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!

Busy week, busy weekend, and busy week. Uncle Matthew’s visit was last week, then Daddy went on retreat to St. Martin’s Abbey last weekend, and this week has been early mornings and late nights. So this is a full Family Friday, and, alas, we do not have time to do it justice. It is already after 8:00 PM and the moment of the alarm jangling creeps ever closer. (Try not to be impressed that we are up and awake and doing things so late at night. 8:00 PM! Kind of a big deal!)

And that’s all for this week. Or rather for the last two weeks.

We hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Happy Advent from the whole family!

Including the newest member!

Happy All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day!

Of course, the rest of the world calls it “Halloween” and forgets about it, but we know better.

This year, for Halloween, Daddy and Mommy dressed up as a couple on a date.

We thought the costumes were pretty convincing. In the case of Mommy’s costume, pretty and convincing.

Actually, our parish hosted a rather lovely marriage encounter evening as a fundraiser for our music program to purchase music books. They were even nice enough to provide child care during the evening, which was spectacular. Poor Baby Girl did not appreciate being left in a room with a bunch of adults that she didn’t know (a.k.a. not one of the six or seven adults she interacts with regularly) and she cried for quite a while, but the child care providers were kind enough not to come and as the parents to intervene. Instead they coaxed her to be happy with pizza and singing. She began to warm up when she heard “Twinkle, twinkle” and positively glowed at “Happy Birthday” (not anyone’s birthday). But when she found that they knew the veggietales theme song…

Well, after that she was a happy Baby Girl and she ate all the pizza.

Big Sissie, of course, has not a shy cell in her body, so she was right at home and had a blast from the word go.

So did Mommy and Daddy.

Saturday morning, early, (i.e. 5:30 AM) Daddy met Uncle Adam and a couple other guys in Tacoma for our first ever “#RosaryRuck.”

We rucked from St. Pats down to Ruston Way and back up while saying 20 decades of the Rosary in honor of Our Lady, which was an amazing experience. We should do it more often!

Then home for tea and bacon and pancakes. After breakfast Mommy was trying to recover from the cold Daddy gave her last week, so we let her take a nap and we went down to the park to collect more leaves. Sheet mulching consumes a huge amount of leaves!

Fortunately, it’s not hard to collect leaves, if you have a tarp. It’s just extremely time consuming.

Especially with these two helping.

And then even after you get the leaves home, you still have to haul them up onto the lawn, adjust the cardboard to make sure there are no gaps (or at least as few and as small as you can manage) and then dump out the leaves and spread them.

It is big work for little girls, and they both ate a wonderful lunch and had a nap.

The weather is also perfect for tea and cake, especially if the cake is homemade applesauce cake from homemade applesauce from homegrown apples.

Very scientific measuring of the applesauce.

Sunday we had the cousins over so Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne could have a date.

As beautiful a fall day as we could hope for.

Since we had acquired four pumpkins over the previous few months, it worked out perfectly to have the little folks carve pumpkins. By which we mean that we let them scribble the nearest approach to a face that they could muster, and then Mommy and Daddy did their best to interpret the scribbles with a steak knife.

It was a ton of fun, though, and the results were, I think, quite good.

And of course on such a gorgeous fall day, there is nothing like a campout on the lawn.

On Monday Daddy hit upon a scheme to save hours of work finding, collecting and transporting leaves. He talked to the landscapers at school and got them to dump their load of leaves at our house rather than at the dump.

Literally a ton and a half of leaves.

Then, of course, a couple of free hours had to be spent spreading them out, but the girls helped,

And so did the neighbor kids.

And eventually…

We got it all sorted out…

And found that we are still short both cardboard and leaves. Drats. Well, should be fairly simple to fix that. A couple costco trips should supply the cardboard, and a couple of tarp loads should fill in the gap in the leaves. Then for the next layers…

Baby girl says, enough with the leaves, let’s go get some groceries.

Meanwhile, Mommy was busy prepping costumes for Halloween. After weeks of changing her mind, Big Sissie was told that she was not allowed to change her mind anymore, as the costume had to be finalized. On the bright side, a nurse’s outfit is much easier than some of the other ideas that were floated (e.g. a hot air balloon).

A white dress shirt too small for Daddy makes a perfect nurse’s dress.

Baby Girl’s toddler scrubs did not arrive in time, so she had to go as a private practice doc, rather than as an ER doc.

And there we are, at the end of the week again, only it’s drill week, so it will not be a proper weekend. But that’s the price we pay for a hobby that sort of pays, and at any rate provides affordable health insurance.

Y’all have a great weekend. Remember to go to Mass today, to celebrate with all the Church Triumphant, and to pray for all the Church Suffering and the Church Militant (the real Church Militant, that is, not Michael Voris’ Youtube channel. [Of course you can pray for him too, if you want]).

God bless!

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.

Last weekend was fun. We are starting to get into the hot, late summer period. August is when things start getting really hot and dry around here. Hot, that is, for western Washington, which means that the strawberries are starting to come in again.

Ellie likes strawberries, because she can reach them.

The girls stayed overnight with Deedee and Papa on Saturday night so Mommy and Daddy good go to a game night with some friends.

While we were getting ready to go to Mass the next morning a hot air balloon floated by! The girls thought that was the coolest thing ever. When it was time to go the girls went out to get into the car. Evie jumped in her car seat and buckled up. Ellie climbed into the driver’s seat and started “driving.”

After Mass and brunch we went home and got ready to have Adam and the gang over. Since Grandma was in town visiting with them for the weekend, she tagged along too.

Evie helped Daddy pick blackberries for a a cobbler.
Evie was the invalid so the other kids could play doctor.

Our menu was leg of lamb in coffee and port wine sauce, cooked in the dutch oven, with sweet potatoes and green beans.

Mommy making the sauce.

The more we get into dutch oven cooking, the more we like it. It takes some finesse, but we are slowly getting the hang of it.

And of course a picture of Grandma with her West coast grandkids.

The garden continues to come in, such as it is. The Japanese plums are about picked bare. The girls completely picked all the lower branches, and Mommy picked all the higher ones this week. They have been delicious!

That is what’s left of a plum in her mouth.

We cleaned out the beans too, although they still have some flowers and small beans left to come in.

The wheelbarrow we bought the girls last week has been coming in handy as well.

Only Daddy seems to be the only one doing any work with it.

Ryan has been in uniform all week, getting his army medic on, training on JBLM.

Kathleen got to hang out with her old coworker that she used to work with all those years ago when she was just starting out in ultrasound. They got to catch up on all the changes in the last ten years or so.

Now Ryan has to get back to work so that’s all for now. Have a great weekend, 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!

Well! This week was a barrel of monkeys.

Or a bucket of Ellie. Same thing.

We already wrote earlier this week about our visit to the cemetery for Memorial Day. Or rather, the Sunday before Memorial Day. After visiting at the cemetery we went to Deedee and Papa’s house to visit and then visited Dude and Susie.

Always a hoot

On memorial day Daddy and Evie did their best to cook the most patriotic and American breakfast we could think of.

Start out with a little bit of red, white and blue…

A.k.a. strawberries, blueberries, and Bisquick.

When will they ever be done?!

Add some bacon and a little bit of sausage, and voilà!

#Murica!

Then we went down to Dupont for a hike with our good friends Margie and Dane, and their daughter Zellie.

Setting out on our grand adventure.

For our hike we chose sequelachew park which is a 1.5 mile trail from behind the Dupont police station down to the water on the sound.

Ellie gets to ride, because her legs are short.

It is quite a lovely trail, broad and well-maintained, that slopes gently downhill to the water.

Evie and Zellie stopped to collect some nature.

It runs down an old railway grade, so the slope is not very dramatic and there is plenty of nature for the little people to hunt.

At the bottom, the trail goes through an old rail tunnel from when they used to have a dock down there.

This is the only place where there’s any track left, but it runs underneath a working railroad track that runs along the edge of the sound from north to south.

Once you go through the tunnel you arrive on the beach which, like most Washington beaches, is entirely composed of rocks of various size. Far from being a disadvantage, this is a most excellent thing when you are small and want to throw rocks in the water. It also works when you are big and want to throw rocks in the water. This beach comes handily supplied with rocks rated for all your rock throwing needs, at least from 18 month girl to 34-year-old BCFF.

There are also some pretty decent rocks that you can climb on.

All in all, for being a 3 mile round-trip, the steady uphill grade for the entire way back makes it a bit of a smoker especially if you are carrying a rucksack with an Ellie on top of it. After our hike, we enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch before heading home to relax for the rest of the day.

Daddy is trying to step up his grill game, so the girls are helping him study.

The neighbor kids came over in the afternoon to test out the sturdiness of the hammock pole after Ryan added three bags of quick-crete. At 50 pounds apiece, that’s 150 pounds of support at the very base of the pole, so it should do the trick.

It may still have a little bit of shake to it, but at least it’s not leaning precariously like it’s going to pop out of the ground it any second.

After nap, Eli wanted to come outside but no one was available to put her shoes on right away, so she helped herself to her sister’s shoes, put them on her self, and walked on outside.

On the wrong feet and everything just like a proper toddler shoe should be. And then she proceeded to get them soaking wet. This is also very right and just for a toddler shoe.

Mommy has been working hard with her new business, selling bags two ladies who need to carry things around in their life. This, in my experience, includes pretty much every lady ever.

Ellie likes to help by explaining the various virtues and benefits of each bag and accessory item.

She’s been getting pretty good responses too, complete with live Facebook videos and other fancy stuff like that.

We spent all day Thursday packing and getting ready for our trip this weekend.

Ellie says, “This works for me. I’m ready to go.”

When Evelyn got home from school, she thought that was a good idea so she joined her sister.

Evelyn reading “The Knight and the Dragon” to Eleanor.

In case you were not familiar with this during tale, you may listen to Evelyn’s rendition of it here.

Or not, since the mobile app won’t allow me to paste the link in apparently. You’ll just have to imagine it.While some liberties may have been taken with some aspects of the story, it was, nevertheless, heartwarming and profound as ever.

Last night, we got together for pizza to celebrate Ryan finishing PA school.

Ellie is impressed

It was a surprise get together, Ryan thought we were just getting together with Deedee and Papa before we headed out for the weekend.

Instead, all of these folks showed up…

And piled on top of Deedee.

And we got our party on like we were graduating college.

Then, we went home and finished packing. We staged all of our rucks by the door as they should be.

Not to mention our suitcase and car seat carrying bags.

And then everyone was up bright and early this morning

Ready for our next big adventure.

So have a great weekend everyone, we will see y’all next week.

God bless!

Happy Friday, Ya’ll!

What’s that? A Family Friday on a Friday! Yes! It is a red letter day. It is also a short Family Friday. Ryan is winding down his last two weeks of PA school and that gives him a little bit of time off this week, to get to other things, and Family Friday happens to be one of them.

Last Sunday was a fun day. Our parish is planning their annual luau for June, and the island community (Hawaiians, Guamanians, Chomorros, Filipinos) always try to do a semi-traditional hula dance. I say semi-traditional, because they wear regular clothes and invite the white people to join in. This is a picture of their practice after Mass last Sunday. I think it’s funny that the white kids are all just watching in bewilderment. Is it genetic? Do we just not have rhythm? Do our hips lack the necessary fluidity? Are we born with sticks up our butts?

It remains a mystery. All we know is none of the white kids have joined in… yet.

After Mass we came home and prepped fondue for Adam and Maryanne and the kids, as well as Ronnie and Amanda and RJ.

Of course we made Adam work for his supper.

Fondue is actually quite easy with the right mix and a decent fondue pot. Ours is not enormous but it fed six adults quite easily.

It was cool enough outside for hot tea, so we sat out and watched the kids test the integrity of our hammock pole. Let’s just say, Evie plus the three neighbor kids may not weigh as much as Ryan and Kathleen…

Okay, they don’t weigh as much as Ryan by himself.

But they definitely swing a lot harder. They have almost inverted that thing a couple of times. So far no broken bones, but Ryan may need to dig that pole up and reset it, in concrete this time.

Which is a pity because our climbing honeysuckle is loving it there. Oh well. Those things are weeds anyway. Can’t kill ’em with an ax.

Ronnie getting ready to share some home-made lemoncello with Ryan and Adam.

We tested out the lemoncello. (For those keeping score, yes, it still counts as “testing it out” because we have to see how it ages at bottling, at plus 1 day, at +2 days, at +3 days, etc. So far it seems it starts out pretty smooth, but gets sharper as it ages.

We ended up having a ton of leftover dipping bread, because it turns out Ryan, Adam and Ronny are all prejudiced against carbs. But that didn’t stop us eating fruit, cake, ice-cream and tapioca pudding, because those are desert carbs. They are a different category.

It also didn’t stop us downing a couple of pints of porter each. Because those are conviviality carbs, which are also a protected category.

Evie is obsessed! with Cheetos!

Which is ironic, because that was Kathleen’s only major craving when she was pregnant with her. So much so that her work friends nicknamed Evie, “Cheeto.”

Ellie is very into togetherness at meal time. Her favorite meal is supper because Mommy and Daddy are both home. She likes to grab our hands and pull them both in front of her and make us hold hands in front of her tummy. Then she leans on our hands and eats over the top of them.

Because it’s cozier that way.

And Ellie passed her well-child check with flying colors. Daddy didn’t read the time right so we were quite early and spent about 45 minutes in the waiting room. That was okay though, because Ellie found some very interesting reading material.

She now knows all about how to get ready for a new baby. Which is good, I suppose. That knowledge may come in handy some day.

But before you ask, not in the next nine months as far as we know. LOL

‘Cause I know that’s what you were thinking.

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!