Showing posts with label Go Big or Go Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Go Big or Go Home. Show all posts

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Catholic T's for Christmas 2016

Each year for Christmas we give our kids a Catholic T Shirt, a great way to show our love for our Faith.  When I regularly kept the blog going, I would share a post each year with the Catholic T's.  I decided to open this special place up to public view for a limited time in order to share the T'shirt choices for this year.  I always love seeing all the Christmas posts from other bloggers, and wanted to join in the fun with our own unique blend of Frat house life/Catholicism. (Amazon Affiliate links included in this post) Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and looking forward to a blessed now for the Catholic Shirts for 2016:

(I got 2 of the above, it is my favorite)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Loving & Laughing Together

April 20, 1991
Babies getting married.
I was 18, Pete was 20.

We'll call this babies having babies!
Noah was born in June of 1992
We took this in October of 1992 after a HUGE fight, I almost refused to get the picture done.
We were both so immature, it is funny to think about some of the things we fought about.
This is where I value the Sacrament of Marriage so much, that Grace carried us through 'us'. 
We grew up together, we really really did.

Isaac was 1 month old. 
 We somehow missed the family photo when Jonah was born in 1994.
We had this made in October 1995
Pete deployed right after this photo was taken, for 6 months.
I remained in Washington State, and while I wished I had family around
because it was SO HARD - I had the best circle of friends, we took care of one another
and I learned I was a lot stronger and more capable than I thought I was.
I think that resilience came from those friendships
 - what a beautiful group of ladies who pulled us into their circle.

October of 1997
Elijah was born in July.
We are a team at this point, probably because we were so completely outnumbered.
Also, because back to that whole Sacrament of Marriage thing.
Raising children demanded a selflessness that we neither one had on our own
but through the Grace of the Sacrament we worked together to figure it out.

We managed to use this back drop twice.
October of 1999.
Simon was born in June.  
I probably barely had makeup on much less something decent to wear.  
Which is why Pete and I are not in the photo.
I ache for a return to these years when they were all so young, so adorable, and
absolutely endearing...but, I was absolutely bone tired - ALL.THE.TIME.
Exhaustion was real.  I dreamed of getting sick enough to warrant a hospital stay.
(I know, sad)
Because maybe then I might get some sleep.
They used to stick their hands under the door of the bathroom and wave at me when I
needed just a few seconds to catch my breath.
It flew by, too too quickly.
I think I'd be tired again just to return to this time.
It was precious.
 Most of these years are sadly a blur and I appreciate the
pictures so much.

Tobias joined the gang in September 2000
Oh my goodness, I knew I was blessed before but
Simon and Tobias were just a necessary addition.
They provided a yin and yang to Noah & Jonah's yin and yang.
Isaac and Elijah are the easy going guys.
I don't know how we made it before them, they belonged
and all the boys knew it.

*2nd time we used this backdrop*
At this point Pete and I quit taking ourselves too seriously, 
we'd had enough moments of total blunder that we relaxed - a lot.  
Sink or swim...we swam!
We took this in October 2006
Faith had joined us in 2004 and stopped the all boy streak we had going.
The Dr.'s teased me that they'd never seen so much pink  - I went over the top.
Go big or go home!
 The year she was born was a bit of an upheaval.
We didn't get any photos.
Faith was born in 2004 and Linus in 2005

November 2012
Benjamin was a 2007 baby, and it brought our baby days to a close.
I was sad for a long time to know I may not ever be able to have another.
Then, I began to realize our family is just the way it is supposed to be.
God knew we needed a Benjamin, and He knew Benjamin would need all of us.
We definitely ended with an exclamation mark.

The Sacrament of Marriage, and the vows Pete and I took meant we promised God we would remain faithful, through richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse as long as we both shall live.
We've seen richer, and poorer.
We've seen sickness and health.
We've seen our better moments and know each other's worse moments.
This has been a life worth living, with him.

We joke that there are not any Hallmark cards that say:
Your the only person I'd do this with because it is so dang hard.
Compromise, and consideration, selflessness, and listening can be easy when everything is going well..but it is when the going gets rough you need those qualities in your spouse.
Pete has given me that and more.
I think the real romance came when it was so bad we were ready to just cry

so instead we laughed, 
and through the laughter our love deepened.

He really is and always will be the love of my life.

April 20, 2015
24 years.

I pray we love & laugh together for 24 more!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Family Pictures

Every year since we've moved back in 2010 - I've wanted to get a photo in the Bluebonnets.

I've not gotten a picture though because a member of our family wasn't present, so I waited.  I kept year Everyone will be here...and next year, everyone didn't make it. *sigh*
(and this year Tobias ticked off Linus so we will always remember the 'scowl')

Taking a 'family' photo without all of my children is impossibly hard.  I mean, it isn't a 'family' photo if everyone isn't here.  So, I succumbed to the reality that it would have to be a 'family' photo of those still living at home *sob*...I don't like not including all of us...just sayin.
I look forward to our next family photo that includes everyone, but I accept that not everyone lives at home anymore so this is what we got.

and this one is my favorite!  Ben was done, just done and that is when we brought this to a wrap!

BTW - Did you know that if you take photos at the Denison Damn...and then jokingly call the Bluebonnets the 'Damn Bluebonnets' because technically they are...well, the reality is you may have just taught your seven year old something you didn't mean to...for instance:

"Mom, look more Damn Bluebonnets" says Ben
"No, those are just Bluebonnets' says I
"what???"  says Ben
"MOM!!  Soo many Damn Bluebonnets" says Ben again as you drive down a Texas Highway...and you realize that in fact you have taught your child that Bluebonnets are Damn Bluebonnets....go ahead, pat yourself on the back at your superior parenting skills because this...this is a total parent fail.  *deep breath* and many MANY attempts to reteach that Bluebonnets don't need 'Damn' in front of them...but, there are teens in this house so the reality is that from now on they will probably and forever more be 

"Damn Bluebonnets" 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Cautionary Tale

Never look at Pinterest with children present.  I repeat, NEVER look at Pinterest with children present!!!
 They can sniff out the Unicorn Mama's  like nobody's business and then point out the birthday cakes these Unicorns are creating or buying for their child's birthday....I speak from experience.
Trust me when I tell you that kids don't understand it when you try to explain that the Mama who made this cake isn't real - she is a unicorn, just like I didn't believe my Mom when she tried to convince me Carol Brady wasn't real and her Mom tried the same conversation about Donna Reed.  Kid's don't buy in, they 'know' you can make that cake, they feel it in their bones because when they are young you still mostly walk on water in their eyes.
One of the ways I chink away at their realizing I'm not quite the super hero they thought I was is when they see a cake like this and I don't even try to pull it off - I can't, I know this.
I could have avoided the whole thing if I hadn't perused Pinterest looking up Nemo Birthday ideas in front of the upcoming birthday boy.  Will I ever learn?  Pinterest is full of overachieving amazing examples of 'Mom gone Awesome'...and I'm just really 'Mom gone Get Real' because I'm a firm believer in simple is why do I torture myself looking up Pinterest ideas?  I can't answer that beyond, I'm visual and I hoped I'd get an idea that I could translate into simple... I might need therapy, because that's just's Pinterest.
Then of course, we all saw the Bruce Cake and deep down inside I wish I could pull this off for my boy, but I know I cannot do this.  So, Benjamin is telling everyone who will listen, and even some who are not listening that he is getting a Bruce Cake for his birthday and me????  I'm settling into a deep, dark panic over the Bruce Cake.  I have a feeling an upcoming "Nailed It" picture will be added to this blog.
  Stay tuned for how this turns out or at least a blog post about how Pinterest ruined my son's birthday...because I will totally throw Pinterest under the bus and not accept blame, ignoring that I am the Mom who sat down with the birthday child in the room looking up ideas.  Denial and I are going to be together on this one.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Special Olympics

When we arrived we saw that a drum line was welcoming all the competitors as they entered the track and field.  They were lined up on each side and the kids walked through them.  Music was pumping from a DJ stand and the energy was electric.  Faith, Linus and I all looked at each other with the same thought - "How will Ben handle this?".  
Well, I didn't need to worry because when his group got there someone had notified the drum line to stop so they didn't beat their drums, but they welcomed Ben's group with "Hello's" and "Glad your here" etc..etc..  
Perfect, just perfect!

This was our first time at the Special Olympics.  We couldn't be prouder of Benjamin.  I must admit that when the Special Education team let us know that Ben met the 'educational' diagnosis for Autism, one of the things they shared, as good news, was that he qualifies to compete in the Special Olympics - but I felt sucker punched.  I really wanted him to approve for this classroom placement, but I honestly didn't think he would. So when he did it was the dawning of 'time to move past denial'.  I don't know if denial is the right word, but I don't have a better one.  I know Ben has challenges, in some ways all the diagnosis have been affirmations that I'm not crazy, but deep down maybe I am crazy because I didn't accept just how serious this was.  I'm getting there though, and Ben is doing splendidly and the team was right getting to compete in the Special Olympics IS good news!

The joy on his face as he saw Faith, Linus, me and his Dad there to cheer him on just made my day!

I don't even know how to begin to ask permission to share the photos of other children at this event, but being that it is Special Olympics I wanted to make sure I respected the privacy of all participants as best I could, while still capturing Ben.

This is my favorite shot of the day and Faith took it with my phone while I was at the finish line snapping photos.

So Ben believes he tied for first...but, he was about 2 seconds behind the first place winner.  At all their practices before last week Ben had won.  Then this little guy arrives at the last two practices and this morning Ben was getting really worked up about it.  We all kept reassuring him to be happy for his friends, to cheer each other on...but Ben said "I'm really trying, but I want him to be sick today and not come"  "I mean not sick for the Dr., but sick for school"  "Sick to run slower".  Oh good gracious, I was really really concerned at how Ben would handle the whole thing.  He handled it by deciding, in his mind, that they tied...and that is a beginning towards being better at social situations and not always being focused on self...yay Ben!

One more thing I want to share because I was really touched by it and so was Pete.  The teenagers who came to assist at the Special Olympics were amazing, truly amazing.  I was impressed especially with one young man and I wish I knew his mother so I could tell her.  We finally realized he was the brother of the athlete competing that day and the devotion he showed to his brother will be with me for the rest of my life - I'll never forget it, what an example of compassion and heroism.  I mean here is this teenage boy who is handsome, clearly one of the 'cool' kids and he is completely devoted to his brother and helping him with each event.  I love it when you catch a glimpse of the best in people, especially teenagers who often get such a bad rap.  This teen was amazing and had no idea he was being watched, he was there for his brother.

 I loved today, loved everything I saw and value this community that came together to put on something incredible for these kids!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Puppy School Graduation

We went for six weeks to puppy training classes and learned a wealth of information.
We didn't all go every week. Tobias went and the 3 youngest took turns.  The older boys came for graduation, all but Isaac who needed some study time. 
(17 college hours and working part -time doesn't leave a lot of room for study, but he is still holding his own)

It was fun to watch each of the puppies in class grow and change as the weeks passed.  
I love how he is listening to Donna, our trainer, in this photo.

Harper and Buelah were taking their turns showing off their skills.  Harper is a beautiful Golden lab, and is full to the brim with spunk, we have so enjoyed being in a class with her family.  Beulah is hands down the class favorite.  She is a Boxer and very obedient, very sweet and has also got the sweetest family.  We all loved our class together so much we agreed last night to take the next level together as well.  Who knew when we signed up that PetSmart was not only teaching us how to train Samwise, but also opening a door to our new furry family.

Samwise does really well with sit, lay down, and come.  'Stay' is his weakest area and no wonder with how many kiddos we have bouncing around all the time.  'Come' is his best, even if he doesn't want to he will still 'come' when I give the command.  'Drop it' and 'leave it' he is also really good at.

We let Donna know in advance of the class about Benjamin and made sure it was okay for him to come.  She encouraged his participation and we really appreciated that she let him ask his questions which sometimes rambled into a 'stream of consciousness' or it would sound that way - but, there was always a point and she gave him space to find it.  Love that about her!

Poor boy, every single class would end up with Samwise exhausted.  He has just about had it at this point.

He graduated!  So fun, and we enjoyed participating as a family.  You know us, Go Big or Go Home and any excuse to celebrate something is a good excuse!  We really did enjoy pulling together as a family to help Sam achieve these skills and I loved that it didn't take much persuading to get the big boys to come celebrate with us.

Friday, January 16, 2015

An Unexpected Yes

Camping on a week night, during the school week?  Well, yes we let them...and normally we wouldn't.  Pete and I neither one felt they would make it all night, and they had worked SO hard at preparing their igloo, that we felt we should let them try it.  We knew Ben would make it, but doubted Faith, so the rule was given that if either wants to come inside, they both must come inside.
Yesterday was just beautiful.  Sunny and warm, they felt it was perfect camping weather.  We warned them it would get cold overnight but they had created an igloo - so they were not concerned...and you know what, they were right - it stayed very warm in their little igloo.
When we lived in Virginia we went camping all the time, but here in Texas we've become more backyard campers - with hopes of returning to real camping sometime soon.
So, with the ease of returning to your warm bed and parents being kept up all night with children trying to decide if they want to rough it or not, we developed a reward of:
If you make it all night, Mom will make waffles the next morning.
They made it!

You cannot imagine their jubilation at making it, and the 'atta boy/girl' they got from older brothers who were desperate for those waffles.  In fact, Simon woke me up with a flashlight shining in my face at 5:00 am - "They made it Mom, we get waffles!!!"
After I got over the shock of the wake up, and had a cup of coffee, I enjoyed seeing the breakfast table full of all those happy faces as they gobbled down their reward.
It is going to be a fantastic weekend, I can tell already.

Did you know yesterday was  Our Lady of Banneux - apparition, January 15?  Neither did I, but thanks to Catholic Cuisine I realized our breakfast this morning fit perfectly with camping on this feast in the Liturgical Calendar.  So, today we are going to look up the story - I've never heard of it and I truly enjoy learning these things along with my children.

Monday, December 1, 2014

2nd Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  Cousins came in from out of town, there was food, camping out, movies, games, and more food, aunts, uncles, and grandparents..  It was just exactly what you would want Thanksgiving to be!  We enjoyed a whole new Thanksgiving feast on Sunday with cousins, Grandparents, laughter and more food again! 
"Go Big or Go Home"
I overcooked the stuffing for the feast I helped with on Thursday.  I was happy to have an opportunity to redeem it for Sunday's gathering.  My secret ingredient I learned from my Mom (cream of chicken soup) and yes it really does make a difference!  

Giblet Gravy is soooo good.  We always have chopped liver and diced boiled eggs in our gravy because that's how Grandma did it and by golly so are we's kinda like my insistence that we have our traditional cranberry sauce...
If at least one of the cranberry sauces doesn't show the rim of the can, then it just isn't Thanksgiving!
One benefit of having so many teenagers at once is that when there is a Flash Sale while you are in the grocery store and they've marked turkey's down to $5, you can send kids through other lines in order to maximize how many you can bring home.  16 lb birds and I got 4 - this makes me so very happy!

My Mom brought over 3 pies!  She made a Cherry Cream Pie, Apple pie and an Egg custard pie.  On Thursday I made a Coconut Cream Pie and a Chocolate Pie but for Sunday I made the above Bread Pudding served with Caramel Sauce - YUM!  It is my husband's favorite.
*My chocolate pie, and Isaac's favorite*

I hope each of you had a heartwarming and lovely Thanksgiving as well.

Thanksgiving Recipes:

Cornbread Stuffing:
*Make 1 recipe for cornbread and allow it to cool.
*I dry out a few slices of whole wheat bread or sourdough bread or both.  In our family I have to specify that the bread is NOT to be touched, otherwise if it is laying on the counter it is considered fair game and someone will eat it.
*Saute' 3 or 4 stalks of celery (chopped) with 1 medium size onion (diced) in 1/2 (1 stick) butter until tender.  Add to this about 3 tsp. poultry seasoning and let simmer on very low heat for a few minutes letting the flavors marry.
*Break up the cornbread and crumble up the bread crumbs.  I make such large quantities that I usually mix the stuffing IN the prepared pan I'm going to bake it in.  If I split it into smaller portions I mix in a large bowl.
*Add to the cornbread/bread mixture the saute'd celery and onions, 1 or 2 cans cream of chicken soup (or make your own, I do this often) and have some turkey drippings on hand to make a good batter, you want this to be moist. If you don't have turkey drippings, use chicken broth. 
*Add 4 eggs and mix.
*Add 1 to 2 Tbs poultry seasoning.  
*Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle top with paprika.
*Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

I'm sorry the directions are not easier to follow, but I do this without a recipe and these are the basic steps.  The seasonings vary every year, I just always make sure that before I pop it in the oven to bake that it isn't too dry.  

Giblet Gravy:
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1 boiled egg
1 set of cooked livers from the turkey

I always begin my giblet gravy by actually simmering the neck, gizzard and liver in just enough water to cover them and throw in a veggie bouillon cube and a dash of  kosher salt for seasoning.   Once a broth has formed and the meat is cooked I set it aside.
In a sauce pan I melt the butter and then whisk in the flour forming a roux.
I add to the roux a box of chicken broth or an equal amount of turkey drippings (or both)
I whisk until a gravy forms, then I let it simmer on a low heat for at least a good hour.
I add chopped up livers and the chopped egg.
I sprinkle in some chives.
*Once again, this is all in my head so I apologize if it isn't easy to follow*

Bread Pudding w/Caramel Sauce:
8 cups white bread (sourdough is the best)
1 cup butter
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups whole milk
Grated nutmeg 

*Place in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish the cubed bread crumbs (crusts removed).  Drizzle melted butter over this and toss bread lightly to mix.
*In a large mixer bowl, beat the eggs with all the sugars, vanilla, nutmeg and milks/cream until well blended but do not beat too hard - you don't want a lot of air and bubbles.  
*Pour the milk mixture over the bread cubes and let it soak for 20 minutes
*Press and bread that has risen up back down into the cream mixture and then sprinkle top generously with nutmeg.
*Bake in preheated 350 for 40 minutes, check on bread pudding- if browning too much on top lightly cover with foil and bake 15 more minutes.  Total cooking time, 55 minutes.  It will puff up a lot and then sink as it cools.

Caramel Sauce:
2 stick butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can sweetened condensed milk or 1 can evaporated milk for a thinner sauce (both are delicious)

Melt butter and brown sugar together, stirring constantly making sure the brown sugar melts.  Once it reaches a bowling point and sugar has melted remove from heat and add vanilla and sweetened condensed milk.  Return to heat and let boil for 2 more minutes while stirring constantly, serve warm over bread pudding.
*You can make this ahead and easily reheat it.

Chocolate Pie:
1 recipe pie crust - bake it at 425 for 15 minutes and make sure you pierce the crust with a fork first.
4 eggs (separated)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 cups milk
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 recipe whipped cream

*Filling- combine in a saucepan sugar, cornstarch, and unsweetened chocolate.  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly (this takes a long time, do not give up, it will thicken).  Once bubbly and thick, watch the clock and cook for 2 more minutes.  Remove from heat.  Slightly beat yolks.  Gradually stir about 1 cup of hot filling into yolks then add this to the hot filling (do not skip this step or else you will end up with scrambled eggs in your pudding).  Return to heat and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook and stir for 2 more minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in butter and vanilla.  Pour warm filling into prepared pie crust.  Set in refrigerator to cool completely.
*At this point many would make a meringue for the top, but we prefer fresh whipped cream.

Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs sugar

Whip in kitchen aide, with rotary beat or even a whisk until very thick and stiff peaks form.  Spread across top of completely cooled chocolate pie (or top anything else you like) with whipped cream and return to refrigerator.  
If storing whipped cream for later use, always be sure to store it inside a mesh colander over a bowl.  This allows the whipped cream to remain firm and excess liquid to drain out.

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