Friday, December 19, 2008

Apples, Apples, Everywhere!

A couple months ago when we visited my parents, we hit during part of the apple picking season. It's been many years since I picked apples, so it was fun to climb up and load the baskets. It was quite windy that day, so at times it got a little scary! This is to prove to Dan that I climbed up the ladder (I'm on the far ladder, my sister is on the near one) and picked apples myself! Ask him why I don't have any pictures of him climbing up to pick apples! Yep, that is Joseph climbing up the ladder. Grandpa was just about to get him. So we came back with 2 large boxes full of apples and we just recently ate the last ones. I thought I would share what I did with them. A lot of them just gotten eaten raw. The kids loved to just take an apple out of the box and start chomping. And sometimes I would find a few in the box with a Joseph bite out of them! I made apple salad, apple cake, applesauce, and apple butter, none of which I got pictures of, but they were tasty. Some of the applesauce and apple butter got stored away in the freezer for later use.

Here is the start of fried apples:
Of course, we had to have apple pie:
And finally, apple muffins:

Here is the recipe for the apple butter from allrecipes. I had never made any before but the crockpot made it easy once I got the apples prepared (although I had to laugh because the recipes says it only takes 20 min. to peel, core, and chop 5 and 1/2 pounds of apples!). So this is a good recipe for a day when you'll be home all day because you have stir every so often. It sure does make the house smell good!

All-Day Apple Butter

5 1/2 pounds apples - peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 cups sugar (I only used 2 cups as I had sweeter apples)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place apples in a slow cooker. Combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt; pour over apples and mix well. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 9-11 hours or until thickened and dark brown, stirring occasionally (stir more frequently as it thickens to prevent sticking). Uncover and cook on low 1 hour longer. If desired, stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Spoon into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Family Humor

If you have a big family and have ever heard a question from a stranger like, "Are they all yours?" then go watch this video. A family with 7 kids made up a song to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and it is pretty cute. We only have 4 kids and I've heard at least half of these!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Tree! The Tree!

We had all planned to go to the Christmas tree farm on Saturday, but with the attack of the stomach flu, Mommy stayed home with the sickies and Daddy took the twins to get our tree. Here they are in front of the tree they picked out: You know Dasher and Dancer, but do you know Anne and Dominic? The twins proudly ride with our tree back to the car: Dominic loved riding behind this cool tractor:
Pause for a picture in front of the Nativity Scene:
Hot chocolate and popcorn in front of the fire. What more could you ask for?
Back home, everyone excitedly watches as Daddy brings the tree into the house:
"Well, Joseph, how does that look?"
Dominic and Anne run over to smell the tree. Mmmm!
The three nonpuking(at the moment) kids pose in front of the tree:
It hasn't been all doom and gloom over the last 6 days!

I Can See The Light

a.k.a. On the Puke Patrol
a.k.a. I Love My Washing Machine

Okay, so Friday night we went to a Christmas party hosted by friends of ours and about an hour into it, after all the kids had been playing together, Catherine puked (on their carpet, yikes!). It was a bit of a fast onset. So far I haven't heard of anyone else who was at the party getting sick, but maybe they are trying to be nice and not telling me. So we were up a lot that night and then on Saturday morning, Joseph got sick. Poor little guy, he kept wanting to eat, with disastrous results if we let him. Catherine laid around until Sunday afternoon, and then was mostly better. Just in time for Dominic to get sick Monday morning. And then Mommy on Monday evening. Boy it doesn't take long for the stomach flu to just wipe you out! Poor little Anne was the last kid to succumb, last night (in her bed, of course). Through it all Joseph has been sick off and on. Now we are waiting to see if Daddy gets it. So as of this afternoon, Catherine and Dominic are better, Anne seems to be getting better, as does Joseph. I feel much better, too, and got out of the house for a little while to get the mail today (It seemed so fresh and clean outside!). So it seems the rampage of stomach flu has nearly run its course in the Brungardt house. Anyone want to come visit?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The First Fire in Our New House

Nothing like sitting in front of a crackling fire on a cold day. What's that you say? What is Joseph wearing? Why, the latest in shoe styles to go with camouflage overalls!
He can actually walk in those things. He loves to wear anyone's shoes. One day, he took off his pajamas, and thus clad in only a diaper, put on his ballcap, backwards, and then put on Daddy's shoes and walked around the room. It was too funny! Alas, I was not quick enough to take a picture.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

I've Been Saving The Environment. Who Knew?

Okay, everyone. I have been saving the environment and I didn't even know it!

According to Dr. Julia Edwards of the IMRG Online Green Awards 2008 online shopping can have 27 times less of a negative impact on the environment.
“The carbon emission of each item bought online and delivered to the customer is 132 grams of CO2. A staggering 27 items need to be bought on a dedicated car journey to the shops to achieve the same level of efficiency.”

Yeah, that's right. I've done almost all of my Christmas shopping online this year. Let's look at the facts. I have 4 small children and I can't take them Christmas shopping with me anymore. "What's that, Mommy?" "Oh, nothing." Nope, doesn't work anymore. Next option: I shop at night after they go to bed. Nah, we're too far out to make that very effective. Third choice: I shop on the weekends while Dan stays home with the kids. This doesn't work very well either as weekends are our family time and besides, who likes fighting all those crowds?

Now, imagine this scenario. I'm sitting at home in front of the computer, the kids are napping, I've got easy access to a can of pop, a snack, and the bathroom. I'm leisurely perusing this website and that, and with a few clicks, I've ordered my Christmas gifts and they'll be delivered to my front door. The best part is, this time of year, you can get free shipping on almost anything and sometimes you can combine that with a code for % off. And sometimes no tax, either!

Now, if you have been procrastinating on your Christmas shopping and you want to get in on this online action, don't fret! You still have a golden opportunity to score online shopping with free shipping from various stores on December 18 with guaranteed delivery before Christmas. There is a website called Free Shipping Day with the details and a list of participating stores.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our First Snow (That Stuck!) at Our New House

On Monday we had temperatures up to 66 degrees and then on Tuesday we had this:Everyone knows you have to eat the snow to really know what it's like!
Okay, all moms with little ones know the scene. You spend many lllloooonnnggg minutes searching out all of the snowpants, boots, mittens, coats, hats, and then just as many minutes wrestling the kids into all of the aforementioned items. (At least this time, I remembered to have them all use the bathroom before this process!) Then finally, everyone is ready to go out and you send them out the door. By the time I got my winter things on and got outside, I was greeted with this:
Poor little guy, I think he enjoyed the snow for about 5 minutes. Until his little mittens came off and his hands got really cold. So Mommy carried him around for a little while and we watched Catherine gleefully making snow angels:
Then Anne tried and she did it!
The three older kids had a lot of fun in the snow. Good thing, because it is now mostly gone.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Easy Focaccia Bread

I've made this bread a couple times now and it truly is easy. You can have fresh, hot bread ready for dipping into olive oil and cracked pepper or for dipping into soup in less than an hour!

Easy Focaccia Bread

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (I used one packet and it worked fine)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
cracked black pepper
kosher salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Making by hand:1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and a pinch of black pepper. Mix in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and water.2. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Making in bread maker:1. Pour water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into bread maker pan. Add salt, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and a pinch of black pepper. Make a well in the center and pour 1 tablespoon active dry yeast or bread maker yeast into it.2. Turn on the dough only cycle on your bread maker. Check the dough on the first kneading cycle to see if you need to add more water because it’s too dry or add more flour because it’s too sticky. Add sparingly until the dough is the right consistency.

For both methods:3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Make dimples on the top by pushing your fingers down into the dough. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper, and a good pinch of Kosher salt.4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm with a side of high quality olive oil and cracked black pepper for dipping.

I found this recipe going from one blog to another and ending up here:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Does This Mean Anything?

The other day at breakfast the kids and I had this conversation:

Mommy: "Catherine, what is your favorite color?"

Catherine: "Blue!"

Mommy: "Anne, what is your favorite color?"

Anne: "Red!"

Mommy: "Dominic, what is your favorite color?"

Dominic: "Dark Black!"

(okaaaaayyy, where did that come from?)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What Do You Do With A Giant Gift Bag?

Why crawl in it of course! Oh, this is fun, Mom.
They actually all took turns crawling into the big bag:
And this was the result:
Oh, the fun has to end sometime. I guess we won't be reusing that gift bag! My grandma would roll over in her grave if she knew.

Friday, December 5, 2008

More Pictures From Thanksgiving

Any one for a little fried turkey? Dan's mom and brother came Thanksgiving morning, as well as my brother, the priest. My sister and her husband welcomed a new baby boy, Matthew George, into their family the day before Thanksgiving (congrats!), so my parents cancelled their Thanksgiving dinner and went to Dallas. So we got to have my brother come to our house.

After the big feast and naps all around, it was time for a ride in the pull-behind and a walk around the place. I won't tell you whether Uncle Joe and Fr. Brian got a ride, too. It is rated up to 1000 pounds. :) This was my brother's first time to see our place, so he got the full tour.
Back inside, we prepared for a blessing of our house:
Fr. Brian blessed our house (with an extra sprinkling of holy water on the kids, heh, heh) while we all walked along.
Blessing the basement:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It Was a Close Call

We finally decided to get a new dining table. The old one that Dan got in his bachelor days was getting small (3ft by 5ft) and it seemed like there was never enough room. One more kid and we'd really outgrow it (not that I'm announcing anything, grandmas!).

Well, it was supposed to be delivered on Nov. 18th and then they called to say it was going to be delayed a week. For the next week we were on pins and needles, hoping it would come in time for Thanksgiving. So last Tues. (2 days before Thanksgiving), the kids got to experience the novelty of eating breakfast and lunch on the floor. Hooray, it's a picnic!
The table was supposed to come at 1:00. Well, they kept calling and saying they were running behind schedule and I was beginning to think it wasn't going to get here. Finally, at 4:00pm, our new table arrived!
Our first meal on our new table:
And here is the table stretched out to its full length for Thanksgiving dinner. I think it groaned a little under all that food!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pictures From Catherine's Birthday

Here is Catherine's Princess Castle birthday cake. I actually checked the cake pan out at the library. Isn't that neat? They have a whole rack full of cake pans that people have donated. The birthday girl loves her crazy candles:
Now the birthday girl gets a little crazy herself:
On Thanksgiving evening, Dan's brother (Catherine's godfather) and his family stopped by and brought Catherine a big package. What could be inside?
Oh, it must be something girlie, look at all the little girls gathered around!
Wow, Cinderella riding in a carriage drawn by a white horse! It plays music and the part Cinderella sits in spins around.
Later, Catherine opened her presents from us and she was very excited to get a yo-yo of her very own.
Catherine sure had a special birthday, starting on Wed. getting a package from her godmother and cards in the mail to her actual birthday on Thanksgiving, to another birthday party on Sat. with a cousin who is exactly one year older than Catherine, to my parents stopping by on Sunday on their way back from Dallas. What fun and excitement!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy 5th Birthday, Catherine!

5 years ago at 11:45pm on Thanksgiving Eve I was trying to go to sleep when all of a sudden I felt a pop and I had my first hard contraction. Now I had been contracting pretty regular for days, but those contractions were very tolerable. These, however, were a different story. After several of them 15 min. apart, I woke up Dan and told him I thought my water had broken. He got up with me, helped me time contractions, and then after a while asked if he had time to take a shower and shave. I said, oh sure, it'll probably be hours. The contractions kept getting closer and closer and lasting longer and finally I said we'd better go to the hospital. This was at about 2:15am and I thought we'd get there and they'd laugh at me for coming in too soon.

So we got to the hospital and it took forever to even get up to the OB floor. Luckily Dan had memorized my SSN so I didn't have to answer any questions. Finally I get up to the little observation area and by the time they finally checked me, I was 7-8 cm. That got some action! 40 minutes later, after 10-15 minutes of pushing, Catherine Elizabeth was born, at 3:40 in the morning on Thanksgiving Day. So instead of a big turkey dinner, we got a precious little baby girl! Hooray!

Here is our little turkey, posed next to "Yellow Baby:"
Catherine at a few weeks old:
Here is our princess at almost 5 years old:
She is such a sweet girl and loves to help Mommy.
We love you Catherine, our big 5 year old! Happy, Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You Know You Have a Bunch of Little Ones, #12

You know you have a bunch of little ones when you find yourself singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," and there's no one else around.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Feast Day Catherine!

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Below is the entry from Catholic Online in the Saints and Angels section. St. Catherine of Alexandria is one of our Catherine's patron saints.

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr whose feast day is November 25th. She is the patroness of philosophers and preachers.

St. Catherine is believed to have been born in Alexandria of a noble family. Converted to Christianity through a vision, she denounced Maxentius for persecuting Christians. Fifty of her converts were then burned to death by Maxentius.

Maxentius offered Catherine a royal marriage if she would deny the Faith. Her refusal landed her in prison. While in prison, and while Maxentius was away, Catherine converted Maxentius' wife and two hundred of his soldiers. He had them all put to death.
Catherine was likewise condemned to death. She was put on a spiked wheel, and when the wheel broke, she was beheaded. She is venerated as the patroness of philosophers and preachers. St. Catherine's was one of the voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.

Maxentius' blind fury against St. Catherine is symbolic of the anger of the world in the face of truth and justice. When we live a life of truth and justice, we can expect the forces of evil to oppose us. Our perseverance in good, however, will be everlasting. (emphasis mine)

This reminds me that we should expect trouble when we are living out our faith. We may not face martyrdom, but we will most likely, at some time or another, face anger, hate, scorn, or ridicule, and yes, maybe even outright persecution because of our beliefs. May we all have the courage to face the anger of the world like St. Catherine of Alexandria.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Would You Do?

While surfing the internet, I came across a study which was done 20 years ago, not even 10 miles from where we live. In it the scientists (?) placed either a black hose or a serpentine-shaped rubber snake in the median of a rural highway to see whether people would go out of their way to hit what they thought was a snake. They found that the rubber snake was much more likely to be hit than the hose. Duh! They had to do a study to figure that one out?

Friday, November 21, 2008

My First Book Review: "Real Women, Real Saints"

About a month or so ago I applied for and was approved to be a reviewer for The Catholic Company. I chose a book to review and received it in the mail shortly thereafter.

The book I was happy to read and review is called "Real Women, Real Saints," by Gina Loehr. It is subtitled "Friends for Your Spiritual Journey." This book contains a collection of short biographies/reflections of many women saints, categorized into chapters of various virtues: Women of Faith, Women of Hope, Women of Charity, Women of Prudence, Women of Justice, Women of Fortitude, Women of Temperance, and finally Queen of All Saints. The saints in this book are very diverse, some young, some old, some single, some married, some in religious life, and also saints from many different centuries and countries. Some were wealthy, some very poor, some with hidden lives of virtue, some very well known in their lifetime. Many are saints who are well known and loved, and there are also many saints whom I had never heard of prior to reading this book. There is one male saint listed in this book, but I am not going to tell you who it is! You'll have to get the book to find out for yourself. :)

Gina Loehr does a masterful job of condensing the saint's lives into short biographies. She writes with a modern style and has well crafted sentences, which don't waste words . At the beginning of each saint's biography, she lists her dates, her titles (such as religious, wife, mother, martyr, foundress, etc.), her feast day and her patronages. Then Loehr goes on to tell the story of the saint's life and how she fit into the particular virtue of the chapter, along with how this applies to our lives today. This was a perfect book for me to read before bedtime as I could read a short biography (or two, or three) and then meditate on it for a while. Although, I often found that I wanted to know more about a particular saint!

My favorite quote from "Real Women, Real Saints" can be found on p. 81 in the biography of St. Frances of Rome: "She offered these words of wisdom to other wives, 'It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes she must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping.' " This spoke to me greatly as I try every day to live out my state in life.

"Real Women, Real Saints" by Gina Loehr would make a great gift (Christmas is coming!) for any woman (or man), from teenager to college student to busy mom or grandma to religious sister. I would definitely recommend this book. You can clink on the link above to order.

And if you have a blog and would be interested in becoming a reviewer, go here and find out more details.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Time to Make Something!

Sometimes, when I am feeling brave (crazy?), I make something with all of the kids. They all love it and they all want to get up high so they can see. They pull over chairs and climb up and it is definitely a learning experience in how to share. Now though, Joseph wants to get in on the action:
So, we try this:
And it usually works for a little while. But, suddenly the space I have in which to work has gotten very small. Oh, it is a challenge.
In these pictures I think we were making banana bread.
The other challenge when cooking with little kids (besides all the safety stuff!) is that everyone wants to lick everything. "I want to taste it!" I've gotten the three older ones trained not to lick anything until I say they can, but I'm working on it with Joseph. Flour, shortening, you name it, he'll try it. He thinks it is a fun game. So, when I am done mixing, I have to deal with who gets what: spatula, bowl, mixing blade. Here Dominic is sharing with Joseph. I don't know why his eyes are closed. Maybe he doesn't want to see Joseph biting his thumb! Just kidding, that didn't happen.
Joseph had to come back and check to see if all the batter was really gone: