Sunday, January 31, 2010

Won't you be Mine?

We've needed a new camera since always so we've been researching and this is where my heart has landed. Please talk me out of it! Tell me I will not like it one bit! My children will look distorted in every image, etc, etc. If you have any other suggestions regarding great cameras, I would love to hear.

Nikon D90

Here is a picture of our current camera. It still works great, but to your surprise it isn't digital and the shutter speed is just a little slow. The major disadvantage is taking it to the zoo and other places with the children. It's a little big and awkward to set up for each pose. "Here Lillie, take a picture by the giraffe. Give me 15 minutes to set up and I will be ready. Okay. Hold still for A WHILE." Not working so swell.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

You have never before in your entire life tasted a better soup. I am serious. PLEASE don't get thrown off by the "tomato" in the title. I like tomato soup, but I don't love it. THIS soup is on a different level of goodness. Promise me you will try it, scream like I did because you can't believe it tastes so good and make it every week for the next year. I got this from my good friend, Sandra who had her fourth little boy today. She and little Raphael are doing fine! This recipe and Sandra's picture were published in the latest issue of Taste of Home.
The only thing I would change about this recipe is the fact that I didn't make enough for me to have 100 bowls. Serve with a great salad or a warm panini sandwich.
Here you go:
Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
About 10 heaping cups; 35-40 minutes prep & cook time

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini
2 cans (10 3/4 oz. each) Healthy Request reduced sodium condensed tomato soup, undiluted
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups skim milk
2 cups fat free half and half cream
1/2-3/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1-2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional Parmesan if desired

Cook tortellini as package directs & set aside.

Meanwhile, in a pot, combine the soup, broth, milk, cream, tomatoes & seasonings. Heat through, stirring frequently. drain tortellini & carefully add to the soup. Stir in cheese and set on low for a couple of hours if desired. Sprinkle each serving with additional cheese if desired.

Please Note: You do NOT have to let it simmer for 2 hours. I simply do this as I'm a firm believer that the longer a soup/stew simmers the more the flavors blend and taste. This soup is one of the exceptions. I have fixed it in 35-40 minutes and we have eaten right away and it tastes fabulous! :-)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More maternity finds...

Since I will be getting larger in the cool spring days and then really large in the hot summer months, I found these at Old Navy Maternity and thought they would be perfect for both seasons for everyday wear.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

John Wayne Gina

My family has an illness. You see, we nickname anything and everything especially each other. Our pets even have nicknames. My sister's dog is/was (he passed on this winter :) named Frodo, but we call him Norman. My other sister, Hilary, has a dog named Sophie that we call Toby. Well, our children are no exception. It is not uncommon for their nickname to change weekly.
In our Christmas picture (which is now a Valentine's Day picture to be sent soon), Zellie looks as if she is getting ready to pull her six shooters out. In our usual evening discussions, John and I talk pretty much about her and the things she says during the day. We accuse each other of not catching a certain look she gave us or missing a hysterical saying. I tell him that if he realized her cuteness he would quit his job so he wouldn't miss a moment. He told me he has thought of running away with her to Vegas. He walked by our blown-up version of our Christmas picture and said that she looked like John Wayne getting ready to pull out his guns. So, guess what. We are now calling her John Wayne. At first, it was John Wayne Gina. Gina because that was what we were calling her the week before, but now it is just shortened to John Wayne.
I had her in the grocery store with me last week and I said, "John Wayne, do we have everything?" She said (in her gerbil voice) and smirk of cuteness, "Why you call me John Wayne?" I said, "What is your name?" She said, "Geegy." Geegy was her name about 3 months ago. I said, "What do you want me to call you?" She said, "John Wayne is fine." Poor thing. I am sure we are confusing them and they will grow up to not have an identity and will need psychological help, but it sure is funny.

my plan...HIS plan

I had looked forward to this time in my life forever. Marriage. I had found my Gilbert Blythe. Like most couples, we spent hours talking about our future, our family, and how we would raise our children. I had planned to have 10 little boys running around our home by the end of our first year of marriage. I was going to have fabulous, homemade meals every night, always put lipstick on right before John came home, wear an apron and possibly even heels. Our children were going to be polite, well-behaved, smart, etc., etc. More importantly, I was going to lead bible studies for women and be very involved in the Pro-Life movement. I planned to continue life as it was before children just with a baby on my hip.
Dominic was born 10 months later. I am the second oldest of ten children. Let me tell you, I thought I knew babies. Really, how different can it be? I loved my siblings as if they were my own. I couldn't wait to have my own babies to love. When Dominic was about a week old, they thought he was having seizures. Life...forever changed. Confidence...out the window. I will never forget the first time I saw him. A love I had never experienced before grabbed my heart. I truly couldn't believe it. Then, we were told he needs additional testing to check out "twitches" he had developed. I was a mess. He was completely fine, but my heart had a small wound in it.
My siblings were always very easy babies. They slept, they ate, and I don't remember them crying, ever. Well, God chose my babies to come in a different form. As wonderful as Dominic is now, he was a very, very fussy baby. He screamed everywhere for 6 months. All the while, my confidence in motherhood faded quickly. I felt as though I was surrounded by "pumpkin babies." You know, the kind that just sit there. I watched people in awe while John and I looked as if we were training for the Olympics in attempt to help this child not to cry so much. Even though he was so fussy, I still couldn't wait to have another baby. Well, Lillie was on a different level regarding intensity of crying. The first night in the hospital the nurses brought her to me and said, "She's been crying so hard for so long." I was walking around our hospital room at 3:00 in the morning trying to calm my 7 hour old baby. Oh no!
I was an even bigger mess. I brought Lillie home and wept. I wept at the time that was over with Dominic and I. I wept at having another fussy baby. On top of it, Lillie developed such serious health problems for the next 3 years. Little did I know what was down the road.
I didn't realize what God was doing with me. I was so filled with "me" that I didn't see the bigger picture. One day was particularly difficult. Lillie had vomited six times that day. I was supposed to be tracking her food intake and she had eaten nothing. I was so worried, so scared, so desperate. In the mail, my mom had sent me a beautiful letter of encouragement and a picture of Jesus sitting in a rocking chair holding a baby.
She wrote, "Lindsay, this is what I am asking you to do for me. I don't want you leading bible studies. I don't want you doing Pro-Life work. I need you to hold this sick, fussy baby." I can not be there to hold her so I am asking you to." I cried. I was holding her and I looked down and realized, "THIS is my path to heaven. THIS is what I am supposed to be doing. Nothing else."
From then on, I focused on loving her so beautifully. I knew no one would see us clean up throw up for the sixth time that day, but I will do it beautifully, patiently, and with so much love. God sees. He is always watching.
If you've not read the books With God in Russia or He Leadeth Me, go buy them right now. Fr. Walter Ciszek had BIG plans. He felt the call to the priesthood since he was a child. Additionally, he knew he was being called to convert Russia through his priesthood. Everything lined up so beautifully for him. His seminary years were wonderful and shortly after being ordained, he had the opportunity to go work in Russia. He couldn't believe it. God had guided his life so perfectly. Up to this point, his life had been pretty uneventful.
After a series of events due to the war, Fr. Ciszek spent the next 23 years doing hard labor in a prison camp. He saw many horrible things. His writings are beautiful and he too realizes that his plan was very different than God's plan for his life. He was so confused. Why did he go though seminary and feel such strong calls to the priesthood only to spend his years doing hard labor? He wasn't even able to practice his priestly duties. It was forbidden.
We prayed to Fr. Ciszek for Lillie's complete recovery. We truly believe he cured her. We will only know in heaven, but I knew he was with us everyday taking care of her. I felt his presence one night so strongly, it scared me.
What I learned through our journey with Lillie, I will never forget. First, I fell truly in love with John. I needed him. He was my calm. When you walk the road of suffering with somebody, you go to a different level of love. We sat for hours in doctor's offices together waiting, hoping, and praying. I would never trade that for anything. Secondly, we are made saints by doing our daily work beautifully. Not necessarily without tears, without frustrations, but with the resolve that God is teaching me something through this. Please open my heart. It may be a fussy baby. It may be a baby that doesn't sleep. It may be job insecurity. Whatever the issue, it is much bigger in the spiritual realm than we even know. The crosses I had picked for myself were along the lines of things outside our home. I didn't know that He was going to ask me to simply hold a fussy baby, be kind to John when I am filled with worry about a certain child, clean up vomit without complaining.
Everything that happens now I try to respond in my head, "I'm coming, Lord." I try to treat everything as if God is calling me. I see the house a mess, "I'm coming, Lord." I have a fussy baby at my leg, "I'm coming, Lord." I hear the baby crying for the eighth time in the middle of the night, "I'm coming, Lord." It is my goal.
Most of us will not die a bloody martyrdom for our faith, but we will be asked to die a dry martyrdom. Each day, one fuss at a time we can grow closer and closer to His heart. I want to be faithful in the small things. I hope at the end of my life He will say to me, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Glorious Spaghetti and Meatballs!

Doesn't this look almost too good to be true! I got this from Natalie over at The Busy Budgeting Mama.
Go check out her blog. She has great recipes, ideas for the home and a really cute baby! Anyway, please get ready to run to the store so you can indulge yourself.

I was in the mood for some home cooking good ol' hearty yummy type of dinner. if that makes sense. it does right? totally.
so i decided to do spaghetti and meatballs! make fresh mozarella sticks (recipe here...AAmazing!) with salad and bread.

it ended up being my birthday dinner since the next day..yesterday..we were running around too much to do anything.

There are so many ways to make meatballs! i started using the neely's recipe on but changed it up a bit. this is how i ended up making them.

(i doubled this recipe..below is for 4-6 servings)
1 1/2 - 2 lb ground beef
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (i left this out since i'm preggo and sensitive)
6 garlic cloves, chopped, divided (or the jar variety.)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
salt and pepper..eye ball it! haha.
1/2 onion chopped. (my onion made me cry so i gave up chopping them small.)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Form into 2 inch meatballs and place in baking pan.

you couldddd brown them upnand then just place them in your sauce and have them cook up in there for 45 minutes...but i wasn't feeling fussy and the husband requested them to be separate. haha. i also made a bunch so that we would have enough for dinner (we had company over..) and then have some for sandwiches the next day.
I baked them for around 45 minutes. this is right before we pulled them out! yum.



Once again
HT to Natalie at The Busy Budgeting Mama

Friday, January 22, 2010

They get it. EVERYday is a gift!

I cry like a baby every time, but when I watch this I am always reminded how precious life is and how everyday is a gift. How different we would live if we knew we had limited time on this earth.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Roberta Boever

When Zellie was just over a year, her hair was to be honest...hideous. Most kids go through this phase when their hair is coming in so we just endure it and then usually it grows to be long and luxurious. We were in Beloit visiting my family. My mom was begging me to cut Zellie's hair. She's a big advocate that "if they get a good hair cut it will grow in much thicker and longer." I kept saying No and she kept begging me. Finally, I gave in and this is what we got.

Hours upon hours of laughter ensued. My mom pleaded her cause that she looked "adorable" and "like a little girl now." ha! ha! John and I decided that she looked like Roberta from the movie Swiss Family Robinson or Jim Carrey on Dumb and Dumber. See the resemblance...

I love buying maternity clothes!

I really love buying maternity clothes. In fact, I enjoy it more than buying regular clothes. Aren't these lovely!
from Shabby Apple
from Shabby Apple
from Shabby Apple
from A Pea in the Pod
from A Pea in the Pod

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Everything is a grace.

Once I was in Wal-mart with my mom and we were in the check out line. Right in front of us in the returns department is a woman with a man in a wheel chair. The wheel chair was the type that reclined back far and I could tell the person was on a ventilator and truly looked like they were hooked up to play the Wii. When the woman turned him around, my breath was taken away. Before us was the torso of man, minus arms and had two tiny legs coming from his body. His face was so deformed that truly he didn't look human. He didn't have ears, hair, his mouth was deformed and his eye sockets weren't formed. I can honestly say he didn't look human. Immediately, my mom started crying. She quickly paid for a bouquet of flowers and walked over to the woman and handed them to her. My mom said, "Thank you. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for caring for him so beautifully." The woman told us she was his caregiver and he was a ward of the state since infancy because he was born this way. His parents didn't want him because of his deformity.
The other day I was at the mall and I thought of this man and then I thought of all the people I know who are beautiful, athletic, smart, seemed funny. I called my mom and asked, "I wonder why God distributes everything the way he does?" Why are some women so breathtakingly beautiful, some women so deformed, and some who like a girl I went to college with whom was perfectly normal intellectually, but was born with a HUGE purple birthmark on her entire face?
What led to this post was potty training. All of my kids have been a breeze. What is my secret? What is the secret formula nobody else knows about? Why have they all trained in a matter of days and some people struggle for a year? So far, potty training is not a big deal for our home. Nothing.
It is a struggle God chose not to give to me. I believe it is pure and simply that. I am trying in my spiritual life to realize that everything is a grace. Everything. Everything is a grace be it physical looks, personality, potty training, teenagers, marriage, children, discipline, sleeping, nursing, labor and delivery, jobs, vocation, academics, athletics. Whatever God chooses to give or not give me is best for my soul.
We spent 3 1/2 hours in the Emergency Room with Vianney last night. She has pneumonia. While we were driving there running red lights because she is gasping for air, I am begging God to help her and begging John to drive faster. My mind was filled with the "little" whys. Why does she always have a cold? Why do all my kids struggle with respiratory illnesses? Is it the food? Why can't I feed them better? Is it allergies? After everything calms down, I am holding her little body burning with a fever and I see things a little clearer. This is one of the crosses He chose for me. I won't struggle in potty training, but I will struggle with this.
You see the "unbalanced" life everywhere. Why are some people never sick with pregnancy, but some have to be on bed rest most of the pregnancy? Why do some women have children so easily, but others have miscarriage after miscarriage?
Everything is a grace. Everything is the direct effect of our Father's love. Difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the souls' burdens, her needs. Everything...because through them we learn humility, realize our weakness. Whatever be the character of life of the unexpected events to the heart that loves all is well.
I don't love enough. I don't trust enough. I want to believe that whatever God sends me if it is blessing or suffering, It is by His grace. During the height of the priest scandals, John and I heard Msgr. Hain speak. He was talking about his immediate reaction to his brother priests for doing such things. He was angry at them and then he said he realized, "By the grace of God, go I."
By the grace of God, go I.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perfect Description

I haven't written about morning sickness because I'm trying to become a saint :), but this woman described morning sickness perfectly for me:

"From the kitchen...whatever does not make me gag. Yesterday, my darling hubby had a pot of turkey and sausage gumbo bubbling on the stove all day. I'm sure it was delicious. But I spent the better part of the afternoon whimpering in my bed or lying on the bathroom floor. And when the nausea subsided, all my mind could think about was popcorn and warm french bread with Brummel and Brown Strawberry fruit spread. That'll pretty much be the kitchen story for the next few weeks." Colleen Mitchell

She is another woman I have wept for this past year. She is a mother of six little boys. One in heaven. Her 3 month old died of crib death this year. She is a wonderful homeschooling mother. I can't even imagine. She just found out she is expecting. I am so thrilled for her! In my prayer, I have begged God to comfort this woman. I say, "Please, hold her tight. Please don't let her pain feel as my heart feels it must be feeling." I literally had just found her blog the week before regarding some homeschooling items. I had read about their new baby and literally a week later, I read about him dying. Sometimes, I just don't know.

One of things I am most grateful that my mother has taught me was the fine art of offering things up. We can truly turn everything ugly into something beautiful for God. She always says, "Do not waste it." I agree.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shakey John

We have always come up with a theme song for our children. They never make sense and always involve silly rhythms. Lillie's had a polka beat. Vianney has had the most by far. Here it goes for her first song. (Note: I am only recording these so I don't forget.)

Johnny, Johnny two by four,
Kitchen door, living room,
open the door.

Please don't ask why??? We don't even know why. Well, this is her latest:

Uh, Shakey John,
John, John, shakey,
JOhn, John, uh shakey
John, John shakey John.

It is kind of a catchy tune. The other day Zellie was looking for Vianney and she said, "Where's Shakey John?" Smooch to that cuteness.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I am so thrilled for them.

This story touched our hearts so deeply. John and I both cried for them and at the miracle and beauty of their little lives. Luci is my sister-in-law Maria's cousin. Their faith was inspiring. Luci and Chris had just gotten married. I cannot imagine going through this within months of getting married.
Anyway, I read yesterday this and was so thrilled for them that my heart literally fluttered. Really. I've never met Luci but my heart aches for her to hold this new little person.

P.T. training Zellie Day 5

Her best day yet. She was dry ALL day night and she even told me for the big job. I reminded her occasionally to tell me if she had to go and she said very matter of factly "I will" and she did. Like I said earlier, one should probably get more excited, but I know things can go south just when you think they got it. So for now, I am just grateful for today.
My "two cents" potty training advice that I learned from some very wise women:
1. DO NOT stress out over potty training. I mean, just because your friend, your neighbor, your dog, etc., little people are trained before they are 2 months old, DO NOT worry or compare. It will go much better if you wait until they are ready AND YOU ARE READY. Really. I knew this summer she wasn't quite ready. I am so glad I waited because this week has been great.
2. Generally, boys take longer to be ready. My mom said most of her boys were 3 1/2 almost 4. I promise that you will not have a 10 year old in diapers. I first focus on day time dryness, then work on naps, and then nights. One stage at a time. Some of ours have gone cold turkey and did it all at the same time and others went in phases.
3. To sum up our potty training theory, It is a battle we choose NOT to have. You will know in your heart if it becomes purposeful meaning if they are trained and then suddenly they start having accidents or stop making it to the bathroom.
Looking forward to tomorrow. Our conversations in the bathroom are ridiculous. Today, we discussed who wears underwear. I am sure your name came up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Potty Training Zellie week 1

(This picture taken by Rose captured her perfectly.)
Day 1: Ultra excited, over-giddy, elated, underwear, CAN'T. HANDLE. THE. CUTENESS. I have never gotten use to two-year-olds in underwear. John said we haven't had one this cute in underwear (we say that everytime). She did great with only one accident. It probably didn't help that I asked her every 2.2 seconds if she needed to go. The first three days of training I sit them on the toilet every 20-30 minutes.
She calls toilet paper "nose-dripping." Whenever the kids have a cold, I say "Your nose is dripping." (They usually use toilet paper to wipe their nose.) Funny what they pick up on.

Day 2: Did great again! She was dry all day and even at naps. Although, she did go the main event in her underwear. She was so disgusted that I hope she won't do it again.

Day 3: Today, I backed off on the asking and watched her and let her tell me. She did and stayed dry all day and during naps, but was threatening with the main event all day. She kept trying to sneak away, but I wouldn't let her. I think I was in the bathroom more than anywhere else today. We read books over and over. The main event never happened so we figured that the morning would be interesting.

Bathroom conversation:
Zellie: "I went."
me: "I didn't hear anything."
Zellie: "Let me look in your ear."
me (turning my head so she can see in my ear)
Zellie: "See, I went." (talking in my ear)

Day 4: She woke us up early and said she had to go AND SHE DID! The MAIN EVENT! She stayed dry all night. I was so proud of her. If I could only describe her sleep head, hair, eyes, voice, hand motions, etc. in telling us about it. John and I were trying to not laugh our heads off. She was very involved in the whole retelling process with her hands on hips and kept saying, "So proud of you!"

I give myself a good month of training and really don't bank on anything before then. Everyone enjoys the treat if she goes. They get one M&M and two for the big job. Dominic promised her a toy at Target if she stayed dry at night. What a guy!

The tail of two pigs

We pulled our hair up today in "two tails" as Zellie calls it. John and I laughed every time we looked at her.
If you notice in the first picture, there are two legs in the background wearing underwear. Yes, this probably should be a whole new
blog in and of itself. We began potty training Zellie on Monday and it is over the top.