Saturday, January 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes – Claytonian Prayers

1. Prayer Pencils - I had a meeting with my retreat leadership group this week.  My Catholic Moms group is putting on a retreat for the women in the group. I am super excited about the retreat now that I know there are people to help.  I really think and hope,  that this is going to be an encounter with the Holy Spirit—enough said.

17601879On a related note, I was in Adoration this week and the children’s behavior permitted me an opportunity to read.  After I prayed my usual prayers, I still had 45 minutes.  I could not find my book on St. Nicholas that morning, but, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, caught my eye on the book shelf.  I was able to read just 10 glorious pages with interruptions.  There is not a single thing I read that was unremarkable.  I was definitely moved.  But, what I took away was that she referred to herself as “a pencil in the hand of God.”  Everything she did or experienced she gave due to God.  That is my hope for this retreat—that God’s work is done in the hearts of the women attending—that the leadership group may be a “pencil in the hand of God.”  Please pray for grace for those who will attend this retreat.  Grant it, O Lord.

2. Parenting Patience - My “high-intensity” child, Alex, was on his game this week.  Lately, everything I ask him to do, every time I try to correct his bad behavior, he responds oppositely.  I am so disheartened that no matter what I do, say or ask, he responds, “No.”  I have endured probably two months of, on-and-off, really bad behavior.  I have been really stressed out by his behavior. I get to five o’clock in the evening and I am exhausted!  Then I just try to fake it until bedtime (mine, not his). 

Though this has been going on, we HAVE made progress in his behavior.  He is really impulsive and wiggly.  We will tell him to not jump all over the furniture and he will say okay as he cartwheels over the ottoman.  He is hardly a compliant child.  But he is still my sweet and loving boy. 

In parenting Alex, I have finally learned what it means to serve, and serve in love.  And now, I am trying to teach it to him.  I foresee that I will be helping him to learn that he is not the center of the universe for the remainder of his fourteen years under my rule.  Pray that we may come to an understanding.  Pray that he may learn to serve. Grant it, O Lord.

3. Home School Hammering - Whether, we will home school or not has been a daily conversation in our house.  We like the idea, but there are also a lot of benefits of going to school as well, despite the negatives.  We think Alex would benefit from going to school and we doubt our longing to homeschool.  We talk about it a lot mainly because we struggle so much with Alex’s defiance toward us.  He does really well under the instruction of others.  Therefore, would we be doing him justice if he cannot focus and behave under our instruction?

I got to thinking about it all while driving one day.  I realized that the deeper reason I want to home school is because I LOVE my children SO MUCH.  That is not to say that others do not love their children as deeply if they send them to school.  It is just that I want to express my love through imparting upon them education.  I want to be around them and give them the blessings of education.  I want to be able to see the sparks in their eyes as they begin to understand.  I want to be given all the time necessary to teach them the facets of our faith.

Pray that we might be given clarity and fortitude in this matter.  Grant it, O Lord.

4. Average Annie – Annie had her 4 month check up this week.  Annie is not a hobbit like the other two.  She is practically perfect in every way.  She is 50%, as of now.  As I recall, Alex was average until his nine month appointment.  It was after he had started walking and also had trouble with asthma.  But, I have a feeling Annie will be average in size her whole life—like me.  But, she is pretty smart. 

Annie four months

Pray that the trajectory of Annie’s life remains this way.  Or as I pray when I pray for others, “Lord, grant that she may receive the grace she needs to endure this life.”  Grant it, O Lord.

5. Baby Bellies – “Hey Mommy, look the belly button is where Annie gets food!”

“Yes, when she was in mommy’s belly…you all have belly buttons and that proves that you were once inside mommy’s belly.”


I pray, Lord, that they always have food for those bellies.  Grant it, O Lord.

6. Tiny Toes – Look who found her toes.  She was just giggling about it.  Very adorable.


7. Magic Money – I don’t understand it, but ever since we moved into this house we have been receiving refunds and rebates.  When people buy a house you think of bleeding money into the home.  I thought owning this home would drowned us financially.  Granted, we have spent just about every refunded penny on things we needed to settle the home—refrigerator, hoses, garage door opener, ladder and so on.  But, we are still on top.  We still need curtains and landscaping.  We plan to get a sprinkler system with our tax refund. Next up, I think we are going to paint the kitchen. It has flat paint and the kids dirty handprints stick to the paint.  We’re going to go with glossy washable paint in a rich color.  God bless this home.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Kinder-vent


100_35481.  Monday was super stressful, because Alex’s behavior was out of control.  When Alex is out of control, his little copycat, Kristiana, is out of control too.  Further, Annie wanted attention too.  Alex was messing around during morning prayer and he distracted Kristiana, who for once had been properly participating.  I know that doesn’t sound crazy but I assure you that it was.  The noise in the room was so loud I could barely hear what I was saying at the top of my lungs.  I knelt down afterward to have a little private prayer, but 15 seconds later I heard a blood-curdling scream.  Mind you, the children were five steps away from me in the same room.  Alex had pushed Kristiana into the sofa and her eye smashed into something hard and she ended up with a shiner (the pouty lips are all hers).  It looked scary when it first happened.  It swelled up right away.  I was afraid he might have broken a bone in her eye socket.  We put some ice on it. 

The day did not get any better from there.  He jumped all over the furniture.  He ran outside our house when I went out to get the mail.  He jumped in the mud and took two big clumps of mud in his hands. I freaked out and yelled at him to get inside to wash up (we were supposed to leave soon).  While I was closing the garage door, another 15 second moment, he wiped the mud on the dog and all over the kitchen floor.  Mud just gets on my nerves.  Since our house is surrounded by construction, the family has been tracking a lot of mud into the house.  I have to sweep and vacuum everyday. 

I took Alex to karate for added discipline and to get out a little energy.  Alex’s karate instructor just had to talk to me about his behavior. Normally, he is perfect at karate.  But, his instructor had come to Annie’s baptism and to lunch at our house and witnessed shockingly bad behavior.  The whole day was topped off by a debilitating migraine that I had been battling all day.  I was pretty sure it was a reaction to MSG, but I don’t know what I ate (when did they start putting MSG in food again!).

2. On Tuesday, Alex’s behavior was just as bad as the day before, but since I no longer had a migraine I was up for laying the discipline on thick.  And that’s what I did, all day long, every inappropriate action was dealt with quickly, sternly and consistently.  I lost my head once when he jumped in mud at the library and was not listening to me when I asked him to stop.  I made him wipe his feet off on the grass.  Then he jumped in the car and jumped on the seats leaving muddy foot prints.  It was the muddy foot prints that made me lose it.  I am sure people could hear me yell for a mile.  By the end of the day, I felt I had gained some ground.  Alex needs consistency, rigidity, regime.  Even Kristiana knew I meant business if she slipped up (she is so cute when I send her to the time out corner).  I am most proud that the bad behavior was corrected without yelling or spanking.  I love it when we all act like civilized people, even the two year old.

3. Wednesday, Alex was perfect all day long.  Praise God, Hallelujah.  But, Annie was super grumpy with a runny nose.  She would not take naps and did not sleep well at night for days.  Thursday, was a long day.  Annie had been waking me at 4:30 a.m. for two days.  I had my Moms’ group book study and had not done the reading, because I hadn’t any quiet time for a week.  As soon as the other kids would go to sleep Annie would wake up.  I would get up early and so would Alex. I couldn’t win this week and I was really tired.

4. Alex received a book from his Godfather in the mail.  It was a collection of Curious George stories.  Oh boy, was this the perfect gift!  Not only does Alex love Curious George, but he learned something very important from the book.  On Friday, he sat down by himself to look at the book.  I kept asking him if he wanted me to read it to him and he said that he just wanted to look at it by himself.  Toward the end there was a story about the alphabet, the sounds the letters make and how to make words.  Well, he recognized some letters and sounded out the word.  Holy moly, did Alex just teach himself to read?! Yep, he did.  So we sat down and read him the story about all the letters and I am sure he learned even more.  But, for now the only word he knows is c-a-b.

5. Things seem to be calm and pleasant now.  I have a brief moment to write this blog and next week things will be just as busy.  Andrew and I have been trying to find time to play a game together.  We bought this one, Dominion, with a Christmas gift card.  It’s a pretty fun game.


6. K-dawg always steals my pretty shoes.  Then she walks around in my shoes—clip-clopping, sashaying, and saying, “Hey!”  Then when I try to take pictures of her royal cuteness, she runs away. I have to put them out of reach now.100_3557

7. Yum – I made these tuna cakes for dinner Friday.  They were excellent and healthy.  They did not taste like tuna.  I made the kids tuna cakes small and in the shape of chicken nuggets.  They ate them up without noticing they were not.  I have learned that if I bread any food in the shape of chicken nuggets the kids will try anything.  Since the kids ate these patties, I thought it was worth posting the recipe.


1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tbsp. butter
1 can tuna in water, drained and flaked
1 cup shredded zucchini (mmm, healthy)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. lemon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs, divided
2 Tbsp. canola oil

Sauté onion in butter.  Remove from heat.  Add the zucchini, tuna, eggs, parsley, lemon juice, seasonings and bread crumbs.  Stir until well combined.  Shape into six patties.  Coat with remaining bread crumbs.  In a large skillet, heat oil. Cook the patties until browned, about 3 minutes per side on medium heat.

I doubled the recipe, but used 3 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Do these scenes make you feel calm, peaceful and sleepy?  I have been trying to take more pictures in natural light now that my home has enough natural light to do so.  I am liking the results.




Sunday, January 16, 2011

Icon Writing with Kids–Veneration of St. Peter in Chains

Whilst evangelizing the Church of Christ, St. Peter was imprisoned by King Herod Agrippa who was against this new religion.  St. Peter was released from his chains by an angel of the Lord and led to safety (Acts 12:1-19).

We did a few new things in writing this icon.  This was our first small scale icon (9”X12”).  We also used crayons instead of paint.  Finally, this is my first totally original composition.  There are some things I could have done better, however, I am still learning and I am pleased with the result. 

Alex was much more patient with the crayons than with the paints.  I attribute his patience to the paper.  It was the right level coarseness to prevent slipping and going out of the lines.  Although, I think we both prefer large scale painting, because it is fun and challenging.



In this icon, I placed the Angel on top of a cross shape showing that the Angel was sent from the Lord and that Christ is his Savior both in being freed from sin and from his captivity.  There is a scroll by St. Peter showing that he brings the Word of God.


After creating our icon we made chains of hope.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Sisterly Moments

100_3540Kristiana has become a little mother to Annie—trying to soothe her when she is upset, telling her “It’s okay.”  I saw her holding Annie’s hand in the car.  Today Kristiana wanted to change Annie’s diaper. So she did, with a little help.  This is a welcome change to her trying to make Annie cry by bopping her in the face.  This is the behavior I had hoped for out of my eldest daughter.

I did not realize that the girls were doing the same thing in these photos until I uploaded them to my computer.  I was just trying to get a good shot.  I thought this series was worth sharing.





Saturday, January 8, 2011

Holy Rites of Initiation for Annie













A trip around the Altar


Oh that Chrism smells so good. 
Thanks to our wonderful proxy who stood in for Godparents who could not make it last minute.

huffing chrism



We were fortunate that the priest from the Byzantine parish in Irving ( came to  our Roman church to perform these rites for Annie.  Now she is a fully initiated Christian. “May God grant her many blessed years in peace, health and happiness!”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Twelfth Night

Well today was upside down as it should be on the twelfth night of Christmas, but it was totally unintentional and that is not a good thing. :-( I woke up early to walk the dog, but she did not do her business like usual, only to find out my husband took her out in the middle of the night and she had done it then.  When I arrived back home I realized Andrew had forgotten to put the garbage cans by the curb for trash pickup.  It is not easy to haul out big trash cans when you have a big dog pulling on a leash.  I went inside and began to rush to ready the children to go to our Adoration hour.  I barely made it out the door in time, but I didn’t get to have breakfast (that’s really unusual for me).  During Adoration Alex was really well-behaved and that is unusual for him.  Kristiana ran laps around the room.  We went to get drive-thru doughnuts afterward and then off to “the kid store.”  They have a play area, but there were no other kids to play with today.  That’s weird.  But, it gave me an opportunity to get the kids out of there quicker today.  We came home and tried to get organized.  Andrew stayed home from the office—strange, I thought he was going in.  I ate some strange leftovers for lunch (never a good idea).  I ended up with a tummy ache.  Then I put Kristiana down for an early nap because she was throwing fits all over the house.  She threw a fit in her bed for only a half hour and then went to sleep.  Alex and I put together some crafts and painted.  He became distracted and only painted for a short while and then became interested in manly hammer swinging with Daddy.  I continued to paint a little. Did I mention Annie did not sleep much except short naps all day.  Since, Alex did not finish painting and when Kristiana woke up the paint was still sitting out, so she joined in finishing the painting.  She was doing well until Alex had to suddenly help again because she was now painting his picture.  He mixed all the colors together and she kept painting. We ended up with a mess.  Thank goodness hubby didn’t make a big deal about having to get out the bissell carpet cleaning machine.  But, Kristiana painted the top part of the throne herself with my direction of what color she should use—not bad.  I was impressed.  Then the kids ran around being crazy for hours.  We were supposed to go to a Three Kings party in the evening, but didn’t make it.  We were putting our shoes on and getting ready to leave the house, when we caught Alex trying to gouge out Kristiana’s eye with her fairy wand.  And that is when the fun ended.  We punished the kids by not going to the party and going to bed early.  Neither one of them had behaved very well during the day and Andrew and I were two stressed out parents.  At least, I was stressed until everyone went to bed.  “It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

Three Wise Men


Three Fools


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Theophaneia–“Appearance of God”


Theophany commemorates Christ’s baptism in the Jordan—the first time the Holy Trinity was revealed to man.  The Father’s voice from Heaven, Christ incarnate in the Jordan and the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.





This icon was a little bit of a detail nightmare.  We worked on this one for two hours today.  Alex actually worked on it for 1 hour 45 minutes himself.  I went back later and went over the lines with the marking pen.  So, this is a 2 hour 20 minutes icon.  Of course, I did some other highlighting and details too.  The real secret behind getting this one done and doing it well was patience and mommy making up for the four year old dexterity handicap.  Alex would start on a section and then get frustrated on the difficulty, then I would go in and outline the edges with paint.  Then he would paint in the middle without fear of going outside the lines. 

Whenever we write icons together Alex says that is a gift and decides on who he will give it to, because the first one we wrote together we decided to give it as a gift to Daddy for his birthday.  He decided this one will be a gift to the priest who is coming to Baptize and Chrismate Annie this weekend.  I am kind of sad, because I hoped to keep these paintings and hang as many feasts as we can in his room.  If he remembers to give the icon to the priest (I am so selfish, I want to keep it), I will have to settle for my photos.  I will put a little book together of our year of icons for Alex as a keepsake.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Attic Abyss

As I dictated which boxes and more should go up into the attic, and then watched them disappear into the attic abyss, I thought, good Lord, I am never going to move again.  I thought it would feel good putting things away.  But, I can hardly bare the thought of hauling these things down from the attic and dragging them to another home.  I am ready and committed to get real comfortable and not over clutter my life, but simply be content where I am…God willing.

(Photo: Christ of the Abyss)

Monday, January 3, 2011

7 Quick Takes - 2011


IMG_08101. If someone had told me ten years ago that this is what my life would be like in 2011, I would have said that sounds about right. Glad to know I am living the dream I imagined for myself ten years ago.  Although, if you had told me twelve years ago, I may have still been holding onto the princess complex in which I meet a true-life, handsome prince and we live a romantic fairy tale, happily ever after, somewhere in Europe. ;-) I think my reality is better than the fantasy.

2. Holidays, guests and moving has kept us moving at a breakneck pace for more than a month.  I am looking forward to getting back to our rhythm.  As soon as I catch up on laundry and finish unpacking boxes hopefully we will fill settled.  Of course, if it is not one thing it’s something else.  I have about eight pots on the back burner and I am not sure any of them will make it to the front.

3. Here is a thought running through my head lately: Is wanting to home school my children an unwillingness to release control? Is home schooling really a control freak thing? Is sending my children to public school a selfish desire to get them out of the house and let their discipline both personal and educational be someone else’s job?  I have chalked it up to being selfish on my part either way.  People tell me that the school district we are in is really good and Alex has a desire to go to school.  However, I think to how important my Catholic school education was to my overall formation.  We cannot afford private school, therefore it’s public or home school.   For now, I tell everyone that I am in love the idea of home schooling, but I can not figure out how to make it work for us. Am I lazy? Am I poor at disciplining my children? I feel like I work all day caring for the home and kids. How do moms fit in home school as well?  I have 18 months to think and pray about this.

4.  Alex has been looking at books for long periods lately and playing imaginative games in his Buzz Lightyear costume. Today, he and I played a whole game of Monoply and he was patient and followed along even when his little sister was being annoying.  BUT, when we ask him to do something he does not want to do it or punish him for being mean to his sister he gets really belligerent.  I am not sure how to handle him.  We want to punish him with gravity, but we don’t want to yell or spank too much, because he acts out similar behavior yelling and hitting.

5. Kristiana has been taking off her diaper after every time she goes in it, yet I cannot get her to go in the potty.  She is driving me crazy having to chase her around with a diaper all day.  So much for new carpet. She’s like having a puppy—puddles everywhere.

6. Dress up! – Oh cute!


7. Giggles and Tackles – Alex and Kristiana are always running around chasing each other and giggling.  This is a sample of one of those times.  This is not one of their cutest giggle races, but you get the idea.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

House Guest

We have a house guest.  My sister’s dog, Nara, will be staying with us while she is deployed. 


I am not really a dog person.  Although, lately I have been toying with the idea of getting a dog.  It’s kind of nice having a temporary dog.  Nara is really not my kind of breed though.  She’s well behaved and she provides a good excuse to go take a 20-30 minute walk alone.  Too bad that walk has to happen first thing in the morning before a cup of joe. 

Anyway, here are a few pictures of Kristiana getting a little too friendly with Nara.  She’s such a sweet dog.  Whenever the kids get a little too “in her face,”  she comes over to me for protection.  This is good because she doesn’t bark or bite.  She just walks away.  Don’t worry, Sarah, we are taking good care of her.  She’s made herself at home and is part of the family.


I swear I was telling Kristiana to get off the dog while I was taking this picture. I don’t know what message it sent Kristiana to take a picture of her doing something bad.