Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Daybook for the End of July...and a Hidden Yarn Along

Outside my window...
A sunny mild summer afternoon.  I should be out there.  I will be in a bit, I think.

Thankful for...
Three older boys who have been playing outside nonstop for the last week.  From breakfast time to dinner they've been outside sidetracked only by a quick break for lunch.  They've been making up games, building treehouse additions, playing on the slip 'n slide, hammering and nailing things I probably don't really want to know about and getting all dirty and sweaty just as little boys should.

Thinking about...
"Not many people can cut a really good new joke, but anybody can be trained to speak as if the good things of this world were ridiculous.  "If prolonged, he [Screwtape] says, "the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter.  It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect, and it excites no affection between those who practice it."  
Therefore flippancy is to be indulged.  It can accomplish remarkable feats with very little effort - just as it takes only a wrecking ball, or a kid with some gasoline and a match, to destroy in one night a town hall or a school or a church that dozens of craftsmen and laborers took a whole year to build.  Flippancy - the habit of sneering at what is great or noble - is that sneak with the match." - from Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of your Child
Oh, and what's for dinner tonight.

NOT thinking about...
Just how many bats are likely living behind the chimney of our house.  Last night, I heard a very ominous squeaking when I went to brush my teeth in the upstairs bathroom before bed.  Sure enough, there was a bat stuck in the bathroom fan vent.  As I waited in the hallway hearing Brian's sighs and grunts and not-really-screams (just kidding, he didn't scream) as he attempted to trap it I watched dozens of bats flying into and out of the space behind the chimney which was RIGHT next to my head separated only but the window glass.  Nope.  Not thinking about that at all.

I believe my curriculum choices for this year are made and my IHIPs (Individualized Home Instruction Plan for you non-New Yorkers) are complete!  I do need to nail down a bit more of how exactly I'll be doing history and how I will use a few things I bought that I'm not sure I love, if I even use them at all.  Oh, I'm also on the lookout for this Chemistry 101 DVD and I would love to hear any of my reader's reviews on it if you are familiar with it.  That price is ridiculous but I'm gonna keep my eye out for a used copy, I think.  John Paul's looking to learn more about chemistry this year and I reeeeaaalllly am quite sure that I am not the best vehicle for that happening.

As far as my own learning, I have been watching Father Barron's Catholicism series with my prayer group and it is exquisitely done.  Really really superb.  I'm definitely going to make sure these DVDs are in our home in the near future.

From the kitchen...
Simple dinners.  
Brian and I have also been on an ice cream kick.  Almost every night but it's raw and homemade and we only take about a cup (and load up our favorite toppings) so I don't feel that guilty.

Tomorrow I plan on making this zucchini lasagna from some of our zucchini harvest but probably meat free.  I'm really hoping it comes out okay as we're having a guest for dinner.  I'm bold and crazy and reckless like that.


My latest knitting is a few more eggs for a friend, finally making good on a promise from a few months ago.  These are fun to make because I can often knit one up in a free evening while watching something with the husband on the computer.  I know the pattern by heart now so that helps (though sometimes I change it up a little).  It's also a clever use for scrap yarn of which I have plenty.

To have to make a flexible lesson schedule for this new year.  I had thoughts of starting school in August but just this very moment realized that August is, ahem, tomorrow so we'll see how that plan takes off and crashes.  Astute readers will note that I also said I would begin school in July and well, read above to see how well that worked out...  But at any rate, I need to figure out how I will get mom-required lessons done with both John Paul and Michael when there's a Luke about.  It ain't going to be easy, that much I know.

For a miracle for our mama hen.  Her estimated due date was this past Sunday.  The internet taught me that you can give about 36 hours on either side of that for a hatching date.  Well, it's been long past 36 hours and still no hatching.  We candled the eggs to see if we could tell anything and it looks like one is empty and never developed.  The other three look full.  So I think we're going to let her sit until the weekend and if there are no chicks by then, we'll have to take them from her which is all sorts of sad.  But on the bright side that means she'll start laying again soon.  We've been missing the eggs.

Also hoping we can plan a little one or two night getaway this summer, perhaps?

About the things you like to read about in this here internet home of mine.  My blog content is all over the place, I know.  It's  supposed to be, really.  I have too many interests and loves to be able to narrow it down all that much here.  I like that you get to know me here and part of that means you get a small glimpse into the wide array of things that take up my brain space or you get privy to things I just really really want to remember but know that I won't if I don't record it here.  But I still get curious as to what types of things you like to read about.  Or if there are things you'd like for me to write about.  I'm all ears!

I am almost through with Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of your Child by Anthony Esolen.  It is so good and thought provoking that I plan on reading it again with highlighter and pencil in hand as soon as I'm done.  It took me a little bit to get used to his style and muster up the brain power I needed to process his words as he is quite more learned than I am but I'm really getting a lot out of it now.  Part of it makes me realize how much I was a victim of modern psychologies, agendas, and cultural experiments and how much it affects me to this day.  It makes me a bit sad and angry, to be honest.  But it also makes me that much more motivated to make sure my children receive the opposite.  

Want to hear something fun?  I mentioned how intriguing the book is to some friends and now a bunch of them are getting the book (which makes me all sorts of nervous, by the way.  I mean, WHAT IF THEY DON'T LIKE IT?  It's like sharing a recipe and they may very well never speak to me again if they don't like it.  Or something.)  Anyhow, we're organizing a little informal book group to discuss the book and I am very much looking forward to hearing others' thoughts on it.  We have way more interest than I thought there would be which is also fun.  If you're a local and are interested, send me an email and I can keep you in the loop!

For Baby Avery to come home soon.
For sleep and patience (oh so very very related).
For the conversion of those in the abortion industry.

boys playing, a sweeper truck idling outside our house (lunch break?), the nap time hum of the monitor, and chickens clucking.

Around the house...
There aren't many house projects going on except for the hopeful selection and installation of windows.  Half of our house has windows that don't open and it would be a glorious glorious thing were the day to come that they were replaced.

At some point we need to get started on the last room to be done...the supply/utility/sort of pantry room that for some reason gets called the school room.  I have no desire to do it but it really is ugly and is beginning to bother me.  

A few of my favorite things... 
homemade raw vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and peanuts
Luke kisses and David hugs
those first few sips of coffee in the morning

A plan or two for the rest of the week...
this weekend we'll be going to Laura Ingalls Wilder days at a local historical village.  We went once before and it was so much fun but will be even more so now that we've been reading so many of the books together.  Prepare yourselves now for mucho photo dumping.

A(nother) picture thought to share...
I have no idea what they're doing but it sure looks fun, doesn't it?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Plantain: Eight Uses for the Weed Every Mom Should Know

Granted he's not the child most known in this house for enduring any amount of pain patiently, but even I could tell the morning's shrieking from outside meant something really did hurt. Thank God it was just a wasp sting. He was crying something fierce, though. I first tried some raw honey but without effect. Then it was some ice with still no relief. Then I thought to have my oldest run out to the yard for some plantain.  

What is plantain? Well, if you have a yard that is not chemically treated, you would probably recognize it and you more than likely have a lot of it right in your very own yard. Plantain is a common weed but a very VERY handy weed. It looks like this:

My oldest brought in a large leaf of it and I crushed it up enough to get a tiny bit of the juice inside released. (You can also chew it a little bit to help but I didn't do that this time.) Then as my little guy still wailed, I put it directly on the sting site.  Immediate silence.  I kept the little poultice on the wound and covered it with a bandaid. There wasn't a peep from then on. Plantain is SUCH a useful plant and it's helped us so many times for scrapes and stings. The fact that it can be found so easily makes it a hugely helpful tool at the playground or baseball diamond. It can be found in nearly every unsprayed lawn and playground and due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties, it can be a very handy weed to know, especially for moms. Not only do you provide relief for someone in pain but you get to look like a super crunchy Ma Ingalls type and impress the heck out of your friends. Or just give them another reason to think you're ding-a-ling crazy.

Eight Uses for Plantain:

-Relief for insect or spider bites and stings (even mosquitoes!)  
This is its most common, well known use.  Simply crush or chew the leaf and apply right to the site.  Sprays can also be made to keep on hand.
-Any type of skin rash or irritation
I'll be using a plantain infusion in my next batch of herbal healing salve but you can use it directly, the same way as you would a bite or sting.
-Poison ivy/oak/sumac treatment
Used in salves or spray form to alleviate the burn and itch of these obnoxious ailments.
The leaves are completely edible and supposedly taste like spinach but a bit more bitter.  Disclaimer:  Haven't tried this yet!  Like spinach, plantain is high in vitamin C, iron, and calcium and is milder tasting when the leaves are small. 
Dried plantain can be used as a tea and is purported to alleviate heartburn and indigestion, as well as being a source for iron and extra vitamins.  Simply dry, crush and steep in steaming water!**
-In the bath
I've seen plantain as an ingredient in postpartum herb bath recipes and I plan to dry some to use in my postpartum herbal bath tea next time I make it for someone.  The anti-inflammatory properties would be helpful for a sore postpartum mama!
-Treatment for Colds?
WebMD says that plantain can be taken for colds as it decreases mucous production.  (Hmm...that might have a secondary use for those whose NFP charts are a bit NFP people know what I'm talkin' about...)  
-Other Possible Uses...
WebMD also states it can be used to treat bronchitis, bladder infections, hemorrhoids, and eye irritation.  Huh.  Who knew?

**Be careful taking it in concentrated form (i.e. tea or in pill form) if you are pregnant.  Some sites are saying it can stimulate the uterus...check with your care provider, please!

Baby plantain leaves recently chopped by the mower.

Our excuse to let our lawn go feral.  Also:  Lazy.

Can you spot it?
And now you know the way that a common lawn weed can help you make friends and influence people as well as have a totally valid excuse for being That Lawn in the neighborhood. Now if only I could find a use for all those dandelions...  Oh, wait!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Seven Quick Takes - The Scandalous Edition

Me:  The prince and princess decided to name their baby George.  Some day he'll be King George!
John Paul:  I hope he's not like the other King George.  
Me:  ...
John Paul:  You know, taxing the people when they weren't represented?
Me:  Oh.  Um...right.

Our hen is still sitting tight on those eggs!  I'm a little nervous now that Cari says their hatched chicks are ferocious, feral dinosaur chickens but hey, maybe the hawks won't try to eat them?  I really am excited to see 1. if this works and 2. witness how a mama hen instinctively cares for her chicks.  So many idioms and adages have already been proven true since we've started raising chickens and I'm sure there's more to come.

Which looks remarkably like the other two picture of her sitting on eggs that I've already shown you.  She doesn't really move.  And she's still unnamed, poor girl.

I used to love trying to find Christian meaning in contemporary secular music (I know, I know, #Catholicnerd).  It's been a long time since I've listened to normal music stations preferring instead to be riled up by political talk or educate my children via CD but something about the summer brings with it a desire to flip on the car radio to find fun tunes to which I can belt.  I realize I am way behind on this one which is par for the course when it comes to me and all things pop culture but I'm really loving the deeper meaning to Pink's number one Just Give Me a Reason (which totally should've been titled Bent).  It's definitely not a complete allegory in the verses but I love how the refrain could totally be referring to original sin and the human condition.  
I'll spare you a link to the video since it's weird.  (Are there any music videos that aren't?  It's basically just her writhing around on a bed with an evil-eyed teddy bear for company.  And once in a while she's drowning in water.  Music video directors be cray-cray.)  You can look it up if you want but if you listen to pop music you've probably heard it dozens of times already and are pretty much confused why I would even be talking about this months after it's been released.  What can I say?  #Catholicnerd  Next time you hear it just picture Adam and Eve, concupiscence and redemption and have your mind blown, m'kay?

Fine, here's the song sans writhing and satanic teddy bears:

Because I'm a great mom, the other day Luke had his first doctor's appointment since he was four months old.  We needed to get established with our new doctor (who is GREAT, by the way.  Score one for that.).  At 19 months he weighs 28 pounds.  David went last week and at age four weighs 30.  Luke was 33 inches and David 36.  I wasn't kidding when I said they would soon be sharing clothes...which actually would work out nicely and would save us from having to buy another dresser so there's that.

It's Natural Family Planning awareness week!  I say we decorate with dangling thermometers and decorate a sheetcake with a full blown Creighton chart!  Maybe have a dramatic reading of Humanae Vitae or something?  And snacks?  Oh, we could...never mind...I won't scandalize you with my bodily fluid themed party ideas.

I thought I might have a post or two for that but I couldn't get them down and other people have better stuff written anyway.  And most of my readers are probably well aware of NFP.  Whether or not you are I HIGHLY encourage you to read this:
This is a phenomenal and well researched article that I wish every woman would read.  Please do.  And wouldn't it be wonderful if you could share it on Facebook?  I really really think women need to hear this stuff.  Who knows?  You might just plant a seed, you know?

Another good NFP article I saw:
Humanae Vitae:  Grave Motives to Use a Good Translation
for those Catholics who like to wrestle with what the text of HV really meant when referring to licit uses of natural methods to space pregnancy.

Some other click-worthy links for your enjoyment:

OverExposed Some convicting reminders on using social media (FYI, yes I do feel like a huge hypocrite linking that :)

Seduced by the Illusion:  The Truth About Transformation Photos  If you have Pinterest friends like I do who pin these waif looking people who have supposedly lost dozens of pounds doing this One Unique Thing (seriously, friends, WHY do you want to look like that??), this might interest you.
And now I'll leave you with this gem:
They make the best lemonade, you know ;)
Something tells me I'm going to have to do some sign editing.  

Linking up with Jen who promises me that she will get a video of her testing the alcohol on the scorpion theory.  Please, Jen?  Please?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - Olcott Askew


After our ultra-amateur photo shoot the other day we went over to the carousel park.  Local people with small children, do yourselves a favor and g to the o to this place.  It is so sweet and innocent and easy and fun for the little kids.  I feel like it's one of those places that will loom larger than life in their memories but in reality is this tiny one acre amusement park that is SO doable for families.  

Seriously, this is it.  There are six rides, some games and a food stand but perfect fun for the 2-8 age range.  We will milk this place as long as we can.


Oh, did I mention that it's CRAZY cheap?

Tickets are 25 cents to ride or play a game.  All the kids did rides AND we got ice cream for less than $20.

John Paul is just at the age where the rides could start feeling a bit lame.  But I love this kid.  We prepped him in the car that he might be too big now for the rides and he didn't complain one bit.  However, as soon as we saw that he still was under the cut off, his face lit up and he was thrilled.

Sometimes it pays to be short.

Luke could even ride and loved it!

I'm actually surprised that the guns on the planes have yet to be culled by the intelligentsia.


Nine years of age aren't going to stop this kid from squeezing into a car.

I'm not that shabby a skeeball player, thankyouverymuch.  Though this is the best picture the husband was able to capture.

Askew for Mrs. Donaldson.  Perhaps deranged clown that wants to eat your garbage may take the "askew" theme to a different level.  "C'mere innocent child and stick your tiny tasty little arm in my mouth...promise, I don't bite...muahahahaha"

A few more shots from the beach...

Ha!  The open collar with the chain and the sunglasses.  Just need a little bit of chest hair creeping out of that shirt and it would be perfect.


And some more slightly skewed just to throw Cari for a loop...

See, I was in some.  Brian's obviously not as artsy as me because most of the pictures he took looked something like this.

Or this:

Or perhaps it's just the subject...

Also on the real front:
Please say a prayer for a client's sister who just birthed twin boys at 28 weeks.  

And also please please pray for my friend Nella who birthed baby Avery yesterday at 32 weeks.  Prognosis is great but I'm sure she would appreciate any prayers we can offer that her sweet baby will be out of the NICU as soon as possible.  Please continue to pray for Nella's complete healing.
Thanks, friends!

Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter and Clan Donaldson for more!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Right. About that Garden.

I have been in it this year.  A few (*cough* threeorfour *cough*) times.
I have this really obnoxious thing going on with the garden.  If it looks too messy and overgrown, I get overwhelmed and don't want to be in it.  Makes sense, right?

With the endless winter and the craptastic wet spring and rainy early summer, the garden has been messy and late.  I have literally had to distance myself from it mentally and pretend it doesn't exist otherwise it would drive me nuts.  This year Brian has taken the lead.  Part of me would like to be more involved and make it more efficient and neat and productive but this year it really is just too much.  It was an exercise in futility to try to do any work in there with Luke awake and in there with me.  Toddlers don't much care for what is weed and what is vegetable and have no problem crawling right through the tender shoots you may have just planted.  If you don't keep them in the garden with you while you are working, you have to leave your work every 42 seconds to make sure that they have not bolted for the street.  Or so I've heard.

What about nap time, Mary?  Surely that would be the perfect opportunity to find renewal in the soil and rejuvenate your soul through digging your fingers through the luscious earth?  Oh, silly questioner.  You are wrong.  Naptime is sacred.  Naptime is when I get to sit and blog or read to the boys or eat something not crouched over the counter using my body as a visual shield as I curl around my special morsel of forbidden food caressing it like Gollum with the ring.  My precious.  Besides, questioner, you clearly do not understand that the hours between 1 and 3ish o clock melt my body into a pool of exhaustion and uselessness.  So no.  No gardening at nap time.  I've given in to the fact that our garden will be far from ideal this year and everything we get from it will be bonus.

But then the other day Brian brought in our first zucchini and squash and a few little peas!  So that was enough to get me just a tad bit excited for this year's harvest and I thought, hey self, you should go out to the garden and get some pictures if only to chronicle this year as The Year They Were Tired.

Not too terrifying in this pic...broccoli, strawberries, potatoes, zucchini, and summer squash

We always seem to do well with lettuce.  Which is nice but no one in our family really likes salad.  As long as we're being honest and all.

The strawberries did a little better this year but they're tuckered out now.  We got maybe a couple of pints in June.

But our first success with broccoli!  Enough to feed half of us at dinner one night!

Too lazy to even move the unused jars.  Man.  These are our cantaloupe and watermelon.  It would be quite the feat if we end up getting anything from these since they got planted so late.  Beans in the background and all around the perimeter.  Brian planted a LOT of beans.

We have a full bed just for potatoes this year!  Last year was our first try at potatoes and they were so fun and easy.  Plus, they're like a real food that actually feels like you're eating something so hopefully these will succeed and fill some stomachs.

Cucumbers...will we get any or will we not?  Time shall tell.

What?  you can't tell what that is?  A whole bed of cherry tomatoes.  I can't believe I'm even showing you these pictures.  I think there are more tomatoes planted somewhere.  Ask Brian.  There are also peas, carrots, and gourds that were planted.  There was spinach but that's gone now.

Brian also planted a patch of corn this year in our former weed patch.  We haven't had success with corn yet but I would be quite pleased if we did.  I think there are pumpkins planted in the back again as well.  See?  I don't even know.

The trees are heavy with fruit this year making up for our ONE pear that grew last year due to the late frost.  We shall have lots and lots of pears quite soon.

This is the apple tree that I tried to get Brian to cut down last year because it never produced anything and looked dead.  He bargained for a year wait.  Quite Scriptural, right?  This year, much to his pride, it's producing!  We may actually get a half bushel or so.  More beans in the background.

Oh, hey mama chicken.  She doesn't move from those eggs we gave her and eyes you suspiciously if you come too close.  I am really excited to see if this works.  We should hopefully have some hatching this coming weekend!  Updates on ye olde Facebook page, I think!

Hope you're having a lovely Tuesday!  If you need me I'll be out sowing and weeding.  Ha, just kidding.  It's nap time.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Boys on the Beach Photo Shoot

We spent a spectacular day yesterday near Lake Ontario in Olcott.  

And I pretended to be artsy.  

Once upon a time I took John Paul as a squirmy baby to a professional place to have pictures done.  The shoot was okay but the results were underwhelming for the effort and cost involved.  I've since never gone back to professional pictures.  I just have never seen the point when I can take zillion digital shots and at least one of them has to be worthy of a frame, right?  Maybe one day I'll splurge on a private photographer so that we can get one of all of us as a family in a location like this (and I'm sure the pictures would be much improved taken by one more experienced) but til then, I kinda like the candid scenes I capture better than any studio shot I've seen.  

My favorite

(same pic cropped)

Bam.  How cute is this?

(same pic uncropped)

Who is this kid?

Maybe a tad bright ;)

Luke was in his glory picking up hard objects and actually being allowed and encouraged to throw them.

We spent some time at the beach, then went over to the amazing carousel park (more pics from that later in the week), and treated ourselves to ice cream.  Our family needed a day like this.  The heat here has broken and the day was glorious.  God is good.

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