29 November 2011

Laura's dinner

One large ice water, one sippy cup of applesauce, 11 pills, one holiday Oreo cookie
** and a partridge in a pear tree ** lol.
Love, A

27 November 2011

Record US Retail Sales On Black Friday - Discovery News



US retail sales on Black Friday hit a new record for the start of the holiday shopping season that follows Thanksgiving, according to early estimates.

Sales hit $11.4 billion, up 6.6 percent compared to last year, and the biggest dollar amount ever spent on Black Friday, Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak said in a statement.

It was the largest year-on-year gain since an 8.3 percent increase in sales between 2006 and 2007, the firm said.

Foot traffic in stores was up 5.1 percent compared to Black Friday 2010.

NEWS: Pepper Spray and Stampedes -- Must Be Black Friday

"Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and the traditional start to the holiday shopping season," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.

"Despite our sluggish economy, shoppers proved they are looking for value and ready to buy if given a good customer experience."

But the company warned: "Still, it's just one day. It remains to be seen whether consumers will sustain this behavior through the holiday shopping season."

Shoppers mobbed malls and went online in droves to snap up bargains late Thursday, through the night and into Friday -- an annual sales ritual that marks the start to the end-of-year shopping season relied on by many retailers.

The shopping frenzy lasts throughout the weekend and into Cyber Monday, when retailers offer hot deals online following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.


The increase in sales appeared to be far higher than the inflation rate, which eased to 3.5 percent in October as compared with a year ago, according to US Labor Department data.

The National Retail Federation was due to publish its first Black Friday sales estimates on Sunday.

Meanwhile, IBM reported a whopping 39.3-percent increase in online Thanksgiving Day spending, saying US shoppers had set the stage for 24.3-percent online growth on Black Friday compared to the same period last year.


"This year marked Thanksgiving's emergence as the first big spending day of the 2011 holiday season with a record number of consumers shifting their focus from turkey to tablets and the search for the best deals," commented John Squire, chief strategy officer at IBM Smarter Commerce.

"This momentum continued into Black Friday where the big winners were those retailers that delivered a smarter commerce experience with compelling, relevant deals that people could easily access from their channel of choice," he added.

22 November 2011

The In-Laws are coming! The In-Laws are coming!

Yee haw yippity, y'all! T-16 hours until my mother-in-law is safely in my home. It's been 6 MONTHS since I saw her. A crime. We're going to be majorly outnumbered by adult males for this holiday. It's going to take more wine and carbs than usual. We're totally peacing out of here after dinner tomorrow to pretend we have errands to run.
I am still sick. The good news, however, is that my super-keen Grandpa Dick made Swedish pancakes for dinner and I have cough syrup with codeine waiting to lull me to sleep. Sweeeeeeet.
We spent today doing "the in-laws are coming" type things. Grocery shopping, planning lunch for tomorrow, cleaning the bathroom we usually use for storage, stocking up on prescription drugs...all those things that make the guests feel welcome!
I'll tell you what's going to happen at 8:15 am tomorrow. Andrew will log into his email and find my blog subscription email waiting for him. He'll think to himself, "huh? When did she have time to blog? I was using the computer the whole time she was in the bathtub." and then he'll realize I was blogging from my phone, in the tub. Living dangerously. And then he'll email me and tell me that I will not get a phone upgrade when my phone falls in the tub and dies.
So I have to go. The in-laws are coming!!!

21 November 2011

Dang Baby.

5:43 am. It's actually good, because once the clock hits 6 I feel like things are a little more normal. Claire woke up at 5:03, and she's made it abundantly clear that she's only hear to poop and screech. She's tickled to tears to be up while it's so dark and quiet. I suppose that just amplifies her own crazy baby happy noises. I took a shower and she played happily on the bathroom floor while I got all fresh-smelling and tried to plan out a way to make her go back to sleep. That wasn't successful. So here I am, 5:46, watching Limitless and listening to the sounds of a cheerful baby playing on the floor.

We've been having a dandy week around here. Grandpa Dick is here from the Northwest, so I haven't been blogging, as we've been enjoying his company. We're keeping things quiet, but I'm also sick with some "welcome to the holidays" bug. It's been four (five?) days of crazy head and chest yuckiness. Oh, and I had a fantastic colonoscopy last Monday, and have just finished recovering from that. That was pretty fun. Starting the week with anesthesia is always fun. The procedure threw me for a loop and ended up with me on new meds, so I've also been spending the week getting Claire and I used to those new (huge) pills. Claire seems to have adjusted fabulously and my symptoms have all but disappeared in a very short time.

We spent Friday painting Claire's room, Saturday cutting down trees and working, and yesterday we did Mass and then Grandpa and Andrew took the big girls to the zoo while Claire and I napped. And boy did we nap. I think we napped enough to consider myself on the upswing this morning. THAT is very happy news. I guess the pooping and screeching is down. Sister wants to play. Fantastic. Come on 6am!

16 November 2011

Was Jane Austen Poisoned? - Discovery News


Portrait of Jane Austen based on one drawn by her sister Cassandra. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin/Wikimedia Commons.

Jane Austen, the author of classics such as "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility," may have died of arsenic poisoning, according to a crime writer who has reviewed the last letters of the British novelist.

The crucial clue lies in a line written by Austen a few months before her mysterious death in 1817.

Describing weeks of illness she had recently experienced, Austen wrote: "I am considerably better now and recovering my looks a little, which have been bad enough, black and white and every wrong colour."

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According to Lindsay Ashford, a British crime writer, the description matches the symptoms of arsenic poisoning, "which causes skin spotting if taken in small doses over a long time."

"Known as the 'raindrop' effect, it causes some patches of skin to go dark brown or black; other areas lose all pigment to go white," Ashford wrote in the Daily Mail.

The crime writer strengthened her theory when she learned that a lock of Austen's hair bought at an auction in 1948 by a now deceased American couple, had tested positive for arsenic.

"The arsenic in Jane's hair meant that she had ingested the poison in the months before her death," Ashford said.

Austen's untimely end at the age of 41 has long been a cause for speculation among historians.

NEWS: Alexander the Great Killed by Toxic Bacteria?

Her mysterious and fatal illness was first identified as Addison's disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands; other diagnoses included the cancer Hodgkin's disease, the auto-immune disease lupus, Brill- Zinsser disease (a recurrent form of the typhus the novelist had as a child) and disseminated tuberculosis of bovine origin.

"All these conditions display some of the signs Jane reported, but none matches her description of her face in the letter," Ashford said.

She added that it is very likely Austen was given medicines containing arsenic.

Indeed, the poison was widely prescribed at that time for anything from rheumatism –- something the novelist admnitted to have suffered from -- to syphilis.

NEWS: Medici Family Cold Case Finally Solved

"There is, of course, another scenario: that she was deliberately poisoned. Improbable perhaps; but not impossible," Ashford said.

The crime writer explores the murder theory in her new novel, "The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen," focusing on Austen's family, which she believes is a source of shadows and doubts despite being thoroughly investigated.

"Much is missing. Cassandra (Austen' sister) burnt dozens of Jane's letters when she died –- no one knows why," Ashford said.

As "letters and diaries cannot and will not tell us what really killed Jane Austen," the mystery over the last chaper in the life of Jane Austen is likely to remain unsolved.

It is quite unlikely that Austen's bones are exhumed for modern forensic analysis, Ashford admitted.

"It would provoke outrage among Austen fans, not to mention the scores of people who claim her as their distant relative. But stranger things have happened. Maybe one day the mystery of her death will be solved once and for all," she said.



14 November 2011

Iguazu Falls, Halong Bay On Natural Wonders List - Discovery News

Ha! Ive seen these falls!!!! Amazing! Truly a "wonder"!


The Amazon rainforest, Vietnam's Halong Bay and Argentina's Iguazu Falls were named among the world's new seven wonders of nature, according to organizers of a global poll.

The other four crowned the world's natural wonders are South Korea's Jeju Island, Indonesia's Komodo, the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River and South Africa's Table Mountain, said the New7Wonders foundation, citing provisional results.

Final results will be announced early 2012, said the Swiss foundation, warning there may yet be changes between the provisional winners and the final list.

Sites that failed to make the cut include Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro, the Dead Sea and the Grand Canyon.

Residents of Jeju welcomed the announcement, with a 2,000-strong crowd bursting into cheers of "We made it," the Yonhap news agency reported.

Jeju Govenor Woo Geun-Min said the listing would open "a new chapter" for the island's tourism industry.

"This will greatly help attract tourists to Jeju, enhance investment and bolster awareness about Jeju's agricultural products," he told journalists. The island is renowned for its tangerines.

The poll organized by Swiss foundation New7Wonders has attracted great interest, mobilizing celebrities, including Argentinian football star Lionel Messi calling on fans to pick his home country's Iguazu Falls.

The results come after a long consultation process lasting from December 2007 to July 2009, when world citizens were asked to put forward sites which they deemed were natural wonders.

More than a million votes were cast to trim the list of more than 440 contenders in over 220 countries down to a shortlist of 77.

NEWS: Mountains May Be Best Solar Hot Spots

The group was then further cut to 28 finalists by a panel of experts.

Anyone in the world was then able to vote for the final seven via telephone, text messages or Internet social networks.

Founded in 2001 by filmmaker Bernard Weber in Zurich, the foundation New7Wonders is based on the same principle on which the seven ancient wonders of the world were established. That list of seven wonders was attributed to Philon of Byzantium in ancient Greece.

New7Wonders said its aim is to create a global memory by garnering participation worldwide.

But even as the natural wonders poll came to a close, the New7Wonders foundation has set its eyes on a new survey -- the top seven cities of the world. Participating cities will be announced on Jan. 1, 2012.

10 November 2011

our first fish taxidermy! Lucy dug right in!!!

So, I'm reading a book called The Last Man Standing and there was some obscure reference to taxidermy in it. Anyways, they said that most people use "Borax" now on the inside of their catch/kills after removing all the innards. I remembered Laura HAS Borax in the laundry room soooooo....

We did it. At lunch today, I bought a new Shakespeare rod and a couple misc tackle box goodies (Thank you Merkels for the birthday Cabelas giftcard and sorry its taken me so long to use it! lol). Then tonight, Laura went to Endow, God bless her, and Lucy Molly & I went to the lake. It was cold out and the sun was dropping fast over the horizon. It was a good thing on the 2nd or 3rd cast with my new 7' rod and new hook and new rubber powerbait lure I pulled in a little bass. We quickly threw him in some water and brought him home (after a small Sonic detour).

Lucy was so excited she was dancing around like she needed to pee. Molly? Well, Molly does whatever Lucy does so, the whole car was rockin' around on the way back. After Sonic, we headed to the garage, fish in bucket, in hand. They were through-the-roof about "cut fishie up" (Molly).

I didn't want to knock it between the eyes because that'd mess up the exterior and well, we're trying to stuff this one folks. So, I took it out of the bucket and laid it on the garage floor. Lucy, astonished, said "Dad, you know he's going to die, right? He needs water." Before I could respond, she continued, "But that's okay Dad he needs to die so we can hang him on my wall". So. Cute. Molly? running around in circles w/ her fox chair pulled up over her back screaming "It Eat Me! Fox Eats Me"[repeat forever].

So, fish flops around on the floor which is WAY exciting as the girls pretending "it's chasing them around the garage". They make fish faces at it and play the touch-and-run game from it. Perhaps a precursor to cow tipping? Yikes. Let's hope not. Anyways, that garage was HOPPING with two (loud, wired) girls and one suffering (lol) bass.

Fish dies. Lucy pulls up a chair to the table where I'm now cutting in and emptying the bass. She is HANDS-ON reaching in there and pulling stuff out. ***pause. proud daddy tear*** She is INSANELY curious about it ALL. We talked about skin, scales, muscles, heart, brain, intestines, spinal cords, fins, eyes, mouth, teeth, everything. She kept comparing the fishes parts to, well, her own parts :-) She ran her finger down its spine and said, "Hey, that's just like mines" and ran her hand up her lower back. Cute, but also gross b/c when she leaned forward her hair fell into fish innards on the table (she was none the wiser, and I certainly wasn't going to say anything, she was having a GREAT time).

We put a teeny tiny bit of meat in the freezer (which she was very very excited about). I told her that if we bring a fish home, we have to eat at least a little of it. I'm pretty sure this was a rule when I was growing up (but I could just be remembering poorly b/c I think Deacon Paul G was always a catch-and-release w/ the exception of fishing trips). Sorry. Tangent.

So, girls in bed. Fish prepped. Mount designed. Just waiting for Laura to return with the stuffing(s) that she accidentally stole and took w/ her in the van. Will try to have a picture up of the FIRST COOKE FISH TAXIDERMY 10 Nov 2011 on the blog in the coming day(s). Not sure how long Laura will let it last in the house... suppose that depends on if it starts stinking or not :-P

It'll look great in the dining room!

Fwd: 444.jpg

$444 for a fishing rod at Cabelas.
Holy cow. Just the rod. Not the reel, line, bait, equipment, boat, tackle, guarantee of catching endless amounts of huge fish , etc. Nope. Just a rod.

Because silence is silent agreement.

Maybe no one wants to hear what I have to say about gay marriage. If that's the case, you have several moments to click on the "x" at the top of your screen.
And here we go.
I am so agitated by the people who say it's hateful to oppose gay "marriage." Hate? No. What I feel is an intense sorrow and disappointment that there are so many people out there who feel that whatever "makes you happy" is the route to choose for your life. That there are no consequences when it comes to the choices you make for your life.
I don't know where it comes from, the desire/drive to homesexual attraction.
Maybe it's nurture. We all have so many things to overcome from our childhoods. We're called to rise above what has damaged us and trust that there is a strength inside us that can see past our circumstances. The human spirit is like rubber, bouncing back over and over and over. If homosexuality is something a person is raised to lean toward, I would reason that they can also be raised to lean away from it.
Maybe it's nature. Does that make it okay to embrace alcoholism, since it's been proven to run in families? Can we choose to stay morbidly obese because somewhere in our genes our metabolism doesn't work at an optimal level? I personally was born with a drive to talk. Talk, talk, talk, without regard to the people around me. As I've grown into the woman I am now, I've learned that my natural drive to talk incessantly doesn't contribute to the world around me. I've learned to humble myself and keep my mouth shut, even though chattering nonstop is in my genes. Just ask my mom. And my grandma. And my great-grandma. Nonstop chatter. Some people drink, we tend to just keep our feet in our mouths. But my "nature" is something I've worked hard to overcome. Just because I was born talking doesn't mean the world needs to stop and listen.
I am of the mind that God designed the world to work perfectly. When he created Adam and Eve (is she seriously jumping on the bible wagon?!), He created a system that complements a perfect design. He made it so that we have everything we need to produce children and continue the human race. We have no need of science and outside interference. Isn't that beautiful? The male and female are so perfectly designed that we can not only live together in harmony, but we can actually make other people. I can't ignore that. I cannot subscribe to the belief that a union without the potential to produce is a union that can be free, faithful, fruitful and total.
"But Laura, what about people who can't have kids due to infertility? Are you seriously saying that their marriages aren't real? That they shouldn't get married?" Der, no. So many marriages can't produce children, for this reason and that. It's a terrible, painful, agonizing issue within marriage. But many, many cases of unexplained infertility are suddenly fruitful, and miracles do happen. The children born in these circumstances are such a blessing!
I liken it to an orchard. Imagine you have a little plot in an orchard, and you put a seed in the ground. In a perfect world, that seed (boy) will really take hold in the dirt (girl) and will grow into a tree (marriage). But you have to have a seed and some dirt to grow a tree. Some seeds can be planted in the wrong soil. We see it happen. But ideally, you've planted your seed in the right soil, and it grows into a tree. That tree may, indeed, produce apples, oranges, pears, plums. (These are kids) But what if that tree (marriage) doesn't bear fruit? Many, many trees don't. Some produce the solace of shade. Others provide a place to climb, to provide an amazing view. Yet more trees provide piles and piles of leaves for children to romp and play. (adoption, anyone?) And sometimes, just when hope is lost, a barren tree produces fruit. Every single tree has value, without or without fruit. They provide oxygen and clean air. They provide the materials to build other things. The more I think about trees, the more I totally see it. You really never know the value of a tree until, many years later, it has affected generations. Just like a strong marriage, a tree can span decades, giving different gifts to different people. The Farmer truly knows each tree, and He knows how to grow a strong orchard.
"But Laura, what about adoption?!" Adoption is so, so, so beautiful. I do not agree with gay adoption because I feel that whenever possible, a child should have the gift of a man and a woman raising the child together. Each sex offers a different way of nurturing, and those two different people work together to impart those gifts. In turn, those gifts produce a strong, confident adult. "But we have so many children that need to be adopted!" We also have SO many heterosexual couples who so selfishly do not adopt. There are more than enough heterosexual couples out there to adopt any childn many times over, but our culture is a "me-first" culture. Why adopt someone else's kid when you can get all the attention and gifts for having one of your own and posting all of your pregancy pics on Facebook? Why on EARTH would you take on someone else's emotional baggage when you have so much of your own? If married couples took a moment to truly examine their motives for not adopting, there would be so few arguments against it. Since having my own children, I do believe that a child truly yearns for the burning heart of his mother and protective heart of his father. Anything short of that feels very, very wrong to me. "But what about single moms and dads?" Of course they're out there, and I don't doubt that they give their utmost to provide, but I'm not talking about the circumstances that befall a married/cohabitating couple. I'm talking about the circumstances surrounding an adoption placement. You can split hairs eight different ways and there will always be a child in need of something, but I believe that when possible, we should start each child out (or repair prior damage) with the potential of a strong nuclear family.
There are a million questions you could ask me, but I just answered a couple of the "hot" ones that come to mind every time I hear the gay marriage debate.
I do agree that every person is entitled to love and satisfaction. Where have we strayed that love and satisfaction cannot be found in a life of service and chaste friendship? Our culture has skewed sexuality to such a degree that "chastity" is a word reserved for freaky Fundamentalist teens. In reality, chastity is something that allows you to reach beyond your sinful (and I only mean this in the most biblical original sin sense) nature and really make something of a gift of your sexuality. Within our own marriage, Andrew and I practice chastity through NFP. Everyone is called to periods of chastity, and some are called to a life of it. What you do with that call to live a chaste life can be a gift or a curse. By turning sex into a carnal need and "right" rather than a gift to honor, we've created an culture that demands what they want, when they want it. Some people just never happen upon that gift, and that's OKAY. There are so many other gifts to pull out of life.
What bothers me is the agenda set before us. If we don't agree with the homosexual lifestyle/marriage/adoption/what-have-you, we're instantly homophobic bigots. I'm not afraid of homosexuals, I'm not anti-gay, I'm not filled with hate. I simply have an opinion. Be that as it may, this post may still be seen as intolerant and hateful. That's a risk I have to take, because my silence can be seen as support for something I truly oppose. When my children come back someday and read this blog, regardless of place the world is in, I don't want them to assume that I opposed gay marriage because I hated gays. I want them to know that I opposed it because my vocation and sacramental vows rested on a word that was in danger. The life I lead is one that IS marriage. I am not a person in a marriage. I am a marriage that used to be two people. Marriage isn't a lifestyle. It's a life, and for Catholics, it's a path to Heaven. Reducing it to anything less is dangerous, and as a Roman Catholic, allowing that reduction is a sin.
The Catholic Church doesn't want people to be unhappy. When you see a friend doing something dangerous, you pull them aside and say, "What on earth is going on here? I love you and want the best for you!" That is what the Church is doing in staying strong on this issue. You can paint it with any brush you want, but the picture stays the same. Marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman, and there are reasons for that. Just as we wouldn't allow a friend to assume that drunk driving is only dangerous to the person who's driving, we can't allow our friends to assume that the gay marriage issue affects one soul at a time.

06 November 2011

The weekend that wasn't.

It didn't feel like a weekend. Bummer deal.

I'd love to know how my fat baby weaseled her way into my bed before 10pm. I'd put her back in her crib, but I'm sure she'll flip her lid. And she's really cute, so she stays.
I think I hear thunder outside. It's that or the squirrel who is forever romping around on our roof. He's the biggest squirrel eh-vuhr.
Let's see. Tomorrow we have to run to the PO and the grocery store, and I have a guy coming to clean the carpets. Much needed. Tuesday is my MOMS meeting, an appt with the pediatric dentist and I have a guy coming to clean the chimney. Wednesday is wide open. Thursday is confession, dinner ALONE and Endow. Friday is...something and then I have dinner at a friend's house. Andrew is going on retreat Saturday, And Sunday we shall rest. Busy week!
Okay, I can't concentrate on blogging with Claire pinching the skin on my armpit while she sleeps. Uncool.

Soccer Season 1, over and out!

So proud of our little Lucy! She's not a fan of running, but she's figuring out the game and loves being on a team. She told me that she "might" play next year, if she can learn to run better before then!

Little Bird

When I think forward and acknowledge the fact that she won't always fold her legs under her on the kitchen counter and repeat, "You mixes dat! You mixes dat!", my heart nearly splits in two.

02 November 2011

"Girls? What are you doing?"

"Don't worry, Mom!"

"We're building a trap for Claire!"

"But it should be fine."

It's just a little trap!"

"Okay, Mom?"


 I'd caption these, but there are seriously a TON. Okay, fine. I'll caption them. I have no willpower against the imaginary voices of my blog readers. All 6 of them.
Halloween Night - Lucy and Mo hit their first house with much enthusiasm. After being told that our neighborhood is seriously awesome for trick-or-treating, House Number One says, "Huh? No. Trick-or-trating in this neighborhood is terrible!" Fantastic!

Mother Teresa takes a moment to acknowledge the Lord as she's forced against her will to partake in trick-or-treating and gluttony. Well, Mommy's gluttony.

Our beautiful Halloween sky! It was a perfect night to be out for a walk, about 80 degrees and perfectly still. And I thanked Andrew again for moving us to Texas. I thank him a lot this time of year.

Hitching a ride on the front of the stroller was super fun until we ran over Lucy. No, seriously.

Check out that sweet tiger! I will say that we only stopped here so we could snoop on the people who would go so far as to live in harmony with a stained-glass Bengal tiger. Turns out it was just a middle-aged white dude, which makes it all the more interesting to us.

Yes, my legs really are that skinny in real life.

Yes, Molly really is that funny in real life. And you can see here that my candy greed was well-rewarded. I was probably the only mommy out there who insisted on "just one more house" 30 or 40 times. Candy is big business, folks. And free candy? That's worth every step.

This is the Saturday before Halloween. Molly called this costume the "Monkey-weena." Dead on.

Temporary tattoos. Whee!

Like you've never seen a Monkey-Weena play soccer.

Or lick a bounce house.

LOVE this one. She's such a little weirdo, going nuts in the bounce house in her Monkey-Weena costume.

Have I mentioned that Claire is awesome times 20? She truly is. This is her standard expression. Once in awhile she'll let the nose scrunch relax for a bit. Other than that, always cheerful.

Isn't he cute? A + L = luv 4 evr.

Sweet girls!

Frito Pie. Oh, Texas. You make me fall harder with every year.

Molly + Nachos = luv 4 evr

My sweet ballerina.

Molly REALLY wanted a dolphin on her face. Imagine my relief when it was actually not a terrible dolphin!

Claire says, "I don't even know what day it is, but I do know that Halloween should be at least three days a week!"

Oh, Claire. If only you were cute.

This was Sunday. Halloween carnival #2! This one was walking distance from the house and FREE, so we were all over that.

Lucy riding a pony. I really had to resist the urge to buy her a Shetland pony that night. And then it all came flooding back to me. Being thrown from that terrible little pony, Pepper? Not my finest moment. Stupid pony. Besides, I'm already in line for a micro pig.

Well, that was really the extent of our Halloween festivities. We didn't even carve a pumpkin. It's sitting in the dining room with the face drawn on it. Fail.  

01 November 2011

Claire sleeping

Man she's so sweet you could eat her w/ a spoon. Don't forget RULE #1: NEVER wake a sleeping baby ;-)

Halloween candy

Molly feeds her baby some Halloween candy!