Friday, September 19, 2014


I got up at six a.m. and made Dan lunch to take to work with him, but don't be impressed: I don't usually do that, I have to confess.  In our house of insomniacs, the rule is to let sleeping dogs lie, and more often than not, I'm a sleeping dog when Dan leaves for work.  God bless him and his understanding heart.  But, I digress.  

I got up to make Dan a tuna sandwich, then saw him off with a hug and kiss and an Airborne (because he has a cold).  By 6:45 I heard Miss June rustling about in her room but nobody else was stirring, so I made a pot of coffee (with an extra shot of espresso), gathered my pile of stuff and headed outside to watch the sunrise.  

It's a whole different thing watching the sun come up here at our Nebraska home.  In  Colorado and Nevada, the sky is a wide open plate glass window on the physical world. The lay of the land throws sunrises and sunsets right in your lap, no obstacles, no subterfuge. If you miss the show, it's because you're not looking.  But here in our country home in the trees, catching the sunrise is a trickier business.

  It sneaks up on you.

Because Nebraska really is a prairie state, similar to eastern Colorado, we still can get the wide open expanses that we're used to, but our new midwestern home is also called the Arbor Day state; a vast array of trees grow here!  The abundance of water near the Platte and Missouri rivers in eastern Nebraska follows the meanderings of the rolling landscape in a network of creeks and streams and watersheds, all lined with thick lush stands of tree: elms, maples, cottonwoods, hemlocks, oaks... and some we haven't identified yet.  (There is a tree unit study in our future!)

Our house is situated in the crook of a little creek at the bottom of a rumpled blanket of hills, all covered right now in soy beans.  Since this is a low place, the woods aren't a planted windbreak, but a naturally-formed ell of thick trees. Amazing, tall, healthy trees and shrubs and vines and a wonderful source of water in natural artesian wells underneath. Not surprisingly, some early Nebraska settler recognized the advantages of this spot and stopped on the westward trail to settle here, building the core of this house in the 1870s.

I can imagine the farmer's wife stopping on her way to the well to watch the fingers of light find their way under the canopy of trees just as I'm doing this morning.

It's very subtle, the way the sun slips in under the trees, slowly slowly drawing back the curtains to let the light in.  Lovely really.  But, if you're anxious to meet the morning head on, you only need to walk up the driveway,,,

(This is actually looking back down the driveway here...)
And here is the dawn!

Soak in some sun for a minute (it's delicious and smells like dew and dandelions and wild plums), then turn back down the driveway to home, and -- will you look at that! -- the morning has beat you back and warmed up your seat for you.

Time to go in for another cup of coffee. Maybe the children are up.  If they aren't, I just may let them sleep a while longer... and you and I can catch up -- with each other, with the world, with the birds and the crickets...  Maybe I'll have a chance to read a couple chapters of the novel I started before the move and get in some quiet time before the day really starts rolling. Days here are always novel and exciting. Wonder what this one holds in store?

Happy Feast of the amazing St. Januarius!

 Please intercede for us, St. Januarius; help us to see the miraculous in the every day!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Moving Day!

So... Hi, everyone.  I know it's been a while since I've blogged -- but it's been a busy little while.  

A short time, relatively, with a lot happening within it.  So much happening that it's hard to fathom how much time has really gone by since we left Las Vegas.  We just now had a spirited discussion about that. We counted back: three Sundays of Mass at Mater Dei makes three weeks in Nebraska -- or close to it.  Though to some of us, it still seems like the big moving-in day was just this past Wednesday, time has flown by so quickly.

But Gabe says he feels like we've been here for years.  It feels that much like home now.

We're all sitting our cozy little living room this evening.  The house smells the savory and spice of the chicken soup we had for dinner and the pumpkin pie for dessert.   Dominic is here again visiting from Denver and is at the piano.  Background to the discussions of  1) how long we've been here, 2) the science of carbon dating, and 3) whether Gabe can find a print of Isengard to copy, we've heard O Danny Boy, meandering into Emma and now Cider House Rules...  I'm sitting in the comfy recliner in the corner, typing away on my laptop, and Dan looks like he's about to fall asleep in the matching recliner.  A candle is flickering on the book cabinet. Everyone's tired from a long day of work and play. Life is good.  We're glad the moving part is over.

But, for the record, here are a couple pictures of moving day.  You'll notice that there are more shots of lunch than just about anything.  Everyone was just too busy most of the time to be snapping pictures of the process, as you might imagine. 

Note Anna with the tiki torches.  Couldn't leave those behind!
Seminarians taking stuff out to the storage trailer.  WAY too much stuff out there.  Either a big garage sale or a roll-away in our future...
Stephen inspecting the "Climbing Tree"
Dominic, serving pizza to Theresa, Cathy, and Anna
L-R: Jeremy, Gabe, Dominic, Theresa, Cathy, the back of Frater Philip's head, Anna, Stephen, and Chris -- at the table before it was moved in to the house.  Everyone wanted to wait to bring it in last....
"Because this thing is heavy!"
But, no big deal for the seminarians and Dominic to handle.  They're old pros.
L-R: Jeremy, Theresa, Natha, Stephen, Frater Philip

Everything is out of the trucks, tucked away somewhere.  The big ole table is in the dining room where it belongs.  Where the table is, the children agree, that's where home is.

And we have a piano again.  We'd rather have a piano than a pool any day of the week!

Here's the happy dance:

The Basic Itinerary 

(As well as I can remember it, anyway.)

 For posterity.

* Kevvy helped pack (like a tetris master) and then drove the first 26' truck from Vegas to Nebraska, arriving after 2 1/2 days, on the last Friday of August. (Thank-you, Kevvy!  We truly could not have done this without you!)

* I followed right along behind him in the SUV with William, Gabe, and Anna (and 7 cats: 2 adults and five kittens), getting to Nebraska that same Friday.  We couldn't move into the country house yet, though, as they were finishing up some new flooring and painting over the weekend. We stayed in hotel rooms nearby from that Friday night until the following Wednesday (the "moving day" of which we speak).

* Dan had stayed in Vegas after we left on Wednesday (the last Wednesday of August), finishing up the cleaning and packing the rest of the house with Theresa and Cathy.  Sunday, the last day of August, Dan drove the second 26' truck, with the girls on board, arriving Monday evening, but we barely saw him! He still had one more week of work to finish in Vegas, and had to make an early morning flight back on Tuesday, so he dropped the girls off with us at the hotel and drove right over to the seminary to stay the night, where he was closer to the Omaha airport.

* Dominic flew out to help us, arriving late on the last Saturday of August.  He stayed in town with friends took the day off on Sunday as we all did, and joined us at the house on Monday where we  spent Monday and Tuesday helping paint and ready the house.

* The first Wednesday of September Frater Philip and the other seminarians joined us to unload both trucks.

* Having finished unloading both trucks by dinner time Wednesday, we went to get a (Craigslist) piano with one of the empty moving trucks before returning it and getting home around 11 p.m.

*  Frater Philip received permission to borrow the Seminary pickup on  the first Friday of September to help us pick up a beautiful new couch we found on Craigslist.  Then he helped me return the last big rental truck, (God bless him, and good riddance to those dang trucks.)

* It took about a week to find all the silverware, but this time around, we knew where the toilet paper was the minute we got here.

Our Thanks!

FIRST of all, to the Bishop for lending us some of his seminarians to help us unpack the trucks!  I truly don't know how we would have done it without them! (It would have taken us days instead of one afternoon!)

AND we are also so so so indebted to wonderful Frater Philip for helping out so much in so many ways it's impossible to list them all.  Not only the tools, the help delivering trucks back to UHaul, the tunes on the piano, the gifts of fresh vegetables from the seminary garden, but his dependable thoughtfulness and the smile in his eyes meant (and always mean) everything!

BUT not only all that!  If it weren't for Frater Philip and Frater Francis scouting out this house, we wouldn't be here at all! (Duh, huh, guys?)

AND our undying gratitude from all our pianists and those who love listening to our pianists to amazing piano tuner/musician seminarian, Jeremy, for helping us scout out our new piano and get it home!  It's already given us immeasurable joy!

AND, thank-you so much to seminarian Chris for cutting down the killer branch hanging over the car in the driveway.

AND, seminarian Stephen (though, technically, he wasn't a seminarian at the time...), the children are forever grateful for the bragging rights of being the ones to make you eat that worm...

AND seminarian Nathan, because you're just you -- and if we didn't have you to tease, what would we do?

AND you, Dominic...  But we're not through with you yet, so hold that thought.

BUT, most especially to our loving heavenly Father, who held His protective Hand over us through all the travels and all the moving and the lifting, and the finding and discovering and figuring out.  We're so grateful for His protecting us from all dangers - including even the ill health we deserve from all the bad eating and poor sleeping these last few weeks.

AND our thanks to all our heavenly patrons, who interceded on our behalf in so many ways. You know who you are.  Thank-you.

* Heading off to bed now. Or, well, in a minute, anyway.  Promised to rub the knots out of somebody's back after he took it upon himself to do dead weight lifts with his sisters standing on his hands a little while ago.  Show off.

More pics and stuff coming hopefully.  Hugs and blessings to any old friends who still stop by!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014



* The worldly, self-seeking, immoral atmosphere of Vegas for the "backward," homespun, wholesome atmosphere of central Nebraska

* A big, modern, in-town house for a small antique farmhouse

* A 5 minute drive to any store you could want for a 15 minute bike ride to a tiny town that might have a general store and a gas station; or a 15 minute drive to a bigger town with a real grocery store and a coffee shop; or a 30 minute drive to a small city with everything you could want

* Central air conditioning for green trees and breezes

* A pool table in the dining room for two big, lush maple trees outside the front door

* A swimming pool in the back yard for a babbling brook down a forest path

* Easy internet service for hammocks and play houses and forts

* No weather at all (save extreme heat) for every kind of weather known to man -- and lots of it

* No seasons for four distinct seasons

* No family and only a couple friends anywhere nearby for family and friends galore close by

 -- We're more than ready to kick the dust of the old off our flip flops!  The only thing we're "fighting" is fitting all our stuff in boxes and getting ourselves out of the old and into the new!  Something we are doing with songs in our hearts!

Everyone is working double-time trying to get the whole house packed and cleaned in time to be able to leave together in two U-Hauls (pulling one car and the pop up on dollies) and the SUV stuffed with children -- on Friday.  Not sure if we can actually pull it off, though.  It's possible we'll split up, with one truck and the SUV leaving Friday and another contingent staying to finish cleaning over the weekend and leaving with the second truck early next week.  Regardless, we are on our way!  Woohoo!  Beautiful, "Backward," Homespun Nebraska, here we come!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

31 Days of Fun: Breaking Camp!

Go ahead and say it.  Again?

Yes, again!  And we're all very happy about it, as Dan's accepted a job: 1)  that he will enjoy and that will pay well, 2)  somewhere closer to a goodly number of family members, 3) very close to one family member* whom we will love seeing more often,  4)  somewhere with trees and lawns  5) that has fall and winter, spring and summer, 6) has a more accessible cost of living, and most especially, 7) it's not Las Vegas!

Where are we going this time, you ask?  This time around, and hopefully for a longer period of time, we'll be testing out the climes in...

Omaha, Nebraska!

It'll be a quick turn-around; Dan's first day on the job is on the birthday of the Blessed Mother --
certainly a good day to begin any enterprise!  But that doesn't leave us much time to make the whole move happen.  We only have 19 days to go, a whole house to pack and clean, a new rental to find, and 1,284.7 miles to drive two trucks, pulling two car dollies transporting 8 people (not counting the misc. Big Kids who'll come to help), two cats, and a little dog.

(Aren't you glad this isn't you?)

 So, we're going to be a little busy.  It's possible I'll get the time to post some random pictures and updates. I'll try, anyhow, for the benefit of family members who are scratching their heads in wonder....

That same wonder which begets the question -- because I'm sure it's hanging out there -- so I'll just answer it:  No, we're not crazy.  We don't have some obsessive form of wanderlust.  And we're not being kicked out of every town we try living in.  We're just trying to do God's will, one step at a time.  And His will for us seems rather, uh... complicated  adventurous!

And we'll be fine.  We're getting really pretty darn good at this moving thing.

But, please, if you think of it, we'd appreciate any prayers offered for the safety of our journeys!
And, we'll try to get our new address out in time for Christmas cards!

* That would be Frater Philip -- and of course all of his Seminarian and priestly brethren of whom we are rather fond.

Monday, August 18, 2014

31 Days of Fun: Eyeballs

Gabe playing Marty Feldman
Easy to Make Ping Pong Eyeballs

1) Mark a line in pencil exactly half way across the middle of one ping pong ball.  Have a big person carefully poke a hole with a sharp-tipped knife somewhere along the line; take a pair of sharp scissors and carefully cut the ball in half.

2)  Exactly in the middle of each half, poke another small hole, and widen into holes approximately 1/4 inch across.  These serve the purpose of allowing you to see  everybody laughing at you while you wear these eyeballs.

3)  Draw in pupils around the holes for pupils, then draw in the irises and color them in however you like: blue, brown, green, purple -- whatever suits you.  If you like, add very thin red "bloodshot" eye markings.

4)  Place them over your eyes, within the "framework" of your eye sockets.  You'll see it's quite easy to hold them in place.

5)  Now, go scare some people!  If you're 8 or 9 years old, this will keep you busy the rest of the day.

Marty Feldman playing Marty Feldman

Saturday, August 16, 2014

31 Days of Fun: Tea Parties!

A Mid-August Tea Party, Just Us

Dan's gone to California this weekend to be in a golf tournament with his Dad, so we girls (and the little boys, who are here for the food) have been making the best of his absence by having a "Girls' Weekend." And what else would a bunch of bookworm girls do on a Girls' Weekend, but drag out all our favorite bookish chick flicks?

Last evening we watched the 1944 version Jane Eyre, with Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine.  Tonight and tomorrow night, the plan is to watch two other newer versions, the 1996 one with John Hurt , and the most recent 2011 version.  The plan is to watch all three and compare and contrast them; see which movie stuck to the book best and which depiction of each character we prefer.  Yeah, we're weird, I know.  But this is the sort of thing that real excites us here!  (We get away with doing this by letting the little boys watch Curious George on the TV upstairs...)

But right now, having just stuffed ourselves with goodies at our tea party, we're very happily relaxing this afternoon, watching Gwyneth Paltrow rock Emma.  (Because Cathy just finished reading it -- and none of the rest of us ever complains about watching an Austen movie.  Even the boys are watching this one!)

So, I'm going to get back to the movie...  We've just gotten to the very last scene where Knightly "delares himself" to Emma...  ==sigh==

But, real quickly...

Here's the menu from today's tea party:

Deviled Eggs
Tomato Basil Finger Sandwiches with Aoli Sauce
Cucumber and Herbed Cream Cheese Finger Sandwiches
Turkey and Cream Cheese Roll-ups
Strawberry Yogurt and Sugared Cream Parfaits
Traditional Cream Scones (Fanny Farmer cookbook)
 with mock Devon Cream and Lemon Curd (boughten)

Friday, August 15, 2014

If I had a million dollars...

On the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption

As sung by the Mater Dei Men's Choir, Omaha, NE
The text in this beautiful arrangement is by John Beaumont (+1627), and the melody is by Corner (+1631). It is hymn #105 in the St. Pius X Hymnal (1953). (H/T: E.M., for these specifics)