Friday, August 31, 2012

Flying The Friendly Skies

I hope!

Clementine and I are flying to visit Grammy this weekend.  Hoping what is left of Isaac won't delay a landing.

(Not too excited about being delayed with an infant for who knows how long.)

It wasn't planned, but all 9 of us (my siblings and self) are going to visit Grammy (my mom) this weekend.  My mom is  over -the- moon  excited especially since we haven't been all together in almost four years!

When you have 9 children living across the country, and everyone has different time frames to work with, and everyone has children of their own, it is hard to get together.

So, keep us in your prayers, please, for safe travels and flyable weather :)  I'd appreciate it!

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I was going to share a picture, but it ended up being too bleary (phone camera).

Our home school group had their back-to-school mass this morning.  It was just BEAUTIFUL!!!  Thank God for priests, and especially priests that support home school families.

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Have a safe holiday weekend!  God bless!

~  Patty  ~

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

This has been the view  from our campsite for the past three nights.


The words, Good Night Moon, pop into my head :)

We did it.  We drove almost 400 miles (one way) heading to the Panhandle Plains of Texas.  Texas is so big, it is broken into 7 regions, the Panhandle Plains being one of them.

And those plains are FLAT!

Flat as a pancake kind of flat.

Every few miles you catch a glimpse of an old windmill that still pumps water for the cattle grazing way out in the fields.



Hard to believe a sign that says a canyon is just a bit further down the road.

When we entered the park, we saw this...



Gorgeous.  Breath taking.  Beautiful.  They are all understatements.

We spent three nights and days in this amazing park called Palo Duro Canyon.  The second largest canyon in the United States.


It's very old.  The first humans residing here about 12,000 years ago.  Nomads came hunting giant mammoth and bison.  



Apache Indians called this home, followed by the Comanche and Kiowa Indians until 1874.  At that time, Col. Ranald Mackenzie was sent to round up the Indians and take them to their "new home" in Oklahoma.


Around 1876, Charles Goodnight came to the canyon and opened the JA Ranch.  (Lonesome Dove, it's a fictional story about Charles Goodnight.)

He lead his herd of cattle down into the canyon, one head at a time.  Dismantled the wagons, brought the pieces down, and rebuilt them on the canyon floor.



Speaking of wagons...Charles Goodnight invented the chuck wagon!

He was a cowboy, a Texas Ranger, fought for the Confederate States' Army, and then a rancher who not only supplied beef to the United States Army, herded cattle up to Wyoming on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, but also wanted to protect the bison.


In 1876, Goodnight preserved a herd of native plains bison.  Bison, from that herd, where delivered to Yellow Stone National Park in 1902.


The beauty and history in this canyon is amazing.  We didn't hike or bike any of the long trails since the heat would have been hard on the youngest ones.


When we did explore, we were out there by 8am with plenty of water.

David scored a bike rack for $25 off of Craig's List the day before we left on our trip.  They had a blast riding the "easy" trails in and around our camp ground.

Speaking of which...here is our campsite.


One cannot drive down into the Grand Canyon to camp, but you can at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park has three different campgrounds with electric and water hook up.  There are various tent-only sites as well.


And my best camping buddy would be the percolator...


And for those of you who think caffeine is bad for you?  I disagree.

Without this puppy, those really tense camping moments would have been a whole lot worse!

Besides, there is nothing better than hot coffee first thing in the morning at a camp ground.



We did have some visitors.


Even though they are beautiful animals, they still are dangerous.  Especially the ones with fawns.  David warned the kids to stay back.  (They were too eager to want to "hand feed" the animals.)

Ester quickly pointed out this visitor crawling right through the middle of our campsite on the last night.


Tarantulas are pretty interesting to watch...and I was surprised at how fast they are.

We  went to Amarillo one afternoon to escape the heat and to buy repair material for some of the bike tires that had thorns in them :)

I had David drive me out to Cadillac Ranch on Old Route 66.

Any of you know what Cadillac Ranch is?

The kids thought that was pretty neat!!!


And thought it was super cool to find some half-empty spray cans lying around.  Yes, they added their own personal touch to this piece of history.



And this was F.R.E.E.  Gotta love that!

One morning, we took the older 4 kids for trail rides through the canyon floor.  Oh! My! Goodness!

(Photo credit:  Ester)

We split it into two trips so that one parent would always be with Clementine, who obviously didn't go.

The entire time we were on that horse ride, I kept thinking of cowboys and Indians, history, beauty, and how powerful and amazing our God is.

(Photo credit:  Sally)

David said that I've officially earned my bragging rights after camping three nights down in a canyon.  I never thought I'd be a camper and it is turning out to be so much fun!

Camping makes going places and seeing things so affordable.  It isn't easy, there are some pretty tense moments, but it is mainly happy memories that will last a lifetime!

Our next stop on the list is Galveston Island State Park.  Hopefully this fall, weather permitting.

Hope you enjoyed these.  If you are ever in that area, I would highly suggest taking the time to at least drive through.  God's beauty will leave you speechless.

~  Patty  ~


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tough Patient

My Stan has a very small jawbone.

Absolutely will need braces.

This past week, he had to have some teeth pulled :(


Calming watching t.v. on the ceiling.

Numerous shots later and two teeth pulled....not one tear or flinch.


Impressed the socks off the dentist and technicians.

He's one tough and very brave patient!

The tooth fairy thought so as well.

~  Patty  ~

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Grilled Lemon Chicken

I've been known to unintentionally turn my meat into raw hide when I grill....(picture the movie Christmas Vacation...Clark Griswald...gnawing  on a piece of raw hide a.k.a. Christmas turkey...at the dinner table).

This recipe took me off the grilling wall of shame!


Ingredients:

1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved

Directions:

1.  In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, red bell pepper, salt, and pepper.  Place chicken in the bowl and marinate at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator.  (I marinated mine for about 3 hours.)

2.  Preheat grill for high heat.  (I used medium heat.)

3.  Lightly oil grill grate.  Drain and discard marinade from bowl, and place chicken on the grill.  Cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

*It recommended setting aside 1/4 cup of marinade in step 1 to use for basting while grilling.  I did not think the recipe made enough to reserve.  Mine grilled perfectly without.

This was a quick, easy, moist, and delicious dinner.  The kids loved it and staked their claim on left overs for lunch tomorrow :)   (But there wasn't much left to claim.)

Enjoy!

~  Patty  ~

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We Love Our Lady

I LOVE how tangible the Catholic faith is in so many ways!

The Catholic Church recognizes August 22 as the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The day we celebrate the coronation of Mary.

"After Mary is brought up to Heaven and is finally with her Son, Jesus, forever, she is seated upon a throne and crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Mary is our loving Queen and from Heaven she showers graces upon us.  We should ask her every day for her help to be obedient, kind, humble, and to love her Son, Jesus, and accept the will of God with courage and joy."  - Art 1 For Young Catholics, Seton Press.

We tweaked the directions for the candles project out of the Seton art book.   I think they turned out great!




Instead of making their own candles, I found it less expensive to purchase a "white" one at the store and then they used the artwork and Mod Podge to decorate the glass jars.  

The candles said "white" but kind of looked grayish??  Oh well.

They can use these candles for different Marian feast days throughout the Church calendar.

And for a yummy after school snack...


Peanut Butter Fudge Crowns!  So yummy :)  I found the idea over at Crafolic.  She has so many easy and fun ideas for children & faith formation.

Hope you are having a wonderful week!

~  Patty  ~

Monday, August 20, 2012

Camp Hughes

We did it.

We went.  We camped.  And we kicked some fire ant butt...with Stan and I bringing home a few ant stings as souvenirs.


We camped out Sunday night when the camping grounds were pretty quiet.  (The kids schooled on Saturday in order to take Monday off.)

We were right next to a big playground, a clean shower house, and plenty of trails to walk on.  We used  two-way radios, that David's brother had given him, to keep tabs on the kids at all times.



Since I'm not known to love camping (sarcastic grin), we decided if we were going to do this, we wanted it well-planned.  We read all kinds of tear drop forums, websites, and blogs to see how others manage.

 (We used business, credit card points to order supplies we didn't already have.)

Welcome to our "kitchen."


David went online to find a camping list for teardrops and "ideas" how to pack one just right.  It was a HUGE help and I can't believe how much we fit into this thing!

My pull out drawers look like this...


One drawer has stacking mixing bowls and pots/pans, oven mitts, table cloth & clips, trash bags.

Another drawer has dish rags and towels, sponges, toothpicks, and zip lock bags, etc.

Third drawer has all of our dishes, bowls, and silverware and even bibs for Clementine as well as her own dish and spoon, and wipes for her messy face :)

Everything else is stored above on the "counter top" or the long shelf.

Camping tables are a necessity.  We used ours for the Coleman stove and even a sink!


That sink folds down and stores in the ice chest when camp is broken down.

BTW, the sink also doubled for Clementine's bath tub!  We just mixed cold water from the tap with boiled water and Waa!  Laa!  The perfect baby, bath temperature.

We had drinking water and a 5 gallon jug for washing hands and doing dishes :)


That 5 gallon jug folds down and stores in the ice chest as well when we are traveling.

Speaking of dishes, they couldn't believe they still had to do chores on a camping trip :)

They discovered the novelty of it made it fun :)

After dinner (hot dogs, cauliflower, grapes & these delicious Ranger Cookies for dessert) ....



...and the dishes were done, David walked the big kids down to the lake for an evening swim.


I stayed back with Clementine to help her "adjust" to her new baby bunk in the camper.


(All smiles here, but at 1am, she was TOTALLY freaked out!)

After "hanging the laundry," I actually had some peace and quiet.   I felt kind of guilty since David did 99% of the work to get us to that point.  But it still felt good to relax and he did have fun with the kids at the lake.

Fresh blueberry pancakes were on the breakfast menu.  YUMMY!


And little Miss woke up quite happy (the 3rd time) ready for some breakfast herself!


This was a successful dry run for the camping trips we have planned this fall.  There are only a couple of things we'd "fix".

Like, storing our shoes in tubs inside the tent and camper....especially since I found a rather large scorpion under one of the coolers this morning!

David and I didn't even THINK about scorpions especially at 1am and at 5:30am when we slid into our shoes changing and feeding Clementine.  

We are really excited about seeing more of this gorgeous state and making some great memories with the kids!


Our next trip will be (weather permitting) Palo Duro Canyon State Park - in the Panhandle of Texas, south of Amarillo.

Photo credit:  TPWD

Until then, it's back to school tomorrow for us and work for David.  (And a good night sleep tonight!)

~  Patty  ~

Saturday, August 18, 2012

School Bucket List

Last week, when I received my new Holy Simplicity Planner in the mail, I noticed it had an area to list 12 weekly goals in my mother's section.  This prompted me to plan for a School Bucket List this year.  Have you ever done one?

I've heard the rumbling of thunder in my head and had a few lightening strikes so far...

1.)  Dinner Prep.  Sally and Ester each will take one night a week to prepare a dinner.  (I'm hoping this takes a load off of my busy schedule!)

2.)  Religious art class.  More of it this year!

I.E.  This...


And this...


3.)  Spanish lessons.  A "first" for us.  I really love this program...


And the girls (recommended for kids in grade 2-8) are catching on easily.  The teacher is very engaging and keeps things basic.

4.)  A camping we will go!  

My husband has been very busy.  As he says, "Even though we cannot afford to buy it, I've been blessed with the gifts to build it."

After finishing building his new business display, he finished building his teardrop camper.


Each side has a door.  One door has an a.c. unit attached.  (It can be taken off to store.)  The interior is wired and paneled.  There is a bunk in which the baby can sleep.  (Padded and gated of course.)  There is only enough room for a queen mattress.  (One adult and the three older kids will sleep in a tent.)


The galley is finished as well.  It sports a kitchen light, a few pull out drawers, an ice chest, a small counter top, and a storage shelf across the top.

He built this completely on his own starting with just two wheels :)

So, God willing, we will be able to take our big family on some short trips across Texas this fall and winter.

Now, it is no party vessel like this one below...



...but I'm still actually excited to camp!

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I saw this on Facebook and had a good laugh.  Have any of you had a rough week?





Have a wonderful weekend!!

~  Patty ~

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