Our Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving my sister Megan was able to come home from California and spend a few days with us. We loved having her home! She wanted to wake up early on Wednesday morning so she could bake pies with us all day! We even gave her her own apron to wear.

Trying to only have one peel at the end of the apple....


We got all of our pies made and delivered. Some went to our friends, the Pink Sisters, Msgr and Father, and this year the kids asked if we could give one to the Bishop. I thought that was a great idea especially since we don't know how much longer he will be our Bishop. What a treat that was getting to give him a pie. We just walked right up to his door and he was so welcoming to us. He invited us in and even gave the kids candy. They couldn't believe it! When we left, Thomas said, that was awesome that we got to talk to the Bishop and get him all to ourselves. We didn't have to wait in a line.

Thanksgiving morning.....really early.

I think that my absolute favorite part about Thanksgiving was listening to George say what he was thankful for at the dinner table.
Me: George, what are you thankful for?
George: uh....for Green Bay, and for the Packers, and for number one and for number twelve and for Aaron Rodgers and for number nine and for number six, and for number fourteen.....
We had to cut him off and go on to the next person for fear that he would have named off each member of the Green Bay Packers. God bless him. He is cute.

Thank you Kim for the lovely treat we found at our door. And it was a good thing too because with all my planning for Thanksgiving dinner, I completely forgot to have anything ready for breakfast Thanksgiving morning! It was fabulous!

This cheese is special to my family. When I was little and my grandparents would come to visit over Thanksgiving, they would bring this cheese from Wisconsin. We would devour it....it's so good. To me, this cheese is Thanksgiving. I surprised my family by finding it and ordering it online.

It was so good to spend time with you Megan. We love you and miss you. You are a great sister and aunt.


Getting Ready

One of my favorite traditions of the year has arrived.

It's time to make pie.
Lots of pies.

Some years ago, we began a tradition of taking a few pies to Matt Talbot Kitchen the day before Thanksgiving. I thought it was important for our children to see that not everyone has a kitchen overflowing with food on Thanksgiving day.
Each year, we've added a few more people on our list to deliver pies to. People who we are thankful for. Last year we went to the Pink Sisters to give them two pies. Just to see the look on sister's face when I handed her the pies, was worth it all. They were so grateful and we received a beautiful thank you note from them.

A few weeks ago, Thomas and Annie and I made a list of who we should deliver pies to this year. We came up with fourteen. I love their generous hearts. So, this Sunday, instead of making a pie for us, Annie and I made all the pie crusts that we would need for Thanksgiving. Fourteen to deliver and three for us. Annie was so excited to make all these pies that she was up and ready to bake at 6:15. I wanted to shout why don't you go back to bed and sleep like normal children..... but held my tongue. The first words out of her mouth were I knew we had fourteen pies to make, so I got up early to help. I was happy that she was so excited and didn't want to squash that excitement in her. And she was a big help and looked really cute in her apron....but it was awfully hard not to send her back to bed!

She's thinking...... I love my mom, she is the best mom in the whole wide world.....

I wish, but No. I had just told her that she could make her own way to crimp the edge of the pie. She was excited about this.

And the finished product. Seventeen pie crusts in all. Frozen and ready to be filled in the next few days.

I've come to realize that I enjoy the planning and preparation for holidays way more than the actual day. I love to look through inspiring books and cookbooks for ideas, rummage through my decorations in the storage room to see if I have that just what I was looking for object that I can use instead of going out to buy something new.

But, the reality of four children is that I will spend more of the actual day listening to whining, or wiping them, or watching them smear food all over the new table cloth, or sending some to time out, all while burning something in the kitchen.... that's just the state of life right now. And that's OK. That is why I get to savor the days of preparation before all madness breaks loose. The reality of our Thanksgiving meal is that the kids will eat and be done within a matter of five to ten minutes. All that preparation that goes into this meal and then it's done. Over. Finished.

I'm learning that one day we will have lengthy drawn out meals with inspiring and fun conversation. One day. I'm all about family meals with good conversation that includes our children. I was desperately trying to make this happen in our home, but TJ and I would leave dinner exhausted and frustrated. And then one day TJ suggested that we just eat quickly at the center island. Dinner goes a little better now. I had to let go for the time being of what I envision our dinners to be like.

But back to Thanksgiving. My kitchen has a big job ahead of it. Thanksgiving dinner. I use the weeks before Thanksgiving to give my kitchen a deep clean. Kind of prepare it for the big day. I go through drawers and clean them out. I press the auto clean button on the oven and let it clean itself! I go through all my utensils to see what I have. I make sure that I have plenty of wooden spoons for stirring and plenty of serving spoons for all those wonderful side dishes. That's why I love Walmart. I can get new utensil for cheap. I make sure all our wine glasses are clean. I buy plenty of Tupperware so that we have a place for all the yummy leftovers and to send our family home with some to eat for later. I also declutter our kitchen. I take down all the pictures and flash cards from the fridge and clear off the counter tops. It's a visual thing for me. I feel like there is more room for all that will be going on in the kitchen if it looks empty. I set the table days before so that I have time to make sure I have enough silverware, plates, napkins ect. for the twelve of us. Plus, I love to putter while decorating the table. I want to enjoy looking at it, because I know that on Thanksgiving day, I will be more consumed with food and children than with getting to notice the pretty table.

This is a fun week for me. My sister Megan is coming home this year from California! The planning and preparation I'm doing make me so excited. I look at books where it all looks...perfect. The table, the food, the decorations, the children. I'm preparing myself for the reality that it won't be perfect. It will be messy and loud and my children may even start eating before we say our Thanksgiving prayer.....But I will not let myself be disappointed on Thanksgiving when these things happen. I want to enjoy the day and not be caught up in it being perfect.

So, if you see me this week, will you remind me of this?


This Morning

Some days are just so darn pleasant. You know them. We've all had them. They come around very sporadically, but nevertheless, they come. The days where everything seems to just click. Everyone is helpful, obedient, polite, respectful....it's like everything you've been teaching them comes out all at once..... in one morning, none the less. That's the way our morning was today.

Wednesday mornings I sleep in. I don't get up until 7:15 sometimes (note that we should be leaving for school by 7:30.) You can imagine the mad rushing that takes place on those mornings. Especially when I still try and get my shower in before leaving! Today was no different. I woke at 7:15 but to Thomas coming in my room, fully dressed for school, saying mom, I read two chapters in my saint book.

Awesome, honey was my response as I groggily climbed out of bed. This is nothing new. I can always count on Thomas being dressed for school, piano practiced, breakfast eaten, backpack, shoes, and coat on.....usually before 7am. He's a morning kind of guy. Anyways, my first thought was nothing out of the usual this morning. Until Annie comes into the bathroom while I am showering. She's holding a ham and cheese sandwich in one hand and an empty zip lock baggie in the other. I made my own lunch today mom. Could you put this sandwich in the baggie for me? As she holds up the ham and cheese, pieces of it fall to the hairy bathroom floor. After swallowing the throw up in my mouth, I tell her to brush off the hair and take it back to the kitchen. I'll be down in a minute to help. Oh dear. What does the kitchen look like? I wonder.

After quickly dressing, I head downstairs to unusual quietness....what's going on? I ask Thomas. He proceeds to tell me that George and Evie are already in Sherman, he's given them a banana and a drink, he figured out how to take his fish oil by himself using the syringe, Annie has already practiced her piano,which she usually needs me to sit with her to help, they have eaten breakfast, and the kicker....Annie's bed sheets are taken off her bed and put into the laundry room. I'd like to think that I've drilled it into their heads to take off their sheets and put them into the laundry room on sheet day. But, she may have just had an accident last night....who knows.

Here is the best part. We were in Sherman at 7:35. Seriously.

Thomas is always worried about being late for school. He's always the first one ready and watches the clock giving me updates as to what time it is. He asks me often during the morning, if we leave now, will we be late? The other morning, I woke up to Thomas crawling into my bed. He was completely dressed in his uniform. I glance over at the clock only to find that it is just after midnight. Thomas what are you doing honey? I was curious if instead of sleep walking he was sleep dressing.....He told me that he just didn't want to be late for school. He may be onto something there.

As we were driving to school, (ON TIME) I looked back to see both Thomas and Annie's face buried in their books, I was so proud. You know those moments where you feel like all the teaching and work you do is paying off with them. I felt that. I think I was so aware of it because I know all too well that at any second, I will be back to correcting, and reminding them. These moments truly are a gift.

I'm writing this down today, only so that I can remember these enjoyable ....rare....moments and to let them know that I was so proud of them.


"L" Week Snacks

Lemon bars

Lemon poppy seed muffins....yum!
Pope Saint Leo the Great feast day fell during "L" week! How fitting! I just happened to have a St. Nicholas cookie cutter that we turned into St. Leo. The kids decorated their own.

And we also made tiny Leaf cookies, but alas, didn't get a picture taken of them...(gasp)


Family Picture Wall

My version of a family picture wall. I've wanted something like this for a while now, a bunch of family pictures so the kids can always look at them.

All I did was glue photos onto canvases that TJ painted black.