Saturday, December 28, 2013

45 Years!! Feast of the Holy Innocents

 My parents celebrate 45 years today!  
Happy Anniversary and God bless you both

 Today is also the feast of the Holy Innocents.
You know, the reason St Joseph had to flee with Mary and baby Jesus to Egypt.

"After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him." 
Matthew 2:13

These paintings are called "Massacre of the Innocents" by
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

The first one is located in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
It was painted in 1611-12

The details of the paintings are amazing.
Go HERE for more explanation

 This 2nd painting was painted by Rubens near the end of his life,
in 1636-38
It is on display in Munich, Germany

Both paintings are amazing to look at.
The anger, the pain, 
the fear, the mothers and fathers fighting for their children,
mothers interrupted while breastfeeding.  

This is a feast day, 
because these Holy Innocents, who were killed, 
did not die in vain.
Jesus lived
and opened the gates of Heaven for them and all of us
when He died on the cross.

These paintings and this feast day remind me to pray for anyone who has lost a child.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas to you all!
I just wanted to post a quick "favorite moments" post!
(while my ham is cooking)

 She got picked again this year to be Mary at our Christmas Eve Mass...
Little Red was like, "Why is everyone looking at us?" 
(This was the only moment he was actually still and quiet)
Just ask the people who sat behind us.
 This is the best shot I got of all of the kiddos!
 A certain 2 year old did NOT want to pose for any pictures!
 There he goes!!
Oh, the excitement of Christmas!  
He knew something was up.
(We never go to Mass at night!)
 Sweet big brother sitting, waiting with little sis
 These two are always ready to pose!
 Tom doesn't like this photo, but I do...
  Every time each child opened a gift, they gave huge hugs, like this!
So sweet!
 She finally posed for me, with a huge smile!  
Her Secret Angel gave her movie tickets! 
 OH, Little Red...
He just didn't understand why he couldn't open all the gifts, 
He was the only one who opened gifts on his birthday the other day
 I love how every one of the kids, (every one) let him help them open their gifts.
 Fireplace, with Christmas music playing
(courtesy of Netflix)
No, we don't use our real fireplace
(we don't know how)
City people, huh?
 Bright rosy cheeks!
 Every year, they all wait upstairs before coming down to see Santa's gift
It's adorable
(there might be a couple of them that were up waiting since 5:45am)
God bless everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Christmas

 Did you watch Elf yet?
It sure is a favorite in our house! 
Click HERE for fun facts about the movie!

Pudding Pickle-Pants I am...

reminded me of a good childhood memory
I made these with my aunt in California, I think I was like 8,
 we were visiting from MN.
I have not made them since, but every time I see them, I think of her
And it's a special memory.

 Throwing this one in for good measure.
Does anyone know how to fold like your mama?

I baked 18  loaves of this last week and gave them all away except one!

Green Bread (Sweet Pistachio Bread)
 1 yellow cake mix
 1 pkg instant pistachio pudding
 4 eggs
1/4 cup oil
 1 cup sour cream
5-10 drops of food coloring (or more)

 Mix above well. Generously grease 2 loaf pans.
 Dust with a mixture of
 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon.
 Reserve remaining sugar mix.
 Pour batter into loaf pans.
Sprinkle remaining sugar mix on top.
 Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. (or til done)
 Remove immediately from pans and place in plastic baggies and refrigerate!

Our Christmas Eve 
We go to Mass (Jedi serves)
and come home to 
Baked Manicotti
fresh Italian bread
Veggie Salad (see below)
Fresh sliced oranges
This cake below!
We then, open gifts from each other

We make this delicious, rich, chocolate cake for Christmas Eve
 to celebrate the birth of Jesus every year.
 We put on a candle for each of us,
 to symbolize the light of Christ inside of us.
(this is an old picture!)
  It is believed that Jesus was born at midnight.
Midnight Bliss Cake
1 pkg chocolate cake mix, any variety (we picked chocolate fudge)
1 pkg (4 serving size) chocolate instant pudding
4 eggs
1 container 8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup flavored coffee, prepared (I use International Foods French Vanilla)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 pkg 8 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped.
Heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease and flour a tube pan (bundt cake)
Beat all ingredients except chopped chocolate in large bowl with mixer, until well blended and smooth. Stir in chopped chocolate and pour into prepared pan.
Bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 No need for frosting with this cake, it's rich and that good!
Christmas Day
Santa has brought each child one gift and stocking stuff
And we play all day!
We are having Monkey Bread for breakfast
and for dinner
we have Ham, Cheesy potatoes, scalloped corn, (like  my grandma's)
buns, veggie salad (see below), fruit salad

Jedi is in charge of making
 Watergate salad 
pistachio pudding,
crushed pineapple
Cool whip
colored marshmallos

and we have these pies:

This is our Christmas Pie!
 We make 2 every year!
The kids are great helpers as they love to help cut up the candy bars and nibble a little bit!

Candy Bar Pie
1 pkg Cream cheese
1 Tbsp milk
2 tubs cool whip
2 pkgs chocolate instant pudding
1 3/4 cup milk
1 pkg mini candy bars
(we usually use Snickers, but could use Milky Way or 3 Musketeers), chopped
Chocolate pie crust (we use the Oreo one)
Mix the cream cheese with 1 Tbsp milk until smooth. 
 Gently stir in 2 cups cool whip and the chopped candy bars. Set aside.
Pour 1 3/4 cups milk into another bowl and add pudding,
 beat wit wire whisk and then gently stir in 1/2 cup cool whip.
spread 1/2 the pudding mixture on the bottom of crust,
 spread cream cheese mixture over pudding mixture
 and top with remaining pudding mixture and then on the very top,
 cover the pie with cool whip.
 (place shaved chocolate on top for decoration)
Needs to refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
It's not good to forget this last part, as it's hard to wait for it to be set!
(Hey, the cool whip has hardly any calories!)
Now for the healthy sides!

I call this "Janine's salad, because Janine gave it to me, so you can call it:
Jamie's Salad! (haha)
Cherry Tomatoes
Red Onion
Black Olives

Slice veggies and olives, toss with dressing:

Ranch dressing season packet
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup regular vinegar

It's one of my favorites! 
I'm off to an appointment for Little Red at the plastic surgeon's office, 
then to the crazy store for fresh veggies (see above salad) 
and bread!

I'm signing off, might be back to post a Christmas Eve picture....or 
Merry Christmas wishes, 
but otherwise, I'll be enjoying my family
away from the computer!
God bless you,
have a wonderful Christmas!

Christmas Perspective

 I don't know what it is, 
maybe I'm too serious or something.
I think I'm in balance.
Even though, sometimes it's hard.
I try to just be so very Thankful for all we have and 
all the Lord has given us.
I really think when we really are thankful, it is rarely for material things.

I don't like complainers.
There, I said it.
Funny how something I dislike so much is one of my struggles.
(Ask my husband)

Oh, we are always a work in progress, right?
It seems this time of year, 
everywhere I look people are showing what they are 
getting for their kids and families.
And I get a little jealous.
And I complain.

Even my kids look
and see other children more fortunate than themselves
 and I see those feelings 
come out.

And I think they have no needs.
They have Faith, they are well taken care of.
They shouldn't have a want in the world.

I wish we had more money
I wish we could get the kids more
I wish...

Funny thing is, 
that what we have, is what I call 
a "modest" Christmas, 
is extravagant to many others.

There is always someone less fortunate than us.

There are always OPPORTUNITIES
to be Christ to others
to appreciate what WE have
to LOVE others
to be HAPPY for others 
to PRAY for others, 
BOTH the MORE fortunate and the LESS fortunate.

This past week alone, 
I belong to a Catholic Homeschooling online group (it's national)
and one woman has a 3 year old that is battling a brain tumor and in her final days.

I have a 2 and 4 year old.
I cannot even imagine what this mother is going through, 
even typing this, my eyes well up with tears and I get a lump in my throat.

Thank you God for healthy kids.
Please bless this family struggling, with their last moments with their precious 
daughter.  Lift them up, give them the strength to continue to grow closer to you.

Another woman, many of you know, Marijanna 
 saw her baby on an ultrasound a couple weeks ago, healthy and strong, 
went back in for another ultrasound, a week later, 
to find her sweet little boy had died.
at 19 weeks. 
Right before Christmas.

It brings me back to when we had our 20 week ultrasound 
with Little Red and how devastated I was because I wouldn't be able to nurse him.

Thank you God for allowing me to pump breastmilk for my baby
and feed him with a special bottle.
Thank you God for healthy children.

Please bless Marijanna and her family, as they grieve the loss of their child
I have to stop to cry for her, with her, to share in her pain in 
some small, minute way.

Another homeschooling family just had their 7th child last week, 
they had to move 4 days after  his birth, they cannot afford a new vehicle
to go anywhere together as a family, the mother is overwhelmed 
with all she needs to do for her family 
and they only have enough money for food, 
no presents this year. 

Thank you God for this huge van, I call "The Beast", 
we are all able to go places as a family.
We have enough money for gifts for our children
(gifts they really don't need)

Please bless this family, lift them up, 
give them hope, help them to find You in unexpected places.

In the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations 
and hurrying and scurrying to get everything done, 
Let us not forget to pray for others.

For the lonely
The mourning
The struggling
The depressed

It's all perspective, we may think we are struggling, 
but are we really?  

May we all find that because of the birth of Jesus, 
because he has come to save us,
we are all one body.
We are all connected 
We all need to pray for one another.

And let us be Thankful

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Baby is 2!

(newborn here before any surgeries)
 My sweet little baby is 2
Oh, you've been through so much in your little life
(age one here)
 God gave you such a strong personality,
you are going to go far my sweet little boy,
so far.

You bring so much joy and happiness
to all of us!
I wish you all could meet him,
he's full of energy and spunk!  

I will try to refer to him from now on 
as "Little Red" on the blog

Happy birthday Little Red, we love you so very much!

It's Spiderman cupcakes, ice cream and pizza tonite 
with his godparents! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

17 Years Together!

 Tom and I celebrate 17 years of matrimony today.
What a special blessing this Sacrament has been in our lives.
What a special blessing this man has been to me.
 God knew way back when we were born (2 years apart)
that someday we would be for each other!

December 20, 1996
 I like this picture cropped on us...kind of funny, kids heads around us
Our life together!
Through ups and downs
I couldn't be happier.
  The Hands of a Bride and Groom (prayed at our wedding by good friends, Jim and Bonnie)

Beloved Bride:
Please take your groom's hands in yours:
These are the hands, young and strong and vibrant with love, that held yours today at your Wedding Mass as he promised to love you all the days of his life.
These are the hands that, God willing, you will place with expectant joy beneath your heart one day until he, too, feels his child stir within your womb. These are the hands that look so large and clumsy now, yet will be so gentle when he holds your baby for the first time.
These are the hands that will work long hours to earn the money for you and your family. These are the hands that will get nicked and bruised from fixing things around the house to make you more comfortable.
These are the hands that will caress your body throughout the years, to make the passion of love come alive in you.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek, as they raise your face to look into his eyes, eyes that will be filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.

Beloved Groom:
Please take your bride's hands in yours:
These are the hands that held yours today as she gave you her pledge to love you, and accepted your ring at your Wedding Mass.
These are the hands that are smooth and young and carefree now, but will become lined and rougher in the years ahead, from thousands of dishes washed, tons of laundry cleaned, and hundreds of meals prepared.
These are the hands that, God willing, will hold you in the joy and excitement, each time she says you are to have another child, that together you have created new life. These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness, disciplining them, diapering them, baking for them, praying for them, and wringing themselves in worry when trouble comes.
Perhaps these are the hands that will comfort you when you are told you cannot have a child and will convince you that together you can create new life in other ways.
These are the hands that through the years will caress your body in the passion of love. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your face and wipe tears from your eyes, in wonder and awe that you would cry for her.

Beloved Newly Weds:
These are the hands of the Sacrament of Matrimony. These four hands are your armor and shield against the evils of the world. These four hands are part of God's Plan for renewing His Church. These hands can reach out to the lonely and discouraged, bring hope to the destitute in mind and body, heal the abused and hurting children of the world, and teach your friends of wonders of married love. These hands are the hope of a troubled humanity. For these are the hands that can change the world. God Bless you today and each day of your married life.

 It still makes me cry when I read it. So many of those things have happened and come true. We also said our Vows on the Crucifix. (I can post it if anyone is interested) The Crucifix we used came from Medjugorje and hangs in our home today.

I met my husband almost 18 years ago (January 13th). We were set up on a blind date. My now sister in law set us up. I was working at a Montessori school and she was a teacher there and dating Tom's brother. They both wanted me to meet "Tom". I was not interested at all. She must have mentioned his name every day, until finally, New Years Eve I went on a blind date with another man and had fun and thought "what the heck, I'll go".

The other man went out of town on business expecting to come back and go out again, but I went out with Tom and he's the last man I dated.

 Tom called and we talked a little while and found out our birthdays were only a day apart (mine is Sept 9th) and set up a date. He showed up and my first thought was "Wow, you are tall!" (a whole foot taller than me at 6'6")

I was not really wanting anything serious having gone through a divorce and waiting for my annulment to finalize, so I laid it all on him, Angels, Eucharistic Adoration, the Sacraments, Medjugorje, Miracles, you name it. I thought he'd get bored and not call back, but he loved it and we talked until 3 in the morning. He ended up having a huge conversion back to the faith and we fell in love.

Met January 13
Engaged March 29
Married December 20, 1996

 Here we are now...
A blessed life

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Two Sweet

 Two sweet 4 year olds 
(OK, Ava is not quite 4, but she's sure sweet!)
 And two sweet forty something mamas, got together
 OK, this is Christine, "Quick, grab my pop, I have to hold it up!"
She always does this, not sure why...
Jamie, Jamie, you need to stop wearing those sport bras...
(but they are so comfortable)
And your face is a little blurry there

My oldest daughter took the photos...
My oldest 2 girls hung on every word we tried to talk with eachother.
Christine thought it was sweet, 
I thought it was a little obnoxious!  Hahaha!
(hey, I'm with them 24/7--we homeschool!)
I think I need some adult conversation!

Oh, well, it actually brings me back to when I was their age.
I used to love sitting by the grown ups and listen to what they were talking about!
I'm happy they are loving it.
 Several sweet kiddos played playdough!
What did I tell you?
Cheap, easy, fun, and it provides hours of entertainment!
 Two sweet....
little girls (and big girls, 40 somethings)
that had a hard time saying good bye!

Ava is my goddaughter 
and my sweet 4 year old is Christine's!
We are blessed.
They are godsisters!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Home!

Welcome to my Christmas home
I have to laugh when I say that, because I don't really decorate that much, 
compared to others, my home feels like a ton of clutter...
like I have a really hard time waiting until Epiphany to put everything away,
I can't wait each year to clean it all up on New Years day! 

Then my heart feels at peace.
Am I the only one that feels like that?

here's our wreath.
Tom bought it from some kids selling door to door the first year we moved here
I hate it.
If wreaths were not so stinkin' much money, 
I'd get a simple one with red berries.
Every year I look at them, but the practical side of me
says, we don't really need a new wreath, ours is fine.
Every year, this wreath teaches me humility.

(besides I'll put it away on New Years--haha)
 Stockings are hung by the fireplace with care
(no we don't use our fireplace...we should, but we don't know how)
The bench blocks little ones from playing inside
and breaking the doors
Tom's mom made those stockings, they are beautiful.

 Our nativity is up 
My parents gave this to us for a wedding gift
(our anniversary is Friday)

 Fake tree up
I think fake trees are ugly.
But, they are easy, that's for sure!
and in the dark, when the lights are on, who cares?
Hmmmm...not sure where those bottom ornaments went.....
I can make an educated guess who took them though

 My favorite ornaments, 
my babies at Christmas.
A baby at Christmas is such a blessing.
 (I blubbed their names out for the picture)

 Presents wrapped and under the tree!

 My favorite Christmas candle is "Sparkling Snow" Oh, it smells soooo good!
My grandmother made the little house, years ago, it holds my Christmas cards
(can you see Christine?)
It's even more special this year, since she passed away this past fall.

For lots of extra kisses!

 My kitchen window...we actually have a lot more snow now...

 Our advent wreath and countdowns in the windows
I know, I know, there's that dang coffee again.
It's just so easy to have it for breakfast, 6 points done, no thinking 

 Advent wreath messed with a lot....

 Christmas cookies made...
 Christmas helpers in zipper jammies....
waiting patiently

Cookie Cutter Cookies
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons milk
Heat oven to 400 degrees. 
Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
 Mix baking powder and flour in bowl.
 On low speed, gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture until combined.
 Add milk; beat until dough masses around beaters.
Divide dough in half or thirds (whatever you prefer).
 Lightly flour work surface and roll out dough to 1/3 inch thickness. Cut shapes.
Bake for 10 minutes.
 ( I usually bake them for 14, so I suppose it depends on your oven)
Cool and frost.
(I usually double this recipe)
Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs milk (or more depending on how thin you want your frosting)
 food coloring--divide the frosting and color whatever you want

Cream butter and shortening. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. When all sugar has been mixed, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
Makes 3 cups.
Makes enough for cookie recipe to be doubled.

 This year, I baked the cookies the night before
 because my brother's family came to decorate and only had a couple hours to be here
 Busy kids
(football game in the background--go Vikes!)
 Lots of little helpers....
 My sister in law, Kris, made those peanut butter blossom cookie thingy's
My  kids LOVED them!
(I've never made them!)
They do have to be made with Hershey's Kisses,
 not those stupid fake chocolate stars!
 It was a busy day, this was the only picture I got of these two big helpers!
 Brett and Jedi
 Justin, my silly daughter, and Lexi
 My oldest daughter always ready with a smile!
 Come on over for some Christmas cookie masterpieces!
Just wanted to show you a picture of the girls


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