Saturday, July 31, 2010

Back-to-School Back Then

Back to school was a special affair for us. It meant that we all received a new pair of sneakers.  On shoe day, I'd walk the isles while the others were being fitted and just pick up new shoes to smell them! Not receiving many brand new things like kids do today, we truly appreciated what we did receive. 

Yes, I'd seriously stick my nose into the boxes and just smell away!

I know! That sounds weird!  To this day I love the smell of new things.


I remember when the Nike company was fairly new.  One particular year, the company was hitting the back-to-school spot big time and had a really fancy looking shoe out. Every kid, ...if you were someone special that is,... had a pair of that particular style.

Well, not that my mom thought we weren't special, but we didn't get them. I remember what they looked like to this day. They were blue with some suede,  and their smell...oh! that glorious smell!

While shopping for shoes at K-Mart that year, we thought we had Mom almost talked into a pair for each of us when we ran into Mrs. Volk. We went to school with her kids. She was adamant that no shoe was worth that much and was refusing to buy them for her three kids.

That's all my mom had to hear. Thank you, Mrs. Volk, for ruining what would have been the most glorious back-to-school day EVER!

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This is a picture with 7 of us kids.  I'm the little blond in the front row. 

This is my little newborn sister, Jane, who weighed in at 10 lbs.  Actually, I was a 10 lb baby also!  My poor mother had 5 babies that were 10 lbs or over...major ouch! 


Our Catholic grade school was just three blocks from home. We had no cafeteria or gymnasium at the time. We brown bagged it.

Mom always had our paper sack lunches lined up on the counter...in order...with our names written on them. I LOVED the way she would right her cursive....beautiful and elegant. It made that lunch sack look like a million bucks!

She would send us out the door with such a loving hug, kiss and wave good-bye. Between the brown paper sack with the luxurious handwriting and the loving good-bye's, I felt like the most loved kid in the universe. As a grown woman and mother myself, I now realize that she was really happy to see us all gone for the day! She knew that peace and quiet was waiting for her.  Heck!  The woman deserved it!

And as I was ironing the other day, I recalled Mom did have an ironing lady.

You see, my mom had terrible varicose veins that steadily grew worse with each pregnancy.  She even had a history of throwing clots due to the severity.  At one time, my folks had 7 kids in uniforms.  Can you imagine ironing at least 35 blouses/shirts, 8 jumpers/skirts, 6 pairs of pants EVERY Sunday? Which, by the way, didn't include Dad's dress clothes for work nor his pharmacy jackets.  It was very hard on Mom's legs...anyone's legs for that matter.

She did save the miscellaneous clothes and handkerchiefs for my sisters and I to do.  We learned how to iron at an early age, and so I pass that tradition down to my girls.

My mom had brought to her family many old world traditions. One being that no matter how much money you had or didn't have, you should always take pride in presenting yourself. Neat and orderly says a lot about you and your attitude toward life. The word self-respect comes to mind.

We may not have had the fanciest shoes but we always walked out the door in crisp, starched, clean-smelling uniforms and brushed hair.

Call it old-fashioned or old world...like it or not... I have to admit she was super right. I may have tweaked the same value system here and there, but my kids are being handed down the same habits. They may not have the newest in fashion...(hand-me-downs are welcomed in this household)...but they will always walk out the door clean and groomed..."As long as you live in my house," as Mom would say.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Recipe Swap Thursday


Just joined Therese and her recipe swap.  I had just posted my cheerio bars recipe three days ago.  Please scroll down for After School Snackin' to see my yummy recipe.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Welcome Back, Old Man Routine!


I love Old Man Routine...most of the time...definitely by this time of the summer.  Then comes spring and I'm ready to kick him to the dog house once again!  

I welcomed him back into our home on Monday.  Our first  two days of school were successful, and I felt like a had a little control over things once more. 


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I have to say that I really missed our prayer routine.  I received some great advice for keeping me somewhat on track over the summer, but it just wasn't the same.  You know? 

 I didn't realize how much I missed it until we started our day Monday...our old routine kicking in.  Kicking in naturally, as though we never skipped a day.  It makes me realize that I'm definitely a creature of habit! 


Monday, July 26, 2010

After School Snackin'

Cheerio Bars

My mom use to make these for us when we were kids...walking in the door... after school....and smelling these?   Heaven!

*As a child, I remember hardly ever receiving Hostess cakes...only the homemade stuff was served...and I thought that was terrible.  Now, I crave Mom's cooking and baking! 

Ingredients:
1 stick of butter
Yellow cake mix
3 cups Cheerios
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup chocolate chip morsels
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees.


Set the dry mix aside .  Melt butter in pan.  Spread  cake mix over butter.  Next, spread the marshmallow/cheerio/chip mix over that.  Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over the top.


Bake for 25 min's or until golden brown.  Cut into bars after it has cooled.


Warning:  Very addicting!

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rockin' Your Comfort Zone

Rockin' out of your comfort zone...have you tried it lately? It is so! hard! to! do!  Your emotions are working faster than your physical being, screaming, "Go for it," ...and you really want to...but  your brain is sending other commands that make you feel as though  your body is being  physically held back. 

And you teeter back and forth...on the brink.  You really want to do it but you hesitate.  You clench your fists, grit your teeth, give a squeal while you stomp your feet a billion times on the ground ...and then you do it! 

Screaming.  Laughing.  Filling with  pride because you just completely went out of your zone.  You conquered your fear.  You rocked your world!

Taking Ester on a bigger roller coaster...oh! that was hard for her and myself. 

I knew there were no upside down parts...she knew there was more height than what she was use to. 

I was still nervous...she was petrified. 

She squeezed her eyes shut, clutched my hand, and she begged to get off as we started rollin' on...and before we knew it, we were half way through it...

...she realized she had done it!  She had conquered  fear!

She was victorious and her face just beamed from ear to ear.  "I want to go on it again!"  She did...and ran for the line, this time dragging Daddy's hand! 

So if Ester can overcome fear...can't I?

My fear?  Don't laugh.  A body massage...actually, having someone else's hands on my body...during the massage!  But I went...had the gift certificate since March...and I conquered my fear.  I totally rocked my zone!

Can I hear an AMEN for body massages?!


Once it began, I was sold immediately. It included a facial, hand and foot scrub and a body massage. To kick it all off...I had a glass of wine and drank it in the most luxurious robe that I've ever laid fingers on!

I couldn't believe I was sitting there with my big, fancy robe, glass of wine in hand...at 2 in the afternoon!

Totally not my typical day!  It felt so surreal and I was laughing to myself thinking, "Girl, what are you doing here?  This is crazy."  And then I drank my glass of wine and laughed again.

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Something really cool came across my blog the other day.  Jason Chapman, from Devon, England, left me a note about a new book he wrote and illustrated...it is about to be released....check out the title...



































So I got up the nerve and emailed him...telling him about my dad who nicknamed my kids. 

This is Jason Chapman's website and I look forward to purchasing a copy...hopefully an autographed copy!

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My friend, Sondra, rocked her comfort zone the other day when I had the honor of shooting her maternity  session.  She is pregnant with her 7th baby, her first boy!   Sondra is a true, beautiful, gentle woman of the south.  Out of respect for her privacy and shyness, I am keeping the photos under wraps...but let me say, they turned out beautiful!  Sondra, you rock!

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In our house, we rock the Bluebell ice cream stock!  In our house, we could make three meals out of ice cream during the hot summer days in Texas. 

And when you see this smile...you can tell ice cream just rocks his world...and with that smile, he can rock the entire world!



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David and I are seriously wanting to take dance lessons.   Long ago, the summer I met David, I took line dancing - by myself might I add!  I had so much fun...but being from up north and before country music was real big up there, I had no where to go and practice my moves

I would love to bust out of my comfort zone and hit the floor with some country dancing...twirling in a whirly-twirly skirt with real cowgirl boots that have a splash of color and sparkle in them. 

We are creating a fall bucket list...and I want to put two-step lesson right smack on the top fo the list! 

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Does anyone else have a comfort zone that they busted out of lately?


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beautiful Dancing

I knew I was in for the dance of my life when I met David, but I never knew I would have such an orchestra that would magically play each of my favorite tunes and at the right moment...my kiddos! They are so much fun...their first "piece" of the day was to shoo us back into bed because they wanted to serve us our anniversary breakfast there.

Right on cue, they came with the tablet and pencil ready to take our order which consisted of Blueberry Morning cereal, bananas and orange juice...laughing and smiling as though they would burst any moment with pride. Their chitter-chatter in the kitchen made such beautiful music!

While we waited for our meal, David and I took out the dusty box that holds our wedding album and were amazed at how much we've aged...oh my goodness...it has to be from all of those difficult dance steps that we've incurred in our life together.

And as the temperature sored...we jumped into the van and headed for Six Flags.



We lived life to the fullest yesterday...and when David and I were about ready to keel over after spending 8 hours in the triple digits...they wanted more.  I wish I could pill up their energy level and swallow one each day. 

Oh!  Their love of life really does make such beautiful music!

We had to chuckle...there is a saying that everything is bigger in Texas...well take a look at this chair.  What a fun photo op it turned out to be!



Isn't that chair HUGE?!  Stan would have loved to haul it out with all of his "mighty powers" and stash it in his bedroom!

When the temps were too hot, there was always the water rides to cool us off.




































Each kiddo pushed their fear factor up a notch.  Stan was so happy to finally be tall enough to ride some bigger kid rides...like Aquaman Splashdown (above), the mini-mine roller coaster, or the swings.  At one point, to convince the ride attendant, I actually tried to slick Stan's hair up into a spike  in order to gain some height.  What a mom will do for her kids!  (And I felt no shame!)

Mabel almost made it on Tony Hawks...after waiting in line for one hour and being just steps from the loading platform...they closed it down!  One huge, hot blow to our excitement...but we found more water rides to cool our jets off.

Sally rocked the roller coaster world.  We cannot keep up with her and her need for speed.  While David and I want to literally puke...she wants the next fastest.  The child has been that way since she was 6 years old.  The picture below was taken right after she exited The Titan...the first roller coaster that has ever scared her.

In the photo above, I put an arrow next to our little Miss Ester pointing out that she was ALONE on that ride. She was soooo excited.  Not only did she triumph on that but she also moved her way up the list of roller coasters by going on Judge Roy.




Even though we couldn't literally go dancing...we did enjoy our entertainment...and toasted to faith and love.

P.S.  We are thinking of taking dancing classes...maybe two step?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Prince Charming...

...swept me off my feet when we were married 15 years ago tonight. 

(The paternal sides are all on the right-side of the frames...maternal sides are on the left-sides of the frames.)


Our grandparents were either immigrants that came over to America from the 'Old World' or first generation Americans.  Our parents were brought up with sound family morals and pride in their heritage...but, speaking only English "...because we were Americans now!"   (I wish they would have been taught their parents' native languages.) 

 They learned  how to navigate through hardships and struggles...The Depression, WWII, and all the other wars.  They reared their children through the crazy and changing times of the 60's and 70's. 

Yet, their morals remained strong and steadfast and they set a wonderful example of the Sacrament of Matrimony.  David's parents have been married for 55 years and my parents almost made it to their 50th  prior to Dad's passing.

Before we ever knew each other, David and I had been previously engaged to other people.  Thankfully, we both had seen the potential damage and ended those relationships.  When we did meet, we were 25, out of college, and instantly knew that we were made for each other. 

We started dating in August of 1994, were engaged in March of 1995 and married that July. 

I love simplicity...and our wedding was just that...simple and elegant.  We were married on a Friday evening with candles and a handful of violinists beautifully providing our music for the Mass.  Our guests included only our parents, siblings with their spouses and children, a handful of close friends, and Aunts and Uncles.  That was it.  Not even a cousin.  (Because of our big families, the total still came to 74 people.)

We enjoyed a sit down dinner to prime rib with family and friends...had a little bit of dancing...and then we were off to spend the rest of our lives together. 

We had decided to make our own anniversary tradition years ago.  For every five years, we'd get-away for a few nights, without the kids.  This year, Grandpa Bill turned 80 so we decided to use our time to visit family instead.  And I have to admit, I really miss our trip right now.   But, maybe later this year....and if not this year, I'm definitely holding David hostage for next July!

So, our big plans for the day?  We are taking the kiddos to Six Flags. I know... not very romantic but we already had four free tickets and no babysitter*...it was a no-brainer! 

*My dear friend, Sondra, did offer to watch our kiddos, but she is very pregnant with her 7th and I couldn't drop our kids off for the day and do that to her in the TX heat!  Thank you for your generous offer, Sondra.

It should be fun...Stan and Mabel went to bed last night insisting that they are going on Tony Hawks...riiiiiiight!

Mom, if you are reading this...thank you for all of your love, guidance, and witness to the sacrament throughout the years! 


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Bucket List

On the home stretch, summer is.  We are rounding the corner with two of the three summer holidays being over.  Summer trip?  Been there, done that.  School books and school supplies are stacked neatly on the shelves in the stores (or in your home). 

And always a big sign that summer is nearing the end...the kids become a little feistier with one another...routine is needed once again.

When you walk outside and notice that the 90 day Miracle Grow potting soil is possibly running out of juice... 

...you know summer is coming to an end.  The flowers are starting to look a little pathetic...they've lost that freshly planted glow. 



The heat keeps us mostly indoors these days.  Spiders have taken control of the outdoors.  They leave notice with their freshly spun, silky webs....everywhere you go.

Even Stan found some while attempting to play in his rock box.


















But you know what?  Live it up.  Love it up.  It will be gone before you know it.  I love the feel of the cold tile under bare feet...I love it when it is sooo hot that you don't want to cook in the kitchen.  You go for the grill.  Heck!  As far as I'm concerned...I just go for the freezer and could eat ice cream three times a day!

I love feeling the laziness that drifts in with the heat...lying on the couch, propping the feet up, and just being.

The crickets and cicadas are going strong day and night, sunflowers are stretching to their tallest height to catch the hot rays of the sun on their brown faces...and they just add to the beauty of summer coming to an end.

So, enter the review of our summer bucket list.  Knowing my kiddos love to swim...until their bodies become these pruny, raisin-like creatures...I decided to check off yet one more item on the list.  A night swim at the community pool...you know...with the swimming pool lights on! 

They've always wanted to do that.  And we haven't.  Ever.  We've lived here almost three years now and have never swam in the dark evening hours. 

When it comes to bedtime there have been so many evenings when I lie down and realize that I've been waiting for that moment of since I woke up!  Being tired by bedtime, I've never had the desire to take them for a swim late at night.  Until this year. 

They looked at me as though I lost my mind when I told them to gear up for a night swim. 

We  put on the suits, grabbed towels and flip-flops and headed up the road to the pool. 




I love how they love life! 

To have Daddy at the pool with them...at night...was a bonus! 







































He gave them thrills that only a daddy can give. 







































Of course, the begging and pleading for the Launch began almost immediately with Stan and Mabel.  They love the Launch.  The higher the better.  There was even a bit of stiff competition at the pool when another dad decided to show off his skills and that of his two sons. 



But Stan took home the gold when he added a little Kung Fu kick in his...







































...we are deciding between Tai Kwon Do and gymnastics for Stan in the fall.  No sooner did the sun go down and the lights came on but Stan and Mabel were mastering their back flips with Daddy.



Don't worry.  They absolutely LOVE doing this!  The older girls were trying their hardest and had a blast doing so...not sure if they mastered the skill, but  they sure had fun trying!








































I knew we hit the top 10 with this item on our list by the looks on all of their faces when 9:30pm rolled around and it was time to be getting out of the pool.




































Even a yawn from Stan.




Those last two shots say it all.  All that happiness because we took them swimming "....when the pool lights were on!"  Love!  Love!  Love it!

We walked home to a balmy 90 degrees at 9:30 in the evening and my husband said, "Okay.  We've completed the bucket list." 

Then, I reminded him about the tickets to Six Flags that the kiddos earned for reading so many hours last year.  Our summer bucket list isn't quite complete.

Tonight, I will sleep with the happiness only a mother experiences when she knows how utterly overjoyed she made her children...and from something so simple.  Stopping and just being is a beautiful gift from God!

Monday, July 19, 2010

So You Picked Blueberries?

(This picture is from foodaholic at allrecipes.com)

I have a recipe that will make the MMMmmm......ooze from your lips!  I found Creamy Blueberry Pie recipe last year at http://www.allrecipes.com/  you can click here to view it.  The recipe  has a huge number of positive reviews which means it is a winner!

Bon Apetite!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

They're Here!

Our weekend kicked off with the arrival of our Seton school books on Friday afternoon.  I cannot believe it is that time of year!  The kids were so excited to see their new materials and I was relieved to see them in that state of mind.  After it  was sorted and checked in, I let them have at it. 


And my little man, Stan...even though his books were not in these boxes...he still grew excited about school, ...science in particular.  He had plans to make those boxes "...into space ships,"  he announced completely and utterly excited!



The little guy squatted in and  actually could fit his entire body inside that box.  The dude is so flexible!

Stan has his school books on the shelf already...little things that I've collected over the years...items I've saved for each child to use.  I think what thrilled him most...next to his new spaceship...was a new pair of shiny, red, safety scissors.  Just his!  No hand-me-downs!  Cowabunga! 

Gotta love the simple things!

School starting already?  Well, a few years back, I decided to try year round school.  It is still 180 days of school but nicely spread out over the course of 12 months where we are able to take some well-deserved and greatly-needed breaks every now and then. 

Most importantly, the new schedule has kept me sane!

I will start the last full week of July and then take a two week vacation at the end of each quarter.  Unlike Illinois, down in Texas, the school system takes one week off at Thanksgiving.  So, we indulge with a break at that point as well.  

My kids have been out of school since Mother's Day.

Do my kids miss much in the sense of summer activities?  No.  Not at all.  The weather in Texas is warm pretty much most of the year.  July and August are down right HOT!  It is like the winter months of January and February up north.  Most people stay indoors during those months.

We will do half of our work in the morning, hit the pool for a swim (with friends), eat lunch, and then finish the second half of our work load.  Our school day will be finished by 2-2:30pm.  After chores and homework, they are free to play. 

At this point, I want to add  that if you read my blog and do not homeschool, I pray that I never come across "opinionated" or "judgemental" of those families who do not homeschool.  It is a personal decision each family has to make. If I blog a lot about it during the school year, it is because the decision was made in our family to take this path, a path that is intricately entwined in our lives and this blog is reflection of my family life.

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We had another show this weekend for our family business. http://www.kitalive.com/  It was outdoors and  hot, but we managed with tons of agua and Gatorade. 

A few posts back, I asked you all to keep us in your prayers since David would be leaving the corporate world.

 Believing  it is very important to update people after you've asked them to pray for you...I want you all to know that David was asked to do some contract work for the corporate company!  It is a blessing in the sense that it takes the pressure off of David of having to sell x amount each month at Kitchens Alive.  So, thank you for all of those prayers!

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We did manage to get in a date last night and went out to eat.  When we came home, I found a couple of girls who were lookin' like Bo Derrick! 

Now, I can bet my bottom dollar on the fact that when you were a little girl, and had straight hair, you had to have done this as well...you know, to get the curly look going on?

Take a close look at the pictures from last night's enthusiasm to this morning's dismay...







































They were not happy with the results...so Mommy had to do some quick pig tail, rescue action. 

While in their glory, I did not have the heart to tell them how they were going to find their hair in the morning.  So I let them sleep on it. 

This morning, in the middle of taming Mabel's hair, she said, "I didn't even want to do this.  They told me that in the morning, I'd look just like Curly." 

Curly being the cute little neighbor girl that has a head of curly locks to behold!  :)

Hey.  An A for effort, right?

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For all of those scrap book moms out there....how do you do it?!  On Friday, I found the kids' yearly pictures from last year lying around.  So, I ran to Michael's, picked up a few supplies, and finished last year's photos.  I'm talking, I only do one photo each year and I still cannot get that done. 

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Vent for the day...because the alarm wasn't set correctly, we slept in.  To work the booth at the show, we had to divide up Mass schedules.  I ended up going to a different parish. 

Have you ever come out of Mass totally rattled?  Unnerved? Frustrated?  You question if you even were at Mass...literally?  Ugh!   (I forewarn any readers who attend the parish I'll be speaking of in this vent.)

So I take Ester, Mabel and Stan to the other parish.  First, the new priest there is full of drama. I'm sure he is sincere in his enthusiasm..but there is still quite a bit of drama.   So much so...during the consecration of the Holy Eucharist it becomes  theatrical in a way that the whole moment is lost.  His theatrics...i.e. voice expressions, body movements...have completely placed the attention on him and not Him.  I looked around to find people chuckling to themselves.  That is how bad it was!

Next, is the choir.  They are wonderful, but again, theatrical. They sing so loudly and "modern"-like during the reception of the Holy Sacrament, you  cannot! for the life of you! concentrate on the intimate moment you have with God .  I was plugging my ears as hard as I could and they were still rockin' out!  I felt like everyone just went through the motions...and I felt really sad and frustrated about that. 

Finally came the "homily" delivered by the deacon.  He once spoke of how he voted for President Obama, and then decided to "preach" to us   his opinion   the "facts" of immigration legislation NEVER ones  praying for the end of abortion...not even during the petitions.  I could only shake my head.

My kids hardly paid attention...the music had them "entertained" and there was such a lack of reverence the entire time.  I couldn't blame the kiddos for not focusing. 

Now in defense of that parish, I have to say that they provide awesome, faith-filled speakers throughout the year.  Speakers from EWTN.  That is incredible and a total gift to the community.  But isn't the Mass most important? 

So, I vent! 

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Tomorrow is Monday.  I'm thinking that I need to take a look at our summer bucket list since our summer vacation is quickly coming to an end.  

Also...Jen at Forever, For Always, No Matter What spoke of blueberries and recipes.  I have a great one that I found last year.  Heavenly.  I'll try to post it this week.

Until then, have a wonderful Sunday evening!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Special Little Somethings

























Each child has a special "something" about them that makes them so precious.  Part of their unique personality you might say.   And as time keeps ticking on...that special something slowly fades and before you know it...poof!  it's gone and you cannot get it back.  I always found that part of growing up sad. 

Mabel's something "special" would be the way she hones in her unique language skills.  She has a way of creating her own language..some may see it as saving wasted breathe. 
For example...on our house hunting trip a few years ago, we were stopped at a traffic light when some driver, for some unknown reason, decided to just lay on his horn.  David and I were ignoring it but not Mabel.  It irritated her and she yelled out loud..."Who's  horning?!"

Yup! She said just that.  David and I looked at one another with that "what did she say" look and asked her to repeat it.  She did.  We died laughing.  She gave us her famous scowl.








Slowly...her little skill is fading away as she continues to blossom and grow.  But, she still has some doozies...

A few weeks ago, she was looking at a Hello Kitty book bag at Target.  Later, at home, she asked me how much I thought it cost.

Me: "I don't know.  Maybe 15 bucks."

Mabel:  "Man! I don't have enough."

Me:  "What happened to all of that money you had in your wallet?"

Mabel:  "I just have 3 bucks...and then a couple of 20's and a 10." 

And then there is the post I wrote back in May...check this one out.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Mother Road




Okay...so...day two of the trip back to TX is like really, really dragging.  The happy-happy...joy-joy has faded way back somewhere near St. Louis. Fights are breaking out.  (Unlike my mother, I have no 'instrument of peace').  There are dark circles under every pair of eyeballs.  The inside of the van looks like a train wreck.  And to top it all off....unexpectedly...I just got my period!!!  Don't 'ya just love when that happens?  Oh, happy-happy, joy-joy!


We stopped at this McDonald's just for kicks...






































I was going to write a nice post on the history and uniqueness of Rt. 66...but, since I'm not feeling the love in the van right now....I thought I'd throw in some interesting pictures that I took along the way.







Built back in 1926, you can still enjoy some cool views from the old Mother Road.  It originates in Chicago, crosses through St. Louis,  to Tulsa, down through the panhandle of Texas, across New Mexico, Arizona and ends at Santa Monica Pier in California.






Traveling on it from Joplin, MO through Springfield, IL, we saw some neat views along the way.  I would love to have seen it back in its' hey day..although, I cannot imagine having crossed the dessert in AZ before there were campgrounds with water and electric! 




"...long ago, cars didn't drive on it to make good time.  They drove on it to have a good time."

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