Father’s Day 2014

What is your Daddy’s name?
O (8.5 yrs): J.R.
M (6.75 yrs): J.R.
V (5.75 yrs): J.R.
J (3 yr): i not know

What does J. R. stand for?
O (8.5 yrs): James Robert
M (6.75 yrs): James Roberts
V (5.75 yrs): J…
J (3 yr): i not know

How old is Daddy?
O (8.5 yrs): 30something (but more than 33)
M (6.75 yrs): 40?
V (5.75 yrs): 15
J (3 yr): i not know either

What does Daddy do at work?
O (8.5 yrs): he makes things that other companies use to make electronics
M (6.75 yrs): he does stuff on the computer
V (5.75 yrs): look on computers
J (3 yr): i know! daddy likes motorcycles or a airplane or a school bus

Why does he go to work?
O (8.5 yrs): to earn money for our family
M (6.75 yrs): makes money for us
V (5.75 yrs): i don’t know
J (3 yr): i not know

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?
O (8.5 yrs): snuggle
M (6.75 yrs): have adventures with him
V (5.75 yrs): go to the store and buy stuff
J (3 yr): i not know

What is something cool that Daddy has taught you/that you learned from your daddy?
O (8.5 yrs): how to put on my goggles
M (6.75 yrs): to do flips in the water
V (5.75 yrs): booyow is a china word
J (3 yr): i not know (when asked a series of questions, he answered everything with yes! including did daddy teach you to jump like a fox?)

How do you know that Daddy loves you?
O (8.5 yrs): he says that he loves me
M (6.75 yrs): he cuddles me a lot
V (5.75 yrs): because he takes care of me
J (3 yr): from you

When you grow up, do you want to be like Daddy?
O (8.5 yrs): yes, well i want to be like daddy, but i don’t want to be a boy!
M (6.75 yrs): kind of – I want to get married like him, but I don’t want to work where he works
V (5.75 yrs): i want to get married like daddy
J (3 yr): yes! i will be tall and get stuff and i won’t climb on this thing (desk) anymore

What makes Daddy happy?
O (8.5 yrs): when the house is clean
M (6.75 yrs): the house cleaned
V (5.75 yrs): when the house is clean
J (3 yr): i not know, you know?

What’s Daddy’s favorite thing to eat?
O (8.5 yrs): smashburger
M (6.75 yrs): i don’t know
V (5.75 yrs): pizza like me
J (3 yr):i not know

What is something Daddy tells you?
O (8.5 yrs): he loves me
M (6.75 yrs): i love you
V (5.75 yrs): i love you
J (3 yr): i not know

Father’s Day Interview 2013

What is your Daddy’s name?

O (7.5 yrs): J.R.

M (5.75 yrs): J.R.

V (4.75 yrs): J.R.

J (2 yr): puchow

What does J. R. stand for?

O (7.5 yrs): James Robert

M (5.75 yrs): I don’t know.

(when I asked, do you want to guess, she said, no I want it to be the right answer)

V (4.75 yrs): I don’t know.

J (2 yr): bebachow

How old is Daddy?

O (7.5 yrs): 30 … um … 34 or 33?

M (5.75 yrs): 34?

V (4.75 yrs): I don’t know.

J (2 yr): me

What does Daddy do at work?

O (7.5 yrs): Engineer stuff.

M (5.75 yrs): He works on computers.

V (4.75 yrs): Work on computers.

J (2 yr): work

Why does he go to work?

O (7.5 yrs): Because he wants money to save some and spend some.

M (5.75 yrs): To work on computers.

V (4.75 yrs): I don’t know.

J (2 yr): work

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?

O (7.5 yrs): Snuggle & watch TV.

M (5.75 yrs): Roller skating.

V (4.75 yrs): Snuggle.

J (2 yr): work

What is something cool that Daddy has taught you/that you learned from your daddy?

O (7.5 yrs): Tie my shoes.

M (5.75 yrs): He taught me how to clean the coffee table with windex.

V (4.75 yrs): How to say China words.

J (2 yr): work

How do you know that Daddy loves you?

O (7.5 yrs): He’s never mean to me.

M (5.75 yrs): Because I’m his daughter.

V (4.75 yrs): I don’t know.

J (2 yr): Daddy loves you.

When you grow up, do you want to be like Daddy?

O (7.5 yrs): Yes, because he has a cool job.

M (5.75 yrs): Yes, because I want to work on computers.

V (4.75 yrs): Yes, because one time he bringed me to a park with geocaches.

J (2 yr): No.

What makes Daddy happy?

O (7.5 yrs): When me & him go out and do geocaching.

M (5.75 yrs): When he gets things that he wants like hugs & kisses and snuggling.

V (4.75 yrs): Me snuggling him.

J (2 yr): Hide.

What’s Daddy’s favorite thing to eat?

O (7.5 yrs): Grandpa Andrews’ ribs

M (5.75 yrs): He likes to eat at “Bouquet” (the name that Molly gave our kitchen where the chef is Mama and Molly is the server).

V (4.75 yrs): I think it’s pizza like me.

J (2 yr): I don’t know.

What is something Daddy always says to you?

O (7.5 yrs): I love you.

M (5.75 yrs): Goodnight. I love you. Do your steps (morning & evening routines).

V (4.75 yrs): I don’t know.

J (2 yr): Me too.

Father’s Day Interview 2012

What is your Daddy’s name?

O (6.5 yrs): J.R.

M (4.75 yrs): J.R.

V (3.75 yrs): J.R.

J (1 yr): ow

What does J. R. stand for?

O (6.5 yrs): James Robert (with a little help from mom)

M (4.75 yrs): Daddy

V (3.75 yrs): I don’t know.

J (1 yr): oda

How old is Daddy?

O (6.5 yrs): 33

M (4.75 yrs): I’ll have to count … 23 years old.

V (3.75 yrs): I don’t know.

J (1 yr): ba

What does Daddy do at work?

O (6.5 yrs): Help his boss. Then the boss will thank him for doing his job and will give him money.

M (4.75 yrs): I don’t know what he does, but he has a computer.

V (3.75 yrs): Fix stuff.

J (1 yr): ooooh

Why does he go to work?

O (6.5 yrs): Daddy will use the money to buy food because we need food to live.

M (4.75 yrs): I don’t know.

V (3.75 yrs): I don’t know why he goes there.

J (1 yr): uh!

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?

O (6.5 yrs): Ride roller coasters with him.

M (4.75 yrs): Go out and do fun stuff like going to Sea World.

V (3.75 yrs): Go out for pizza.

J (1 yr): (screams)

What is something cool that Daddy has taught you/that you learned from your daddy?

O (6.5 yrs): How to make friendship bracelets.

M (4.75 yrs): letters (the alphabet)

V (3.75 yrs): Camping.

J (1 yr): he wanders off … apparently the interview is over

How do you know that Daddy loves you?

O (6.5 yrs): He cares for me. He helps me when I need help.

M (4.75 yrs): Because he told me so.

V (3.75 yrs): Throws me up in the air.

When you grow up, do you want to be like Daddy?

O (6.5 yrs): Yes, I want to be married like Daddy.

M (4.75 yrs): Yes I want to be a grown up.

V (3.75 yrs): Yes!

What makes Daddy happy?

O (6.5 yrs): When I snuggle him.

M (4.75 yrs): Hugs & kisses.

V (3.75 yrs): Sharing my special blankie.

What’s Daddy’s favorite thing to eat?

O (6.5 yrs): Burgers @ Five Guys

M (4.75 yrs): Fruit.

V (3.75 yrs): Pizza.

What is something Daddy always says to you?

O (6.5 yrs): I love you. Be good. Brush your teeth!

M (4.75 yrs): I love you.

V (3.75 yrs): I don’t know.

Girls’ Goodybags for Travel – Older Girl Version

Hello blog – long time no see! I have the best of intentions, but somehow life always gets in the way of us spending more time together. We just went on amazing trip to Washington, DC to attend the final profession of my dear friend Sr. Rosalie, MC. I can’t wait to share all the stories & photos! In the mean time, I wanted to update my Girls’ Goodybags for Travel post from a couple years ago because I’ve had several people ask for suggestions since we are in the season of summer travel. Plus, I was just really excited about some cool new products that I wanted to share. The girls each had a backpack and Jake had a few extras in his diaper bag. We used our special items for two flights each way and during the long Mass (3 hrs) for the profession. I noted below what I packed specifically for Mass but I ended up letting them take their whole bag to Mass and they did more of the art stuff than the religious stuff. I must say, though, the bags worked like a charm when it came to keeping them quiet & occupied! So here’s what we included (favorites are marked in bold):

Jake (14 months):

  • toy cars
  • stacking cups
  • rubber duckies – superman & batman
  • finger puppets
  • board books
  • pacifiers, special blanket
  • extra clothes
  • snacks

If I had it to do over, I would have packed Jake’s snakes & lizards. He didn’t seem to have enough to keep him busy. Happily, he slept through two of the three hour Mass and Sr. Rosalie’s sister was happy to walk him around the back of the church for at least 30 min as well! 🙂

Violet (3.75 years):

  • Amazing Paper by Alex (I picked this up at our local toy store, but couldn’t find it on-line. I would highly recommend it for the little ones 2-4. Very fun & no mess!)
  • Disney princess coloring pages – a longtime favorite of the girls
  • Lace & Trace farm animals by Melissa & Doug
  • Wiki Stix alphabet
  • spinning top (similar to these)
  • popper (similar to these)
  • travel cup
  • hand sanitizer, chapstick, camping whistle – this is the only thing I would NOT pack again – not really sure what I was thinking when I packed a shrill emergency whistle for each girl!! Thank God I remembered to take them out before the Mass! 🙂
For the Mass
  • a rosary
  • a little purse full of laminated holy cards
  • some religious books by Jude Winkler

Molly (4.75 years):

For Mass:
Olivia: (6.5):
For Mass:
We also took our backpacking kite, a pop up frisbee and a gertie ball. And one thing that I wish would’ve fit in a carry on is our magnetic pattern blocks set from MindWare. It is another really good toy for keeping them busy and quiet!
When we were at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception bookstore, I found a Jude Winkler book on Mother Teresa! I excitedly bought 4 copies and Sr. Rosalie wrote a few words of inspiration in each copy. So excited to have that special souvenir! The only other souvenir the children got was from the Tooth Fairy. Olivia got a Little Insects stained glass coloring book and $1 for pulling out her own tooth on vacation!
Lastly, in addition to well stocked goodybags, I thought this post had several good ideas in terms of planning ahead for a wonderful trip.
Disclaimer: While most of the links for items are to Amazon, they do not always have the best price. I like to stock up on these kind of items throughout the year when I find a good deal. Several are from Amazon, but especially for the lower priced items, buying locally can be cheaper. For example, we got that Little Insects coloring book at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center for half the price of Amazon.

Remember that you are dust …

And to dust you shall return.

I missed hearing these sobering words this morning (the acolyte said “Repent & Believe in the Gospel” instead). The more traditional words are oddly comforting because they remind me that life really comes down to some very simple (yet profound) truths: that God made me to love Him & to serve Him; that He loves me beyond my wildest dreams; and that this life will pass away and I must live for the next one…

I took the three little ones to Ash Wednesday Mass at Olivia’s school this morning, which is celebrated in the gym. The less than ideal moments included several screeching followed by giggling episodes much to baby brother’s delight; several clarifying questions about how much longer we were going to be there (it was a 1.5 hr service in their defense); a few episodes of throwing toys out into the gym floor. The highlights: we had a spot big enough to spread out a little while we looked at books on the floor; we got to receive ashes made from the previous years’ palms (including the ones we had saved in our house); Mama received Jesus in the Eucharist.

I don’t know that the girls have ever received ashes before … it’s not a Holy Day of Obligation and I’m not sure I’ve taken them in the last few years. Anyway, as soon as we got back to our spot after getting the ashes, Molly noticed the black smudges on Violet’s forehead and immediately started trying to wipe them off. I tried to quietly explain that we wanted them to stay on today. She was quite perplexed and had no idea she had the same black smudges on her own forehead!

I have been all over the map when it comes to Lent – from my super serious days in high school (admittedly speeding is the hardest thing I’ve ever given up – who can go the speed limit on country roads?) to my extremely laid back days while pregnant & nursing. I’m trying to find a happy medium this year so that it is challenging, but doable. I am also looking forward to engaging the girls more in the season. For myself, I am going to start the day with a Morning Offering and follow the daily lenten prompts in Small Steps for Catholic Moms – companion journal. There is a simple suggestion for fasting, praying & giving in the midst of the family each day. I tried it last year and didn’t keep up well while getting settled with a newborn. Hopefully, without that distraction this year (or at least with the distraction a year older), I will be more faithful to it. I’m also taking a break from Facebook in the hopes of cultivating a quiet home life with fewer distractions from the work at hand (both the children & the housework). In the traditional categories, here are our plans as a family:

Pray – night time prayers every night, and very simple stations at home each Friday

Fast – no sweets (Sundays & birthdays excluded for the children), no meat on Fridays & Ash Wednesday

Alms – homeless care packages (at Livy’s request)


  1. Lamb of God Calendar
  2. Lenten Sacrifice Mice
  3. Homemade Pretzels
  4. Book Basket:

I’ve really enjoyed having a special collection of books that we get out every Advent. I know that reading so many versions of the Christmas Story for weeks ahead of time prepares all of us for the true meaning of the Christmas celebration. I’m hoping to do the same with the Easter basket of books in the hopes that spending 40 days reading about the last week of Christ’s life and the special ways people remember the Resurrection will set us up to realize there is more to Easter than egg hunts. However, for both Advent & Lent, I did decide to include the fun (and more secular) books, along with the religious ones so that we can talk about how it all fits together. This year the girls will be receiving a story book and a coloring book to add to our Lent/Easter collection.

I think it is worth mentioning that we have acquired most of these books at very low cost – some gifts to us, many at Half Price Books and others when there are deals on Amazon. I have a very long wish list of books for the girls and I just keep an eye out for the titles we’d like to have in our home library so I can buy them when I find a good deal. I really appreciate the blogs that have recommended beautiful, faithful books about these holy days so I wanted to contribute to the recommendations.

I was also recently introduced to Pinterest and have collected several other ideas for Lent and Easter – too many to do in any given year, but it’s nice to have a place to collect them. For your browsing, here are my Lent “pins” and my Easter “pins”. I don’t think you have to have an account to see them, but I could be wrong about that … let me know if the comments if you can’t get to them.

May your Lenten season be blessed and your Easter be joyful!

Funny Stuff from the Kids Today

On the way to Mass today, Molly was bragging to her sisters about how much money she had. I reminded her that any money that goes into Church will be given to Father (in the collection basket). Molly protested, “how come all the grown ups take their purses into Mass and they don’t give all their money to Father?”

Jake is into EVERYTHING. He loves to unroll toilet paper and throw things in the toilet. He loves to dump all the books off the bookshelf. He loves to empty every tub of toys we have. But most of all, he LOVES to get in Red’s food & water bowls. I would seriously be living large if I had a quarter for every time I’m saying, “Jake! Get out of the dog bowls!” So today when we brought home a new set of dog bowls for Red, why was I surprised when the first thing Jake did after JR brought in the new bowls was crawl over to the box & start ripping it apart to get to the shiny new dog bowls!



My Weekend with the Andrews Family (by Chester)

Let me introduce myself. My name is Chester and I am a special friend of Mrs. McCauslin’s Kindergarten class. I am from the book The Kissing Hand. Each weekend, I get to go home with one student and they show me what their family likes to do on their days off from school. I’ve had a great time meeting all of the families and going on all kinds of adventures. This weekend, I went home with Olivia and visited the Andrews Family. Olivia’s mom picked us up from school in the car line. We called her dad to tell him that I was visiting for the weekend. He couldn’t wait to come home and start the fun! On Friday night we had a simple dinner & made plans for the rest of my visit. Olivia made me the cutest little bed next to hers out of a little box. She borrowed one of her brother’s blankets and let me use her pee wee unicorn pillow pet just like the big one that she sleeps with!

Olivia told me that her family really likes to be outdoors. She really would’ve liked to have taken me camping, but it was going to be too cold for her baby brother, Jake. She told me she would teach me one of their favorite games called geocaching instead. Olivia said it is a real-world treasure hunting game where the players try to locate hidden containers, called a “cache” using a GPS-enabled device like a smartphone. First thing Saturday, we piled into her van and headed out in search of our first cache. Olivia carried me in a special backpack like her mom uses for her little brother. It was great! The first cache was hanging in a tree. Olivia’s dad lifted us up so that she could knock it down. It was a “mini” and had a slip of paper for us to write our names and the day we found it. We drove by a second cache on the way to lunch, but there was a man working in the yard nearby. Olivia’s dad said we would have to come back another time so that no one would see us find the cache.

Since we were out geocaching, we decided to try a new hamburger joint (Hat Creek Burgers) that Olivia had heard of on one of her favorite shows – The Daytripper. Olivia’s dad got a Big Hat (two patties) with grilled onions, and everyone else got a little hat. Olivia’s mom wanted grilled onions on her burger, too, but as soon as Olivia saw them, she wanted them on hers so Olivia’s mom traded with her. I haven’t met very many kids that like onions, but Olivia said that the cooked onions are sweet. We got milkshakes for dessert made with Blue Bell ice cream. They were delicious!

The next thing on our adventure list was hiking up Mount Bonnell, the highest point in Austin. Olivia & her sisters took turns helping me up the mountain. There were some great photo spots at the top. Check out this picture of me & the Austin skyline – pretty cool, huh? We decided to take the trail back down to the van and Olivia and I had fun hiding in the forest. We were excited to find another cache after that. This one turned out to be a little harder to get to. Olivia’s dad had to climb a light pole to get it down. It was a bigger cache and there were little treasures inside. We each left something and took home a new treasure. Molly took a marble, Violet took a small football & Olivia got a red bouncy ball to share with me. We drove back by the cache that we tried earlier, but the man was still working in his yard! Olivia’s dad found another cache nearby that we could try. This one was called a “micro” and it was really tiny. It was hidden in a hole in the tree and Olivia found it.

Olivia’s dad went to China last year so the family decided they should take me out for Chinese food for supper. I even got to eat with chopsticks! After dinner, we opened our fortune cookies and Olivia’s said “He who seeks will find.” We thought that was the perfect fortune for a geocacher. What a great day!!

On Sunday, we woke up to a fancy breakfast made by Olivia’s dad. Then we headed off to Mass at St. William’s. We saw a lot of Olivia’s friends from school – Addison, Kennedy, Shane, Connor, Mary, and Reagan. We even saw the other Chester who was spending the weekend with Connor!! I got to meet Fr. Dean and we all took a picture together.

After lunch, I decided I wanted to make a treat so Olivia’s mom helped us make Fancy Fruit Tarts. We rolled out the dough, cut the tarts, and baked them. Then we filled them with vanilla yogurt & berries and

ate them with tea. They were really yummy! I asked Olivia if we could go geocaching one more time before I had to go back to school. Olivia’s dad found two caches right by our school – it was so exciting! The first cache was behind the school near some trees and the second one was in front of the school hidden near the trunk of a tree. We got some dinner and headed back to Olivia’s house for bedtime snack, prayers & lights out!

I had a really fun weekend with Olivia & her family. I am excited that I will get to come back to their house in a few years when Molly, Violet & Jake are in Kindergarten!

Fantastic Mr. Fox

You know how you have one of those days where nothing goes right? I’ve had a lot of those days in the past few years. Yesterday, however, was not one of them. I got up with Olivia & Jake early enough to get them both fed & do Olivia’s homework, make her lunch & send her off to school on time. And then instead of getting lost in the world of the internet (like I did today), I went straight to work getting Molly & Violet their breakfast and getting them dressed for school. I made their lunches and even did their hair cute before I showered and got ready myself. We headed out to the van with time to spare and it was really nice not to be hollering “hurry up” at anyone. On the way to school, my tire pressure indicator lit up on the van. I called JR and he said to check the pressure & keep an eye on it. We had noticed a cut in the tire tread up into the sidewall over the weekend while JR was washing the van (and I sat in a lawn chair & watched). It wasn’t leaking, but we knew it would have to be replaced before long. I was in & out of school in record time and over to an abortion clinic to pray for an hour as a part of the 40 Days for Life campaign. I’ll have to write more about that later, but it felt good to stand up & be counted on the side of life. Jake & I came home to do some business work (or in Jake’s case, take a nap) and eat lunch before heading back to pick up the little girls. They had a great day and were happy to see each other & Jake. We had a half hour to play before it was time to go pick up Olivia. Wow, I thought, this is really turning out to be an awesome day!

So we drove up to school (about a 10 minute drive) and got in the car line to pick up Olivia. There was an unusual gap in the line, so I rolled down my window to see if I could hear the other parents talking about what was going on. I didn’t hear anything and then all of a sudden the gap closed and we were all moving. Except that when I pulled forward, I heard flop, flop, flop and I knew that there was no air at all in the tire. As luck would have it, our spot in line was right next to the driveway to the office. It is marked off with orange cones because you are not supposed to park there (it is for emergencies only). I figured this would qualify and pulled out of the way so that the other parents could continue on in the car line. I got out of the van and saw that the tire was indeed totally & completely flat. I called JR at 3:14 and said that we had an emergency & the tire was flat. He was in his truck on his way to a doctor’s appointment so he rescheduled his appointment en route to save us. By 3:53, he had changed our tire and was calling Costco to make sure they had replacement tires in stock. Long story short, it took 39 minutes for JR to get our call & resolve the whole matter! For the longer version, keep reading! 🙂

This is the part of the day where I started to pinch myself – could we really have a flat tire and things be going SO well? When we pulled off to the driveway for the office, the assistant principal stepped up to the van to see if we needed something. I said that we had a flat tire and she said she would walk over and get Olivia and bring her back to me since she saw that Jake & Violet were asleep in the van. By the time she got back with Olivia, they were all awake and needed to the use the restroom so since the assistant principal was there with all her keys, she let us in to use the restroom. Then we set out the picnic mat under the tree and since it was only 90, we sat comfortably in the shade & waited for Daddy. When he arrived, he quickly went to work. He had stopped at home and picked up a jack & the air compressor (which turned out to be a very wise move since the spare was flat). Before long, he had the spare tire out and faster than I thought possible, he was completely done. I did snap one quick picture on my phone that I’m glad to have. I wish I’d gone around to the other side to take a picture of the flat tire and JR putting on the spare, too.

I drove the truck with the flat tire in the back on the way over to Costco and thought to myself how well JR embodies the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared.” He wasn’t a Boy Scout, but I have never met someone who is ready for anything like JR is. And he just loves to save the day like that – he couldn’t have been more cheerful when he arrived and didn’t even break a sweat changing the tire. He really thought of everything. When we got to Costco, the tire center was ready to work on the van right away. They had a special on tires which was only good for a few more days and we got $70 off the set. JR had them rotate the tires on the truck, too, since we were there & waiting anyway. We had time to kill in Costco and found the Christmas tree I’ve been wanting for 2 years (there were issues with stock in the past). Since we had the truck, JR said he would buy it for me & put it in the garage until Christmas (fyi, filling the garage with “stuff” and storing “stuff” for months before we need it are usually not on JR’s good list). So, in a matter of hours, JR had the whole issue wrapped up and we were ready to go without a single inconvenience. I was even home by 5:30 to make spaghetti for dinner, as planned.

Mrs. Fox: You know, you really are… fantastic.
Mr. Fox: I try.*

By the way, honey, there is something trapped in the chimney. Seriously. We look forward to your quickly resolving that matter as well. I really love that I never have to worry about these little challenges – and with us, there is always something, right JR?

*Excerpt from the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox.