Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013. A Very BIG Christmas.

The new van was an amazing ride, and we made it to Fort Worth in two days as planned. The drive to Nashville was really great. We had good weather and no traffic delays. The next day, between Nashville and Fort Worth was a bit more of a handful, with some really heavy rain that made driving quite a challenge, but it didn't set us back too far. Maggie was wonderful, once again, and we were so happy to pile out of the van at the end of the day, to our waiting family.

Resting up for the celebration

And I do what with this?
Saturday morning was busy with getting ready to celebrate Max and Miles' first birthday!

We had a couple of days here with the Cookes, and then Nina and Lilly flew in on Christmas Eve!

Grandpa and Lucy built a house of cards.

We went to Mass at 4:oo on Christmas Eve, and then came home to dinner and getting ready for Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve Jammies

The house all decked out for Christmas
What a wonderful, busy day Christmas was!

New Cars!

Lilly and "Ruthie"

There is just nothing like Christmas morning with a bunch of little kids in the house. They were so taken by all their new toys and games. Lilly had so much fun playing with her cousins.

We have had such a nice visit! Laura taught me how to crochet, a skill that I am still trying to figure out. I have the basics, and I can use videos online to learn new stitches. It is a lot of fun and very relaxing.
I have been enjoying the little people so much. What a group of cuties!
John got himself a new longboard and was really excited about using it while he was here, but the guys went to a trampoline park and he sprained his ankle pretty bad and so is off the board for a couple of weeks. He will have fun with it when we get back home though, if it's not too snowy.
Tim was able to be here for a week, and that was so wonderful!
All the kids love playing with Grandpa! He likes to pretend and so he's always a big hit. We wouldn't have come down for Christmas otherwise, it would be too hard to be apart at Christmastime.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One of Those Big Things

We did it.
We weren't going to but it became apparent that neither of the other two vans can serve us very well for long distance trips. We haven't had a car payment for a very long time, and it has been really nice, but we are hoping that this vehicle will be with us through the rest of the busy teen tears.
It's a nice change and very roomy! I love the way it drives.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hyper-Disasters? FIRST Lego Project Winners!

Today was QUITE a day!
We left the house at 7:00 this morning, and had a long competition ahead of us.
Paul, joining his FLL team, the Hyper-Disasters, down the road in Riverside, for the first qualifier of the Lego League season.
I have to say, that at the beginning of the season, I was thinking that Paul was going to be on a team, I was going to go watch the competitions, and when the season was over he would have learned a lot, we would have some great pictures, and a lot of good memories.
For a rookie team, that is usually the most that you expect to accomplish.
For me, personally, I have been feeling so buried in obligations and details, that I couldn't even imagine getting Paul to practice each week. Since Tim is coaching Brendan's team, I thought this would be an activity in which I could be a cheering mom and just enjoy the ride. I just couldn't shake loose any time to really get involved.

Well, I got a little bit involved.
Paul came home and said that they had started their project, and they had some ideas, but were having a hard time getting them to gel. They are all so doggone smart, that I thought that all they needed was a little direction, and they would be able to run with it. I was right.

Man, they pulled it off so well.....

The judges thought so too...

Then it was on to the tables....
Round one....

and here is Round three....

Then we have the awards and closing at the end. Boy, were they surprised when they heard that their presentation had taken first place!

Then they did the presentation in for the whole group!

They were even further over the moon when they learned that out of twelve teams they would be one of two to go to the state competition!


Friday, December 6, 2013

That's How it is in Texas!

So THIS is what was going on in the Cooke's yard on Wednesday....

....and the is today, Friday.

Hard to believe.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013...

I would have to say, was a success.

We had a quiet day, and I was able to really enjoy cooking a nice dinner.
It was really fun!

Yesterday was pie day. I made an apple and a pumpkin.

The turkey that I got this year was a Butterball, and it weighed about 15 pounds.

Last night I pulled the turkey out of the tub that it had been thawing in, let it dry a bit and then put it in the roasting pan, covered in Saran wrap, to keep it from drying out. This morning I flipped it breast side down,so that the juices could get into the breast meat.
About an hour before I put it in the oven I took it out of the fridge to let it get closer to room temperature.
I decided to use a turkey sized roasting bag this year. I am really glad that I did. I stuffed it with celery, and an onion, cut in quarters. I used olive oil and salt and pepper all over it. I sealed up the bag and used the digital thermometer with the correct temperature set to alarm.
It cooked for about 3 1/2 hours, and then when it came out, I let it sit for the full 15 minutes before I started carving it. NOW I know why that is so important.

We carved it right onto the plates, and it was SO juicy!! I was amazed.

The other big discovery was the new way that I did the mashed potatoes.
I used this recipe Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes 

These were so tasty, and the crazy rush of getting potatoes mashed and ready for the table, while carving the turkey and getting everybody seated, is a thing of the past.
I had the potatoes cooked, mashed, seasoned and ready to eat, by noon! At dinner time they were nice and hot, and so were the seconds. All we had to do was scoop them out of the crock pot.

All the sides were things that we eat every year, as tradition.
We had the green beans with bacon and onion. Now, however, you can get bacon pieces pre-cut and pre-cooked, and french fried onions add a really good flavor.

I made the Jello this morning and bought some great rolls.

Tim contributed the White Zinfandel, which was really good with the Turkey.

The pies were both great!
 Not every Thanksgiving dinner comes together well.
I have had dry turkeys, cold potatoes, and pies that have flopped.
No matter what though, the best part of Thanksgiving is sitting down with the family and GIVING THANKS! We are so blest!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Day Before Thanksgiving...

It's rainy, cold, and blustery outside, and it's warm, cozy and quiet inside. I have no need to go anywhere!
We are off school for a few days, which is wonderful for all of us. Tim is off tomorrow and for the weekend, so we can enjoy family, food and fun. The boys just enjoy being home with no place to go and no school!
We will go to Mass tonight, as there isn't one in the morning.
I am going to be baking and doing the things that I need to do early. It's just nice to have a chance to slow down and appreciate all the gifts that we have been given.
Our Faith, a warm house, Tim's job, our health, our family, this nice little town, our country, and so many other things!
I am going to try to post pictures as I cook today. We'll see. I'm not really all that great about that these days.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Brendan's Annual Fall Picture

He's not going to fit in that tree someday!

Two Amazing Talks....

....From Magnificat Day....

Fr Barron...

Fr Peter John Cameron....The play is one that he wrote, about St Therese of Lisieux, whose relics were present there....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Magnificat Day!!

Tim and I were so BLEST to be able to go to Philadelphia, yesterday, for Magnificat Day 2013.
The Reason
We were able to hear Fr Robert Barron, one of our favorite priests, talk about Revelation, and living in the world close to the door of Heaven.

I am hoping that they will post his talk online, and I can post it here.

We also go to hear Rev. Peter John Cameron, the editor in chief of Magnificat Magazine. He is really an amazing guy!

Here are some more pictures of the wonderful day...

Conference Center Upper Hall
The view of the lower hall of the Conference Center

Fr Barron chatting with attendees

Fr Barron
The relics of St Therese, and her parents Bl. Louis and Zelie Martin.

Archbishop Chaput

Love this backdrop!

John Sacco and Johnnette Benkovic, the MCs.


Waiting at the end of the Procession
Here He comes!! Our King!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Winter in the Air!

It's 37 degrees out there...
...and they are calling for snow on Tuesday!
I knew winter was on the way, but it didn't have to hurry!

It has been so beautiful out! 
The leaves have turned, but the days have been mild, and some of them downright warm!
The Brendan, Paul and Henry were out back having their annual leaf raking party.
Every year they get together and rake up the leaves into the biggest pile that they can.

They used to spend a lot of time jumping in the pile, but this year, only Paul was jumping. I guess they are going to have to hand down the jumping to Lilly.
Maggie really enjoyed herself though. It's definitely her thing!

The guys had a very full school week and really worked hard.
They all have the usual subjects to finish every day, but they also have things that need attention in addition to school.
All three are participating on robotics teams, and the competition is going to be tough. They have a lot to finish in a short time.
Paul's team is brand new, and it's having the usual rookie-team struggles.
Brendan is on an FTC team that has a bit more experience behind it and they seem like they are on track, They don't compete until after Christmas.
John's team is older and the kids are all very experienced, John is working on the writing aspect of the team, but their big push isn't until Spring. They still meet once a week though.

We are preparing to update the main floor bathroom somewhat. We have a couple of guys coming in to do the tile, and then Tim can do the rest of the work himself. It should be very rewarding! I can't wait to freshen it up and see something in there besides pink!
These are great winter projects. It all needs to be done, but we are so busy coming and going in the summer that we usually end up with home improvement projects piling up when we have to be in the house, and we notice how much it needs a change.