Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Holy Communion

I'm a couple months late on this post, but better late than never!

After jumping through hoops because of new guidelines in our diocese requiring children to have two years of parish sponsored religious education in order to make their First Communion, I finally found a priest (outside of our diocese) who was able to give A7 his First Communion at the extraordinary form of the Mass. A7 was so excited! My one regret from that day was that I didn't get a picture of A7 actually receiving his First Communion. In fact, I didn't even get one of him with the priest or in the church :( Everything went by so fast, there wasn't really time for pictures. Before mass the Father interviewed A7 to make sure he was well prepared. God must have given him extra graces that day, because I am still surprised he was able to answer most of the questions Father asked him. Father told us to sit in the front row during mass, which was nerve racking because our family probably had the noisiest kids in the church, right in the front row for everyone to see. Also, we don't attend Latin Mass as often as we should and this parish didn't have the helpful red booklets to know when to sit and stand like they have at our local Latin Mass parish. Once again, through the grace of God, we thought it would be a good idea to attend Latin Mass for several Sundays before A7's First Communion. That gave us just enough knowledge of the extraordinary form to make it through A7's First Communion Mass without looking foolish. Of course A7 was so nervous after the interview with Father that he didn't make a peep the entire mass. We had a lot of family waiting outside, and after mass A7 and I had to meet with the priest so he could get all of A7's information to make sure it got sent to the parish where he was baptized. After the baby is born we'll try to take a trip back to that parish and take a few pictures, just so I can remember what the church looked like for A7's special day.

Although I didn't get pictures at the church, I made up for it by taking WAY too many of the cake. It was an interesting experience making the cake. I don't know why I got the idea into my head that A7 needed a special homemade cake for this occasion. K advised me to just buy something from the bakery. Sometimes he knows me better than I know myself and usually gives me pretty good advice. Maybe I should learn to listen to him...

I scoured quite a few blogs looking for cake ideas, and ended up combining ideas from several different blogs. I got the most inspiration from this blog. J12 made marshmallow fondant for the cake, which is what the grapes and bread are made of. K and I went grocery shopping and left B4 and J12 in the kitchen while we were gone. The recipe makes it sound. so. easy. Judging from the look of the kitchen and J12's hands when we got home, I would actually say that making it is a messy, sticky process. Eventually the fondant got to the right consistency, and after that it was really fun to work with. But it took a LOT of kneading to get it that way. And if we didn't have enough Crisco on our hands while we were kneading the gooey mess, it was a completely lost cause. But it was fun. And memorable.

Here's a picture of the cake in different lighting, just to show that the end result wasn't greasy and shiny looking.

The candy melt was ordered off Amazon. I saw it here and it looked easy, so I decided to give it a try. It WAS easy! Next time, forget the cake, I'm just making candies for everyone. Solid colors of course, to keep things simple since I'm quite challenged in the kitchen.

The boys also made cookies. I got the cookie idea here, just because it also looked easy. It was easy, and A7 enjoyed decorating them.

After the cake was made, K and I thought it needed to say something. I was tempted to just leave it as it was so I wouldn't mess it up, but that just wouldn't be as special. So with a nervous, shaky hand I wrote, hoping I wouldn't ruin the entire cake. I guess it turned out okay. I just used store bought icing, added a few drops of blue food coloring, and put it in a ziplock bag and cut a small hole.

I used the leftover icing to decorate the waffles in the morning (Yes, another idea from a blog-Sorry, I'm not very creative and can't come up with anything on my own, but my kids still think it's fun, and that's what matters!) We also had cranberry-orange juice (Now that IS my own idea. Ever tried it? It's yummy! It's the only kind of juice I'll drink.)

After A7's First Communion Mass, my mother-in-law was kind enough to open up her home for a small reception. I emailed her this punch recipe, leaving out the almond extract since B4 is allergic. We also halved the recipe. It makes a lot!

It was a great day! We are all so thankful that A7 is able to start receiving Holy Communion!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Straw Bale Workshop

Between baseball season, pregnancy fatigue, homeschooling, and home building, I'm obviously far behind on my posts. Not that I have any rule on how often I have to post on here. But anyway, I'm going to gradually try to catch up, at least with my pictures (because pictures are easy). Anyway, a couple of months ago K took the boys to a workshop to learn how to build a straw bale house. This is something we had researched a lot and were seriously considering for our own house, but I was still a little nervous about the whole idea, not knowing what we would be getting ourselves into. So when I found out about the workshop, I signed up K and the boys so they could learn hands on what it would be like to build a straw bale house and then K and I would have more information to make a decision about whether or not we want to build our house with straw bales. After attending the workshop we decided that we need more time to plan for that type of construction. We would need to be very careful about choosing high quality straw, and locating the straw could turn out to be quite time consuming. We also live in a county that requires building permits, so we would have to get some sort of engineering plan to meet building codes. And finally, although it may not be completely necessary, we don't have a tractor or any tools. When you're building a house with cash, money disappears. Fast. Time is also an issue. We have to figure out some sort of house for us to live in since we can't live in an apartment for the rest of our lives. It takes a lot of time to build your own house, and K does have a 40+ hr./wk. job. He also committed to assistant coaching A7's baseball team this season, and goes to J12's games as well, so time is scarce. Straw bale construction is definitely something we will consider doing in the future though, because straw bale homes are gorgeous and have numerous benefits (if they are properly constructed). Anyway, regardless of whether or not we ever decide to build with straw bales, I'm glad they got to have the experience of building a straw bale house. It was very fun and memorable for K and the boys. They learned a lot of new things, met interesting people, ate good food, and had the “fun” of tent camping for an entire week! They brought home several ticks, and I even had a scare with A7 thinking that he had a tick borne illness since they removed several ticks from him while camping. A week or so after they got home, he started vomiting and having other symptoms associated with various tick diseases, so I took him to the doctor and had them take his blood...just to be safe. Fortunately, I think he just had the stomach flu.

Here are a few pictures that were taken from the workshop.

Before doing any work, they spent several hours in "class" learning techniques and about the construction process. The blue tarp is covering the straw bales to prevent them from getting wet. Wet straw is very, very bad and can lead to mold. Fortunately, it rained the first night they were there and after that the weather was beautiful the entire week!

This is where the first layer of straw bales will be placed. The nails are there to keep the straw from moving around. I believe the rocks have something to do with moisture prevention, but I don't completely remember how it works.

They decided to move all of the bales into the house so they would be at an arms reach while they were building the walls. There's J12 on the left, carrying a bale.

They set A7 up with a hammer, nails and wood. He loves that kind of thing! Definitely my kinesthetic learner!

My awesome husband!

This is the house after most of the bales are in place. Looking good!

I don't know what to call it, but these little wall cut-outs look really neat when the house is complete. They're basically a little built in shelf that you can put things on, like a sculpture or vase.

The house with windows.

The interior.

Here's K plastering an exterior wall.

They didn't complete the house at the workshop. They finished the straw and some of the plastering, but the homeowners had a lot of plastering left to do themselves. Apparently the plastering is very time consuming, but it looks so beautiful when it is all finished. I can't wait to see the "after" pictures!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grammar Nazi

I actually AM a grammar Nazi (just ask my husband who carefully checks his emails before sending them to me), but this is still hilarious. Thanks Leila, for sharing!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gemma Marie

We buried her in December, but I just got the pictures downloaded from K's phone. They're so sad. Her box is so big...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

St. Patrick's Day 2012

I am rarely organized enough to plan for things, so basically everything is spur of the moment. This year K was watching TV the night before St. Patrick's Day and saw that there was going to be a St. Patrick's Day parade. Surprisingly we had enough bread to make a few sandwiches, so the next day we loaded up the cooler and headed to the parade. It was in Eureka Springs, which is an interesting little town. It's actually where my grandparents spent their honeymoon, but that was about 60 years ago. A lot has changed since then. Now it has a lot of bars and restaurants and I think is geared more toward middle aged people. I guess I'm almost middle aged though, although I don't really think of it that way. Anyway, the parade was fun. The people on the floats threw beads. Kind of strange for St. Patrick's Day but maybe they had some left over from Mardi Gras. We thought it was fun to get as many beads as we could and put them all on B4.

After the parade we headed home and made a St. Patrick's Day feast. Yes, this is considered a feast around here since I'm not much of a cook. Of course, just like everything else, it was a last minute feast. We stopped by WM on the way home and got pizza crust, Thousand Island Dressing, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and corned beef. When we got home we threw it all together and made a corned beef pizza. It was really good. And easy.

We also made spinach dip because spinach is green.

For dessert we had mint chocolate chip ice cream because it is green too. Oh yeah, and as a side dish we had potato salad. You know, because Irish people eat potatoes.

Very clever, I know.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Camping on the Property

Tonight we took the kids camping on our land. I was quite overwhelmed at first, although I always get overwhelmed every time I go out there. I think B4 does too. First we went down to the spring and picked up rocks to make a fire pit and K found a scorpion (yes, a SCORPION!) on one of the rocks.

Ugh! I got the goosebumps about 5 times after that and even now, in the comfort of my city apartment, I still get the shivers just thinking about it. It wasn't big and it looked like it was dead so I had K poke it with a stick to see what it would do. Of course, it came to life and scurried away-suprisingly fast too. I've never seen a scorpion in real life before. If I'm lucky I'll never see another one. Anyway, after getting 4 buckets of rocks we drove back up to our campsite. Well, me and the two little ones drove. And then we just sat in the van. I asked B4 if she wanted to get out of the van and she said she was just fine where she was. That's how I felt too. I didn't want to get out of my vehicle and go tromping through the bugs and manure. Have I ever mentioned that I'm a city girl? I think my daughter is too. Maybe one or two of my boys as well. Anyway, I let G1 out of the van so he could help A6 gather sticks. He didn't like walking through the grass. I can't say I blame him. Too many unknowns lurking in that grass. Anyway, he slowly wandered over to his big brother and then fell down. Luckily not on a fresh pile of manure, but regardless, he sat in the grass completely frozen. He sat and screamed until I walked over to him to get him back on his feet. Did I mention he's a city boy too? Hopefully he'll grow out of it though. After all, he's not even two years old and to give him a little credit, some of that grass is almost as tall as he is.

After K and the boys gathered the sticks and rocks, they built a fire pit and J12 chopped the wood.

I think he enjoyed himself. After that he said he wants to buy an axe of his own. While J12 was chopping, A6 was helping K set up the tent.

Then they started a fire and it was finally time to eat.

Since today is Good Friday K had to abstain from meat. He was the only one who couldn't eat the yummy, nitrate free, organic hot dogs. He sacrificed and ate soy dogs. Yuck! I told him soy is not good to eat, but he didn't care. After that we roasted marshmallows and then I went home with the two little ones. G1 was more than ready for bed after all that.
For some reason the cows were really curious about what we were doing. When we first got there, they left us alone, but as soon as we started the fire they all came over and were just hovering around the tent. They were sniffing our tent and rubbing on our cars. It was quite annoying, but I think these cows are just especially annoying cows.

When were first looked at that property, the cows chased us as we were driving around. It was hilarious but K was not amused because he seriously thought they would ram his Tahoe. I wouldn't have been surprised. Anyway, we tried chasing the cows away from our camping area a few times but they kept coming back. Finally J12 spooked them enough by running at them really fast and yelling that they all ran down the hill. I didn't see them again until I drove down to the gate. Maybe they forgot about us. I don't think cows are very smart.

Monday, March 19, 2012


I once heard Doug Kaufmann mention that watercress is a great detoxifier. I can't wait to add it to our juice! Of course, I'll probably be too nervous at first to use it since there are corn fed cows on the property that use the spring. But maybe after we get a tractor we won't have to lease the land (the guy who owns the cows also brush hogs it and we need him to continue to maintain the property since we won't be able to right away) and can section off the first half of the spring to keep the animals out of it so we can use the water and the watercress.