In Which…

Deedee is not in the picture because she is taking the picture.

Christmas 2019 Happens!

Yes, we are really that thrilled about it. But first, let’s take it back to the Saturday before Christmas, where our last Family Friday left off. (I like putting it that way. It makes it sound like our lives are an adventure story series with a storyline and arc and character development and all that. Which, of course, they are, but we the actors are not usually privy to the script.)

It was a stay-at-home kind of Saturday, so we made pumpkin spice muffins. Mostly because Daddy wanted to bake something sweet(ish) and Mommy wanted to make space in the cupboard.

The cousins came over so Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne could go on a date. Things got a little crazy…

After that we decided to make pizza.

G’Pa P’s original secret sauce recipe!? (Only slightly modified!)

Oh yeah! This is happening.

I must say, this was one of the best pizza doughs we have ever made.

Pizza dough is something of an art, at least as much as it is a science.

You can control all the factors, but it will still surprise you. In fact, it is best not to try to control too much, but to leave it room to surprise you, often quite pleasantly, as happened this time.

You can add exactly the same amount of everything every time, mix it at exactly the same speed, for exactly the same length of time, in the same temperature and humidity conditions and it will still come out slightly different every time.

This is because Pizza is not just a food. It is a mystical experience that transcends the laws of the physical universe.

I started writing a book about it once, and then I lost it in a terrible computer crash. Maybe someday I will return to that project and hold forth for a few hundred pages upon the Theology of Fine Pizza.

I know y’all are holding your breaths for that one.

Our Christmas cookie game was pretty weak this year. In fact, it was almost non-existent. I say almost because we did throw one weak play right at the very end. We opened the book of “Lost Recipes of America” to a random cookie page, and made the cookies on that page. A type of molasses cookie called “Joe Froggers,” with an interesting back story that I will not share due to copyrights and such, and also the fact that it is getting past our bedtime.

5 1/2 dozen molasses cookies. They turned out quite delicious, for those of us who like molasses.

It used up most of the last of our rum, but no one is drinking it these days so no great loss there.

The girls helped by playing outside and eating the last of the pumpkin muffins (they went quick!) and drinking hot cocoa.

Then Christmas Eve came around. We knew it was a-coming, but it still kind of hit us out of nowhere. We kind of winged it (wung it?) the whole two days, to be honest. Deedee and Papa and Gigi joined us for the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass and carol service. Afterwards we cam home to eat a light supper and watch the girls’ shenanigans.

The girls didn’t wait to get out of their Church dresses before moving Mary and Joseph to the stable. Then we wrapped Baby Jesus in a flowery muslin bookmark and placed him in the manger.

Then we got into jammies, before summoning the shepherds. We thought that was only fair, to give Mama Mary at least a few minutes of rest before a bunch of shepherds and their sheep stopped by to visit.

Especially the way Big Sissy arranges them.

It was a quiet evening for the grownups, and an energetic one for the girls.

They were very spinny in Daddy’s computer chair.

They were bouncing off the walls until 9:30, almost. Which, considering that we try to have them in bed by 7:30 most nights, is pretty late. We did get them to take one sitting-still picture with Gigi.

So then it was Christmas Morning, and the usual chaos ensued.

Then it was up to Deedee and Papa’s house for Christmas 2.0. Of course they received too many presents for us to take pictures of them all, and it would be boring reading anyway. Plus, it’s not the point of Christmas anyway. Suffice to say, many and marvelous were the gifts.

At the breakfast table Big Sissy was bouncing up and down and demanding “When are we going to open presents? When am I going to get my presents? Can open presents now?”

So we told her: “Getting presents is not the most important part of Christmas, kiddo. Do you know what is the most important part of Christmas?”

Her answer: “Getting presents?”

I see we are going to have to rethink our Christmasing strategy for next year. Of course it is perfectly natural for a four-year-old to think about getting presents more than anything else. However, it is a bit unreasonable of us to say that Jesus’ Birthday is the most important part of Christmas, and then spend 50% of the day on presents, and not expect her to get that wrong.

So next year we will probably focus more on them giving than on receiving, though right now we have no idea what that will look like.

But that’s all for now, and time for us to go to bed. Pray for us! God Bless.

Merry Christmas (because it goes until Epiphany), Happy Feast of the Holy Family (because that is tomorrow!) and Happy New Year! (Because it’s probably going to be pretty intense).

God Bless!

There are times I wonder how the human race ever survived past toddlerhood. I don’t expect toddlers have ever been other than they are, possessing more energy than judgment, and unreasonably confident of their own opinions. The fact that we all survived it is a testament to the hardihood of the species, if not necessarily to the genius and tact of parents. Indeed, I am more and more convinced every day that a great deal of maturing occurs in spite of, rather than because of, any given parenting strategy.

Ignore the basket of clean laundry on the table. It is a different basket of clean laundry than the one in Family Friday.

Everything in the picture above should be the sort of food that a human could not be picky about. We were cleaning out leftovers and we had leftover sausage, cheese, apple, and homemade pie crust. Some weeks are like that. So Ryan diced up the apple and sausage, fried it in butter, and topped it with cheese. He also wrapped apple slices in piecrust with cheese and cinnamon and baked them.

How could anyone refuse this? And yet, E1 picked out the apple and left everything else, and E2 picked out the sausage and left everything else.

All toddlers go through a picky eating stage I suppose. I sometimes muse on the possible reasons for that. Do baby monkeys do the same thing? Did our prehistoric forebears scream and throw their mammoth burgers on the cave floor when they were two and demand pterodactyl nuggets? What evolutionary or developmental purpose could it possibly serve?

Or, here is an interesting question. Did it serve an evolutionary or developmental purpose? Given that, most likely, during the vast majority of human history much of our species simply lacked the ability to provide much of a variety in the diet, particularly in agricultural societies. Most non-hunter-gatherer societies originally started out farming one or two staple crops that rotated on a seasonal basis. The majority of the diet of all but the wealthy members of urban centers likely ate the same thing, or variations on a theme, every day for most of their lives.

Also, most likely, there was a good deal less of it, not to mention the kids probably spent the bulk of their time out doors in the weather, moving and shaking with their peers in the larger social unit. Perhaps getting toddlers to clean their plate (or wooden spoon, or banana leaf, or fingers) did not present as much of a challenge to former generations of parents. The kids were hungrier, there was not an unlimited supply of choices for them to prefer (it’s hard to demand kraft mac-&-cheese when it hasn’t been invented yet) and the threat of “Eat fast or there won’t be any left” was not idle.

Also, I think it likely that parents prior to the relative prosperity of the 20th century simply didn’t concern themselves about it too much. The kids might like what was on offer, or he might not, but they weren’t going to starve themselves. They probably had fewer scruples about kids going to bed hungry.

In fact, I wonder if the “clean your plate” mantra isn’t rather a modern phenomenon, perhaps since the depression. I can see parents in the ’40’s and ’50’s who grew up with real hunger and deprivation priding themselves on their ability to put full plates in front of their kids, and subtly or not so subtly, insisting that all food be cleaned up at every meal. I can also see the arguments of those who blame our obesity epidemic (or their own obesity) in part on having been forced to clean their plates as kids. In other words, they were trained to stop eating based on an external signal (an empty plate or table) rather than an internal one (satiety).

All of this is empty speculation, which really has nothing to do with the problem at hand, i.e. how or whether to get the girls to eat when they don’t like what’s for supper.

Now mind you, we don’t go out of our way to cook things they won’t like. In fact, most of the time we take their last known likes into consideration, since that makes mealtime simpler and more pleasant for everyone. We do, however, object to having our menu dictated by a pair of pint-sized gourmands who can’t even agree to like the same things. We also object to cooking a separate menu for each person at the table. And finally, we do insist that they eat a somewhat balanced diet.

So usually we require them to eat some part of everything at the table. We serve what we consider a reasonable amount of each item, and they have a “get down pile” and a “dessert pile.” The “get down pile” is the bare minimum amount they need to eat in order to be allowed to say all-done-prayers and go about their business. It is what experience has taught us they need to eat in order to avoid the complaint of “Hungry! Meat!” (from E2) strategically at bed time. The bedtime routine is already involved enough without complicating it unnecessarily with low blood sugar and snacks, not to mention eating right before bed is not a great habit to get into.

The dessert pile is what they have to eat if they want dessert (assuming a dessert is on offer). This is based upon the theory that if you are hungry enough to want a bowl of sherbet, then you probably have room for a few more vegetables and some meat that will stay with you longer and nourish you more. And if they decide they don’t have room for that, they are welcome to do without the dessert. No hurt feelings.

It is really hard to teach most toddlers to say no to food that they really want but it is very possible to teach them how to eat food they do not want to eat. After several years of working on it, E1 can eat anything we put in front of her with only a little complaining. In this case E2 is so much easier to teach than E1 was. She doesn’t scream at the top of her lungs, at least, and she has her older sister’s example to follow most evenings. This, alas, is the burden of being the oldest. Your parents make you do it first, and then your siblings get to learn from your mistakes, if they are of the persuasion to do so.

It may seem like a lot of hassle and unnecessary thought, but there is a profound connection between how we handle ourselves in relation to food, and the whole rest of our mental and emotional and even spiritual health. The ability to say no to more food than is good for us is of obvious importance, but the ability to eat things we don’t like, cheerfully and without letting on that we don’t like them is hugely beneficial in life. For starters, it is the best way to learn to like new things. It opens up whole worlds of “acquired tastes” that are every bit worth the acquiring. It opens doors in every human culture. I cannot even count the number of times I have built bridges with people from other cultures and earned their welcome by doing absolutely nothing more than eating the food they offered me and thanking them for it. This is a very basic, but very meaningful form of courtesy, which begins the work that all courtesy is oriented towards. It takes us out of ourselves, and teaches us that we are not the center of our own little universes, but rather welcome guests in a universe that is greater, grander and more beautiful than anything we could possibly have imagined on our own.

Yesterday Papa Murphy had a deal for a free pepperoni or cheese pizza with purchase of a qualifying large or family sized pizza. Basically two larges for $26-ish. Kathleen forwarded me the email containing the deal early in the morning while I was doing Korean class. By afternoon we still had not figured out what we were going to do for supper, but we both decided we were not hungry enough to warrant two large pizzas. So I looked around the refrigerator, and scanned the kitchen and pulled out some ingredients, and my new cast-iron pizza pan I got for Father’s day, but haven’t used yet.

We were going to make “Watcha Got Pizza.”

These days we can’t pull out a pan in the kitchen without Ellie coming running from wherever she is in the house yelling, “Cooking? Cooking? Help! Help!” Perhaps because of that, Evie has started to ask to help to and actually get excited about cooking.

We started with the dough, as always. This time I wanted to try something new, and a little sweeter than a typical pizza dough.

  • 1 1/4 cups white all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 TBS yeast

Evie mixed the molasses in the boiling water until it was all dissolved, and then I added the milk. I added the yeast while Evie stirred it very gently to soften it, and then we set it aside to activate. Ellie dumped the cups of flour into the mixing bowl as I measured them, and then we added the activated yeast and mixed with a spatula until it was read to knead. At this point Evie took over the dough, carefully kneading and folding it, while Ellie greased the pizza pan…

with butter.

And we set the dough aside to rise on the pan, and prepped the toppings.

  • Olive oil
  • One large apple, diced.
  • Two aidel’s sausages, (bacon, mushroom, swiss flavor) diced
  • 1/2 leftover onion, diced
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • sliced havarti
  • shredded mozzarella

Evie and Ellie provided quality control on the ingredients as I diced them (Evie convinced her little sister to try a large bite of onion, as a true older sibling should). Then they helped me put the onions in the Oklahoma skillet which I had preheated and oiled with the olive oil.

Evie is so pleased that she can use the little dough roller.

I sautéed the onions for about five minutes, maybe more. I was going for a slightly sweeter pallet so I wanted them well caramelized. I then threw in the brown sugar and apple, and continued to sauté until the apple started to get just a little soft around the edges (don’t want it too soft or it will turn to applesauce when the pizza bakes).

It was at this point that I saw that Ellie had traded her roller for her fists…

But I was busy adding ingredients so I just said, “Gentle touch, Ellie,” and kept sautéing.

A quick turn to brown the sausage and the topping was ready.

And Ellie had torn four large gaps in our dough. Evie was devastated, but we were able to patch it back together tolerably well.

Then we preheated the oven to 425 while waiting for Mommy to get home. We baked the pizza without the cheese for 7:30, and then topped with Havarti…

And filled in the gaps with mozzarella.

And another 7:30 minutes, and we were done.

Buon Appetite!

It’s summer-time, y’all!

Now technically, I get it, it isn’t summertime. YET! Technically! blah, blah, blah. But as my momma always said, “Summer is as summer does.”

Saturday before last was cloudy, chilly, windy, but we went out to the master gardener sale in Puyallup.

So did everyone else, apparently.

Unfortunately, they were fresh out of master gardeners for sale, so we settled for two tomatoes and two gerania (plural of geranium. Because Latin).

We also had to go to Costco to buy some big pots to put our new tomatoes in. The girls helped, of course.

We now have four pots of three different varieties of tomatoes! It is going to be awesome sauce!

Sunday morning was a good morning to look out the window and enjoy our bird-feeder.

Sunday before last was Divine Mercy Sunday. Evie was not feeling well in the morning, but she felt much better after sleeping most of the morning. We celebrated by having Adam and Maryanne and the kids over for a pig-wrapped-pig roast.

That’s right. That’s pork loin wrapped in bacon. Grilled low and slow to (almost) perfection, it was quite delectable.

So much fun, letting the little folks run around outside, even though Mommy had to take Evie to Mass in the evening to make up for her being sick in the morning.

That’s really the whole point of having a back yard, so that the kids can play in it.

Since then the weather has mostly been really nice. It is chilly in the mornings, and our lupins collect dew.

But it gets warm enough by evening for us to hang out in the hammock and read books or play bubbles after supper, until bedtime.

Sometimes we just like to stroll along the edge of the garden and watch it growing. That is how we discovered this sign of hope on the ancient grapevine we transplanted from Deedee and Papa’s house back in February.

See? Life goes on (Oh-bla-dee, Oh-bla-dah). That grapevine is over fifty years old, but it will come back yet, probably next year. Right now it is probably building its roots under the dirt where we can’t see, but it ain’t finished yet.

Life goes on, Blessed Be the Lord!

It has been a busy couple of weeks, and last weekend was the busiest part of it because it was drill weekend. Silly National Guard.

Ryan looks super thrilled about this whole Airborne thing. Diego, on the other hand, is stoked!

Airborne is not really his thing. Heights, you know.

Meanwhile, Mommy kept him abreast of everything going on at home. Such as…

New shoes for the Ellie!

Fashion shows…

New hair styles…

And breakfast drama…

Kathleen took the girls up to visit Deedee and Papa. Deedee had a hip replacement on Monday and they wanted to wish her a happy recovery. She is recovering quite well, actually, and is done with the walker and graduated to a cane.

Papa and Uncle Pat had gotten the play house re-roofed and open for business!

Then Kathleen took the girls to Dude’s house and dropped them off there and then had a wonderful evening going to a baby sale with Amanda. (That’s what those two do for fun, they bargain hunt). Daddy got done with drill early enough to take the girls to the Saturday evening vigil Mass, which was good because he was working all day Sunday.

They love the grotto at Saint Andrew’s.

This is the sort of logistical nightmare we have every drill weekend. But by Sunday afternoon it was over, and Daddy could start growing his beard again and come home to see what his girls had been up to.

Evie built a bridge. She says it is “over troubled waters.”

Evie and Mommy made bread together.

Then we sat on the hammock while Evie fed us soup that she had made herself.

The week chugs on as usual, busy days, and a valiant effort to keep the one or two hours we have in the evening between getting home and going to bed as casual as possible. I think it was Greg Popcak who said that the strongest marriages in his practice spend at least 14 hours together per week. When we’re both working full time, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for extra-curricular activities.

God is good. Most of our stress is self-inflicted. Even half an hour a day to sit and be together is a priceless gift.

Have a great weekend, enjoy Family Friday on a Friday for a change. 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!

Happy Friday, Y’all!

Let me just say, last weekend was delightful. Neither Mommy nor Daddy had to work, and we had nowhere we had to go except shopping (can’t have everything, right?) and the weather was beautiful.

We made latkas out of leftover mashed potatoes and topped them with fried bacon, apple and onion. Yes. It was as delicious as it sounds.

Ellie’s favorite drawer to play in. She likes to sort through it while Mommy and Daddy are cooking.

Then we went out to buy food, and came home for lunch and naps. Well, one nap, at least. Ellie took a nap. Mommy made some lentil soup to can for Lent. Daddy doesn’t believe in naps and Evie is too big for naps, so we went out to color with chalk.

The shadow of the truck suggested an Idea to Daddy…

“Daddy! I’m riding an Elephant!”

We also collaborated on a dragon. Evie drew the fire around the head and the butt…

Apparently this dragon has been hitting the extra spicy salsa.

When Ellie woke up from her nap we had popsicles and bubbles on the deck.

It was Ellie’s first time chasing bubbles, as she was too little last summer. She was entranced by them. It always amazes me how much magic there is in a little water with soap and sugar in it.

Then Daddy and the Girls went for a ruckmarch. Mommy couldn’t go because she was busy tending the pressure canner. We did not want it to blow up in our absence, so we thought it best someone stay behind to regulate its temp and pressure.

Since Evie took the trouble to carry that rock almost the whole ruckmarch, she had more than earned the right to paint it when we got back.

And we closed out the day with a nice, relaxing supper, a bath (which became relaxing when the Washing of the Hair was over), and some books before bed.

Pressure canning soup is a long process, but worth it.

By bed time Kathleen had added an additional three quarts to the stash.

On Sunday we had our old friend and pastor, Fr. Peter over for dinner, along with our friends Ronny and Amanda and their son RJ. Fr. Peter was our former pastor at St. Frances Cabrini, founder of the young adult group where Ryan and Kathleen met, and the priest who officiated our wedding. Ronny was a member of that young adult group. Now Fr. Peter is a pastor up in the great white north, up near Alaska or Marysville or some such benighted wilderness. Ronny is married and has a son.

Time flies, doesn’t it?

Being good hosts and bad bloggers, we have no pictures from the evening except this one of Evie helping to make the pizzas.

And these ones of Kathleen making the mincemeat pie.

Even Ellie is big enough to help make pizzas now.

Let’s see, what else did we do? Ryan is having fun in the ER. Lots of interesting patients, and great stories I can’t tell because of HIPAA. Some happy, some funny, some sad, but that’s the ER.

The beard helps to reassure the patients.

Daddy had the day off on Tuesday due to the way the ER schedule played out, so he and Ellie had a busy day running errands after we dropped Evie off at school. Our travels finally took us to the Camp McChord Commissary and Px where we had lunch. Ellie thoroughly enjoyed the popeye’s gourmet Cajun fries.

Ellie saw the coin-operated merry-go-round and asked very politely if she could “up! up!” So Daddy set her on the merry-go-round horse. He happened to have some quarters so he dropped them in, thinking she would think that was awesome.

Turns out she was not expecting it to move. She didn’t quite fall off, but she lost her grip with one hand and Daddy had to stabilize her, and then she had a patiently puzzled rather than an excitedly joyous face the whole time.

Plus the darn thing didn’t even play any music, which I thought was a bit cheap. $0.50 and you don’t even get a synthesized calliope?

A brand new box of sidewalk chalk arrived on Tuesday, and we couldn’t wait to try out the new colors.

We went out for dinner with Deedee and Papa on the spur of the moment, which, when you think about it, is pretty amazing. A lot of people cannot afford the time or the money to do that, but we can. It is an amazing gift, one that demands to be shared.

One other little adventure, we ordered a box of worms for our compost pile. Evie and Daddy had fun dumping them into the compost before we went to school.

Evie’s comment: “Oh! They’re so cute!”

At this point we are not sure how they are going to do, whether the moisture balance is right, whether we have enough paper and such in there to keep them satisfied. It’s an experiment. One of these days we’ll move far enough out of the city to have a proper composter, i.e. a pen full of pigs or chickens.

That’s all for this week folks! Have a great weekend. God Bless!

This Family Friday starts with a walk in the park.

Family Friday 169 (1)
See Daddy? I can climb like big Sis!

Evie, not to be outdone…

Family Friday 169 (2)
Daddy! I can climb up here!

It was Ellie’s first time going down a slide all by herself.

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She remains unimpressed with the down part, but she loves to try to climb back up.

Meanwhile Mommy and Grandma were going saling at a yard sale, and marketing farmers at a farmer’s market. But when they were finished they joined Daddy and the girls at the park and we started picking blackberries into one of the new antique bowls Mommy bought.

Family Friday 169 (35)
Reach, Daddy, Reach!

It is blackberry season in Western Washington and they are growing literally everywhere, in parks, on the sides of roads, along hiking trails, everywhere.

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Berries galore.

Then we turned most of them into jelly, some of them into a pie, and the rest of them into bruiseberry oatmeal bars.

(What is a bruiseberry oatmeal bar, you ask? Simple!!! You make an oatmeal bar with both blackberries and blueberries. Because then its a…

black-and-blue-berry bar!


Family Friday 169 (36)
Straining the seeds out to make jelly.

Evie got an alarm clock.

Family Friday 169 (37)
As advertised, she was quite alarmed when it went off at the end of her nap. 

Evie was hired to perform QC on our blackberry jelly as Mommy made it.

She even tried her hand at making her own jelly upstairs.

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It turned out delicious!

But then we suffered… AN INJURY!

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Behold. An X-ray.

Poor Grandma was walking down the stairs and she slipped and fell and broke her toe. It was just as Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne were on their way to drop Edmund off. Grandma was going to watch the kids, while the younger adults went to a welcome home party for a friend who just got back from deployment. However, no one except Grandma thought it was a good idea for her to be chasing after two toddlers and a 9-month-old with a broken toe. So Ryan stayed home with the kids, Kathleen took Grandma to the hospital, and Uncle Adam and Auntie Maryanne went to the party.

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Ellie wants to be in the box with the big cousins!

But we all had a lot of fun, and it looks like Grandma is going to be just fine.

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Enjoying some bruiseberry oatmeal bars.

On Sunday we went to the Annual 4US fundraiser at Auntie Celyn’s family’s house. As always the food was amazing and the hospitality was top notch. It was great to see so many old friends.


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Then we did some regular week stuff. Daddy was on leave so he had plenty of time to do things with the girls. Like:

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Teach Evie important life skills, AKA, how to wrap an ankle with an ACE wrap.

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Daddy got a sticker for being good.

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Taking Ellie to the park.

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Blueberry picking at Dude’s house

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Ellie hunted blueberries on the ground, but since the ground ones were all rotten, we gave her an apple.

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Taking a break to feed the Ellie and rest the foot.

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Dude gave us a new laundry basket.

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Having fun with lunch.

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Swimming in the pool.

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That is a ton of blueberries that have to be picked through by hand.

Then on Thursday we drove up to Fort Flagler to see the old historic site.


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Family Friday 169 (25)
Evie: “Daddy, please let me out of here!”

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Did you get your tickets… to the GUN SHOW?!

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Evie got to see some mule deer pretty close. They were very used to being gawked at by small humans.


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That look! 😮

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Daddy and Ellie setting up the picnic. 

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Evie is too busy for picnics. Also too busy to untuck her dress in back.

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“This stuff is amazing!”

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“I’ll just help myself to this big stack of it. Do you mind?”

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Nothing like a wee drop of something after dinner. 

On the way home we stopped at Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne’s to chat and pick some of their amazing blackberries.

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They have such a nice, secluded little area. It’s great for just relaxing and chilling.

Needless to say, when we got home, the berry situation was a little overwhelming. Rather than make dinner we ordered Papa John’s and got right to work. We made two pies, froze another pie’s worth of blackberries, and Mommy canned four pints of blueberry pie filling that night before bed.

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Mommy up early to make blueberry jelly.

It has been a week of canning, in odd spare hours between work and adventuring. Here are some of the good things that resulted.

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Blueberry jelly, blueberry pie filling, blackberry jelly, and BBQ sauce.

Daddy has to go on a trip soon, so mostly we have just been enjoying time as a family as much as possible.

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Ellie is learning how to help Evie win at Memory.

Ryan and Kathleen went out last night to the graduation party for his PA class. We even decided to get all dressed up for it.

Ryan and Kathleen, all dressed up MEDEX grad party
Ain’t she cute?! Ryan, on the other hand, has a terrible photo smile.

Unfortunately, thanks to getting activated by the National Guard, and then injured, he was not able to graduate with them, but he’ll be back starting next year.

Daddy jokingly told Ellie when she was born that she had to say “Daddy” and learn to walk before he got deployed. He thought he was getting deployed in June, when she was only 6 months old, so he was just joking. But with the deployment postponed and now coming up fast, she is working hard to do as he asked. Her first word was Daddy, and now she is doing this:

And just barely nine months old!

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Sitting in the big girl booster chair and eating pizza with Mommy.

We shall see.

That’s all for this week, folks. God Bless! Have a great weekend.



This has been a fun week at the Kraeger house. Without any major adventures we managed to have a fun, quiet week. Plus Grandma is here to visit, and Grandma’s are the best.

Family Friday 168 (1)
Nothing like a tea party with Grandma.

And Grandma’s are great at games.

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And puzzles!

Kathleen took Grandma and the girls to visit Dude on Friday and pick blueberries.

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Dude’s blueberry bushes are 100 years old, and huge!

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Visiting on the back porch.

And they swung by and visited Deedee as well on their way home.

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Evie and the butler.

Ryan went for a run on Saturday morning and found a big patch of blackberries. He picked a big bowl of them and Kathleen made a blackberry custard and a blackberry/blueberry pie.

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It’s as delicious as it looks!

Barbecue at Uncle Adam’s house on Saturday. Unfortunately Mommy couldn’t be there because she was on 24 hour call. Silly work!

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Uncle Adam on the Grill!

Ellie was a tired Baby Girl, but Grandma is a great snuggler.

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Happy baby girl.

Then Mommy’s pager broke. She’s been using it for ten years, and it finally broke.

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Unfortunately, she still had the work cell-phone so she wasn’t done with work.

We had some friends over on Sunday for a pizza party. Our Parish Priest Father Paul and our choir director Christina and her husband Richie and their two kids. We were having a great time, and then the neighbor kids stuck their head in the door and asked if they were invited to the party. Of course they were. And then a pair of Mormon missionaries knocked on the door and of course they were invited too.

Family Friday 168 (5)
Intense board game action happening right here!

We were able to get together for lunch twice this week on base near where Daddy was working. The PX has food trucks outside that make great quality ethnic food. We enjoyed some Turkish Kabobs on Monday and Island barbecue and adobo on Thursday.

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“Grandma, I think that’s my kabob, don’t you.”

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Not atypically, Ellie is busily gnawing on a BBQ rib, while Evie is completely distracted and too busy to eat. 

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“Mommy is busy with big Sis, so I’ll just help myself to some of this…”

Then shopping at the commissary….

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“I Know these are for me!”

It is hilarious how different they are.


The rest of the week was mostly just playing with Grandma while Mommy and Daddy worked.

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Going to the park with Grandma.

But we did get to hang out at the splash park for a little while on Thursday.

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Evie hates sunscreen, but Mommy hates sunburn. And Mommy wins.

Our garden is doing well, as small as it is, we still managed to get a meals of butter-fried beats and steamed carrots with garlic butter.

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She is so proud when she gets to pull them herself.

That’s all for this week folks! Have a great weekend, and God Bless!Family Friday 168 (9)


Summer time is hiking time in the Pacific Northwest! We found a nice little trail hike in Dupont last weekend that took us from the town hall down to the sound.

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There was an ouchie on the trail down that resulted in tears from Evie. Mommy still opted not to carry her.

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The trail went under the railroad tracks to the beach.

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Evie was enchanted with the tunnel

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I don’t know how she bends her arm back that far.

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And chased the little crabs.

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Evie is not afraid of the little crabs. Neither is she very interested in them.

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She would rather throw rocks.

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We could not put Ellie down because there were too many things for her to put in her mouth.

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Even the Puget sound looks good in July Sunshine.

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Hiking is hard work

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Evie, however, had plenty of energy after hiking the 1.5 miles down and 1.5 miles back up.

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Picnic time!

Evie is really quite a good hiker. Hopefully she gets lots more practice this summer.

Mommy made some absolutely delicious coconut prawns on Friday. Family Friday 165 (1)They were amazing, as evidenced by the fact that Ryan and Kathleen ate about two pounds of them together. Even Evie ate two of them, and she is very averse to eating new things.

Family Friday 165 (2)
Ellie says, “I notice you’re not offering me any shrimp!”

A friend of ours had a baby baptized on Saturday evening after Mass, so we went to Mass Saturday night.

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“Yay Maddie! You got baptized!”

Then Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne came over and we hung out at our house for a while. Ellie was very intrigued by her baby cousin.

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Daddy, why doesn’t she crawl? It’s more fun than just lying there!

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It’s okay, I help her.

Sunday was the day of the annual Moergli Picnic (The Moergli’s are Deedee’s Mom’s family). We are sort of related to them, twice removed, in Kathleen’s case, three times in Evie and Ellie’s, but that’s close enough for a picnic. Mommy spent the morning concocting deliciousness:

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Whole wheat dough rolled flat with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar.

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Rolled into a roll

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Sliced into slices

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Mommy’s valentine!

The picnic was almost intolerably hot for everyone except Daddy (he has spent a lot of time in hotter places) but everyone still loved seeing the girls.

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“I call dibs when she wakes up!”

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Aunt Susie beating the heat!

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Even in the pool hats are required when you are as white as Evie and as resistant to sunscreen

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Everyone loves an Ellie!

We experimented with camping out in the back yard last weekend, but that didn’t work so well (Evie did very little sleeping. Consequently, so did Daddy). Daddy has been trying to get a hammock up behind the tent, but has been having issues due to not having the right materials.

Family Friday 165 (39)
Evie helps set up one of the anchors. I taught her “ERNEST” (Equal, Redundant, Non-Extending, Solid, Timely, a.k.a. the qualities of a good anchor).

The only points to anchor the hammock are approximately 30 yards apart, consequently if you hang it with any dynamic material (i.e. material that has any stretch to it), you end up lying on the ground as soon as you put weight in it.

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The tent works well enough, for what it is.

We did eventually find the right combination of hammock, straps and price from Amazon, and with a few times tightening with a ratchet strap…

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Voila! A hammock!

Why does it appear to sag so low in that picture, you ask?

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How else could all the short people get into it?

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Evie: “I’ve always wanted to be on a boat!”

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It is now a wonderful place to read Beatrix Potter.

Daddy and the girls got to go to MC on Monday. Unfortunately, Mommy wasn’t feeling well.

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Nosey nellies.

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Auntie Celyn loves her some Ellie snuggles!

We also celebrated Uncle Adam’s birthday this week. Unfortunately, he has requested us not to post any pictures of him so no one will see how old he is looking now. It’s really quite shocking. What hair is left to him at his advanced age is as white as printer paper and twice as crinkly. Aging. It’s a son-of-a-gun.

Just kidding. He doesn’t look a day over 42.

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Meat. Lots of Meat.

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Evie and Edmund were too excited to eat very well. They spent most of their time pushing the table around and complaining about the other pushing the table around.

Adam 32nd Bday (3)
Tunnel of Fudge cake.

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He needed help to blow out his candles.

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Evie and Edmund playing with Uncle Adam’s birthday present.

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This picture was taken right before the chain snapped.

And that’s all for this week.

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Evie modeling the Dr. Seuss shorts/overalls combo thingy that Grandma Ann made for her. 

Have a great weekend. We’ll see you all later!

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Since last week, Ellie has gained a great deal of mobility. So we have put her to work, giving her a job that will hone her latent predator skills. We even cave her a cave-baby outfit to wear while she chases her quarry.

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Don’t worry, the rat is made of rubber. 

Seriously, though, she is growing by leaps and bounds. Or at least by creeps and grounds.


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She doesn’t crawl any more than she can help. 

Mostly she bear-crawls, commando crawls, and butt-scoots to anything she can pull herself up into a standing position on.

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Git around!

Once there she pulls herself up, and falls, and pulls and falls and pulls and stands and wobbles for a few minutes, until eventually she falls again.

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Mission Accomplished! Now, let’s try stepping.

It’s all hard work and requires a lot of eating and sleeping to support.

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Frozen raspberries! They are delicions and feel good on the sore gummies.

A lot of food. Healthy food!

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Fresh from the garden! Yum!


Fortunately these are the things that Ellie is good at.

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Champion snuggler!

And she has a big sister who is more than willing to help her.


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Here you go, Ellie!

She cooks food for her baby sister. Today it was flower soup.


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Hmmmm… Needs some salt.

Holds her sister.


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Aunty Mary-Kate made Ellie a beautiful colorful new quilt.

Helps her stay cool in the heat, and celebrate Fourth of July all at the same time.


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Let’s just say it’s a good thing Ellie doesn’t mind water in her face.

And Evie also gives her great fashion advice.

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Try putting one of Mommy’s begonias in your hair. It will be beautiful!

The only thing Evie does not do, is go to sleep.


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Bedtime is just the worst!

It’s amazing how much these two get up to in any given day. Mommy and Daddy just seem to do the same old same old, most of the time. Although this week we did have some fun family cooking. Family Friday 163 (2)We made pasta carbonara, out of the Vatican Cookbook.

Family Friday 163 (3)
The recipe is so easy and delicious.

If you look closely you can see that our copy of the Vatican Cookbook is signed by the owner of La Vittoria restaurant, which is featured in the book. We got it signed when we were in Rome about 1 1/2 years ago.

Then she found a recipe for honey oat bread on the internet somewhere and made that.

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The most beautiful loaf of honey goodness I have ever seen. And the bread’s not too bad looking either 😉

It was delicious. Very hearty and robust, but mildly sweet and nutty. We should share the recipe sometime. Speaking of recipes, Daddy made a new pizza this week that is scrumdiddlyumptious. You guys should come over and try some sometime.

That’s all for this week. God Bless, and have a great weekend. Bye!