We’re Moving!

One month from today we will take up residence in a new-to-us house in Loveland, Colorado. We have lived in our current house near Colorado Springs for almost 14 years, and all but one of our children was born here. There are a lot of memories within these walls, and we thought we would be here forever.

Fun with boxes My beautiful picture
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But Ian’s job changed a year ago. He had to temporarily shut down, and take a job in another city. After more than 12 months of commuting and spending many nights away from home, we have finally sold our house and bought a new one closer to work. As of April 9, we will no longer have to say prayers over the phone.

New Year’s Resolutions: 2014

This isn’t anything new, since Ian & I resolved to go to Chartres back in November. But I found this web site:

Alpha and Omega Rose Window

This is a fundraiser for the restoration of stained glass windows in bay 140 in Chartres Cathedral – to be completed in 2016! I wonder if they will be finished by Pentecost that year. It would be neat to see the project completed, but I am simply excited to be going at all!

But for the Year of Our Lord 2014, I should have some goals written down.

Chartres and Fitness goals:

  • Set a fixed amount of money aside for the Chartres trip each month.


  • Set monthly goals: endurance while walking, weight loss, diet adjustments to level of activity.
  • Learn to use the heart rate monitor Ian gave me!


  • Set goals and start training with a friend who has agreed to be my personal trainer.

After multiple years as a DI, the frog voice sounds like some kind of demonic possession.

  • Stay accountable with my “loser buddy.”
  • Walk or exercise every day. Set a specific time for this.
  • Drink enough water every day. I can make this part of a daily check list on my phone.
  • Learn more about how to exercise effectively and safely.
  • Find out about pool membership and swim regularly if not cost-prohibitive.



  • Schedule time to spend one-on-one with each of the kids, especially the girls!

  • Make time to go to the museum with our new family membership which we received for Christmas.

Travel back 3,000 years

  • Try to minimize or consolidate doctor and dentist appointments so I have more time at home.
  • Dedicate a specific time to grading school papers.

  • Schedule Confession for the kids and take them.


  • Blog every day, or at least once a week, on the Liturgical Year/Feast Days, Family, and/or Pilgrimage Prep. Set specific time to blog.


  • Set specific times for prayer (Divine Office and Rosary), spiritual reading, examination of conscience, and Scripture daily. Keep prayer area clear of distractions. Note: this is not my house, just a beautiful prayer space I found a picture of:

  • Schedule regular Spiritual Direction and Confession!

Prodigal Son

  • Find a quiet place for a desk that is just for correspondence and bills. Keep it clean!! (Note: also not my desk)

Product Image

  • Save up for a Breviary since I had to return the one I borrowed from Fr. O’Neill. Or at least get a good app for my phone.

The Roman Breviary - Flexible cover (Black Leather), 3-Volume Set

  • Read the Etsy-preneurship book Ian gave me, and refurbish my shop. Make more dolls and things to sell. Enlist the older kids to make things as well! Schedule time for reading, making, and doing.


  • Set regular time aside to sew the kids’ Christmas stockings. Goal: have Susan’s, Peter’s, Maria’s and Nana’s done by Thanksgiving! That means finish Susan’s in January, and then have a stocking completely done every 3 months. Enlist the help of the older kids.

This wonderful hand~crafted Christmas Stocking called "BABY JESUS" is made of felt applique on cloth and beautifully decorated with hand sewn sequins and beads.  There is room at the top to have a special name embroidered.  A precious Baby's First Christmas Stocking.

  • Save up for a new Bosch motor so we can make bread regularly again!

Advent and Christmas at Home

Autumn is the time in our family’s year when our thoughts turn towards the coming winter and all the festivities and visitors we will have – the time when the family does more that is “out of the ordinary” than at any other time of year.My beautiful picture

Canned Applesauce

Every August we meet with my In-Laws to pick chokecherries, peaches, grapes and apples on the roadsides and in friends’ yards. Then we make applesauce and pie fillings, chokecherry and grape juice and jelly, and peach pie fillings. Whatever we preserve by canning, we use throughout the coming year and send as Christmas gifts to faraway relatives.
Every September I vow to have one more stocking finished for the kids, although I do not always finish in time. I have been making these felt-applique Christmas stockings since my first child was born 14 years ago. I have 5 finished, and am working on number 6. For years now I have wondered if I will ever catch up and have one for each of my 10 children, but, since I am about to turn 44, I think I might catch up one day. Nature being what it is, and God having made me the way He chose, I will eventually leave the child-bearing years.
Every October we get together with my In-Laws to make our traditional Christmas tamales. We work all day to make as many as we can, put them in bags by the dozen, and eat some with refried beans, Spanish rice, and other goodies for dinner. Then we take our bags home and put them in the freezer to be enjoyed on Christmas Eve and throughout the coming year.
During November, my children and their local cousins spend time with my Mother-In-Law (their “Nana”), making Christmas cookies, especially her traditional biscochitos (Mexican Christmas cookies), which will be available for snacking starting on December 24 until they are gone!
Advent here starts with St. Andrew’s day, November 30. This is our wedding anniversary, and before we were even married, Ian and I vowed to name our first son Andrew after this Apostle and martyr. We set up our Nativity set, which was a gift from my family to us on our wedding day. We only put Mary and Joseph in it, with maybe a few sheep and shepherds close-by. Our Three Kings figures are set up somewhere else in the house, and they travel to the manger throughout Advent and Christmas, to arrive on Epiphany.
Advent Wreath
We also set up our Advent wreath on the dining table, with its rose and violet candles. A friend of mine makes beautiful ones made of pure beeswax, so I always use hers if I order them in time.
St Nicholas Day
Next comes St. Nicholas day, December 6. The night before, the children place their Christmas stockings on the dining room table. In the morning there are always mandarins, nuts in their shells, and spice cookies with an image of St. Nicholas himself on them! Sometimes he brings socks or other small but needed items. This day is also our first son’s birthday – I bet you can guess his name: Andrew Nicholas!
St LucySt. Lucy table
Then St. Lucy’s day comes and we make every effort to bring home-made goodies to my In-Laws. Our eldest daughter, Lucy, of course, dresses in white and serves us all by candlelight. Usually I have made something with honey (a honey cake made with strong coffee has been a favorite), but this year the girls want to make some authentic Swedish St. Lucy Cats. 
Advent Tree
After St. Lucy, Advent really starts going fast. We make gingerbread cookies in the shape of nativity figures, and some years we even have time to “paint” them with food-coloring-and-egg-yolk “watercolors.” Depending on how early we get a tree, it might hold pink and purple Advent lights as well as Jesse Tree ornaments.
Christmas Tree
If we wait until the end of Advent, it gets white and/or colored lights (depending on which strands work when I plug them in), and we have a tree-decorating day usually Gaudete Sunday or the last Sunday of Advent. We have ornaments from Ian’s childhood, and I have added an ornament of some significance to the children almost every year of their lives. For example, when the older girls were doing Irish Dance, I gave them each a shamrock ornament. The year we all climbed Pikes Peak, I gave each child a key chain with the mountain depicted on it. They will each have a box of their own ornaments to take with them when they eventually set up their own homes. We turn on the Christmas tree lights every night during Christmas for our Night Prayers, and if we have any activities in the living room in the evenings.
My beautiful pictureMom & Uncle James
Each year sometime during Advent, when all of my husband’s siblings can gather, we have a Family Talent Show. Everyone works on some sort of presentation, from singing to Irish Dance, from a short skit to poetry recitation or instrumental music.
Christmas Table Setting
On Christmas Eve, we all gather at my In-Laws’ house and eat our traditional Mexican dinner (remember the tamales we made in October?)! Each family brings something for the meal: some of their tamales, refried beans, calabasitas (squash sauteed with chiles, corn, spices, and topped with cheese), Mexican or Spanish rice, Ensalada de Noche Buena (a traditional Mexican salad for Christmas Eve) and home-made biscochitos for dessert.
Twas the Night Before Christmas...Christmas Stockings All Lined Up
After dinner, the patriarch of the family reads “A Visit from St. Nicholas” to the children. During the recitation of the poem, St. Nicholas lands on the roof with his reindeer (we have heard footsteps and bells up there), and sometimes we even see St. Nick himself running by a window outside. The saint fills everyone’s stockings while we listen to the story, and afterwards we all open them up and enjoy the goodies (oranges, nuts, candy canes, chocolates, and the kids get a little toy or useful item like a hair brush or pocketknife). Sometimes the adults get useful things, too, like gift cards to the grocery store or a nearby restaurant. If we have extended family with us for the day, we will exchange gifts with them on this night. Sometime during the evening, the Baby Jesus mysteriously appears in the Nativity scene between Mary & Joseph. Sometimes Angels appear also!
Christmas Spice Bread
Some years we have gone to (and even sung in the choir for) Midnight Mass, but with young ones still very young, we have mostly gone to the Christmas Morning Sung Mass at our parish. We take homemade breads and cookies to distribute to our priests and friends there, and bring home goodies from them as well.
After Mass, we have a wonderful brunch at home. Last year we made a sausage-and-egg casserole and French toast, which we served with coffee, orange juice and milk. The Advent wreath that has graced our table gets moved to the door and becomes a Christmas wreath. The candles get put away until next year it they still have plenty of wax on them.
Eggnog Shootout
That evening we have all the family over for a turkey dinner. Typically, we have a home-made egg nog contest between my husband and his brother Mike. Ian makes his child-friendly so all of our kids can have some. Mike puts in a lot of rum (and other spirits), so he usually wins, even though the kids all vote for Daddy’s. I serve a turkey and everyone brings a side dish or dessert. Uncle James always brings the drinks (because when I send out an email asking everyone to sign up for a dish, he waits until the end so there is only one thing no one signed up for), and a can of cranberry jelly( because he likes to slice it very thin, even though no one eats it). If we have gifts from friends and relatives who are not with us, we will open them on this day so that thank you notes can be sent promptly.
Christmas at our house comes to a close on Epiphany. During the night, the Three Kings have come, and left a family gift on the dining table (a game we can all play or a movie we can all watch together). Then we have everyone over again (usually at our house, but sometimes at my In-Laws’) for a Kings Cake or some traditional Epiphany treat from a European country. (I am thinking of making a French Galette des Rois this time) If we have not opened all of our presents either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, we save the ones from each other for this special day. 
Shortly after Epiphany we take down the tree and Christmas wreath. If we have friends with goats, they get these delicacies as a Christmas treat. The decorations get put away little by little, until the only significant relics of Christmas consist of the way we treat each other and those around us. 

Paula and Tree

Merry Christmas!

Simple Woman's Daybook, New Baby Edition (Jan 27, 2009)

FOR TODAY, Tuesday, January 27, 2009…

Outside my window… snow-covered prairie grasses and brilliant sunshine

I am thinking… That I have the most adorable baby boy lying next to me right now.

I am thankful for… Thomas Edmund Paul’s birth Sunday night.

From the learning rooms… no school today. Just witnessing God’s miracle with all the kids.

From the kitchen… Daddy & the kids made waffles and oatmeal this morning, and quesadillas for lunch. Mom made delicious chicken vegetable soup yesterday for lunch. It really hit the spot.

I am wearing… comfy pajama bottoms and a tomato-soup-colored v-neck top. Hair in a pony tail, socks & slippers.

I am creating… memories holding my little Thomas while he is little enough to be held.

I am going… to recover as quickly as I can!

I am reading… Nothing right now except the sweet expressions on Thomas’s face.

I am hoping… We all get a little more sleep tonight.

I am hearing… coos from Thomas, computer typing from Ian (working from home today), a few sounds of quiet play from the older kids during the little kids’ nap time.

Around the house… Everything is serene during nap time. The house is picked up, the dishes are mostly done, the laundry is pretty much caught up. Fr. Jeremy came Sunday night to bless the house and it does feel blessed.

One of my favorite things… cuddling with a brand new baby. The smell of a newborn – so sweet!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Sigh… no plans (bliss).

Here is picture thought I am sharing…

Go to The Simple Woman’s Daybook blog to join in the fun and see other daybook entries.

Forget the Poinsettias this Christmas!

I recently came across this post over at O Night Divine. It seems that 70% of the nation’s poinsettias, those beautiful red plants used to decorate our homes and churches throughout December, are provided by the Ecke family in California. Sounds great – support a family business and decorate to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

BUT this family, unfortunately, uses the money they get from the sales of these poinsettias to renovate abortion mills and support Planned Parenthood’s agenda of more abortions!

So, can anyone think of a better alternative to buying poinsettias this year? Get the word out to your pastors about this!

Musings from A Catholic Bookstore has more on this.

Please post any church and home decorating ideas!

Pro-Family Businesses Wanted

In my previous post “Is it Wrong to Buy at Discount?” Someone commented that her family tries to support Catholic businesses whenever possible. I responded with this (below) and thought I should start a new post on the subject, asking if anyone knows of small family-run businesses that struggle to stay afloat because they cannot compete with larger corporations that discount more than the smaller businesses can (perhaps because they have their items manufactured in China or other countries that do not promote freedom for their people):

Kitty’s response: “Which reminds me! I am planning on repainting my kitchen and saw a wall hanging I really wanted at Hobby Lobby. It is just exactly the size and shape of what I was thinking of to put in the mud room – it is black wrought iron and has a rooster at the top and 7 hooks along the bottom – perfect for little coats and gloves in winter and little sun hats and gardening gloves in summer. HOWEVER, it is made in China and you have just reaffirmed why I cannot buy it. It supports forced abortions instead of strengthening families. Do you know any American family-run businesses that make and sell “country” type items for the home?”

SO! If you know of any such small businesses I would like to have a list here. It does not have to sell “country” items, but any small business that sells wholesome items NOT made in countries where Catholic values are trodden upon and people are enslaved. My blog does not reach millions, but I want to do my small part to help families trying to earn a living doing something worthwhile. Tell your friends to send me information on these businesses. I am especially interested in online and “local” stores (local to your part of the country or world).