My world

Sort of slow around here.

Yes, I have been lax the past few days.  It must be spring fever.

Around here we are still working on the 40 bags of stuff though I haven’t been posting on it daily as I would like to.

There is the First Communion Dress project which is coming along.

Other than that we have been busy.  This time of year my mind slowly starts looking forward.  I look forward to the summer and my herbs and flowers, the clothesline coming back out, the evenings out in the yard, camping, swimming lessons and days at the park.  I also start thinking about next years schooling.  What will we cover, what has worked and what hasn’t.    Spring is an exciting time.

My world

Clothing storage

What do you do with all those wonderful things that your older child has outgrown, but that the next child probably won’t need for 2 more years?  Or what about the hand-me-downs, consignment store and garage sale finds that are too cute to pass up but you won’t need until next summer?

My super easy storage solution is Banker boxes.  You can purchase them in 10 packs from any office supply store.  They are sturdy, stack well and have their own lids so you aren’t having to tape them shut.   If I am out shopping and see a too-good-to-pass-up deal for next season I can open the box and add the item without having to re-tape it.  I write the size, gender and season(if needed) on the outside of the box and store them on a basement shelf of in the closets.

baby boy and 2t boy winter boxes
baby boy and 2t boy winter boxes

You can see more of the Works for me Wednesday ideas at We Are THAT Family

Catholic Homeschooling · My world

The trouble with dictionaries

My son, Christopher, is struggling through his vocabulary this afternoon.  “Flying buttresses” he chirps, “what is a flying buttress?  Look at this, ‘Notre Dame Cathedral’.  That’s cool!”.  It isn’t that he has a hard time finding the words.  He is relatively quick at typing the definitions into the computer.  His problem is solely one of  distraction.  He stumbles upon an interesting word and fifteen minutes later is half the alphabet away from where he wants to be reading about a variety of interesting things have absolutely nothing to do with the words he is supposed to be learning.

Now, I have a very difficult time finding too much fault in these rabbit-trails into the backwaters of the dictionary.  This particular form of failing is one I am intimately familiar with, being somewhat of a lexiphile myself and several decades ago it was me sitting at the kitchen table with the well worn dictionary spending hours looking up ten or fifteen vocabulary words.  SO I am somewhat torn: Do I make him buckle down and do the words he is assigned, or do I let him take the path less trodden and find new and interesting words to ignite his writing and imagination?  For the moment I am trying to strike a balance between the two.

It is part of the joy of homeschooling that he has the chance to enjoy this learning and learn what he enjoys.  But there is also the reality that he needs to learn to dicipline himself so that his fancy doesn’t thwart his goals.

My world

Happy blogiversary to me

Well, today is the second aniversary of Simply Catholic.   Yes, I started writting here on February 26, 2007 and have been with it more or less for two years now.

The Birthday Party - Ludwig Knaus
The Birthday Party - Ludwig Knaus

It has been a very enjoyable two years.  I have made some new friends and I have learned a great deal.  Thank you to all those who have been reading here.  I really do appreaciate you all.

My world

Darcee the Dishwasher Repairman.

Move over Rosie —


My lovely Kitchenaid dishwasher has been steadily declining in its ability to clean the dishes and finally got to the point this week where the top rack wasn’t washing at all.  I can not tell you how heartsick this made me.  $$$ were flashing before my eyes while  the dishes were having to be hand-washed.  I could live without the washer indefinitely, but I really like having it.
I figured I would look on-line to see if there was something I could do.  Back last fall I was able to fix my clothes washer when the filter needed cleared so I was slightly hopeful.  After Google-searching up a couple of useful sites,  hunting around their message boards to pin point the likely problem and reading a good deal I finally came to this page.

I grabbed my trusty tool box and proceeded to pull the dishwasher apart.  The children were sort of wide-eyed at the whole process.  Before long I was pulling some of the nastiest, smelliest junk out of my dishwasher.


I worked down another level and discovered that I was wrong in thinking that the stuff I had already dealt with was nasty.  This layer gave nasty a new definition.


I pulled out the chopper assembly and it looked very bad. Here it is after I rinsed it off:


Note how bent up the blades are.   I sat down and ordered the new part and then put the washer back together (yes, I just put the bent up one back in I figure it was working a few days ago so it will last a few more now that it is clean.)  The washer is working much, much better (and quieter) now.  The new part  should be in before the end of next week.

Sorry for the  obvious crowing, but I am rather pleased with myself.

40 bags of stuff. · Catholic stuff · Lent · My world

40 Bags of stuff

Last year I did a rather crazy thing.  I ditched 40 kitchen trash bags (or the equivalent) of stuff out of our house.  40 – yes, really.  It is amazing how much stuff was lurking in the backs of cupboards and closets and how many “extra” things I had.  Too many towels, sheets, coats, shoes, books,  small kitchen appliances… the list goes on and on.


This was started as a housekeeping exercise.  Something I did because my home needed a good dejunking.  It had been years since I had really decluttered and letting go was so liberating.  By the end I starting thinking about the processes of letting go of “stuff” as a spiritual exercise.  Sometime last summer Fr Kyle contacted me and asked about the idea of using the 40 trash bag challenge as a part of his Lenten program.  This delighted me to no end and  it got me thinking again about the whole project; what worked best and what didn’t.

40 bags. One thing I know caused some people pause was the picture of the big overstuffed black bag.  “No way could I fill forty of those bags.”   I don’t know that I could fill 40 lawn and yard bags.  My home is under 3000 sq feet.

But then again I could.  When I look at what others have, what my ancestors considered wealth, what the crazy woman with all her worldly possessions in a grocery cart have and then compare it to my well appointed 3000 sq feet I could fill up 40 huge bags.  But if I was single and living in a dorm, no – I couldn’t.    But the size of “bag” is really immaterial.  It is the consistency of everyday shedding off some of our material goods.   A grocery bag would be a better measure for some — I suppose if I was very wealthy and had multiple homes maybe something more on the lines of a truck bed full a day would work better.  The point is not the size of the bag, box or bundle, it is the act of letting go of the “stuff” a bit each day.

It should hurt a little – not a lot, but a bit.  There should be some small sense of having to sacrifice or maybe some small bit of contrition at how much we hold onto things when we could give that time and energy to God.   If you struggle as I do with organization then I am sure you have read about the theories of hording and attachment to the “stuff”.    Our environments began to posses us instead of serving us.  If you don’t deal with that particular mental vice then there is still the beauty of the words of Christ ”

24 “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?
27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.
29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.
30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
31 So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.
34 Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

These words were said to people, many of whom could proabably put everything they personally owned  in one of my closets.

Lent – This year I am going to be doing the trash bag challenge again, but a little differently as well.  One thing I am going to do is involve the children more.   I also want to tie the days into a scripture lessons for the children.  Talking about service or giving – having a theme for our “decluttering” days.

Lent begins on February 25, two weeks from today.   Next week I will put up the plan and maybe I will figure out the Mr Linky thing too 🙂

My world · rants

Too smart by half

Last night while reading over at Hot Air I stumbled on this article.  There is a TV show called “WifeSwap”.  I remember hearing about this show in 2005 when they aired “Margaret” from Louisiana who was a bit of a nut-case if  the YouTube clip I saw of them time was any where close to accurate.   At any rate apparently there is a new nut-case by the name of Stephen Fowler who spent two weeks belittling and verbally torturing his “swap-wife”  Gayla Long in front of his children, even encouraging them to be disrespectful of her.   The last segment of the show is here.   Reason #763 not to watch television – shows like this.   I feel so badly for this “gentleman’s” children because what they are being taught is pride and intolerance and both are love killers.

I would like to say that I was shocked by this Mr Fowler’s opinions, but the truth is that while his behavior shocks and appalls I am very aware that a good number of people hold his opinions.   At one point I was very much in danger of being one of them.  Then God gave me Rachel and she taught me what an idiot I was and through her God saved my heart.

The Children of King Edward Imprisoned in the Tower - Paul Delaroche
The Children of King Edward Imprisoned in the Tower - Paul Delaroche

I grew up being the “bright girl”  the smart one in my class, the one with the high test scores.  Gifted and Talented education was just coming along when I was in school and I was plucked into it immediately.   So I was quickly surrounded by people telling me how great I was for being smart.  I really wanted to believe them.   I wanted to be special.  It didn’t take long to internalize the values of the people around and I found that I began judging people around me much more on how intelligent I perceived them to be than on the type of person they were.

Now intelligence is a wretched thing to judge people on.  It is every bit as superficial a judgment as beauty.   Judging someone on their education (as Stephan Fowler was) is like judging someone on their appearance.  Beauty and intelligence are both God given blessings which we have absolutely no control over.  Appearance and education are a extension of those respective gifts improved through opportunities we pursue, the environment we are raised in and the personal habits we develop.    But neither appearance nor education is a indication of a meritorious character and they most certainly are not the summa of a person’s worth.

It is seductively easy to judge people on the things we feel that we ourselves possess and even easier to judge people on those things we feel are important but secretly fear that we lack.   If we ourselves are not good enough, at least we are better than those folks.  But that is pride, and it kills love.

The thing in my life that shook me out of this was having to come to terms with Rachel’s autism.  I was coasting through life thinking that smart was better.  I didn’t see the danger of this utilitarian thinking.  I didn’t realise how fast life could change and how difficult it can be at times.  When Rachel was diagnosed I remember being told by a rather wise education specialist, “She is still the same littler girl that she was yesterday”.  This was true.  I still loved my daughter just as passionately, I wanted the best for her, I knew her worth despite the reality that she wasn’t capable of expressing her intelligence.  She was still worthwhile and I still loved her.

This cracked and ruined my neat little world view of how people should be valued.  It fixed it and it healed me.  While I wouldn’t ever wish such a painful lesson on anyone I wish that we could help fix our world so that love and an understanding of the intrinsic worth of each individual could get a better foothold in the public discourse and that the “culture of life” could have better purchase against the current culture that determines the worth of each of us as a function of our utility to society.

*I originally has his name as Stephan Fowler, the correct seems to be Stephen Fowler.

My world · Sewing

The First Communion dress project – prt 2


This is the second post documenting the great “First Communion Dress Project”.   I am sewing my daughter’s first Communion dress using my wedding dress.

You can see the first part of the project here.

I ended the last section having cut out the front and front side pieces.  In order to have enough of the wedding dress left to make on more first communion dress (for Sarah) I decided to use the embroidered front of the wedding dress for the front of the communion dress and the sides of the wedding dress for the back.  Since I needed extra white satin this keeps the different fabrics symmetrically placed on the dress.

In theory it would have been best to move the seem for the back side to match the way I did for the front, but this would have made a very akward cut in the embrodery of the panel I was using.  We will see how this works… I am hopeful it will be fine.

The lining ready to cut.
The lining ready to cut.

I cut the side-back and sleeves out of the new fabric and the back out of the dress side front.  Then I cut the lining out of new fabric.  I am reusing the netting from my dress for the communion dress.

The next step is creating the piping for the neck and sleeves.  You can see a nice tutorial here: How to cover cording to create your own piping.

To see more progress on the dress: Part 3