So, it is the hope and the love that Jesus gave to us from the Cross that provides me with the strength, give up this little bit of my life for a brief time.....even if it is in the form of cereal...and look forward Easter.
Just in case there is any interest, I am adding a link to the article in the St. Louis Review.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lenten Workout

Alas, we have just passed two weeks of offering up meat for Lent and I must admit it really has been a sacrifice. (What I generally do NOT admit to most is that there are more menus listed as: 'cereal' than I care to claim) I have tried a few recipes on the family such as: "Sweet Potato and Bean Burritos" and "Meatless Rendang".
Let me put it this way...after we had eaten under my creative watch for nearly a week and I informed the masses (as Dad was on a business trip) that there would be the above-mentioned "C" word for dinner, my dear son Noah whoops it up and states...and I quote..."Woohoo! Something good for dinner tonight".
I must explain to you the feelings I had at that moment. I do believe that my Lent has taken a slight bent from my intention, but isn't that always a bit true? I have had very good ideas for the past several years for Lent and had been derailed by a seemingly yearly bout of stomach flu with the kids or something that prevented me from offering what I wished to bring to God for a sacrifice.
It seems that both God and life have a better idea of from where my sacrifice should come. Perhaps it is many nights of "C" for dinner as a sacrifice. Perhaps I am learning to just be patient and, though my aim is sincere, my goal should be more to respond with grace and acceptance instead of our dear Martha in the bible who feels 'put out' that her service is not given more attention or accolades. A humbling moment for this momma, but a good lesson in itself upon reflection.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras......Well, A Dinner off For Me! : )

It's Shrove Tuesday!
I am preparing for Ash Wednesday and my grocery list has increased itself in variety from the fruits and vegetables departments by quite a bit. I already bake bread weekly for our family's use, but I will try to incorporate more rustic and grainy breads into my usual baking. It will be somewhat a sacrifice to me in the planning and an increase in labor to put wholesome meals on the table, but part of my offering is to do it willingly and with a smile...and that means no grumbles as I will have to remind myself some of these days to come, which I humbly admit that I will struggle with. I may even have to put a post-it note on every square inch of the kitchen and dining room to remember, but I will try to believe that it will not go to that degree. We shall see what is in store for these next seven weeks.
For tonight, however, my Mardi Gras includes the children's decorating the dining room and a full meal deal from Kentucky Fried Chicken. has probably been six months since we've had fried chicken and I think that, coupled with my husband offering to pick it up on the way home, makes for a fantastic and relaxing afternoon (so I can fit in a blog post. LOL!)
Tomorrow, as in tradition also, we will fast and have two very small meals and Pakistani Mash Daal that I picked up from Catholic Relief Services several years ago when the rice bowls were handed out. We liked it so much as a family that we eat it frequently throughout the year, but it has become a family tradition on Ash Wednesday for supper. The recipe is below.
I remind myself, as the ashes to symbolize my sin are placed on my forehead tomorrow and the words, "Woman, you are from dust and to dust you shall return." are said over me, that life is relatively short and we are all prone to sin. It's all about what I do with what God calls of me that will make a difference to those close to me during my life. Know, love, and serve God with a joyful heart. That is the core of our calling as I am teaching my First Communicant from the Catechism.
Sure, I fail. Daily. But every day I will get up and try again to do better than yesterday.
I pray that you may receive many graces during your Lenten journeys this year.
God Bless!

PAKISTANI MASH DAAL: (copied from CRS web site; link below)

  • 3 cups dried lentils
  • 1½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cups water
  • 1½ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1-4 cloves garlic, chopped (to taste)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt (to taste)

Wash and drain the lentils. In a large pot heat the oil, and then add thinly sliced onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt and, cumin, and chili powder. Fry until golden brown and crisp. Add the tomatoes and stir well for about 10 minutes.

Add the water and heat until it reaches a boil. Put lentils in the pot and continue to cook at a full boil, stirring frequently, until the lentils are half-cooked. Finally, put on the lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot over rice.

This recipe serves 6 people.

Copied from:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lenten Sacrifice

Every year I wonder what we, as a family, can sacrifice for the Church's season of Lent. Since our children are still below the age of individual sacrifice, we still do a family-type sacrifice so that all may participate and embrace the season of sacrifice from a young age. Most years, it has been the obvious candy or sweets or desserts we abstain from during Lent.
The past three years, however, were their own living Lent, as our children always seemed to start off the week of Ash Wednesday with the stomach virus and it would "remain with us" like the very worst visitor only to rid ourselves of the infernal bug and stumble into Holy Week half awake and weak. Though that certainly was good penance, I do tend to hope that this Lent will be different, as one can never wish for that type of seven week prayer life.
"Please, Lord....if the two year-old would at least stop getting sick everywhere..."
Since I am not pregnant and our smallest one is no longer a baby and I am not on a doctor prescribed low-carb diet...I thought we could do something very different from the norm, but still be a sacrifice for the family. So, this year, we are going to eat a vegetarian diet. My husband is...rightfully...concerned about the children's protein intake, so I am keeping eggs, dairy, and cheese in the staple diet.
The truth is that I grew up on a farm. A hog farm. Meat was an everyday staple in my diet and my father was a consistent meat-and-potatoes man. I do not think that I have gone more than 3 or 4 days without some kind of meat in my diet. Myself, my husband, and our kids all really like meat...especially beef and chicken.
I have never done something like this before, but I think that we are up to making this sacrifice. The truth is that I could do little more than make chocolate chip cookies when I was first married and I have come a long way through the tutelage of my cooking-background husband, but I admit that I am a bit daunted, but nevertheless ready (or more ready after reading about 10 library books on vegetarian cooking).
I expect there to be a mild rebellion with our children, but we shall see...
I will be posting recipes that worked well for a large family with a research sample of 8 and sharing a little of the humor and situations that are sure to accompany this journey.
And, as the words of the priest will remind us this Wednesday, "Woman, you are from dust and to dust you shall return."
Life is short. We will find joy in our sacrifices if they are offered in the right spirit.
Always with me are the words of St. Therese of Lisieux: "Do small things with great Love."