Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Canning Challenge

Tigress in a Jam posted a canning challenge.  The idea is to can something once a month and of course to write about it.

I am about 3 weeks behind, but you can read the details behind the year long challenge here.

First up is marmalade.  I love marmalade.  Last year I made several varieties for gifts.  Clementine Marmalade, Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Cara-Cara Orange Marmalade.  These in turn became all sort of other things.  Marmalade tarts, for one, citrus butters, and of course beautiful jams for my biscuits and scones.  

Texas Ruby Red is plentiful and cheap, so off to the store I will go.  See you next time with photos and a recipe.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I just did the math on how many loads of laundry we average a year.  One thousand, two hundred forty-eight.  Un-be-lee-va-boll.

I might as well accept it.  I am working on going bulk.  When I get it worked out I will share.


I am teaching E. (3 years) how to make the Sign of the Cross:

Me:  In the name of the Father...

E.:  da Fadda ...

Me:  ... and the Son ...

E.:  ... da Fun ...

Me: ... and the Hhhhholllleeee Spirit.

E.:  ... and da Foedee Ferret!

Friday, January 22, 2010

All Ye Holy Saints

A while back, we experienced an awful thing.  Both sets of the keys went missing.  I suspect the Toddler Patrol, but it is unimportant who is responsible.  Maybe you have experienced a moderately tumultuous period of time in your life.  Rushing from one dramatic episode to another, one mild trauma after mild trauma, a hassle here, an obstacle there- it is exhausting, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  As it would happen, we were feeling quite tapped out when we arrived at the crossroads of our Monastery Weekend and No Keys. 

The search began tepidly after a long Friday in anticipation of the evening Vigil and Confession.  When they did not immediately present themselves, I dismissed the event as providential and plopped down into our evening routine, chat a bit, find a show, try to drown out the day.  Let a few short hours flee in the face of the television, and then suddenly here it is 11:45.  A few prayers hastily said and then off to bed.  The next morning, however, was a different story.  No keys.  At first this meant, no doughnuts.  But as the search began to gain steam and an earnestness that can only be compared to gold fever, No Keys began to take on greater definition, such as:   Trapped with Many Children in the House; Hello, Earthly Cares; Sayonara, Break From the Week;  and You Can Forget About the Monastery Visit. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

O' Housework, how I loathe thee . . .

There are some blogs that I love that sing the praises of homemaking (see here and here).  There are sundry books on the nearly lost art of homemaking (try these: Home Comforts or Sink Reflections).  I own half a dozen books on the subject myself, each inspiring in its own way.

The thing is:  I totally hate housekeeping.  This is probably because I am not doing it right.  It takes me all day.  I do nothing else, I don't get don't get finished, and should I get finished the kids fix that problem.  There is an endless parade of dishes, laundry, wet towels, cookie crumbs, dirt, and crunched up bits of gook that run through my house and die in my corners like so many unhappy ants.

Laundry can lay in a heap for upwards of . . .  many days (ehem) and I feel not obliged in the least to even glance in its direction.  I'm not lazy.  I'll do it, but I just hate it.
There are many talents I would like to explore if it were not for the demon mess.  My last two confessions were related to housework.  May I say that my Best Beloved is not impressed with my wayward disposition?  That he may have actually called it a travesty?  That occasionally he has been known to address the sometimes enormous behemoth Laundry Monster in the vocative (as in "O' great and wondrous Pile, please bequeath to your lowly servant underwear!")?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2008 Pilgrimage for Life in Huntsville, Texas, part one:

Five a.m.: November 24, 2008: We are away from home. I find myself staring-- disbelieving -- into the chasm that has dashed my hopes for the morning. It is the washing machine and it has eaten my youngest son's Incredible Hulk, light-up tennis shoes.
It is the morning of the Pilgrimage for Life in Huntsville, Texas led by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. We had come from Fort Worth for the weekend to stay with my husband's family near Houston. While closer than the nearly four hour drive we might have had to make with five children in tow, it is still an hour and half away and now our fate is in the hands of the nearest open Wal-Mart. At this point, I am surprised that this is our only crisis. Did I mention, it is five in the morning? It has only just begun.
His Eminence, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, was elevated to the College of Cardinals in October of 2007. He is the first Prince of the Church of the Southern United States. The Pilgrimage for Life is a first for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and as of this moment 400 people have registered with the organizers of the event. They have expressed surprise at those numbers.
Josephus and I rounded up the children, finished packing the last of the freshly laundered clothes (gotta love staying with family!), and crammed the kids into the van. Normally, you would have no need to cram 7 people into a 15 passenger vehicle, but we're the Flavius's and we had been willy-nilly multi-taskers this particular weekend. In addition to a nice visit with Josephus's family, we had also packed in a run to Brenham, Texas to pick up 50 rose bushes for a church fund raiser. All in all, it had been a jam packed weekend, but today is Monday and we are headed to Huntsville to march and pray alongside friends from our sister parish in Houston, St. John Chrysostom, and Catholics from all over the state.
In my mind, this is going to be simple. Yesterday I deftly picked a gas station near the fairgrounds where we are expected to park and sent out directions to all the others in our group. What could go wrong? Overconfidence or at least the appearance of it is one of my fatal flaws. Often I can sense the uncertainty and the answers to that blithe little question being formed before the words leave my mouth. My first instinct is to play it off, but when confronted with a melted shoe (which has put us at least 30 minutes behind schedule), I am now a nervous wreck.
Between leaving late and stopping in Conroe for more Incredible Hulk shoes, we do not make the rendezvous on time. Shocker. I text Fr. Elias frantically. He's apparently running late, too. Thank God. Unfortunately, everyone else has gone on without us. Our two cars are the only ones with mobile phones, so at this point we have no earthly idea where anyone is. Josephus outfits the kids with snacks and we are off. Did I mention a steady drizzle has begun? Did I mention we don't own umbrellas?

2008 Pilgrimage for Life in Huntsville, Texas, part two:

The Cardinal notes the tragic, but all too important connection between abortion and violence and today it was especially poignant, because today, we not only pray for the lives of the victims of abortion, which included the innocent, but also their mothers and fathers and families that were touched by this tragedy. We also include prayers for all those on Death Row and an end to the death penalty, interceding especially for the 10 prisoners who are slated for execution in the coming year.

On this note, I will say that I have always had a personal struggle with the Death Penalty. Intellectually, I can connect that to be really pro-life that I should be against it. I have even made the argument I'm only “for” the Death Penalty because the state of Texas does not have a genuine life sentence. I have heard and empathized with those who note that abortion's victims are innocent and that the Death Row inmates earned their punishment. For what it is worth, the babies who die in the holocaust of abortion are innocent, but not all victims of abortion are innocent. The reality is that abortion takes its toll on the mothers, the fathers, grandparents, brother and sisters, clinic workers, the abortionists themselves. The violence of the single act of abortion can be pictured as a bullet-hole with many rays spreading out from it. Death row inmates and criminal violence are some of those rays. Violence begets more violence.

We march and pray the Rosary, all of us together, not simply the 19 of us from the Byzantine parishes in Texas, but all thousand of us, strangers helping strangers, volunteers handing out water and making sure we walked on our allotted portion of the road, and stopping traffic for us. At one point, a Houston native takes over pushing my stroller so that I can help my husband herd along our now lagging 5 year old. There are several moments before we began praying that I wonder, “why are we doing this? What are we trying to prove? I mean, we're pro-life! We're a family of five, plus another on the way, I think people get the picture!” The children, for one, think the whole idea is wacko and demonstrate their opinions in various ways. A. (age 3) stops walking altogether and decides that she would prefer to be carried the rest of the way. N. (age 8) lays down the icon of Rachel Weeping in the grass and then sullenly trudges forward, D. (age 5) runs in circles saying, “but why do we have to waaaalk?” over and over again. M. (age 7) is doing her best, but it is soon clear that her desire to push the stroller is greater than her ability. All this and we have not yet reached the rallying point in front of Planned Parenthood. It is very discouraging. But! Do not be discouraged! Off goes my cardigan, which I wrap Rachel's four corners in. Having fashioned a rudimentary sling, I jostle Rachel and her brood on to my back, grab the handles of the stroller and I am off! Poor Josephus is being encircled by sad and heavy children. I can see Fr. Elias in the crowd, guffawing at our spectacle, while I put on my best, “what spectacle?” face. None the less, I was soon relieved of Rachel as she is passed on to a helpful and capable gentleman from St. John's. It is not long before the prayers of the Rosary are lifting me out of my discouragement and dismay and joyfully we proclaim the mysteries of the the Holy Rosary along with all our Latin Catholic brothers and sisters. It isn't just my spirits that we lift, but the children's and Joseph's, as well. It is physically and spiritually renewing to be among all these holy people witnessing the Gospel.
Another striking note: when we finally joined Fr. Elias, I asked him, “where is the Planned Parenthood clinic?”