Life as it is Today

Annie was not feeling well last night. She and I spent the night on the couch together. We were up from about 1:00 am until 3:30 am. As I was sitting there with her, rubbing her back, I began to think about when I first met TJ. It was eleven years ago that we met on his birthday, October 27th, and then a few days later he came to our apartment for our Halloween party. My roommates and I sat together and played charades....it was so much fun! That was the extent of our party! Well, along with eating soup from inside small pumpkins, having individual tombstone cakes for dessert and decorating the apartment with homemade bats and the fake spider web stuff....you know, a typical college Halloween party! I so remember those first few dates with TJ, when our time spent together was talking about our past experiences and our plans for the future. What fun we had. Had I been given the gift of flashing forward eleven years that night at our party, to see me sitting up all night with a sick child would I still have wanted to do it? Wanted to get married, have children, stay at home with them, clean up throw up and poop, fight battles, listen to whining and crying, drive a suburban, wipe faces and bottoms all day......not to mention toilets and floors too. I am convinced that God makes those first few years together as a couple so wonderful and lovely so that we will be committed enough to get through all the nasty, ucky, stuff of parenting and life.

As I was sitting in the dark with Annie, my mind did a slide show of all that we have been through together in the last eleven years....our wedding, trips we've taken, births of our children, losing Joseph, sickness, houses we have lived in, decisions we have made, job changes TJ has made within the bank, vehicles we've owned, none of which I could even imagine that night long ago.

Time. It's funny to me. There are times when I feel like we are still newlyweds. Then there are times when I feel like we are just keeping our heads above water, struggling to make it through the mononaty of our days, the routine of life, and it feels like forever ago when we were just dating. I wish I could freeze time. I'd like to savor the moments we are living right now.

I am so grateful for them.....

I wish that I would have been given a little glimpse of these four beautiful people, eleven years ago. It's all been SO WORTH it.
And when life gets busy, and messy, when I feel anxious about the future, their health, or their schooling, when I get frustrated that we have no one to watch our children so TJ and I can go out to dinner together or when I am up all night with a new baby, or a sick child and my eyelids feel like they weigh twenty pounds each....I will remember that they are worth it to me. Having TJ and our children are the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I guess the BEST thing that happened was that TJ came to my Halloween party eleven years ago.....and that he had fun playing charades!


Happy Birthday TJ

Thirty-four will be good! I love you.


Deep-Dish Blueberry/Cranberry Internet Pie

This Sunday's pie was really good. Really, really, good. Cranberries and blueberries together. This recipe is from my new favorite book, The Pie and Pastry Bible. The author found this recipe from a cousin of hers and after a little research, they discovered that it was the first pie to appear on the Internet. Cool. It was created by Sarah Leah Chase.

I had some new help in the kitchen this morning. Andrew was here. He kept me company while his mommy slept for a little bit.

I think this is the most beautiful pie, ever. I've decided to make it on the 4th of July next year in honor of the brilliant red and blue colors! However, this truly is a fall pie for me. Cranberries are new to me, and boy have I fallen in love with them. Their color, their tartness....everything.
Especially when mixed with orange or lemon.

Once the berries were mixed, they needed to sit for 30 minutes. It was the perfect time for Thomas, Annie and I to head outside and enjoy the cool, crisp fall morning. The moon was still out!

Bundled up a bit, and with coffee in hand, we strolled around the boulevard. It's at these times when I am extremely grateful for where we live.

Annie wanted to play a game. The rules were that we could only walk on the black lines in the street as we made our way around the blvd, and that I had to follow her. I'm sure we looked funny wiggling along the street, me following closely behind her, but who cares. We had fun. I realize that during the week, it's harder for me to just play with them. Juggling housework, homework, meal prep and clean up, and commitments, the day can just fly by so quickly. I'm challenging myself to really just be with them on Sundays.

Then we came back inside. The filling had gotten super thick. I plopped it into the shell and baked it. I wish you all could smell our house as it was baking. It's a wonderful lemony-tart-remind-you-of-fall kind of smell.

In honor of the season, I decided to cover the top with leaves.
There is something so magical about Sundays. All these little things that we do, combined together, make the perfect day. Waking up early, fumbling around in the dark kitchen to bake a pie, coffee brewing in the coffee pot while my chocolate creamer is waiting to be mixed with it, children and husband wandering downstairs with the markings of a good sleep, letting the kids help in the kitchen, newspaper reading, sunrise shining in the windows, going to mass together as a family, seeing good friends afterwards and chatting with them, napping in the afternoon, reading a book in the middle of the day (that never happens for me during the week), playing with the kids outside, going for walks or bike rides with them, making a nice dinner or having family over to share it with us.....all of this is so good. It a slower paced day, and it's lovely.

Deep-Dish Blueberry/Cranberry Pie:

pie crust
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
zest of one lemon
3 TBS lemon juice
a pinch of salt
2 pkg frozen blueberries
3 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

In a large nonreactive pan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Add the blueberries (frozen) and cranberries and toss to coat them well. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes or until a little liquid starts to form. Cook the berries over medium heat, stirring constantly, until very thickened and some to the berries are just beginning to burst, about 8 minutes after it comes to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely without stirring, about 1 hour. Transfer the berry mixture to the pie shell. Roll out the top shell and place over the pie. Seal it, and press down the edges. Brush the top with water and then stick leaf cut outs on it. Sprinkle with sugar. Make a steam vent in the center. Bake at 375 degrees on the bottom of the oven for 40 minutes. Transfer to upper rack and bake 25 more minutes. Pie is best served a day later so it won't be so juicy.

"I" Week Snacks

I week....

Idaho potato chips....my first time making them from scratch. I now have a new appreciation for a whole bag of chips....seeing how long it took me to make just this small plate full!

Indian corn
We had this on Tuesday which was the feast of St. Isaac Jogues....perfect that his feast day fell during I week!! We read about him and his missionary work with the Indians.
Since we had a few errands to run after school on Wednesday, I decided just to drive through and get Ice cream!

Irish soda bread

Insects on muffins
I was cupcaked out, so decided that muffins would do just fine.

And Kim made Igloo's for the kids on piano day. They were super cute. It was an apple halved, laying flat on the plate. The kids spread marshmellow fluff all over it and then stuck mini marshmallows all around it. Brilliant! I find it funny that those of us doing the alpahbet snacks rarely duplicate snacks! I love to see what different ideas they come up with!!


Purging, Pumpkins, Backward underware, Dread locks, and Reading

Do I look thinner?

Because I feel really light.

No, I'm not talking about my weight, but I feel light because this week I went through the basement and got rid of LOTS. Our home is now lighter. Clothes, broken toys, stuffed animals, old dolls, framed pictures, ripped pillows, old suitcases, ugly fake flowers....... I purged.

And boy did it feel good!

Since Thomas, I've been saving their clothes in tubs that I store in our very small storage room. However, I've been saving everything, which is ridiculous. Some of it was stained, ripped, or so old it was out of style, yet I was saving it all. This is what I got rid of.

I took two bags of clothes, two bags of toys, pillows, framed art, fake flowers, dolls, stuffed animals and an old car seat base down to Catholic Social Services. And then threw out two big bags of trash. I have been starting to think about Christmas lately and have been wanting to start buying gifts now. I need a place to store them and the only option is our storage room. Since our storage room was filled to the brim with junk, I had no where to put Christmas gifts. Now I do. And, I'm trying to think on a different level this year. What to get for our children, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, cousin, friends that is meaningful and useful. We gave Annie a Easy Bake Oven last Christmas. She used it on Christmas day and one day after that. It has sat in our storage room ever since. Gone. Good-by thing that was taking up space. I really bake with Annie enough. I don't feel bad about getting rid of the easy bake oven. By the way, does anyone want it?

On that note, I am a sentimental gal though. As I was going through each article of baby clothing, I found myself remembering who gave us the outfit. Even clothes that were given to Thomas eight years ago. I have to keep certain clothes that each child wore that are special to me. And, It's not that we don't appreciate the gifts that they get from grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, ect. WE DO. They love to receive gifts from them. I will always keep those gifts that are meaningful to them and us.

You will NEVER see me get rid of a book. I don't care how beat up, torn, or damaged it is. I love books and I will never justify getting rid of those. I think I am scarred because I have this very vivid memory from when I was a little girl, of my mom reading a certain Christmas book to my sisters and I. I can see the pictures in my mind, but can't remember the title. I'm not dreaming because Laura has the same memory. We are searching for this book....

When my children are grown up, I want to give them boxes of books that we read when they were little. I want to see their faces and hear them shout...I remember this one!

I took the kids to the pumpkin patch last Friday. I think orange is my favorite color.
Especially if it's on her.....


No words can describe this cuteness!

Her little knot is turning into dread locks. Interesting.

Its happening. My friends who have readers, said it would. They said that one day it will just click and they will take off reading.
And it did.
Thomas has always enjoyed me reading to him. Big books. Chapter books. This summer we read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in ONE day. It was a Great Illustrated Classics Book for children, but it was still 236 pages. I read to him many Star Wars chapter books in a matter of days. He asks me not to stop. But him reading on his own was another story. I think because he would have to stop and sound out words frequently that he would get frustrated or bored and be done after only a few minutes.
Once school began I could tell a difference in his ability to read. He got faster and was stopping to sound out words a lot less often. Pretty soon I noticed that I wouldn't have to encourage him to open a book in Sherman on our drive to school in the mornings. While I was getting everyone loaded, I would see him there, sitting in his seat in his little uniform, jacket and backpack strapped on his back.....reading. With no reminders or nudging from me. The other morning when I came downstairs I about had a heart attack. I walk down and see Thomas and Annie on the couch. It's absolutely silent as they are both face down in a book. That was nice!
Annie's reading has taken off as well. I'm not sure if she is just trying to keep up with Thomas or not, but she is getting really good. She still needs to be reminded to open up a book though, but once she gets going is does great. She is very proud of the fact that she is reading chapter books and will let me know each time she has hit a new chapter. I will hear her voice somewhere in the house saying.....chapter three!
Part of my morning prayers with the children in Sherman is that they will enjoy to read. That they will have a love for learning and exploring. That they will always wonder about this wonderful world that God has given to them.
Around the five o'clock hour in our home can be a little crazy. I have always wanted a peaceful home for TJ to walk into when he comes home from work. After his hectic, busy, crazy day, I want him to walk thorough the door and enter this haven of serenity. Unrealistic, I know. But I can try a little. So I thought that around five thirty each evening, as I am making dinner, I would put classical music on the CD player and then have the kids sit on the couch and read. We've only done it a few days now, but it is so wonderful! As I am making dinner, I look over and see my children reading. The first day, TJ walked in the door and gave me a look that said, where am I? Is this our home? Are those our children? That made me happy. He looked.....peaceful.