Thursday, March 29, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life. ~


They may not be the "Café-Mocha-Vodka-Valium Latte To Go" that I requested on Facebook earlier this week, after surviving two almost completely sleepless nights, but these two pretty little boxes of dairy-free yumminess have kept me going.  

 In addition to caring for sick children and multiple trips to the doctors office, I've somehow (God's grace!) managed to assemble a couple pretty new bookcases, keep up with the laundry, sort through the boys clothes, and meet with a few contractors for some projects we are having done this spring.  I'm also almost done painting the boys' bedroom.  If I owe you an email or response in the comment box, now you know why I've been so quiet online.  :)


So SO happy that our sweet little guy is feeling better.   He gave me a little scare with his low grade fever late Saturday night and extra crankiness.   It didn't help that the nurse suggested over the phone that I take him to the ER, since I told her he had a hard time breathing while nursing due to his congestion.   With my husband out of town, a 45 minute drive to the ER, and our six other sick children sleeping in their beds, I wasn't sure what to do...  I hooked up the humidifier and held him all night, loading up the car Sunday morning to visit our doctors office arriving as soon as they opened, at noon.  Next time I will make sure to call and make an appointment first since they told me they didn't have an opening for 2 hours...  I was so exhausted and overwhelmed I started to cry.   When I told them that we live 45 minutes away they suggested I run some errands... "With 7 kids, most of whom are feeling sick??!!   I'll wait in the car, thank you.  Please call me if you can get us in sooner."   My cell phone rang 10 minutes later... They could squeeze us in.   Thank you God!!

My next prayer was answered when, after leaving the doctors office with the suggestion of watching for new fevers/signs of infection, I headed to the grocery store to purchase some vitamins/medicines.   It was raining and  just as I said a quick little prayer as I parked the car in the packed parking lot that "I could just see someone I know and have them watch the kids for a few minutes"... friends parked right across from me and stayed with my car/kids so I could run in and out real quick.  Whew!!


Last night I decided that it was time to take the older girls back to see the doctor since, despite all of my efforts, they had gotten worse and their fevers had returned.   When we arrived at the office they handed Twinkle Toes' and Chiquita' face masks to wear while we were in the waiting room.   Of course, our little Rose (who is all about the accesories!) had to have one as well.  She is still running around wearing her face mask !   


My poor girls are both really sick.   Wheezing... Pneumonia... and most likely RSV....  

Twinkle Toes' oxygen levels were the lowest and they gave her a breathing treatment right away.   I was sent to the pharmacy for antibiotics and medicines for both Twinkle Toes and Chiquita.  Shortly after I arrived home a nebulizer was delivered as well, so I can keep giving the girls breathing treatments as needed. 

It is spring break this week and our pediatrician is out of town, but I am so thankful for the other doctors in his office, and that the girls are already feeling a little better today.  I am also thankful that Hubby will be home a week from tomorrow.  It is turning out to be a really long and hard three weeks! 

Thank you all for your prayers! 

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Easter Symbols {An Easter Basket for the Whole Family}

For the past few years, in addition to to our children's individual Easter Baskets, I've assembled a basket for the whole family.   The first two years the basket included items for some of our Garden of the Good Shepherd Activities and Garden Parties that we were planning on having during the Easter season.  

Last year I focused on the various Easter Symbols, in addition to the Easter Symbol Candies I made for each child's individual basket.  The basket for the whole family included a Good Shepherd Puzzle for the Easter Season, a Ukrainian Egg Decorating Kit, Egg Shaped Flower Truffles, Lindt Chocolate Lambs, an adorable Peacock, a Butterfly clip, a beautiful small statue of the Good Shepherd (this one, I think), and a Good Shepherd Holy Card.   Charlotte also made a beautiful little Easter Symbols Booklet that I included as well!  

I'm planning to fill another Family Basket with little gifts representing the Easter Symbols and thought I'd share a few of my ideas for this year, in addition to the Parable Pouch from Jesse Tree Treasures.

Cross:  The cross is perhaps the best known of all Christian symbols. In the ancient Church the cross was usually depicted without the figure of Christ. It was adorned and decorated as a symbol of the victory Christ won through His suffering. For the ancient world it was a symbol of humiliation, but for Christians it was a symbol of victory and glory. In Christian art, the figure of the suffering Christ was added to the cross only in medieval times. ~ Immaculate Conception Parish

As you all know, our family loves puzzles.  We haven't worked on one since Epiphany and, since we really enjoyed putting the Good Shepherd Puzzle together last Easter, I've been looking for another.   At this point I'm trying to decide between the I Am With You Cross Puzzle and this beautiful Easter Morning Jigsaw Puzzle (which, in addition to the cross, has the "IHS" and lilies on it as well).

A few more ideas:  Chocolate Crosses, a new Crucifix, really there are so many gifts that can symbolize the "Cross."

Lamb:  We refer to Christ as "The Lamb of God," and "The Paschal Lamb," because he was sent as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. We also lovingly refer to Him as "The Good Shepherd," since He is our Shepherd and told Peter to feed His sheep.

I have been trying to purchase the Joseph's Studio Good Shepherd Jesus Easter Egg Figure with Pedestal for two year's now. Both times I thought it was on it's way, it never did show up and my orders ended up being cancelled... after Easter. This year I was finally able to purchase it at Amazon!  It is even prettier than I thought it would be from the pictures.

A few more ideas:  Good Shepherd Puzzle, Good Shepherd Holy Cards (from here or here), Lamb Puppet, this little stuffed lamb is as precious as can be, Lamb Cookie Cutter, Lamb Chocolates, and (if you don't have one yet) a lamb butter mold!

Bread of Life:  Bread and Wine/Wheat and Grapes: Because of the bread and wine they produce, the symbols of wheat and grapes are often used to designate the Eucharist. Bread is the basic food of every culture and of every age in human history. Made from the toil of human hands, the many grains of wheat are transformed and become one to nourish and sustain us. A meal, in which bread is broken and shared, becomes a means of bonding human beings together. This is the sign Jesus used to describe Himself as the "Bread of Life." Following His command, in faith we take and eat this Bread, His Body, and become one with Him." From ancient times wine is associated with banquets, joy and celebration, a gift of God to gladden our hearts. The grapes, like the grains of wheat used for bread, are fruits of the earth and give of themselves in order that we might celebrate and be glad. This sign which Jesus used for His Blood, speaks to us of giving and of sacrifice in order that we might enjoy the benefits of His love in the banquet which is the foretaste of heavenly joy.  IHS: IHS stands for the first three letters of the name Jesus in Greek.

For this symbol I decided to order one of the beautiful new Pysanky Bread Basket Liners from Catholic Embroidery.  I know it isn't embroidered with the IHS, but it does have the Greek letters for Christ: IC XC and Greek verb for triumph: NIKA.  (If you order this, or any of the Catholic Aprons, directly from this Catholic Cuisine page I will receive a commission.  Thank you!)  

A few more suggestions:  A Mass Tote embroidered with the IHS symbol would be another great alternative.  We love ours!  The Chalice Notepad from Saints Galore would be lovely as well!

Lily:  The lily represents purity, chastity, innocence, and St. Gabriel's trumpet, and is a symbol of Our Lady and used to depict the purity of the Saints, especially SS. Joseph, Francis, Clare, Anthony of Padua, and Catherine of Siena. In America, it has become, too, a symbol of the Resurrection. Legend says that lilies originated with Eve's tears when the first couple was banished from the Garden of Eden. Other legend says that they sprang up from the ground when drops of blood fell to the foot of the Cross. It is interesting that these two legends exist, because Christ, the New Adam, wipes away the tears of the children of Eve who became the children of Mary when Christ gave her to us, through John, from the Cross. Mary herself is symbolized also by another lily, lilium candidum, or the Madonna Lily. ~ Fisheaters

Every year I try and pick up an Easter Lily for our home right before Easter.   I hope to do the same this year.

I also purchased The Parable of the Lily for the children, to include in the basket for this symbol.   I haven't read it yet, but it looks like a sweet book and we have enjoyed the others in the series including The Legend of the Candy Cane.

Egg:  The egg is like Jesus’ tomb. It is enclosed, it is quiet, and it seems lifeless. Yet within an egg, the promise of new life is waiting to burst forth. Jesus’ tomb was like an egg until early on Easter when Jesus rose up to a new and glorious life. ~

Nope, I just couldn't resist... I also ordered the All... "you know, that word you can't say until Easter" (as my kids are constantly saying) Egg!  I purchased mine over at ebay, and you can also find it here at the moment.

A few other ideas:  Egg Candies, Egg themed Easter Books (including the ones in this post under Easter Eggs), Egg Decorating Supplies, or maybe even some Hand-painted Pysanky Eggs.  Oh, and I am intrigued by this Butterfly Easter Egg Puzzleball and this Ravensburger Easter Puzzleball Lamb Jigsaw Puzzle.  Do any of you have either of those and what do you think?

Butterfly:  Butterflies are an apt symbol of the day's meaning. Beginning life as lowly humble caterpillars, they "entomb" themselves in cocoons only to emerge with jewel-colored wings and the ability to soar. What better symbol of the Resurrection -- except maybe for eggs, which had always been symbols of Spring and were items of wonderment to all -- an inanimate object out of which comes life. For Christians, they became the perfect symbol of the tomb Christ conquered. ~ Fisheaters

Don't you think my kids would just be thrilled to find this Spring Angel Egg as well?  She is holding a Butterfly after all!  ;)  Had I been able to find it at a better price I just might not have been able to resist... Maybe next year!

Anyhow, we ALL love the Folkmanis Puppets!  I've already ordered a Chick Finger Puppet for in Snuggles' basket.  I thought I'd order a Butterfly Puppet for the whole family. I had a hard time deciding, but ended up just choosing the cute little Mini Monarch Butterfly Finger Puppet.

A few more ideas: (In case you are not addicted to all things made by Joseph's Studio)...  A Butterfly Puzzle would be fun, as would a Live Butterfly Garden or this tube of Wild Republic Nature Butterflies.

Peacock:  "It was once believed that the flesh of the peacock never corrupts, so peacocks became the classic symbol of immortality. They are an ancient Christian symbol of the Resurrection, and representations of them are found on the tombs of ancient Christians as an expression of their hope to follow Christ in His defeat of death. " ~ Fisheaters

Originally I planned to purchase a cute little wooden peacock that I ran across on Etsy.  I placed it in my cart and meant to go back to place the order once I had a little money in my Paypal account, but someone else beat me to it.  Oh well.   Instead I found the another little wooden Peacock made by Holztiger.

A few more suggestions:  The Plush Peacock that made it's way into our basket last year is just darling.   I love the Folkmanis Peacock Puppet, and the Safari: Peacock would also be a cute (smaller) option. And doesn't this Paint By Number with Watercolor EcoPencils Peacock look like fun?

Bells:  "In countries like France and Italy the bells are silent from Holy Thursday until Easter Sunday. In Germany and central Europe even the bells on farm buildings are still, though they begin to ring again on Holy Saturday. With the bells silent, the farm people of the Middle Ages felt uneasy. So, to comfort themselves and their children, they would say, "The bells have flown to Rome, but they'll come back on Easter." ~ Lilies, Rabbits, and Painted Eggs: The Story of The Easter Symbols

This is the other symbol for which I just haven't been able to make a decision on what to include... I've had my eyes on these Musical Hand Bells for awhile now, but they are rather expensive.   I've also considered this Bells Of The Holy Land CD.  (The chiming of church bells is one of the distinct characteristics of the Holy Land. This original collection of ringing bells, including special feast ringings, continues a Christian tradition begun in the 6th century. Hear the bells, and through them, be transported in sound to the grandeur of the Land of the Bible.)   Another fun idea would be a Dinner Bell, we do live in the country after all.  I just can't decide.  I suppose I can always resort to that bag of Hershey Chocolate bells I picked up on clearance after Christmas...

And once again, here is the link to the Easter Symbols Booklet.

If you are still looking for some additional ideas for your children's baskets, last year I posted some Catholic Easter Basket Ideas and you can also browse through the posts from our past Easter Mornings here (including 2011, 2010, 2009).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hands-On Science :: Looking Back to 2007

Our visit to the Science Museum this past Friday had me thinking back to our last visit.  It really didn't seem like it had been five years, but I was able to find the pictures I took back then and sure enough it was in January of 2007, just before I started this blog and Snuggles was born.   I thought it would be fun to share a few of those pictures with you all!

It's amazing how much can change in just five years.   We went from having 4 children to 7 children, and that little brother/godson of mine in the bottom left photo was only 11 (Captain's age) at the time and now he is driving... Crazy!  Makes me wonder what the next 5 years has in store for our family!  

P.S.  It seems that, just when I thought everyone was healthy again, our children have caught another virus.   My sweet little Bud has his first cold/fever/cough and was miserable all night last night.  We visited the doctor today and I just need to watch and make sure it doesn't progress into anything else.  I'd really appreciate any extra prayers!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hands-On Science

Yesterday we went on a field trip to a Hands-On Science Museum that offers over 80 interactive science exhibits, Science Live! performances and tons of hands-on activities! It had been over five years since we had visited this great place, so only our oldest two even remembered it at all.   The kids were all wishing that their Dad would have been able to go along with us, and are really missing him, of course... Especially today since it is his birthday!  Happy Birthday Daddy!!!  Only two more weeks to go...

Here are some of the things we explored.

Five different ways to play with, and learn about, soap bubbles.  Put yourself in a bubble; experiment with a wall of bubbles; watch bubbles magically float in mid-air; and more.

No pictures to prove it, but even I put myself in a bubble!  It was so much fun!! 

Water Rocket
Mix just the right amount of water and air pressure, and fire a rocket to the ceiling.

Pulley Chairs
Pull yourself up into the air.  Three different chairs, with three different size pulleys, provide different levels of difficulty. Does the seat with more pulley wheels make it easier or harder to lift you? Count how many arm lengths of rope you must pull to reach the top.   Do you pull the same length for each chair?

An exciting, interactive, bilingual exhibit that explores the science behind sports. This exhibition is composed of a series of hands-on challenges that allow visitors to test their athletic abilities while learning how their bodies work. Visitors can explore different kinds of athletic abilities including strength, speed, endurance, balance, coordination and agility.

Got Nano
Do you have nano? We have nano. Explore the extremely tiny (“nano” is a billionth of something) and extraordinary world of nano in this year’s ScienceLive! theater show. How do materials behave differently on the nanoscale than on the macroscale? By participating in outrageous experiments like the “bed of nails” and “magic sand”, you will discover the secret science of nano. At the end of the show, everyone is going to “get” NANO!

Chemistry Matters!
What do atoms and molecules have to do with your life? Everything! This ScienceLive show will get kids of all ages thinking about what makes up everyday "stuff" and how the science of chemistry helps us create new kinds of useful substances. A variety of fascinating demonstrations and entertaining audience participation help you gain a clearer understanding of physical science topics including states of matter, chemical reactions and more!

Bee TV
See a live bee hive where bees travel in and out of their bee hive through a clear tube providing access to the outdoors, flowers and trees for pollination. Watch trails of bees exiting and returning with pollen visible on their little feet. A magnifying camera, donated by Ashland Kiwanis, is on a telescoping arm that can be adjusted to anywhere on the glass bee hive enclosure. The magnified image projects onto an adjoining television so you can see the eyes, wings, bodies and feet of the bees up close. Look for the queen bee and watch how honey is made. Found in the Discovery Lab, the bee exhibit is available for all visitors to the museum to see.

Make an Impression
5-foot high wall made of 65,000 plastic "pins." Push up against it and you'll get an impression of your face, hands, body, etc.

We all had such a great time and even Bud enjoyed hanging out in his stroller most of the morning!   Hopefully we won't wait another 5 years to visit again.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

State-by-State Baking :: Maryland Crab Cakes

The 7th state to join the Union was the state of Maryland.  A while back the girls studied this state with the help of B is for Blue Crab: A Maryland Alphabet and then completed their Notebook Pages. 

Maryland Notebooking Pages
by Twinkle Toes (L) and Chiquita (R)

Inspired by The United States Cookbook: Fabulous Foods and Fascinating Facts From All 50 States the girls decided to make Crab Cakes, however we opted to try another of Barbara's recipes instead of the recipe in our cookbook.  We have yet to try a recipe from Barbara that we didn't love, and this one wasn't any different!  They were AMAZING!!!  

"B is for Blue Crabs
that swim in the Chesapeake Bay.
Males are called Jimmys and females Sallys.
That's what the fishermen say."

Maryland Crab Cakes
(original recipe here)


½ pound of jumbo lump crabmeat
½ pound lump crab meat, shells removed
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. Guldens brown mustard
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
dash of Tabasco
1 T. Italian parsley, chopped
1 T. scallions, chopped
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of white pepper
1 whole egg
dash of lemon juice
1/3 cup (plain) breadcrumbs
4 T. vegetable oil (or butter or, even better, butter/oil combination)

Combine all ingredients, except crab meat.
Stir in crab meat; let mixture sit 24 (6 to 8) hours in refrigerator.
Form into 4 oz. crab cakes (I used an ice cream scoop)
Sautée cakes for 2 minutes on each side (or until golden brown) in oil.

Dijon Sauce:

1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. Sour cream
1/2 c. Mayonnaise
1 tbsp. white wine
1/4 tsp. mustard powder

Mix mustard, sour cream and mayo.
Add dry mustard and white wine.
Stir to combine and refrigerate until ready to use.

While I fried the Crab Cakes the girls did an excellent job setting the table. 

Oh wow, did they turn out yummy!   Everyone loved the Crab Cakes and even Snuggles agreed to taste them! We hope to make them again but, with how expensive crab is, I'm sure they will end up just being a very occasional special treat.    It was to be Daddy's last dinner at home for three weeks, and a Friday night, so it ended up being the perfect timing!   

Following Maryland we read P is for Palmetto: A South Carolina Alphabet.... but we've already covered that one, as well as New Hampshire.  I'll be back with pictures from Virginia next! 

Resources we used for this State Study:

B is for Blue Crab Teacher's Guide (pdf)
Other Posts of Interest: 

State-by-State Scrapbook
State-by-State Scrapbook :: Maryland

Thursday, March 22, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real} :: A Look Whooo's Two Birthday Party!

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life. ~

This past Saturday afternoon, after our St. Patrick's Day breakfast and morning at the Rink, and before Mass and the St. Patrick's Day Dinner at Church, we attended a fun birthday party for a sweet little two year old.


The Owl themed Birthday Cake was so pretty... 

... and I just loved this idea to drill holes in a slice of wood to display cake pops!  

Oh, and decorating the ceiling with table cloths?  Never would have thought of that!  


Painted Faces

Rose's first time on a trampoline


Snuggles on the trampoline... Apparently he forgot to keep his eyes closed when he was "it."

The birthday girl enjoying her cake


We are so blessed to have met this sweet family.  I purchased a crib off of Craigslist when I was pregnant with Rose (my one and only craigslist purchase ever) and ended up finding an architect/contractor for our remodel, in addition to some wonderful new friends.   

We are all really missing Daddy.  Today is only the 5th day (out of 20) that he has been gone and it seems like forever.  Is it Easter yet? 

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment