Happy New Year!!!!! It has been a great little year so far. Two days into it and Mommy is sick with fever, chills and cough.

But let’s rewind back to the days of yore, back in the newly remote history known as Anno Domini 2019…

In the days before the plague struck, Saturday was a day to get things done. Sometimes things that we had to do, sometimes things we wanted to do. In the picture above, Mommy demonstrates the latter, i.e. the making of guava-vanilla bean jam. Here, she painstakingly removes the guts from the vanilla bean before throwing both into the pot.

But this is also something of a necessity as we have bought some reusable canning lids to try, which, if they work, should save us hundreds of dollars in disposable lids over the next few years. But before entrusting something unforgiving like a soup or a veggie, Mommy decided to try them out with something that could always be reprocessed if they didn’t seal the first time.

Early morning sun streams in the window on the finished product and the beautiful chef.

Just as well we did, since two of them leaked water into the jars, and one didn’t seal. There is an art to tightening them just tight enough, but not too tight.

Meanwhile, a friend of ours came over to help us install a ceiling light in our living room.

This was great entertainment for the girls, although Big Sissie was desperately trying to convince him to play her new board game that she got for Christmas with her (Pretty-Pretty Princess).

Alas, we were too busy, so the girls had to Princess all by themselves in their very own castle.

For a short while before running outside to try out Big Sissy’s new princess bike! (Are you detecting a theme here? We certainly are.)

Then it was off to Uncle Adam’s house to celebrate second Christmas. This mostly involved running around and playing board games and eating Uncle Adam’s delicious pizza (made, almost exactly, according to G’Pa P’s Original Recipe).

But there was still some presenting of gifts, mostly just one each for the little folks.

For Sunday after Mass we met Uncle Adam and the kids at the zoo, while Auntie Maryanne stayed home and rested her leg and did not chase after the kids for two solid hours!

The best part is that Uncle Adam shared a loaf of G’Pa P’s world famous Hungarian nut roll (or maybe it’s Romanian, you never could tell with G’Pa). At last, Christmas was complete.

It was udderly delightful.

It is time for Daddy to pack his gear for a National Guard trip again (one weekend a month my butt!) The girls helped, of course…

“We come too, Daddy!”

It turns out Daddy may be a bit thicker in the middle than he was in his active duty days, 10 years ago. Time to get this plate carrier tailored.

Fortunately, I know a guy.

Well, that’s all for this week. God Bless and Happy New Year!

From Our Family to Yours!

Welcome to Family Friday! Fall time is in full swing around here. It has frosted a couple of mornings this week, which was nice and autumnal. And boy have we been harvesting!

The crown of the year is harvest time, and if you cannot enjoy that, you are unlikely to enjoy anything.

John Seymour, “The Self -Sufficient Life, and how to live it.” Pg. 148.
Baby Girl enjoys harvesting apples.

We harvest most of the crop from our two dwarf braeburns.

It did not take long, and for three-year-old trees they produced pretty well.

She picked four apples all her own, and then walked around with them in her bucket taking alternate bites from each one of them.

As I said, that was the easy part. Then we were left with about a hundred apples and an already busy weekend ahead of us… I mean really busy, with thrift shopping and call for Mommy.

It’s also baby sale season again, which means cleaning, sorting and tagging old baby clothes.

And yard work and job searching social events (which turned out to be a waste of time) for Daddy.

All those apples were cored and quartered in a single nap period!

Thankfully it was Squeezo to the rescue! It turns out it is super easy to make applesauce with the squeezo. You simply quarter the apples, boil them until soft, and then run them through the squeezo. Apparently you don’t even have to remove the seeds, although Daddy didn’t know that, and removed all the seeds. Waste of time, that. The squeezo removes them all.

Apples boiling at 5 AM on a Saturday.

We decided not to post a picture of the kids operating the squeezo. Partly because of child labor laws, and partly because we were too busy supervising to take pictures.

The other bit of providential coincidence was that during her thrift shopping, Mommy found another pressure canner that was under $20! Best part is that the bottom platform that the jars rest on is shaped a little differently than the old one so it holds more jars at a time, 8 quarts vs. 5 quarts.

So Mommy and Daddy sprinted through the canning, alternating canners so that at least one was going at all times.

E1 got to help by spreading the table with towels to receive the hot jars.

In less than two hours…

A dozen pints of sweetened, six pints of spiced, and four quarts and a pint of all natural.

Yep, that was some teamwork, right there. That’s the sort of thing that will help your marriage grow.

Sunday we visited Deedee and Papa. I also happened to be Grandma Dolly’s birthday so we went to put flowers on her grave.

However, someone had already put flowers there, and there was only one flower holder, so we put them on Grandma Shirley’s and Grandpa Joe’s grave instead.

Then we went over to Dude’s house and scrounged the last of her beets, and admired her empty garden. The girls ran around and colored with chalk, and even Deedee got in on the chalk coloring action.

The new hip is really working out for her.

During the week we picked up some new bulbs for some renunculus to add to our flower mix, as well as a passiflora incarnata (passionflower var. “Maypop”) vine.

So out we went on a cold and rainy evening to plant more plants. I swear there are more plants than people at this house!

But we don’t mind the rain!

They say in the cold countries, there is no such thing as inclement weather, only insufficient clothing.

Our Maypop went against the back fence between the hammock and the apple trees. Daddy is excited to see how that does next year, since it supposed to grow up to 20 feet in a single season, blossom in May, produce edible fruits in late summer, and die back to almost nothing in winter.

No pressure, little guy.

Well, we shall see.

That fence gets half sun in early spring, but once the maple tree leaves out, forget about. The tiger lilies do really well, but so far everything else has fizzled.

The gladioli did not bloom, and only three of the sunflowers even sprouted, and they are pathetic little things.
Although the one that blossomed is quite pretty.

We’ve had a couple decent frosts this week as well, so we’ve been beginning to prepare our garden to winter. Mostly this means mulching, so Daddy and Baby Girl went to pick up some straw bales.

One of the issues we’ve been having this year with our garden is that it is on a bit of a slope (as is all of our property). The rain or the sprinkler wets the dirt and some of it washes down the hill. Then the sun bakes the top layer to dust during the hot summer days, and the dust blows away. This depletes soil really quickly. You can see the difference in the rockyness of the soil after the growing season compared to before. There are more rocks in the fall than there are in the spring because so much dirt washes and blows away during the summer.

Of course some of the mulch is doing temp duty as decoration.

To mitigate this we are going to cover crop the vegetable portion (more on that later), and are gradually working to build up the ground layer of our flower portion. But in the meantime…

Mulch!

While we were at it, though, we discovered that our huckleberry is coming into berry like that’s its job!

Which is very popular among the younger set.

Snack time!

Last night we ripped out all the bean vines and our few straggly corn stalks. We mulched them up with the lawnmower and threw them in the compost. The beans will provide some excellent nitrogen to balance out the carbon from all that shredded paper we’ve been dumping in recently.

The only vegetables remaining are four ambitious rutabagas, and one heroic acorn squash.

And we chopped up the remainder with hoes, preparatory to sowing our green manure ground cover.

She informed us she “Is going to do all the works you tell me to do so I can get a horse!”
We responded neither yay nor neigh. 😀

Oh, there are also the tomatoes. Yep, here it is, October, and the ginormous heirloom is loaded! It finally seems to have kicked the blossom rot, as did the bigger of the two San Marzano’s, and even our two scrawny heirlooms are all of a sudden like “I’m ’bout to do something!”

If Charlie Brown had a tomato plant, it would look like this.

So, with the frosty mornings, we have taken to covering our tomatoes with trash bags before the sun goes down.

It’s like a New York growing season. Many and many’s the time growing up Daddy had to cover a few dozen tomato pushes with black plastic every night as they set in their last fruit right before Fall started flirting with Winter.

It is great weather for homemade bread with butter, and hot mugs of cider or tea outside on the deck, and porter or stout in the evening.

Not that we very often have the time, but we try to enjoy it when we do.

And that’s all for this week. Have a great weekend, and God Bless! Keep us and Aunty Mate who is recovering from surgery in your prayers.

No, we are not bringing back the Mantilla. She is just experimenting with wearing Sissie’s skirt on her head.
Still, she does look “rahthah mahvelous, dahling.”

Happy Family Friday, folks! Yes, I know, it’s a week late. We’ll be doing a double header, I promise. We’ve been busy.

That’s right. Mommy has been organizing! Watch out or you’ll get organized!

We will get to Family Friday, but I want to do something a little different first.

Early this week I had a dream. I was falling asleep saying the Rosary, as I almost always do, and suddenly, without warning I was standing in the middle of a street in Aleppo. I have never been to Aleppo, I just knew it was Aleppo the way you know things in dreams. A bomb had just gone off on a crowded street. To my right there was a pile of rubble from a collapsed wall, with about a dozen bodies in it. To my left was a tent where some first responders were just starting to set up a triage point.

I saw all this in no time, because my attention was immediately focused on one woman lying among the rubble to my right. She looked about middle-aged, in a black hijab, and she was alive, and not wounded at all, but she lay among the dead, not moving, because she was cradling her dead baby.

She did not cry, or move, or look around, or give any sign that she saw any of the commotion around her. She just held her baby close and stared at her baby’s lifeless face with blank, empty eyes.

Again, this took less than a second to take in. I must have started to wake up, because I had a horrible moment of confusion where I thought the woman was either Kathleen or I, and the baby was either Evie or Ellie. Then I was awake with my heart going about 180 BPM, and Kathleen breathing softly beside me, and my rosary in my hand. The real strange part is that I felt a sudden reassurance that it was a dream, and that the girls were safe and well in their beds in their room. This assurance was so strong and complete that I didn’t feel the need to get up and go check on them, which is completely out of character for me.

There was more to it as I drifted back off to sleep, before I completely passed out, but that doesn’t really matter. I was left with two strong impressions. One was of the Blessed Mother weeping for her children: “And a sword of sorrow shall pierce your soul.” The other was the certainty that I was being asked to pray and fast and offer sacrifices for the children of poverty and war: “Blessed are they who mourn.

I don’t want you to think this is some kind of PTSD thing, or anything silly like that. It isn’t. It was a completely fictitious, though plausible dream, not based on any real experience of mine. Nor would I consider it a spiritual experience, except in the way that every experience is spiritual, since we are spiritual beings.

It may seem like a strange thing to share in a Family Friday, and it is, but there is a point to it, which is really the reason we do Family Friday at all. That is, we hope to show that Family is the great adventure of our time; that it is good, it is beautiful, it is meaningful, and it is worth it.

Planting flowers!

It is also fragile and vulnerable. Our relatively happy, stable and peaceful family life coexists in a world where children are murdered, families are torn apart, lives are ended too soon, souls are lost to hatred, violence, addiction. These things happen in Syria, in Cambodia, in Nigeria, in Tacoma, in your home town. We are at war. We are in a spiritual war against demons of unimaginable power, cunning and malice, and their all too real human allies and minions. We are supported by beings of light, and incomprehensible strength, intelligence and burning charity, and by the saints, known and unknown.

But we are at war. Our happy family exists on a battlefield, and is a target in the war spiritually, if not also physically. It is never far from my mind, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. (There is a difference between eternal vigilance and paranoia. The key difference is a sense of humor.)

But more to the point, I think, is that I want you, the readers, to remember that there are children who deserve a stable happy family no less than Evie and Ellie and your children do. Do not feel guilty because you have some happiness and stability, and they do not. This is not a privilege that we were given and they were not, it is a human right that they have been horrifically denied.

Do something to give it back to them. Pray and Fast. Give to worthy charities. Adopt. Join an NGO. Whoever has two tunics should share with the one who has none. Whoever has peace and security and financial stability should share with those who do not. You don’t need to look in Aleppo. They are not far from your door.

And enjoy the gifts you have been given with gratitude. Do not take them for granted. Hug your children and your spouse, be there for them, love them with every fiber of your being.

And that’s all for this week, or rather for the last two weeks. It has been a very busy, and I hope not too depressing, post. Please do pray and fast. It can move mountains.

And live with a grateful heart.

God Bless you all!

Happy Friday, Y’all! This is a great Family Friday because Mommy has the day off today!

She asked for the day off months ago when we had plans to go camping this weekend. However, most of the people who were going to go camping with us had other things come up, so we ended up cancelling our camping plans.

Just as well because we have a good deal of work to do this weekend. Just like last weekend.

It was great last week. The girls stayed over at Deedee and Papa’s house on Thursday night so Ryan and Kathleen could have a date. Then when Ryan went up to pick them up on Friday he got the chance to do some man work for a change. He turned this…

Into this…

It was also the weekend of Kids Camp at the Swiss park.

So we went and met Mommy there after supper. Our kids are too young for Kids Camp yet, but Kathleen has been going there for 22 years with only one miss, and old habits die hard. (We missed last year because we were at the beach, watching Evie meet the ocean for the first time).

But the girls like playing on the old school play ground (all metal and wood, because Swiss people don’t replace anything until it has fallen apart three times).

It’s a great place to get them all… “tired” out!

They also like seeing the decorations for the play that the kids do on Sunday,

and Evie is fascinated by the Schwingen Pit.

“Daddy! Come wrestle with me!”

Kathleen comes from a long line of Fondue serving ladies.

Get it? A long line? Cause there’s a long line of ladies in the picture?

We have begun harvesting beets this week. They have not been doing so well, but we got enough for one good meal of butter beets and carrots.

It is one of Ryan’s favorite summer dishes. Super easy, you just cut up some fresh raw beets and carrots, and either steam them and then fry it in butter, or just fry it in butter without steaming until it is tender and delicious.

The weather has been fairly hot and dry, which is perfect for homemade popsicles and playing in the pool.

We have transitioned from “time outs” to planking for Evie as a disciplinary measure, since she listens better while planking than while sitting. The better she listens, the faster she gets to recover. This will probably not work for Ellie, however. She thinks planking is a great game, and she is actually really good at it (comes of being shorter and more compact than her sister).

Look at that form!

We have been having a great time outside, but sometimes it’s too hot to play out there for little girls born and bred in the Pacific Northwest. Then legos inside is a great option.

Then on to the main event for the week. Daddy and the girls went up to Deedee and Papa’s house to strip their bean plants of the last of the beans (Deedee already canned all she wants for this year). Ellie loves working in the garden and is actually pretty good at picking, for not being two years old.

Evie does not like working in the garden, but she thought the Velcro effect of the leaves was fun.

We picked a lot of beans.

A LOT!

And Mommy bought another 25 Lbs from the Greek produce store near her work.

Fortunately she got off work a little bit early on Wednesday so she had about 10 Lbs of it snipped by the time the rest of the family got home, and was able to get started canning while Daddy and Evie snipped more beans.

Evie does not like being made to work, as we have said, but she agreed that if she lives in this house and eats food with everyone else, it is only fair that she do her share of the beans.

And boy is she proud of herself when she finishes her pan of beans!

And that’s what we are still up to today, canning beans. Kathleen had one batch going before the girls got up, then Ellie helped wash more beans…

Ellie always wants to help.

While Evie and Daddy made muffins for breakfast.

Looks like we will have 31 quarts when they are all canned.

That’s all for this week, folks. Have a great weekend, and pray for us.

God Bless!

Happy Family Friday, Y’all!

Nothing like a quiet Saturday morning at home for some Family Breakfast time.

Lots of jelly making going on last week. We picked a gallon or so of raspberries at Dude’s house on Sunday.

Ellie is really good at picking raspberries. She even puts some of them in the bucket!

Evie and Ellie love hanging out with Dude and Susie.

Then we went to Deedee and Papa’s house, where we picked more berries

And ate some delicious berry pie.

Of course then we had to turn the berries into something, jelly, or jam, or pie filling or something. You would think you could just freeze them and put them in the freezer until you needed them, but that is actually more work than canning them. They have to be carefully laid out in pans and then frozen (which means clearing out a space in the freezer, the real bottleneck of the process) and frozen, then have the frost knocked off before they are bagged. Otherwise they freezer burn.

Fortunately, the squeezo is so easy to use that a couple of two little girls can reduce a gallon of raspberries to juice in about ten minutes. Raspberry lemonade concentrate anyone?

Daddy found two ripe blackberries on one of his ruckmarches….

So it begins!

They will be coming in hard in a couple weeks.

Our garden is coming along somewhat fitfully these days. It is an unusually cold and wet July around here. One of our San Marzano tomatoes has blossom rot, but the other one is doing nicely.

The rest of the tomatoes are only blossoming so far.

Something has been eating our pepper plants alive, something we haven’t been able to find yet, but we suspect it is aphids. Fortunately, some ladybugs have moved in and have set up housekeeping on the beans…

And on the chamomile.

We will see if they are able to get the aphids in check once they all hatch.

Then comes the weekend and packing for our camping trip!

Think two pounds of butter will be enough for three days, two nights?

Especially when we are bringing all kinds of other food? You bet! Butter makes Mommy’s world go round!

Meanwhile, Daddy does not understand Evie and Ellie’s fascination with Mommy’s fancy shoes.

So there we were, Friday afternoon after Mommy got home from work, we all piled into the old rattlebang and drove out to Scenic Beach State Park. We arrived a little after 7:00 PM, well past the girls’ supper time (actually past their bedtime too) so they we were super rambunctious and over-excited.

While Daddy set up the tent with the girls’ help, Mommy got the Dutch oven going and heated up some of her home-made coconut shrimp. Ronny and Amanda and RJ joined us while we were getting this set up, and we had a lovely meal together.

Of course it was a late night, almost 10:30 when we went to bed, and the girls were super tired. Ellie was almost beside herself. She did not want to lay down anywhere out of arms reach of Mommy and Daddy.

But sleep conquers even the tiredest of babies eventually, and all the kids passed out before midnight.

Which was perfect, since they all woke up again at 5:30 on Saturday morning. Yay! Camping!

Mommy got the breakfast started in style with a raspberry cream cheese breakfast bake.

Evie tided herself over by licking the remaining filling out of the empty bowl.

The cast iron certainly got a workout over the weekend.

Saturday after breakfast we hiked along the trail down to the beach. Turns out Ellie is a great hiker. She handled half a mile hike along a very rough trail full of roots and rocks,

not to mention running around on the rocky beach and climbing up the barnacle encrusted logs.

Yes, the beaches in Washington are rocky. Yes the water is cold and dirty. Still a great time for a family with young kids. Daddy even made a sling and threw some zingers 100+ meters out into the Hood Canal.

As might be expected, the small people were all over-tired cranky butts by lunchtime, so we put them down for a nap. They were out in about half a decade of the Rosary or less. While they were sleeping Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne came with Edmund and Annarose, so after naps all the kids went down to the playground to shake their sillies out, and wiggle their waggles away. Except RJ, who was still resisting a rest and consequently could not be happy.

But he rocks a great chin beard, just like his dad.

Cousins!

Uncle Adam brought his backpack weighted with 60+ Lbs of peat gravel to carry around for exercise, since he hadn’t gotten a run in that morning. Not content with that, we decided to up the ante with a little Dad-ruck action.

Saturday was an even later night. The kids had all gotten enough of a nap (even RJ) that excitement was stronger than sleepiness, so we were up past 11. Oh well.

Ryan was up at 5:30 tending the fire all by himself until first Ronny and then Ellie joined him.

She rocks a great bedhead.

Eventually, everyone meandered out for breakfast and packing up the campsite, before heading in to Gig Harbor for 11:00 Mass.

Good weekend. Ryan and Ronny cracked this open Friday night, and with Adam’s help managed to finish it before bed on Saturday.

Consequently we didn’t touch any of the beer we had brought but this was so smooth and fiery that no one missed it.

Now here we are, on the home again, doing our regular home thing. Ryan is job searching, so far unsuccessfully. Everyone keeps saying, “We’d love to hire you for this job… after you have a couple years of experience doing the job.” No, experience in the military as a medic doesn’t seem to carry any weight on a resume. Oh well, we’ll keep searching and praying.

We had a minor setback in the garden, with the unusually blustery summer weather. It blew the lid on the planter box shut and shattered one of the windows.

We will probably end up replacing it with plexi glass, lighter, cheaper and more durable.

But mostly it’s just the usual work, school and family stuff, aka:

Reading books,

Drinking bubble tea

Daddy got the matcha milk tea expecting the girls to leave it alone. Evie wasn’t impressed by it, but Ellie refused to let go of it.

And growing up way too fast (and also reading more books).

And that’s all for this week, folks. God Bless, have a great weekend, and God Bless.

Hello all!

Daddy came home on Sunday! He and his buddies started driving as soon as they were done with work on Saturday and drove through until midnight with only one major mishap involving a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and a (probably) shady tire dealership. We crushed some miles and got in a little after midnight so Daddy was able to be home when Mommy woke up on Sunday morning. And then a little later when the little girls woke up. Ellie was holding up her hands and saying “Hug! Hug!” about every five minutes for the first two or three hours. So it was good to be home.

After Mass and lunch we drove up to Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne’s house for burgers and dogs.

Aunty Kathleen figured out that all you need to do to be the center of attention for a bunch of Kraeger kids is to hold the food. All except Evie. She is strange and gets so excited she forgets to eat.

Ellie loves her Grandma Ann dresses, because they have pockets. Real pockets. Useful pockets for putting useful things in, like grapes and rocks and pinecones.

Tri-tip with bacon/veggie stirfry. Daddy is still in Team cooking mode, as you can see by the prominent lack of carbs.

Wednesday we made bread. Ellie helped.

We also made the dough for the doughnuts Mommy was planning on making for the Fourth, so that it could sit in the refrigerator and chill. Ellie is going to be a great cook someday, or baker, or both. She pays attention and has patience, and she loves dumping things and mixing things.

Evie is more of a “free spirit!”

We got a shredder from amazon, and Daddy shredded about a bushel and a half of newspaper shreddings. Evie and Ellie helped Daddy put it in the composter, which, we are happy to say is doing really well.

We have a few thousand worms, it looks like, with a beautiful bottom layer of well broken-down compost. It should be perfect to muck the garden with by the time winter comes.

Not much else to report until Thursday, which was the Fourth of July, obviously.

Naturally, we took the opportunity of a free day off in the middle of the week for everything it was worth. The girls drove, just to change things up a bit, and Daddy and Mommy rode in luxury in the back seat.

We went to a local orchard and purchased three flats of currants. Why three flats? Because Ryan has a poor eye for how far a given volume of fruit will go when transformed into jelly, and Kathleen has a taste for biting off more than she can chew.

Ellie helping herself to a container of currants. Sorry, Kiddo, those are already picked and cleaned. You get the ones in clusters and pick them yourself.

That was a lot of picking and cleaning, but then it was time to set up the SQUEEZO!

Everyone loves the squeezo. It’s been a hit since it was first introduced in the early 20th century. A four-year-old can mill eight pounds of currants in 10 minutes,

And maintain her attention almost the whole way through with only one short break.

It’s pure magic. Then of, course, comes the real art of mixing the sugar and pectin in the right quantities and boiling at the right temperature for the right length of time.

Careful! Hot Stuff!
And some boiling jelly.

Evie can’t help with that part yet, so she contented herself with cleaning up every last trace of spilled juice.

I have to say, I think it is one of the prettiest looking jellies Kathleen has turned out so far.

We spread the seeds and mash along the back fence behind the tiger lillies, the fence line that the neighbor’s weeds keep creeping under. Maybe in a few years the next owners of this house will have a private hedge/weed barrier of currant bushes.

More likely our friendly neighborhood possum family will have a delicious free snack.

After nap snack break.

Then it was time for Daddy to get some coals going and set a dutch oven of oil on to heat,

Waiting for the pot to boil.

while Mommy shaped the dough into nuts.

Doughsnuts!

Note to selves, it takes about an hour and a half for that DO to get up to 250+ degrees with 20 coals under it. This might be because down in the firepit it doesn’t get great air flow. If we do this for a party or something we’ll have to take that into account.

Of course the heat doesn’t have to be very precise, so we would probably just hang it over an open fire. But then again there might be issues with flair ups whenever the oil dripped or splashed. Coals are a good option, they just require a little extra lead time.

Today, Mommy had to go back to work so it was just Daddy and the girls. We ended up going up to Deedee and Papa’s house. Ellie helped pick strawberries.

Chipmunk Cheeks!

And Daddy split some more of Papa’s firewood and the girls had their first lesson in stacking wood.

And that’s all for this week, folks. Have a great rest of your weekend. Keep us in your prayers! God Bless!

It’s good to Family. It is also good to Friday.

Sometimes I look at the blog roll-up, and wonder what happened to my blogging. There is no variety in our blog titles. They all have the same name!

I used to be writing something thoughtful, topical, and (I hoped, at least) thought provoking, every day or so. I talked about topics, philosophy, martial arts, etc. Now all I talk about is Family Friday, and that only once a week if I’m lucky.

(Could be worse).

But the truth is, it’s good. It’s important, far more important than anything I used to write about.

There is a wonderful interview with Cardinal Carlo Caffara, Archbishop of Bologna, head of the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family under Saint John Paul, in which he relates a letter he received from Sister Lucia, the Fatima visionary. In it she says:
the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid, because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issuehowever, Our Lady has already crushed its head.”

And that is really the point of Family Friday. It is not just to keep Grandma Ann apprised of the West Coast shenanigans (although that is an important part of it).

Family Friday is first and foremost a fundamentally faith-filled phenomenon.

😀 (I don’t care for alliterated “f”s, but I couldn’t resist.

It is a witness. We try to be honest about the rough parts: deployments, work, tiredness…

We spare you most of the details of Evie’s stubbornness and Ellie’s ventures into two-year-old-ness.

She can be stubborn, and she doesn’t pay attention. Ellie also can be stubborn, but she always pays attention.

This is the neat table…

But we hope that by writing Family Friday as close to every Friday as we can, we can witness that in spite of everything, (and even in some ways because of everything) Family is possible and worthwhile.

“You know you love it!”

It is worth all of the loss of independence, time, energy and young-ness that we have given up, and all that we continue to give up. But it’s a mistake to think that we spend much time “giving things up.” There is sacrifice, but it’s hard even to call it sacrifice, because it’s just so much fun!

They keep us busy, and everything has meaning and value, because of them. People who live for themselves, and are self-determined don’t know what they are missing. You don’t live until you live for someone else.

I would never even try to make a pie like this for myself.

You have the chance to hit virtually every corporal and spiritual work of mercy multiple times, every single day.

Feed the hungry, anybody?

and then when you get up early to make a breakfast of delicious breakfast biscuits, you can enjoy hearing them complain that they don’t like biscuits, “because I don’t like the ham.”

More of Kathleen’s amazing barbecue sauce, now with a pint and a half of hot and spicy BBQ sauce (Ryan is the only one who eats spicy).

We have been busy with the usual busyness this week. Ryan has been working at his Family Medicine Preceptorship. He usually runs late and gets home tired, but it’s a great learning experience.

Kathleen is rocking the commute and running the vascular lab at her job in Olympia. Except that the power steering went out on the truck during her commute, but was fine the next morning when Ryan drove it. So now we are driving it around waiting for it to break again, so that’s fun.


We like to live on the edge. Which is why we let four-year-olds paint…

And 18-months-old bake.

Ellie also helped Daddy try his hand at great-grandpa Ted’s world famous pumpernickel recipe. She watched it bake and made sure it got hot correctly.

And we have become host to a pair of brush-tailed rats that have begun stealing our bird seed.

Sometime next month if Ryan has time he will commence a proper feud. If not he may just shoot them and eat them. Squirrel is pretty tasty, and by then they should have some good eating on them.

That’s all for this week, folks. Pray for families. If you don’t have anything urgent going on right now, consider becoming families. It’s a trip! And it makes God smile.

And now for some well-earned slumber. Good night, and God Bless!

Hurray!!! It’s Friday Again!

Family Friday 178 (8)
Ellie wants to write a letter to Daddy!

You know what that means? One week closer to Daddy coming home!

All right, let’s see, what have we been up to this week? Mommy and the girls went to visit Aunt Dude and Aunt Susie. Daddy called them while they were there.

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Ellie is telling Big Sister that Daddy is on the phone, but Evie is glued to the TV.

They played outside and helped Dude and Susie in the garden.

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Ellie is such a climber!

Then Mommy and Evie and Ellie went to visit our friend Kim. She was one of Daddy’s classmates in PA school, but now she is graduated and working as a PA. Next month she is going to start a fellowship in pediatric critical care (YAY! Go Kim!). She keeps her pet miniature donkey at a farm near Enumclaw, so she invited the girls to come and meet Neville the Donkey.

Miss Kim showed Evie how to curry comb Neville’s coat.

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Just like this, Evie. You have to be gentle.

Neville is a gentle soul, and he does not mind having his hair brushed (unlike some other people we could mention).

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Evie is a very good Neville-brusher.

She decided she needs a farm now.

Little does she know, Daddy grew up on a farm. Daddy is a farmer from way back! However, she has brushed more donkeys than Daddy has, so there is that.

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Ellie also enjoyed her time on the farm, but she was a little disappointed that Mommy wouldn’t let her eat the pretty flower.

Then on Monday while Evie was at school learning things, Mommy and Evie made mincemeat for some mincemeat pies when Daddy gets home. Evie likes helping Mommy in the kitchen.

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She is very good at mixing.

The mincemeat came out looking and smelling delicious.

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Yummy!

And now it is all put away until Daddy gets home. (He can’t wait!)

Meanwhile, Evie was working very hard at school. She is learning her letters very well. She recognizes quite a few of them, and when letters come in the mail she can tell which ones are for Mommy and which ones are for Evie. Evie Practicing FHowever, she was a bit confused when she saw Daddy writing a letter over the phone, and she thought it was for her, but it was actually for Ellie. “But that’s my letter E” she said!

We are sorry child. Your first letter is just one of the many, many things you will have to share with your baby sister for the rest of your lives.

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This is Evie practicing her counting.

She is fascinated by the fact that you can take one piece of paper and fold it three times to make eight rectangles. Which it is pretty mind-blowing if you think about it.

Evie really likes when Daddy calls with the skype video call because it has little emojis that Daddy can select, and they flash on the screen on her end. Her favorite one is the heart. She calls it, “The loving.”

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“Daddy, can you turn on the loving?” “Absolutely!”

Daddy is always willing to turn on the loving (especially for Mommy).

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Ellie is so proud of herself! She has a hairbrush and a toothbrush, and teeth to brush, and she can brush them just like Big Sister!

Meanwhile, Daddy is more or less getting by. We had a pretty wild night last Friday evening. These two young soldiers built a cat trap with a cardboard box, a sandbag, a stick and a string.

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Any moment now!

And we sat outside for about two hours waiting for a cat to take the bait (strictly catch and release). But it was too cold even for the cats, so no luck.

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Ellie says, “Daddy should come home. It’s warmer and more fun.”

And we have more delicious food.

And that’s all for this week, Folks. Have a good weekend, and remember to pray for us. God Bless!

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All she needs now is a patient with an ear to look into.

 

It is fall time in Washington. The weather is turning colder, but it hasn’t yet turned to drizzle.

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It is great snuggle weather

Actually, it has been remarkably fine. Fine enough that Evie was able to meet this fine fellow.

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He was just stopping by to say hello!

Meanwhile, only about an hour apart, but on the other side of the world, Daddy found his brother.

Preying Mantis
Daddy was on his way to church. Maybe this guy was too! Why else would he be…     praying?

Evie and Ellie have been enjoying lots of time at DeeDee and Papa’s house.

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Git around!

They wanted to start learning how to drive the quads. Evie insists she already knows how to do it. Ellie is content to ride.

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“This is fun! Faster Deedee!”

She knows all about her sister’s driving.

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“I’m driving!” “She’s driving?”

Ellie is harder to keep up with now for Mommy, since she finally decided to start walking this week. She has been standing for months, and she could walk with her push-elephant before Daddy even left, but the last few weeks she has been really hesitant to step out unassisted. We were wondering if she was planning on waiting for Daddy to get home. Then, all of a sudden, she walked!

 

And now she is walking all the time.

I love her happy little toddle!

She is so pleased with herself too!

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“What? What do you mean I can’t crawl up here? I just did!”

Mommy, meanwhile, happened upon an estate sale and made some important discoveries. One was a picnic table…

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Minus a bench, but is was less than $10. Daddy can build a new bench when he gets home.

And a pressure canner!

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Her new pride and joy.

Yay! Now she can can meat and pork and chicken and mincemeat and other kinds of meat!

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Crash course on pressure canning with Deedee.

And that’s all for this week folks. Have a great weekend. Keep us in your prayers.

God Bless!

Family Friday 176 (11)
Happy Friday Everybody!

It has been a normal, busy, otherwise uneventful week. Mommy was very fortunate to get to stay home because she didn’t have to work Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday (she swapped shifts with someone at work). But unfortunately, that means she has to work Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights. There is always something.

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Mommy cleaned out the whole vegetable garden!

Evie and Ellie are growing and learning things. Evie is learning to trace letters. She tells Mommy what she wants to say and Mommy writes it out, and then Evie traces it.

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Here she is tracing “I Love Daddy” s

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This is her picture of a blue eyed rabbit.

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This is her new crown.

We love this little girl so much, even when she is being a butt. (Yes, even our adorable Evie can be a butt sometimes).

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She is actually listening to instructions for a change in this picture.

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It’s just like a Daddy picnic, except no Daddy 😦

Daddy was busy ruckmarching. He Rucked 9 miles in just over 1:40:00 for an 11:17 average pace with a 50 Lb ruck.

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I can still move out when I have to.

Not quite what he used to do in the Q course, but that was eight years and 15 Lbs ago.

 

And as for Ellie…. she is getting another tooth! A top one this time. Soon she will be able to bite food and then it is on! The wonderful world of bacon will open up to her.

Family Friday 176 (2)
She does like her mornings with mommy when Big Sissie is at school.

Mommy made and canned more barbecue sauce this week. That’s the problem with making a delicious barbecue sauce, is that everyone keeps eating it, and then you have to keep making more.

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It’s okay, Mommy, Ellie will help.

She definitely has a stubborn streak, though. Just like her sister.

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I do it myself!

But really, they get along wonderfully, they are happy and growing and slowly learning to love. That is the really important thing.

That’s all for this week! Keep us in your prayers. Have a great weekend! God Bless.