Monday, April 30, 2012

Easy Crockpot Pork Chops

A quick google search on Saturday morning led me to this easy supper recipe ( I was without several ingredients, but improvised and found a family friendly meal. Since it already has potatoes included, I did serve lettuce salad and squash on the side as well.

**I've added my adjustments and changes in parenthesis.

2 1/2 lbs of bone-in pork loin chops  (5 boneless pork chops)

5-6 medium potatoes sliced in 1/2 inch pieces

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1/4 cup spicy brown mustard  (1/8 cup yellow mustard)

1 medium onion (sliced)  (2 tablespoons dry minced onion)

2 teaspoons of minced garlic (garlic powder)

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper (1/2 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon of basil  (Italian seasoning)

1 tablespoon of oil

1 tablespoon of butter or margarine

1/2 cup of chicken broth


--Place potatoes and onion in bottom of slow cooker.

--Put pork chops on top of vegetables.

--Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Pour over the top of the pork chops.

--Cook on low 8-10 hours (5 hrs. on high and 3 hrs. on low) or until meat in center is no longer pink.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gianna's Name Day

Today we celebrated Gianna's Name Day. Over the past few years we've made more of an effort to remember each of the kids' name days, the feast day of their patron saint. While it's not always something over the top or monumental, we try to make it special in some way. We make the child feel special and remind them of the qualities that make their saint significant.

Of course, Gianna is a little young to understand her name day. When she's older, we'll share with her why St. Gianna is so near and dear to us and is the perfect patron for her. What Gianna does understand is that today we had cake and that was enough reason for her to celebrate.

It also means that she is pretty much 'Queen for the Day' and enables her to get a horseback ride on her brother's back. She squealed with delight and didn't want to get off (although it's hard to see that in this photo). The perfect ending to her day.

I am certain that our little Gianna is already reaping the rewards of being watched over by her namesake. I know I certainly call on her for help as a mother and protector of my children. And when Gianna's busy toddler days wipe me out, I bring out the big guns and I ask St. Gianna for the extra help. She's easily become my favorite saint to which I owe so very much, that's for sure.

You can read more about St. Gianna by clicking here.

St. Gianna, Pray For Us!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~Capturing the context of everyday life~

New signs of spring in my flower garden. While so many of the plants are just peeking out and greening up over this past week, the tulips are in bloom. They help make the winter a distant and faint memory as the days warm up and whisk away the remnants of cold, white winter.


It's flip flop weather! My favorite time of year, despite not having the most pretty feet. I do love when it's warm enough to begin breaking out the flip flops though. Slide my feet in and away I go. They will definitely come in handy this summer as I try to keep up with little Miss On-The-Go, Gianna.


The smile says it all. This girl is beginning to show off her fun personality as she tries more and more each day to talk to us. In a quick instant, she can go from little troublemaker to hilarious toddler. She runs around the house with her long hair flopping wildly up and down as she come barreling around the corner. I can't help but laugh at this funny little lady. I caught her in this photo when I turned on the camera, called her name and she turned, flashing this wide smile.


A quiet moment with my littlest girl all snuggled in close. She is such a sweet baby, who is so easy to take care of with few demands. I take advantage of the moment and smell her sweetness amidst the coziness. It doesn't get any more {real} than a quiet moment with my Snuggle Bug.

round button chicken

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thanks, Blogger....I Think

How's everyone doing with the new Blogger layout/format? I'll be honest, after Cari's post I was scared to death to even click on over and try to post.

I don't like change. I especially don't like change in anything involving technology and mass quantities of brain cells that I currently cannot waste on frivolous Blogger changes. So far, I'm surviving with the changes.

Of course, I haven't attempted anything monumental like changing my background or header. I'm guessing that may be a little tougher and time consuming.

What I have found interesting is the changes on my Dashboard that lead to a Stats page. While I've had Sitemeter on here for some time, I mostly look at the numbers that I get from them in my weekly email. Rarely do I delve into where the readers are coming from, reading from, pages read, etc.

However, now that Blogger offers it quickly all on an overview page, it's intriguing. I see my most read posts, traffic sources, pageviews and my audience. Who knew that I have had readers from the Philippines, Ireland, Norway, France and Brazil?! I sure didn't. I also now know that 10% of pageviews have been from iPhones, 6% from Droids and 5% iPads. While I am not a numbers person, I was quite tickled to read all of these stats with a quick click.

Anyone else enjoy the stats or another new function of Blogger?

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Jonah celebrated his seventh birthday on Saturday. SEVEN! My little man is growing and changing all the time and I can't believe how hard it is to keep up with him. I think it's a mama-son thing. There's just something about my 'baby' boy getting older. The weather was rainy, so we were stuck indoors all day. It worked out ok though since my parents came for the day to visit and are always a welcome distraction (and help). We had both sets of grandparents over for pizza lunch as was the birthday boy's request. We continued celebrating in the afternoon with Jonah's Godparents and our nephew and his family (you've gathered that we all live in the neighborhood together, right?).

Jonah chose a Cars 2 cake and I had him look on Google images to find one that I could try and recreate without losing my sanity patience. The racetrack cake didn't turn out too bad. It worked out great to use Jonah's Cars toy cars as part of the cake and he enjoyed picking out which ones to use. When I was decorating the cake I surprised him with his newest addition, the Pope character car from the movie. I scored it at the store a few weeks ago to give to him as part of his birthday gifts, until hubby had the great idea to put it on the cake. Jonah was so excited when he saw it that he couldn't stop smiling!

Jonah shares his birthday with my grandma who turned 90 yesterday. Her family threw her a party today, about an hour drive away. We joined the festivities for part of the afternoon and had the chance to visit with a bunch of my extended family. Well, visit as much as you can while tending to little ones. But hey, it was a free meal with excellent food that I didn't have to cook! That alone made it exciting.

I took the opportunity to take a quick photo of the Birthday Buddies since we never know when it may be the last birthday they get to celebrate together. Aren't they sweet?

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Get Moving

I am not the biggest fan of early mornings nor a fitness enthusiast. I won't lie and say that I am or pretend that I am the Hottest mama in my circle of friends. But, I'm trying my darnedest.(Not the hot mama part, the fitness enthusiast part)

It may not even be that I need more sleep (both little girls are sleeping through the night currently..praise God!) when the alarm goes off. It's just something about the cozy bed that calls to me more than any fitness equipment or workout DVD.

I muster up my strength and roll out of bed. I am trying to get in a better habit of doing this. THIS. Being healthy, getting the 'ol body moving and feeling good. I've tried numerous configurations and time frames to get exercise squeezed in during the day. Currently, the rise-and-shine-before-the-kids-eventhough-I-really-dislike-this is the only way it's working. Sure there are days when I can fit it in during the day or in the evening, but I'd rather not chance it.

No, I'm not a fan of exercising and just *love* to do it. I get bored with the same thing, I want to see results, I want to feel results. Mostly though, I want to set a good example of health for my children and I want to feel healthy and fit.

For the most part, I walk. It may be outside in the fresh air as a family or sometimes just me and the kids. Now with my early morning workouts, I alternate between walking with Leslie, the treadmill or even my recumbent bike. Some days I also incorporate resistance bands (working on those hips and thighs), some small weights (not much, since hefting around the little girls can be weight training enough)and a few other quick exercises.

These all help me feel good and maybe, just maybe I'll be up for a 5K sometime this year yet.

Even if I don't have the time or the energy, I remind myself that I need to just get moving. Slowly, I start to get into it. With the ups and downs of life, schedules, children, household duties, homeschooling, etc. it can be a challenge. We all come up with a million excuses. But it's a choice and a change I'm working hard at right now.

I'm glad that I am making this choice, no matter how much I dislike that 5 am wake-up call.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just Write

The hum of the dryer soothes the noises that swirl around me. There almost always seems to be the noise of the washer or dryer in the background these days. I add a silent prayer that they don't give out any time soon. They should be good for another 100,00 washes.

The sweet babe lies on the floor on her playmat quietly cooing. Her kicking and swatting have become regular movements now as she watches the jungle themed animals shake above her. I steal a peek to watch her amazement and I smile. She watches the world around her in awe and I watch her, watching, in my own awe.

She sucks her hand and her rapid eye movements catch everything around her. I think about the me I was a year ago looking at another sweet babe lying on the floor. I watched her with a different intensity, unsure whether she would be our last. The last baby to grace my belly. I still chuckle and yet feel the fear that I felt the day I held that positive pregnancy test last year.

The utter amazement that we should be blessed again so soon. Sometimes I forget that feeling while I'm changing yet another diaper and feeling the daily demands. I remind myself not to forget. Don't forget the secondary infertility. Don't forget the heartache. Don't forget the miracle. Don't forget the surprise. Don't forget to be thankful.

The baby yawns. The toddler naps. I hear the big kids upstairs playing and I hear their bare feet scamper to and fro from bedroom to bedroom. There will be messes to clean up later and toys everywhere they don't belong. I'm taking a deep breath and decide to savor the moment.

The dryer stops and buzzes. It's time to get back to work. Motherhood waits for no one.

Just Write is an exercise in free writing your extraordinary and ordinary moments. Find more Just Write moments at the EO.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Papa!

Happy 85th Birthday to one of my favorite people....

Pope Benedict XVI!! (aka Papa Ben)

We're praying for you and are inspired by your example! Thank you for leading our Church so faithfully.

Please don't take this wrong, but I think he's the cutest little guy. Don't you? I think it's the shoes. Or maybe that boyish grin.

We even thought about naming our baby after him. But, she turned out to be a girl so that was that.

Let's be sure to send our Holy Father extra prayers today as he celebrates!

Friday, April 13, 2012


"Is Roy Rogers dead?"

"Yes, I think he is."

"Hey Lily, maybe you'll see him in Heaven sometime."

"I'm not going to SEE Roy Rogers in Heaven. I won't be able to tell which one he is. He's an actor. He'll have make-up on. It's not like he'll be dressed up as a cowboy or anything."

"But MAYBE you'll still know which one he is."


Does this mean that when I finally get the chance to possibly meet Jim Caviezel that I won't even be able to tell it's him?

Shoot. Now I'm really disappointed.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Positively Giddy

We heard the word earlier this week that this is coming to a nearby city:

As in, the city we go to do most of our shopping, appointments, lessons, hubby's work, etc. Therefore, making this sweet treat so much more convenient than when we had to drive an hour for a Cherry Berry. This totally made my Thankful Thursday list!

And yes, we do get giddy over something like this. It's what happens when you live ten miles or more from a town/city with more than a bank, church, bar and gas station.

The only question now is: Jamie, your Cherry Berry or mine? We'll have to get together.

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Celebrating Easter With Children

We knew that this Holy Week and Triduum would once again be different for our family. Due to the current season our family is in, we knew that partaking of all of the beautiful Masses offered weren't options for us. Holy Thursday Masses in our area were late enough that we knew we would not all be able to attend. Bedtime with the little girls and one adult is currently pretty sketchy, so we opted to celebrate at home as a family.

Reed was home early from work, so we ventured out on a family walk into town and to our church. We took some time to pray and read a couple of the readings for Mass on Holy Thursday. Afterward, on our way home we stopped at the little playground in town. There's nothing like some family time exercising, praying and having fun doing it!

After our simple soup and bread supper that evening, we sang a couple of songs, read the gospel reading and then Reed and I washed our children's feet. Well, the three oldest any way. They all seemed to enjoy it as we talked about all of the symbolism and meaning of the readings, Jesus washing the disciples' feet, the agony in the garden and the Last Supper.

Good Friday service was in the early afternoon, so that was at a time that we could actually attend as a family. We squished our new seemingly 'large' family into a pew as the rest of church was pretty packed. Gianna even took a nap during a good portion of the service and as usual, Greta was good as gold.

The weather was not ideal on Friday, but we still took some time to get out for some good walking.

Holy Saturday morning started fairly bleak and windy. Some scattered little rain showers threatened to dampen the family Easter egg hunt that has become tradition. Thankfully, although it was cold and still pretty windy, it brightened up and we could still hold the hunt outside.

The little hunters (minus one who wasn't in the mood for a photo)

Aren't they cute? With my four cuties are a few of our GREAT-nieces and GREAT-nephew. Yes, we are WAY too young to have little GREAT's already. However, it makes for added fun for my kids who are at the bottom of the grandchildren food chain in hubby's family.

A hunting we will go

She seemed to enjoy it

And she slept through it

Easter morning we were up bright and early, as always, for our regular Mass time. The big kids scouted out their baskets and helped the little girls find theirs as well. We pulled on our Easter best and headed to Mass to celebrate with 'Alleluias'.

After Mass, Greta awoke just in time for a quick photo. Not perfect, but these days we just aim for everyone at least looking in the general vicinity of the camera. Mission accomplished.

The highlight of the big kids' Easter baskets turned out to be the Croc flip flops (on sale last week at Target) and the Angry Birds mini kites (thank you, Walgreens). The kites have been a thrill for the kids and while I type this post quickly this evening, dear hubby is unraveling miles of kite string knots.

I think we successfully celebrated Easter and the triduum to the best of our family's ability this year. Hopefully we made it rich in symbolism, memories, faith and family for all of us. We celebrated along with the universal Catholic Church in our own little domestic church.

Happy Easter season!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

In The Desert

It's the holiest week of the liturgical year and yet I still find myself wondering where the season of Lent has gone and feel a bit lost.

Life in general is like that right now. A household with a newborn, toddler and growing up big kids seems to have left me in a time warp.

I am still wandering in the desert. The dry and lonely desert. I think that when your spiritual life is currently bland and lifeless, so too many other facets of your life can tend to feel. Perhaps I'm mistaking the dry, destitute and empty wasteland as useless and forsaken. For such times as these I may be most fruitful and being formed most by the Divine Potter's hands. His voice may be silent and His guiding hand gentle, but yet they are ever-present.

My Lenten walk may have been meant to be scattered with less boulders and more pebbles and stones this year. He probably knew that life adjustments with two little ones would take me further in my Lenten offerings than another type of sacrifice ever could.

Instead of wishing I had a Lenten do-over perhaps I need to be patient with myself and make my Holy Week more prayerful. Maybe by reminding myself of the sacrifice of Christ Himself, I will make it through the desert. Like Simon of Cyrene, maybe I am needed to help someone else carry their cross today.

As we walk through this week and the journey of Jesus' passion and death, may it draw us closer to Him and to His mother who stood at the foot of the cross.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Two Months

My, how we love this girl!

And none of us can get enough of her.

When God planned a perfect surprise for us, he knew Greta would be a precious addition for our family. We couldn't agree more. I can't imagine having to wait any longer for her. Meek and mild, she definitely is child #4 who takes in all around her but isn't bothered by the looming chaos. To add to perfection, she even decided to start sleeping through the night by 6 weeks. Yes, God is good and knew exactly what we needed.

Our little sweetheart had her two month check up today and weighed in at 11 lbs. 7 oz. She's a growing and healthy little girl whose blue eyes and big smile light up the room...and our lives. She most definitely is our 'Baby Gem'.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

How To Tame Your Toddler

She squeals and screams.

She wiggles and squirms.

She tosses, turns and flips.

She walks and runs.

She clings.

Welcome to the 'hood: Toddlerhood.

When life brings you to the place where one resides in your home, there are a few things to keep in mind.

* Let her stand on the couch for endless amounts of time (keeping her within your reach of course, because you know what happens if you don't) staring out the window and pounding violently gently tapping on it. There are so many things to see in the outside world, even if you can't be out in it right at the moment.

* When she is old enough to walk and make the decision to walk right out of your church pew, hand her over to daddy and let him be the pew police for an hour. Many fathers have grown buff with this simple workout routine. On top of the Catholic calisthenics (stand, sit, kneel), the twist-turn-flip-flop-don't let me drop additions give him a well rounded workout.

* No matter how much you baby-proof your house, a toddler will find plenty of ways to get into things. She will explore and therefore find new ways to scare you half to death when she shows off her new findings. When you got rid of the coffee table because of the dangers it posed and replaced it with a cushy ottoman, you probably didn't realize that one day it would be her new favorite climbing obstacle.

* Don't let her innocence fool you. The cute look is either disguising
a) the bug she just ate off the dining room floor
b) the poopy diaper she is waiting to surprise you with later or
c) her plans for yet another toddler tornado in the near future

* Give her a book to quietly read (because she's brilliant for her age, of course) in the corner because it makes you the best parent ever for giving her the love of literature at an early age. If you find that she's grown tired of her cardboard and paper diet, feel free to move all of those beloved books to a high bookshelf.

* Introduce the sippy cup as soon as possible and by all means keep that thing full throughout the day. Many a problem is solved with the lure of the sippy cup and it serves as a much needed diversion on many an occasion daily.

* Be careful not to introduce the use of screen time too early for your toddler, but when the day is rough and it's only 9 am, technology is your best friend. Free children's apps (hint: Color Drops is colorful, makes sounds and lets your toddler doodle) on your iPod will take priority and you will soon rid it of anything else. It's ok, because your sanity is worth it. You're trying to keep her busy while you teach your two students, after all.

Lastly, remember that it hasn't always been this way nor will this last forever. Be happy that she is healthy and thriving. And especially grateful when it's bedtime and she goes to sleep. Quickly jump in to bed yourself because tomorrow you're gonna do this all over again.

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