Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We're ready for Christmas

We are in high gear getting ready for Christmas around here. We have lots of preparation to do and will soon be doing lots of traveling to visit family all over the great state of Texas.
So, Merry Christmas everyone! May the Lord bless you and your families with great joy! We'll be back online closer to the new year. I doubt I'll have much computer access until then.

But, I will be checking in on Blair who's little Peter will be arriving tomorrow. Please pray for their entire family during this exciting time. Congratulations, Blair & Steven!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Thanks to Emily, I figured out my sugar cookie problem. She suggested that the problem was too much butter in the dough, so when I rolled out the rest of it I was very generous with the flour, and ta-dah! Perfect sugar cookies. The kids are thankful, too. They had gobs of fun decorating the cookies. I think they enjoy decorating them even more than eating them! And, of course, it's much more fun to decorate cookies that have a shape than just big blobs.
Thank you, Emily!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I just figured out why I keep finding the baby chewing on dog toys over and over again. After we take one away from Gustin, the dog goes and finds it and brings it back to him! It's kind of sweet and disgusting all at the same time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eric's side of the story

So, after posting about our Christmas tree adventure yesterday, I had Eric read what I had written. He likes to read posts about himself. :) After reading it he said, "That's not what happened at all." So, here's Eric's side of the story:

So there is a crack in the base. Well I can’t do anything about it, the base is broken. What was that – duct tape? No… So I cruise out to the garage and take stock of a few materials I have on hand. I head back into the house and they are actually still putting ornaments on the tree with a broken base. So as I speed through the living room I say, “Don’t worry about it. Leave it alone.” Of course, I’ll solve the problem. So I’m half way though building a new base and she comes in tells me that the tree fell on Jonathan.

“Is he hurt?”


So of course I have to go look.

“Were you messing with it?”

“No, we actually just put the last ornament on when it fell.”


Now you have the full story. The full, conflicting story. I don't remember him saying, "Leave it alone", at all. My excuse is that there must have been a child screaming or crying or hitting his sister or something at that moment and that is why I didn't hear it. I'm pleading the Mommy Defense.

By the way, Eric likes to act like a tough, confident Mr. Fix It, but he's really a big softie!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Communication is key to a good marriage

Last Saturday we put up our Christmas tree. It's just a smallish fake one that we got at WalMart about 3 years ago for $19.88, but it doesn't look too bad once it's all decked out. Jonathan and Elizabeth had lots of fun helping me put on the ornaments. Jonathan, of course, wanted to put them as high up on the tree as he could reach. As he was stretching up on his tip toes he kind of fell into the tree and we heard a snap. Eric looked at the tree, pointed out a crack in the plastic base, said, "Don't worry about it", and left the room.
I interpreted, "Don't worry about it", to mean it's no big deal, it's just a surface crack, the tree is still structurally sound and we could continue to decorate it. Apparently, Eric intended it to mean, "It's no big deal, the base of the tree is destroyed beyond repair but I will heroically save the day by going to the garage and employing various power tools, fasteners and lumber to create a beautiful and functional new tree stand in less than an hour."

Well, the kids and I continued to decorate. At least we did until the tree came crashing down on top of Jonathan. Thankfully, he wasn't hurt and none of the ornaments broke. In the picture of the tree above, the garland and ornaments are kind of haphazardly arranged because we just didn't have the energy anymore to fix it perfectly after cleaning up all the mess. But, it's still beautiful to me.

And, obviously eight years of marriage is not enough to master the art of communication. Good thing Eric and I are in for the long haul. I figure at this rate it will take at least 60 more years for us to get it figured out.

One month older

My baby is 7 months old today. He's crawling everywhere and pulling himself up to standing on everything. Yesterday, he learned of all the wonders held within the laundry basket. He pulled himself up, looked in, and his eyes got all big with wonder and excitement at all of the things to play with inside.
The only problem with this new skill is that he doesn't know how to get back down. He usually falls down or Mommy comes and rescues him. The main problem with this is at night. He had gotten to the point where he would wake up and fuss for a minute or two and then fall back to sleep (if he wasn't hungry). Well, now he wakes up, stands up in his crib, gets stuck, and then gets mad and screams. One of these days, I'll get a full night's sleep. I don't know when, but I have hope. :)

I love you, baby boy. It's such a pleasure watching you grow!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Martha, you let me down

Making sugar cut out cookies is a tradition at Christmas time. I absolutely loved making and decorating them as a kid, so I wanted to continue the tradition with my own children. I was sure that I had made my mother's recipe before, but when we were going to make them on Sunday, I couldn't find the recipe anywhere. No problem, I thought. I'll just turn to this great new cookbook that Eric got me as a birthday gift.
The biscuit recipe is amazing and the apple pie was pretty good (though I totally screwed up the crust, it was my first attempt at making my own crust). But, the sugar cookies did not turn out well at all!
As they baked, the dough spread out very thin so the cookies turned out all deformed looking and you can hardly tell what shape they are supposed to be. The cookies in the above picture are supposed to be (from l to r) a Christmas tree, a bell, and a gingerbread man. I thought that I followed the recipe to a "T". But, the pictures of Martha's cookies in her book are beautiful, and mine are, well, ugly.

Does anyone know what I did wrong? Help!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tis the season

It's 85 degrees outside, sunny and humid. The rumble of the neighbor's lawn mower (and my husband's shop vac) can be heard outside along with the hum of the air conditioner inside. My entire family is dressed in shorts, flip flops and sleeveless shirts. The kids just came inside because the mosquitoes were biting too much.

Yep, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Vigil mass joke

Our priest opened his homily with a joke at the vigil mass for the Immaculate Conception last night. I think it's a pretty good one so, here it is . . .

So, you all know the story of when the Pharisees brought the woman who committed adultery to Jesus. They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So, what do you say?"

Christ replied by saying, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

Suddenly a stone comes flying out from the crowd. Jesus turns and looks and says, "Holy Mother of God! I'm trying to make a point here!"

Thursday, December 6, 2007

She's way to young to figure this out already

Last night . . .

Daddy: Ok, Elizabeth. Now put your shoes out for St. Nicholas.

Elizabeth: I think I want to put out three of my shoes!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mother knows best

Suzanne Temple at Blessed Among Men has an absolutely wonderful post today on how we mothers can, purposefully or inadvertently, tear each other down when we see other moms making parenting decisions that are different than our own. She gives a specific example of how another mother questioned her decision to homeschool and assumed that Suzanne's choice was motivated by selfish reasons simply because it was different than how she chose to educate her own children. I'm sure all of us have felt similarly attacked at one time or another about the same (education) or a different parenting decision (such as diet, television watching, discipline, vaccinations, etc.).

Why do we mothers do this to each other?

I tend to be a very black and white person. I want there to be a right and a wrong way to attack a problem and, of course, I want to always choose the right way. But, with parenting, I have learned that there is gray everywhere. Gray stretching to the horizon in every direction as far as the eye can see with very few breaks that are clearly black or white. It has taken a lot of struggle, but I have come to accept this fact and have come to a couple of realizations.

1. Mothers know what is best for their own children. Barring extreme cases of abuse or neglect, most mothers know which gray option is the best one for them and their children. As mothers, we should respect each other's decisions, especially if they happen to be different than our own. Letting your child have a piece of candy, for example, is not question of faith or morals and so it may be right at some times and wrong at others. And, it may be right for some people and wrong for others. From the outside looking in, it is impossible for us to know what is right for someone else's family at that time.

2. We should trust ourselves and our decision making. Just because another mother chose the slate gray option does not mean that we should question our decision to go with the charcoal gray. Nor should we feel indirectly attacked. Remember, we know what is best for our families. God trusts us, we should learn to trust ourselves.

I've have used the word "we" throughout this post but I should probably go back and change them all to "I". Suzanne's post really spoke to me because I am the offender just as much as I am the victim. But, with God's grace I know I can change. That is one fact that is clearly black and white.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Advent Manger

This is a tradition that my mom always had us do while I was growing up. Every year we had an Advent manger. It is a basket that baby Jesus will be placed in on Christmas day, but it is up to the kids to make sure that baby Jesus has a nice soft bed in which to sleep. Every time they get caught doing a good deed or they obey cheerfully or share willingly they are allowed to put a piece of "straw" (yellow yarn) into baby Jesus' bed.
So far, they have really taken to this idea. Yesterday, Jonathan was begging me to give him more chores to do so that he could put more straw in the manger! He cleaned up their playroom all by himself (and it was desperately in need of being picked up) just so he could get more straw. Now I know why Mom did this little project every year! ;)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Blogroll addition

I added another blog to my blogroll. It's Mary's Aggies and is a blog by the pastoral team at St. Mary's Catholic Center at Texas A&M in College Station. I can't believe that I didn't know about it and that I found out about it through a former t-sip. It's a great blog with lots of information, resources and reflections.

Also, in case you haven't heard about it, here's a link to Mary's Aggies where they posted a link to the latest papal encyclical, Spe Salvi (which means Saved by Hope).

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How does he think of this stuff?

We have a very large, mature oak tree in our back yard and this year it has created a bumper crop of acorns. They have been raining down on us for weeks with an almost constant patter on our roof. There are so many that it feels like you're walking on marbles when you walk under the tree and all these acorns are killing our grass. Eric has been raking and gathering them for weeks and this weekend he finally got to the point where he couldn't get to any more with the rake. But, there were still scores of them down under the grass. So, what were we to do? This is what Eric came up with:

He's vacuuming up the acorns with a shop vac! That's definitely a solution that I would not have come up with. I guess it worked because he was out there for a couple of hours and had to empty the shop vac four or five times.

So, what did he do with all those acorns? He says that he is composting them. There's a huge pile of them now on our compost heap. I think, though, that the acorns will just think they are being planted and that soon we will have a few million oak trees growing in our compost. Who's right? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The discussion continues

Elizabeth: Mommy, I can feel Jesus... Mommy, where is my heart? I can talk to Jesus in my heart... Can I talk to him in your heart?... Sometimes I'm shy of God when I'm three year old. Sometimes I'm not.

More, more, I want more. It's too precious!

Umm . . . Umm . . . Good question

Jonathan: If Jesus is all around us and always with us, then how come we can't see him or feel him or hug him?

That's a tough one to try to explain to a five year old. I don't know where the question came from since just before that he was talking about race cars. I think I said something about heaven, bodies, praying, love and souls, but I'm not sure exactly what. It seems to have satisfied him, at least for now.

But, it shows that at times he does actually listen to me. :)

How many times today...

. . . will I have to remove a dog toy from the mouth of my newly mobile 6 month old?


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bless my husband

This simple project took him only an hour or two, but it has changed my life! He put dividers in the cabinet that holds all my baking pans/cookie sheets, etc. so now they can be stored upright.

No more grunting, straining and sweating while I struggle to get the pan I need, which was inevitably on the bottom of the massive stack. Sometimes it amazes me what gives me the most joy. But, every time I go to that cabinet and easily slide out a pan, I smile and say a little prayer of thanks. Happy, happy me!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gustin's Baptism

I love baptisms. It doesn't matter who is getting baptized, young or old, related to me or not. They are amazing. It's like I can feel God's graces flowing through the air and around all those who are present. Saturday was an amazing day baptizing Gustin and celebrating with family. I will cherish all the memories we made.

Here's my little boy being baptized. He did not cry at all, but as soon as the water hit his scalp, his eyes got really big. He quietly fell asleep before being anointed with the spicy smelling chrism. The rich scent stayed on him all day long.
Here he is cuddling his godmother, my sister.
And, here's the entire crew, my Dad, my Mom, Elizabeth, Jonathan, Gustin, my sister Kelly and my brother Dan. Well, almost the entire crew. Dan's wife Rachel is taking the picture.
And, here's the very blessed Mommy and Daddy.

New family picture

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. Among all the festivities and visiting family we managed to pose for a family picture that will most likely be on our Christmas card this year. After snapping about 27 gazillion shots, this is the best one. I'm happy!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


The Aggies won! The Aggies won! 38-30!!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Busy, busy, thankful and busy

Thanks to Jill for giving me this great idea for a Thanksgiving Tree (that she got from Karen). The kids loved doing it because they were allowed to make a big mess with scissors and glue!

Today we are off to my in law's house for the Thanksgiving holiday. We already have big plans for fishing, making smores over an open fire and maybe even going horseback riding. And, most importantly we are going to watch Texas A&M whip up on UT! Whoop!

We'll be back on Friday so we can prepare for Augustine's baptism on Saturday. My little boy will shortly be welcomed into the family of God! I'll be hosting lunch after the baptism where I will be serving these absolutely fabulous shredded pork tacos. It's a very un-Thanksgiving like meal (which we will be ready for by then!) and an absolute crowd pleaser.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy this time with friends and family and don't forget to stop the festivities for a few minutes and give thanks!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Look Mommy!

Only one hand!
Now the other one!
One leg...
Now the big finish . . . one hand and one leg!
I'm so big! I know what you're thinking, Mommy. I'm growing up way too fast!
Yes, you are my little boy. Yes, you are.

Fun fall day

It's not the typical pile of freshly raked leaves, but I guess a pile of freshly raked pine needles will work just as well.
I'll just try not to think about all the bugs and spiders . . . OK, I'll stop now.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm growing!

Figuratively, of course, not literally. Nope, I did all my literal growing a long time ago but it has taken a while for my figurative growth to catch up. However, the other day Gustin's pediatrician asked me how tall I was and I said:

"Six foot."

I didn't think much about it at the time, but since then I've been thinking about it a lot. You see, that is not my normal answer. Normally I say I'm 5'11" (I'm actually like 5'11-7/8" or something like that. Just a smidgen under six foot). I guess it's because I've always tried to minimize my height.

I've been tall from the get-go. I was 22" long at birth and never looked back. Being a tall child has it's advantages and disadvantages.

  • Can always reach the top shelf in the kitchen
  • Can help little old ladies get things off the top shelf at the grocery store
  • Never need assistance getting things off the high racks in department stores
  • Playing basketball
  • Taller than all my friends (by a least a head)
  • Started being taller than my teachers in 4th grade
  • Looked older so I was expected to act older
  • Clothes shopping was difficult to say the least and at times would end with me in tears
  • Taller than all the boys when that started to matter
  • Gangly and awkward
  • Stuck out in a crowd
As I've gotten older I have been slowly (very slowly!) learning to accept my height. A big step was marrying a man who is shorter than me. I've got Eric beat by like 3 or 4 inches. Two years ago I finally bought my first pair of heals. I've avoided them like the plague most of my life and I guarantee you that on my wedding day I was wearing the flattest of flats. But, now I own a few pair and I wear them without being self-conscious and without slouching in an attempt to minimize my height (or the height difference between my husband and I).

I'm also finally recognizing some additional advantages to being tall:
  • Lots of room to carry babies. I'm always complimented on my cute, round, pregnant belly.
  • Putting on five (or ten) pounds isn't as obvious cause there's lots of room to spread it around.
  • I'm able to utilize my upper cabinets to the max (okay, that one is kind of a repeat).
  • Many clothes styles are most flattering on a tall figure.
  • I can always see over people and never miss out on any of the action at mass.
  • I'm the only one who can see how dirty the top of my refrigerator is.
It's kind of interesting to look back and see how much I have changed in the last ten years or so. Life is definitely more fun when you learn to accept the body that God has given you. I truly hope that I can teach that lesson to my children at a much younger age than I learned it. I think them seeing a confident mommy who is comfortable in her own skin is a good start.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You're probably not wondering...

. . . but I wanted to tell you all a little about Gustin's name, anyway.

I always have a hard time choosing boy names. I don't know why. I've got a long list of girls names that I love, but a proper boy name is just difficult. I don't want it to be too trendy or too common or too weird or too ordinary or you get the idea. It's also very important to me that my kids' names evoke some kind of feeling or remind me of a virtue or just generally are pleasant for me to reflect on.

For instance, for Jonathan we named him after the Biblical Jonathan who always makes me think of friendship and loyalty. Jonathan's middle name is Paul after St. Paul who makes me think of heroic courage and zeal for the Lord. Elizabeth is named after the Biblical Elizabeth and makes me think of motherhood, faith and patience. Her middle name is Bernadette and St. Bernadette was the ultimate model of humility.

Now, after the little aside, I need to get back to my main point. Gustin's name.

When we were discussing boy names, Eric and I started talking about historical men that we admire and of course St. Augustine's name came up. As soon as it was mentioned, Eric knew right away that it was the name. I was a little less certain. I liked that the name made me think of intelligence, rich theology and all of the other great qualities of this doctor of our church. But, Augustine just seemed like such a big name for a little person. And, I was afraid that it would be constantly mispronounced and misspelled. But, Eric talked me into it and I'm glad he did. It's a great name for my little boy.

But, it is constantly mispronounced and misspelled!

There are two correct ways to pronounce Augustine (I know, I did a bunch of research on it!). I've always heard it pronounced uh-gus-tin. But, many people pronounce it ah-gus-teen. Personally, I like uh-gus-tin but I don't particularly like ah-gus-teen. And, I never know if I should correct people when they say it wrong. I mean, they're not saying it wrong, they're just saying it the other way and I feel funny correcting people when they are actually correct. Know what I mean?

Anyway, when we told the kids the name of their new baby brother they immediately started calling him Gustin (like Justin but with a hard G). That name stuck and I thought it would solve the pronunciation and spelling issues. But, most people look at you funny when you tell them your child's name is Gustin because they have never heard it before and they think you are saying Justin or Austin instead.

Oh, well. Maybe one day we'll just give up and call him Gus. Surely there can be no confusion over that name!

P.S. Just in case you were wondering (or even if you weren't), Gustin's middle name is Luke, after the Gospel writer. St. Luke makes me think of fastidiousness, attention to detail and precision (he was a physician and historian).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

100% Texan

Okay, so I was going to do one of those quiz things that I saw at Minnesota Mom. It's supposed to tell you who your inner European is.

The first time I did the quiz the results were this:

Your Inner European is Spanish!

Energetic and lively.
You bring the party with you!

Um, no. That is definitely not me. I'm a wallflower.

So, I tried again. You know usually you can narrow down each question to two answers that both kind of fit. So, this time I picked all my second choices and I got:

Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.

Again, no. Passionate and colorful? Didn't I just say I'm a wallflower? I know what culture really is? Ha!

One last try mixing answers from the first and second attempts:

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!
You drink everyone under the table.

Weeelllll, at least I do have some Irish blood in me. But, drinking everyone under the table. Boisterous. You have got to be kidding.

So, I've decided that I have no European in me whatsoever. Nope, I'm 100% Texan from the US of A (just don't tell anyone that I was actually born in Nebraska). ;)