Seven Quick Takes: Friday July, 12

1. Is it Friday again already? This summer is just flying along. I was really hoping to get into some sort of schedule of “normal” life once we were back from vacation, but the days just keep on flying by and the week goes by and life it still very unscheduled (except for the kids naps and bedtimes). Oh well, that is the way of summer I suppose and I am doing most things I want to do each day, just in an unstructured sort of way.

2. Speaking of Summer, I am never going to complain about how hot it is outside. I am going to savor how hot it is soak it up and enjoy the lack of snow and negative temperatures. Then I am going inside and going to enjoy our nice cool air conditioned house, which we just had a repairman out to fix some leaks in the A/C unit and give us some nice new refrigerant. I guess the house inspector was serious when he told us that he ha no idea what condition the A/C was in since we had the house inspected in February. We also took that risk with the roof. Fortunately, for us the roof was recently redone… I think roofs (I really want to say “rooves” here) cost more than an A/C tune-up.

3. And now that we are on the topic of the house; the basement is now dry. We had a contractor come out and look at he damage and now he has to write up his report and then send it to the insurance company and when they give the go-ahead we can get some work started on making our basement finished again. Yay!

4. We had our house blessed this week. Our pastor came over for lunch and then he exorcised salt and blessed water to make it Holy Water (using the EF blessings). He then mixed them together and sprinkled the holy water and salt about the house and prayed the old rite (Extraordinary Form) house blessing. I love being Catholic and having our house blessed, I wish I could find the prayers online somewhere to share. If you have not had a house blessing, I highly recommend it, especially in the old rite with all the exorcism prayers.

5. I had a milk stout for the first time yesterday. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:

“Milk stout (also called sweet stout or cream stout) is a stout containing lactose, a sugar derived from milk. Because lactose is unfermentable by beer yeast, it adds sweetness, body, and calories to the finished beer. Milk stout was claimed to be nutritious, and was given to nursing mothers,[17] along with other stouts, such as Guinness.[18] The classic surviving example of milk stout is Mackeson’s,[19] for which the original brewers claimed that “each pint contains the energising carbohydrates of 10 ounces of pure dairy milk”. In the period just after the Second World War when rationing was in place, the British government required brewers to remove the word “milk” from labels and adverts, and any imagery associated with milk.[20]

I think it did have a milk texture to it, if that make any sense. But you know it was pretty good, and I am a fan of stouts. For mothers who like beer, this is a traditional first post-partum drink, you know? Why not? Milk makes milk, right? (I know, I know, but it is fun to joke about it.) Though I have heard from lactation consultants that beer supposedly helps with lactation.

6. We had T and his family over for dinner last night, which is why I started my quick takes on Friday and am finishing them Saturday morning. They are the family we rented from last year and now they are back! I think it is appropriate that our first dinner party in the new house is with them We all had a very good time and their six year old categorized us among the “cool families”; I think we have made it. It is only downhilll from here.

7. Have you read my latest post on Truth and Charity, The Necessity of Christian Friendships in the Real World? You should. 🙂

For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen’s Conversion Diary.

Seven Quick Takes-Friday, July 5

1. I bet you are all just dying to know how much jam I made:

8 quarts, or if you want to talk about it in a different way you can say 8 pints and 8 half pints. Or you could say 2 gallons. That is a lot of jam. It only used 7.5 lbs of my 20 pounds of strawberries. We have been eating them a lot. 🙂 The plan for the rest of the berries is freezing and eating. I am going to freeze enough crushed berries to make a triple berry jam when raspberries and blackberries are in. Yum!

Half berries, half sugar, pectin, an lemon juice makes super red jam!

2. I have a small vegetable garden for the first time this year, and by small I mean six tomato plants leftover from a friend’s gardening and a wicked creeping thistle plant that I have to dig up constantly or it will surround my tomato plants and kill them. I am hoping for delicious tomatoes and a dead thistle by the end of the summer. I would really love to can some tomatoes this year, but it might be more cost effective to continue to buy the huge can of crushed tomatoes whenever I need sauce until I can grow a larger garden. I am going to research gardening at some point in my life, like maybe when the basement stops flooding.

3. The basement, yeah, I guess water mitigation teams and contractors don’t really like to do things in a timely manner. We are waiting, waiting, waiting for them to do something besides rip things out and stick a monster dehumidifier in the basement which probably will double our electricity bill for the month. My only hopes for the project to be finished are that it is done for my sister and her family to visit either the last weekend of July or the second weekend of August. Do you think insurance will cover a super nice guest suite?

4. I am just going to say that the nearly 8 month old baby of mine just ate roasted red pepper slices and roasted broccoli for dinner. She could not get enough of the red peppers. M is doing the dishes and she is still eating dinner. This was the baby who would not let me eat vegetables all pregnancy without gagging.

5. We did our first book on tape audiobook road trip for G this last trip. I wanted to do a Laura Ingalls Wilder book and the first one that came into the library was Farmer Boy. She absolutely loved listening to it and I am fairly certain she followed the story, except for the words she did not understand. The best part for parents about the book is how well behaved the Wilder children were; I have been using Almanzo as an example of good behavior to G ever since we started the book. And another positive thing about the book is that L actually napped in the car (which she never does), whenever we turned on the book she took a nap!

6. One of the fun things about buying a house in April is the surprise of the first Spring and Summer flowers. These are the latest ones:

I love lilies. There are at least 20 more buds of these.

These are on three flowering bushes in front. 

7. This was the theme song for M all week, which he shared with me about halfway through the week. We listened to it for the first time (since a few years ago when we listened to Switchfoot every roadtrip) while we were on the road. We related to the line , “Everything is broken.”

For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen.

A Tale of Two Lakes

Our view of Lake Michigan for a week.

The first post after two weeks vacation is supposed to be about how wonderful and relaxing vacation was and how we are refreshed and ready for normal life. That is was we talked about the whole way home on Saturday; then we got home and M went to use the downstairs bathroom to discover a small lake in the basement (well it was more like a wetland, but I have to call it a lake since we were staying on Lake Michigan). Our plumber was available to come out and fix the clean water leak from a junction in a pipe and I ran out to rent a rug cleaning machine that also works as an extractor. We got several gallons of water out of the rug late into the night (for parents of three four and under, 11:30pm is late).

Sunday we called the insurance since we saw white and green fuzzy things growing on some of the dry wall. Those are the sorts of things we figure are not safe for us to handle on our own. By Sunday night half of our basement had been or was going to be unfinished and hauled out. Now we are waiting for the water to dry and someone to come and get the repairs going. (I was specifically asked by my husband to not post photos of the basement, so use your imagination.) Not the post-vacation week I had hoped for.

But I am okay with not using the basement as long as we have the backyard. We can go to parks, go strawberry picking, and try out the local pool. I will share some highlights and thoughts about vacation when I have the time to remember the relaxing week… thanks for reading!

Seven Quick Takes-Friday, June 2

1. I have been off the blogging train for too long and the motivation to write anything is really low; not to mention that I have been getting used to living in a new house and getting back into the rhythm of daily life with three little ones. I was hoping to write during naptime, but no one is napping right now. The baby is not quite there and L is having trouble falling asleep. Though that just reminded me that I should put the baby down now, because when I wait for her to be ready it is a lot harder… brb.

(30 minutes later…) Okay now I have two nappers and a quiet timer all in their normal places. I guess I will give some highlights of the last two weeks:

2. The day of the move: everything went great! We pushed the move date back several times, the last time being less than a week before the move. It turned out to be a really good choice since we spent most of Sunday doing the packing of all the final things. We had some really awesome help from extended family and friends and got everything loaded and unloaded with a break for lunch in 6 hours! M and I then spent every moment of non-childcare time unpacking until he left for his 48 hours overnight seminar for work. There are a few stray boxes that will be unpacked eventually, but for now we are pretty much unpacked. It takes a lot longer the more kids we have to pack and unpack. 🙂

3. Mark’s seminar for work: I had my first overnight with the three kids alone. I think G and L finally understand when I tell them that I need them to be quiet and stay out of the room when I give the baby a nap or put her to bed at night. I got mostly normal sleep that night, but appreciated more than ever having a husband who is a great help with the kids. The second night he was gone we had our WI relatives come and hang out with the girls and me. The oldest cousin was doing a daylong workshop at the home school conference in town. The kids had fun with the boys and I had some much needed adult company. I think that is the hardest thing when alone with kids is the lack of other adults even just to talk to.

4. New neighborhood: There is a large Catholic church a mile away from us, and the priest there seems pretty solid. There is also a perpetual adoration chapel. There morning Mass is 7:30am, which we have managed twice already. It is not too bad since we are already used to going to am 8 am which is 15 minutes away, a one minute away 7:30 am is not bad at all. We will still attend St. Agnes for the most-part, but for daily it is nice to have a nearby option. We tried the new library the other day, and I found it to be fairly kid friendly. They had all of our favorite authors and it was about 4 minutes away. Another thing about this neighborhood is that I have seen at least five different very pregnant mothers going speed-walking in the last two weeks. I have heard there are a lot of Catholic families in this part of the Twin Cities area, and it makes me wonder if these pregnant ladies are evidence of that… not that only Catholics have babies, but they do more often…

5. I mowed the lawn last week for the first time in my life. I used our reel push mower. The grass had gotten about 5 inches tall and was wet. It was hard work, but I feel like a real grown up now. I am going to try out the mower again with shorter dry grass and I am sure it will be a breeze.

6. My new oven is AMAZING! I made my tried and true brownie recipe in it the other day and the brownies were perfectly baked, so evenly baked, and so deliciously wonderful. I am going to make a cake in it today for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. I am so blessed to have gotten to choose my own stove and for us to have the money for it after buying a house. 🙂

7. And finally, I really do like our new house, but it feels still like we are on a vacation or something. It takes time to get used to new neighborhoods and grocery stores and churches. We only moved 8 miles, but I think I am still going to need time to adjust. But I love the hardwood floors, all the wall colors we chose, the new furniture we bought, and the laundry chute. I can only hope the children’s enthusiasm for cleaning up dirty laundry lasts for many years to come.

For more quick takes head on over to Jen.

Moving, Late Quick Takes- Saturday May 25

M was sad I did not do Quick Takes yesterday, so here I am linking up with Jen late.
1. This is what my living room looks like and I am trying to ignore it so it does not drive me nuts:

 2. But then again our toys have never been so organized.

 Bedtime cleanup has been a breeze.

3. On the bright side, moving day is Monday. So maybe we will be able to live in order again soon. It also is not snowing in Minnesota anymore, so that is good. I also have fresh, hand picked, locally grown dandelions daily from my sweet daughters:

They pick only the most exquisite dandelions.
4. My new double-oven/range is at the store and will be delivered on TUESDAY! Hooray! M is going to attempt a self-installation since the installation quote I received yesterday was a little bit insane. Hopefully the youtube videos he watched will suffice since we will not have internet for about a week after we move in. Thus, I will not be around for any posting those days, but hopefully it will not be too warm out to try out my five burners and two ovens…
5. I know I promised pictures of the new house at some point, but here’s the thing. No room is entirely complete yet, and I hate to post pictures of an unfinished product. So I will post each room as I put the finishing touches on them. Mostly it is curtains and then rugs that need to be done.
6. Baby-o is working on that first tooth fairly consistently these days, which means naptime trouble and lots of crankiness. However, we also started her on solids and this time I am skipping the purees and doing Baby Led Weaning, which basically is giving the baby finger foods which she can pick up and feed herself. (“Weaning” is what the Brits call feeding babies things besides breastmilk). I tell you it makes baby feeding a lot easier since all I have to do is throw food on her high chair tray. Yesterday she ate three steamed broccoli “trees”and loved them! 
7. M is at his university’s graduation today. The house we are renting is adjacent to a house full of seniors apparently. I was explaining to the girls what graduation was and about the robes they wear when a whole group of our neighbors trooped outside with their parents and were taking photographs outside. We have been calling the house next store the “party palace” since they tend to play loud music at night at least once a week. As the girls were looking at the graduates out front I heard G say, “No L, it is called the Party Palace because they play bad music all the time!” I am glad we are instilling a love of good music in our children with orchestral and chant Masses and other good music in the home… 🙂

Seven Quick Takes Friday-May 17

One of the things I am really looking forward to after we move is getting back to a normal schedule, and that means blogging beyond Quick Takes. If it weren’t for this link-up at Jen’s blog, my blog would be utterly deserted these days. It is a bit insane what we are attempting to do with three kids four and under, but we are managing somehow…and here come the Quick Takes:

1. My parents and sister came to visit Sunday night through Thursday morning, and it is incredible how much can get accomplished with so many adults around. The house is about ready for us to move in! There is another mornings worth of odd jobs and then we will be set.

2. I am going to have to learn how to use the power drill if I am going to get my curtain rods up. I am a bit nervous to try, but I need to do it. Is it allowable to hang curtain rods with a baby in a sling? Maybe we could get the on-the-back position down and then it would be safe…

3. Remember my yellow console table? I did not get it, but I am planning on painting my current free-standing cupboard yellow and taking off the doors and putting in a shoe basket. I also still need to paint the girl’s ($20 antique store find) dresser white so it looks presentable. It has been living and being used in their closet this past year, but the new house closet is not big enough. I am saving the painting projects for July. I have a vision of the baby happily napping all morning for several days and the big girls playing nicely in the yard while I paint…uh huh…

4. There is some packing accomplished now, no thanks to me. M did the family room bookshelves, and my sister and mom did started in on the living room and kitchen. Now for the rest… We have a week until the move.

5. Did I mention our new oven? In the many unexpected things about our new house, one of them was several gas leaks in the oven that came with it. It was not caught by the inspection. So rather than repair the oven, we decided to tap into savings and by a new one:

I am for serious. This baby is a gas double oven, with five burners including a middle one for a skillet and two super boil burners. I am really excited to cook with it! It also makes my kitchen three steps closer to my dream kitchen.

What my oven will look like next Thanksgiving. The top has cake because it will be L’s birthday.

The catch is that it will not ship until two days after we move in, so this means we will have to do crockpot, foreman grill, charcoal grill, toaster oven cooking for a week or so…

6. We had a fun Mother’s Day. M’s uncle, aunt, and cousins live on a farm about two hours away in Wisconsin, and we spent the day at their farm. We got to see the new kids, kittens, and chicks and some pregnant cows. The kids had a blast and I got to sit around and eat all day. The best part of the food were grilled veggies made in one of these:

I could eat only veggies for dinner if the were always cooked like that. The were amazing. I am pretty sure the vegetables were zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. These veggies are a reason to move the gas grill to top of the “extras” list or I will need to figure out how to make the charcoal grill easier for me to use…

7. You know how I said that we were doing well with home schooling lately? Well I think preschool was having a week long vacation due to family visiting. I know the structure helps the kids stay happy, so even though we are packing all next week I am going to try to get some preschool back into our schedule. We did do a little today, however, when we talked about the M-E-N-A-R-D-S on the first store we went to today and the T-A-R-G-E-T on another. “Mommy, Target has two Ts in it!” We did some color work when I sent her to find brown sugar. I am pretty sure picking dandelions and running around the yard count for science and gym class. So maybe we did well with home schooling preschool this week…

Seven Quick Takes Friday–May 10

1. Things have been pretty busy in Spencer-land these days. Hence, why I have been absent from the blogging world. My mind has been filled with the mundane things of cleaning the new house, painting, maintaining the order in the current house, actually doing home school preschool most days (!!), and figuring out what needs to be done before we move into the new house. Hopefully my brain will be able to think of something more interesting than house stuff soon so I can blog. Or I could post house pictures for you all to help me decorate…

2. The new house has daffodils and tulips blooming in the yard! I would post a picture, but I have not had the camera there yet. We also have rabbits living under the shed who are scared to death and hiding whenever we are at the house of two little girls.

3. We have the painting DONE! We did a stairwell, a bathroom, the living room, and two bedrooms. It took two days of just M and I working and a day with help from three friends. It looks pretty good for an amateur paint job and I am happy with the colors.

4. Current project: curtains, blinds, and rods. Ugh…I wish I were a better seamstress. I would make my own except I am worried I will not be able to sew a straight seam (this is fine for children’s dresses where you don’t see the stitching, but curtains seams are definitely visible). I might just be looking for sales on curtains.

5. I can’t decide if I like this table for the kitchen/nook/back door entrance:

 The walls in the kitchen and breakfast nook are gray and I am planning on yellow (and white?) curtains. The cupboards are a light wood and so is the breakfast area furniture. Would a yellow piece “go” with the wooden table and bench? Or would wood look better? I am not sure I want to buy a yellow piece of furniture that we all wonder why I bought it in ten years.

6. L just came up to my computer, opened it and said: “I am going to work on my blog!” The funny thing is L and G both do not know how to use a computer because (when they use screens) it is with the iPad and they go to touch the screen. The keyboard and mouse pad mean nothing to them.

7. I just realized yesterday that G is old enough for Vacation Bible School at out parish. Normally I am not big on them, because they are usually programs made by non-Catholic Christians with an awful music soundtrack. The one they are using is made by Catholics, but it still has the awful music accompaniment (I scouted it out). She also has never been left anywhere (besides a friends house) with people she does not know. Since we are home schooling, I have not dropped her at a preschool.  I think we will try it out and see how she does. Hopefully she won’t absolutely flip out. And it will give L and I some good bonding time during the baby’s morning nap.

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary.

Seven Quick Takes-Saturday, April 27

I was not really in the mood to blog yesterday, so I am late on the Seven Quick Takes Friday link in, but here I am now.

1. We closed on our house on Monday, meaning that we have a house to live in which is owned by a bank. We will make a monthly payment for years and years and one day will have our own house. Hooray!

2. Today we spent the whole day cleaning at the house. We primarily used our new Shark Vacuum and a Norwex cloth. The house had been unoccupied for 8 months, so there were a lot of cobwebs. The whole (finished) basement is entirely clean: every surface (including walls) wiped and the floor vacuumed. We did about half of the upstairs, but the rooms we have left will be done this week. All of the floors are done.

3. Friday and Saturday are painting days. We are painting two bedrooms, the living room, a bathroom, and the stair hallway. Hopefully we will get it all done on those days. 🙂

4. M is rereading Lord of the Rings for the billionth time; his goal is to read it seeing Frodo as an English middle-aged gentleman. I am going to start The Fellowship when he gets onto The Two Towers. It is nice to read a book from time to time that is really hard to put down.

5. I am almost finished with Catherine of Sienna by Sigrid Undset. Undset is such a great writer and portrays humanity so clearly; she had a great understanding of the Middle Ages and gives interesting insight into St. Catherine and the divisive times St. Catherine lived in. I am pretty sure that God put St. Catherine into the time he put her to save the papacy, by using her to bring the pope back to from from Avignon and then during the schism, use her to support the true pope. She was an amazing person who loved everybody with her whole strength.

6. Another great biography of a saint is Edmund Campion:A Life by Evelyn Waugh. St. Edmund lived during the suppression of the Catholic Church in England, and became a Jesuit and did secret ministry, and was martyred. What is so great about this biography and Catherine of Sienna is that they were written by really talented authors who knew how to write and loved the Church.

7. I never linked it here on this blog, but I thought some might still find it worthwhile. I wrote this post for the Truth and Charity blog a couple of weeks ago about how procreation is an end of marriage and how those who choose to have no children (in marriage) are not fulfilling its ends.

Head over to Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Seven QuickTakes Friday: Pinterest Awaits!

We found our new house. It was there from the beginning of our search. But for some reason it has been overlooked by us and every other house hunter looking for a 3+ bedroom house in our price range. I’d like to think that God has been saving it just for us. I feel so abundantly blessed.

We had the inspection today and met the owner (not really supposed to happen, but it did). He is a man in his late sixties who has been meticulously maintaining his house for 17 years. He has kept a file with all his updates on record and is going to give it to us. I am just going to say that it is perfect for M and I who have never owned a home and probably should not be trusted with too extensive of home repairs yet. That being said my quicktakes today are seven things I want to do with this house before we move in.

1. Carpet the steps to the basement. The basement is finished and carpeted, but the stairs remain unfinished. Since I plan on the basement being kid heaven, I want carpet on the stairs.

2. Install a bench and find a small table for the eat-in kitchen.

3. Create a great system for storing shoes by the back door next to the eat-in kitchen.

4. Living room: Find matching chairs and complimentary couch, paint walls (who knows what color?), rug.

5. Master bedroom: I would love it if I could finally afford a bedroom set instead of folding table nightstands and no headboard or dresser, but for now I am going to at least figure out the perfect wall color and curtains. Since we are buying a house for our 5 year anniversary, maybe the bedroom set can wait until our ten year…

6. Girls room: paint their thrifted dresser (which lives in the closet in their current room) white with green trim and paint their walls a color we can all agree on.

7. Refinish dining room table and find a matching bench.