Posted by: ourbakersdozen | October 25, 2016

Where Did the first Half of October go?

Well – I think it disappeared down in a hole somewhere and there were moments when I felt I had fallen down in behind it and if I hadn’t, perhaps I should.
Seriously though – it’s been a busy couple of weeks for us. The BIG trip was looming in front of us – complete with the sale of our big old 15 passenger van with which I felt like an era in my life was closing. Then there was the purchase of Hugo’s sixtieth birthday gift – a 1979 Ford Ranger. It is a looker, I tell you. Despite needing a paint job the current paint looks great. It arrived sounding really good but on its first job – it started coughing and knocking so it appears that it will need a bit more work than Ben and Hugo thought it would when they picked it out.


We began October with hurricane Matthew teasing us the last two weeks before the trip. Nathaniel was following his progress long before the rest of us were giving it serious consideration. Eventually though Matthew developed enough fury the rest of us started paying attention and all of us  shared a collective sigh of relief over the fact that we had purchased trip insurance. Still we watched it nervously, at times holding our breath as Matthew continued to veer north  with a westward slant to his trail. He actually fooled us into thinking he was going to miss North Carolina altogether but in the end we received the blunt hit with all the damage and loss of life Florida (all the US Media) was poised to receive.
So began the hours of waiting to hear if the house we had rented was damaged, or even still standing. We did not truly believe the latter scenario but the first one – very much so. Multiple times several of us agreed the trip was toast while a couple of members of the family staunchly held onto hope. Myself, I was resigned to the possibility of the trip being a no go and began to research how one applied for their refund and even dreamed a little about how I would spend it – maybe a few more books for my school library, a jump start on Christmas and a big dinner out with the whole family were a few of my ideas.
We finally heard from the rental company that the house was indeed not damaged, not even a tiny bit and then began the agonizing watch of the slowly receding  water that made every possible path to the islands impassable. Almost all of the islands remained under evacuation notice as well, lending credence to my plans for the refund.We were, by then, only 5 days from our date of departure.
Day by day, one road at a time opened until finally on Wednesday learned that our Island was open and we were 99.5% certain the trip was on. So I began an accelerated planning and packing spree and had a very clear plan of action in my head.
All this was thwarted Wednesday evening, however. I had just placed on a burner the homemade soup Hugo had once more painstakingly transformed out of a pile of turkey bones and was looking with Elsa for one of her blouses we had purchased for the trip. Hugo and Nathaniel were working on repairing the temporary window replacement we had fashioned last year when the original one fell out and shattered. Elsa remembered her blouse was probably in the back of the minivan so she whisked outside while I continued to search through clutter in her bedroom.
I heard Hugo calling me and I met him in the bedroom hallway and calmly but with an air of distress about him – he explained how Elsa had accidently closed the mini van door on Nathaniel’s hand. I took one look at his hand and immediately knew a trip to the ER was a necessary evil that about to rob me of a night or prep. (Needless to say… the soup I had placed earlier on the stove – burned.)

There is a merciful God and he blessed us this night with low volume and quick turnover in the ER despite the bizarre fact of a band of Brownies touring the ER…. I mean, who thinks of the ER as a field trip option? So within three hours, Nathaniel and I were celebrating our good luck that we were not looking at surgery to repair a busted knuckle but I was worried about whether we would be able to squeeze a visit to the Ortho in time to be able to leave with the rest of the family for the OBX. Once again the trip was in danger… but only for our portion of the family intended to go on this first family beach vacation in 18 years.

And then there was a matter of what does a 16 yr old do at the beach with a cast on his hand.



Thankfully we were able to purchase and over night a splint that was approved by his orthopedist and could get wet!  Outer Banks – here we come!

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | September 20, 2016

If a Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words…

What is a collage worth?

This does not even come close to capturing the memories of 2016. I don’t think it’s even possible to compress a year of a family the size of ours within a collage but I think I hit on most of the highlights…



This year we squeezed into the very short span of four weeks: a birthday, mother’s day, a baptism, 2 First Holy Communions and a graduation. All of which our eldest daughter flew across the pond to celebrate with us. I also slipped in a touch of Easter, a few pieces of Christmas, our 9th child leaving for college, our fifth child leaving for the beginning of her life as a religious as well as a wedding, the newest grandchild and  some just plain old fun moments.

I’ll share later about the difficulties of adjusting to having a child leave to pursue the vocation Jesus has called her to after she has been your partner in menu planning, cooking, household chores and homeschooling for 5 years.  I’ll also share with you the challenges of learning to cook for only 7 people after 2 decades of cooking for at least a dozen. I can now identify with my older children who often complained to me about the hardships of living off of leftovers every time they cooked for their 2 to 3 roommates after years of cooking for a large family. Trust me I have been swamped with leftovers!

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | August 24, 2016

Daily Reflections

August 24th 2016

When the moderators in a private prayer group that I belong to asked if a few of us would be willing to do write a reflection on the daily readings a few times a week – I volunteered to take on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’ve recently stepped back from writing the monthly 7QT for Catholic Sista’s and so I thought it would be good to keep my hand at some regular writing and better yet – I would have to read the bible…. at least 3 times a week. I don’t know about you but I have found it hard to commit to reading the bible daily. Like many others – I do not necessarily feel God’s real presence when I tackle that black print on the white page but as Jem Sullivan Phd (catechist & author) shares in this reflection on the USCCB site, if we approach God’s word again and again He WILL reveal himself.

The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth. Psalm 145:17-18

And therein lies the key – we can only hope to come to know God ‘calling on Him‘ regularly. That is something I fail to do beyond Sunday Mass and sometimes attending Holy Hour, sometimes daily Mass and trying to pray daily. There are many ways, of course, of spending time with God and seeking his presence. Prayer, Adoration, Mass; all of these afford us entrance to God. But – really the easiest way is through reading His word. We don’t even have to leave the house to do this. Why then do I find it so difficult? I’m not going to try to answer that question yet and instead, like my decision to start blogging again, I’m just going to jump right in. This challenge to write three times a week about the daily readings is the perfect means to do so. There are so many resources available online. For now I am finding the USCCB site for daily readings to be a great place to start. The videos you can see to the right of the (USCCB) daily readings offer a personal look into one of the daily readings with some inspiration for reflection.

While I may not immediately feel God’s presence in His Word, I know that just by taking the time, I can trust that He is near and that He is always revealing himself to those who seek Him. By spending this time in reflection each week, I am hoping that I will become more open to His presence everywhere in my life.

If any of you have some favorite resources online or otherwise that you use to study the word of God please share them in the comments.

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | August 21, 2016

A Daily Planner…

and how it’s affecting my menu planning!

In the past year my second oldest, who is also my second daughter, launched a website aimed at helping mothers find more joy in their vocation because whether you are a first time mum of one or the seasoned mum of many – being a mother can sometimes feel very lonely and anything but joyful. Already a very busy mum of five, this venture meant that her already crazy, busy life became even more busy and the need to plan ahead even more important. So she began to look about for a planner. And she wasn’t finding one that answered what she wanted in a planner. She particularly wanted a lot of space for writing notes. And planning menus… lots of options to plan menus… esp as she sometimes likes to plan out several weeks of menus at a time. Something I have been known to do now and again. So not finding what she wanted – she decided to develop her own.

I have only purchased one planner before and I not only really liked it – I made pretty good use of it. But when it came time to order the next year – I just didn’t have the dollars. We were going through some tough times. (This post from 2006 was more often our reality than not.) After a year without a planner I just never bothered to get another but often missed having one so when Jenny finally published hers, I managed to finagle a copy as an early, EARLY birthday gift. (That’s a pretty funny story that involves a stuffed bear called Bobbette and a little boy called George that I will have to share another day)

Now, as we all know there are few feelings worse than to have hit the floor running early in the morning only to get cut off at the knees by the age old question; “what’s for dinner?” and have nothing to answer with other than I don’t know.… But now with Jenny’s planner when kids ask me what’s for dinner I just point to this:

menu plan


which is the direct result of this:

menu planning

For fun I asked Mister Google for images of: “My face when asked what’s for dinner?”. I’m sharing some of the best responses right now, so don’t bother googling that but if you do – don’t blame me for what you see, OK?

On a day when I’m already beyond exhausted this one reflects my inner child when I realize I’ve forgotten again to thaw the meat for what was going to be dinner…

My face 1


When I’m trying to look like there is something planned and I just need to remember what it was….

Caucasian female

(Photo from:

Now there were some other rather funny ones but this one best reflects how I have typically felt when asked for what feels like the 100th time: “What’s for dinner?”

my face

Sadly I probably really looked a lot like this as recently the kids had begun to premise the dreaded question with “Ummm…. I don’t know if anyone else has asked but I was wondering….” as they edged closer to the best escape route from whatever room I was in.

Since getting my own copy of Mothering Sunshine’s ultimate planner, I’ve been able to either point to the dry erase board or if I haven’t updated the board yet – I’ve just grabbed my planner. Such a feeling of accomplishment – knowing what’s for dinner. I must also share that in taking the time to plan my menu within a planner it’s much easier to remember that on certain days we need to plan a crockpot meal or simple dinner so that we can get to a particular activity on time.


PS the second most dreaded question that sometimes vies for first place in questions mums dread is “what’s for snack”? My most recent solution is to have my kids divide up the snacks by 2 per day times how many days worth of shopping I have bought and they write it on the bottom of the board.

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | August 20, 2016

Just jumping in…

You know that moment, on the first day the pool opens and you are standing by the pool with the hot sun beating down on your shoulders and you cautiously stick your toe into the cool blue ripples and gasp – cause in contrast to the sun that water is COLD. Now you are stuck with a decision, to just jump into the depths of that chilly water or ease in a few inches at a time. The easing in seems so much preferable but in reality – it’s just dang painful and full of retreats, isn’t it? When you plug your nose and just jump in, there’s a huge gasp and then in less than 90 seconds you have adjusted to the cool temperature and you’re laughing with friends and it’s done; you are IN!

Well – that’s what I have decided to do with my bog – just jump back into writing I have watched a lot of blogs die off – including mine. Because why? Everyone is pasting their 5 second sound bites on social media…. where they swirl around for a little while and then disappear. The “memories” that FB has decided to start sharing with me – MY memories has really emphasized to me how many memories I have lost to social media. My children frequently get on my different blogs – there’s mum2twelve and this one, and when they do they SIGH; “Why did you stop blogging mummy? It’s so much fun reading about all the things we did.”

Why did I stop? So many reasons, some of which are: I lost confidence in myself. I was also very sick. I didn’t want to share a bunch of negative things but then that’s not all that was happening in my life. There were positive things as well. Such as children growing and memories being made and sadly other than a few soundbites that FB decides to dish up when it wants – they have not really been recorded.

Every time I have thought of jumpstarting my blog it’s been because there has been something funny a younger child has said, or a cool moment with one of the teens or a new baby has been born  – but each time I felt overwhelmed by the guilt that so many months, actually years, have gone by without my blogging about our family.

So today I’m just jumping in – and restarting. This time it’s to capture memories and, if in the process, I inspire a few readers – all the better.

This actually means I’m going to have to get reaquainted with word press as most of my writing the past two years has been with Catholic Sistas and  while their site is also hosted through wordpress – it’s set up very differently.

So here I go – I’m plugging my nose and taking the plunge!





Posted by: ourbakersdozen | October 1, 2015

Where have I been doing for almost two years now?

I have actually been writing a book for Advent and writing at Catholic Sistas. After spending over an hour updating the “meet our children” page I need to get onto other things so this post will be very brief so for today I’ll treat you to a few pictures and a couple of links to some of the articles I’ve written the past two years.

I began by writing an article about Driveway dating, and then I wrote something in the same vein as my advent book titled A day in the life of the Holy family. This one on Martyrdom was the most shared of all my articles thus far. I have taken over the First Friday Seven Quick Takes which is hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum. Sometimes they are educational and sometimes they are very light hearted. And if you want to catch up on all I’ve written just go here.

And now for a few pictures… the family

Family photo Spring of 2015  BUT we already have a new family member due in April of 2016…




My boys!


Me and all my girls!

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | December 12, 2013

Count down!

The countdown for us began on Hugo’s birthday in early November when our eldest daughter broke the news: (When you read this take a deep breath and read it as fast as you can to emulate how it feels for me to say/think this)

“OhmygoshsheiscominghomeforChristmasforthefirstimeinyears.Shetrickedus!!Wethoughtshecouldn’tcomehome atallthisyear.OHMYGOSH!Ican’tbelieveit!!!!”

When she told us, pandemonium broke lose and those still outside could hear the yells of joy and I suspect the walls vibrating from kids jumping up and down in absolute delight! It is a moment cemented in my mind for forever. One daughter shared later “I wondered at first if Frank had taken his firsts steps and thought – no he’s already done that!”


Her Last Christmas Home (We have had several additions since then: another child, inlaws and grandchildren)

And so began our own special advent. We have made it through Thanksgiving, St. Nickolas day, the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the first two Sundays of Advent. Finally today – my eldest is in the air winging across the pond. Or as she put it, she has; “taken a  seat in the air”. Simultaneously our 18 yr old is also ‘sitting in a chair in the air’ as he returns from Clearwater Monastary, where he has been for the past ten days.

God willing, in just a few short days, we will all be in the same state and shortly thereafter all in the same – dare I say it – HOUSE! How will we bear this wait?

By being busy of course.  And busy we are – preparing for Gaudete Sunday, the day our joy at the coming of our Savior flows over and diminishes our penitential waiting. For the past few years we have typically celebrated this special day in Advent with a quiet gathering at our home. When we started doing this, we generally made a few gingerbread houses with a couple of other families with a date set for us to come back together to break and eat our colourful candied houses.

Last year though we had to change from houses to gingerbread men as our celebration had grown to include several families whose company we enjoy. Today we begin the baking of thirty five, yes, thirty five gingerbread men. We are not sure how many families are going to show and we mustn’t have a child go home empty handed!

If you think you might like to bake some really cool cookies as well, just head over to my old blog for the recipe. Today we will not be adding the m&ms, as part of the fun for the kids is decorating the little baked men themselves.

And, one more day in our countdown will disappear in the blink of an eye!

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | November 8, 2013

How Many Times…


…must I zap my tea before I actually remember to drink it?

I don’t know… I’m losing count. I think I can be certain it’s not alzheimers causing me to forget my tea. And, since the microwave is not in the kitchen, I think I can safely assume it’s not radio active waves destroying my brain cells. (Though, maybe the repetitive zapping of my forgotten teas is making my hot beverages radio active?)

It’s more likely the sheer number of interruptions that occur in my chaotic life. My day is constantly punctuated with my 13 blessings. I’m either tying a shoe, rereading an algebra lesson in hopes of explaining it to a frustrated teen, answering a text from one of my married children or, I’ve noticed my eldest is online and I grab a moment (and my tea, if I can find it) to chat with her and catch up on her life which is always five hours ahead of mine.

Last night, Hugo asked me if I had seen the links he had sent me. Ooops! No. I checked my email yesterday at about 6 am, and never looked back! (I was chasing down that elusive tea between loads of laundry being dried outside on my makeshift clothes line due to the  untimely and greatly lamented passing of my dryer and running errands, with a little schooling squeezed in between.)

So this morning, while waiting on my tea to be reheated, I grabbed my phone and scrolled through a ton of email down to yesterdays.    I followed one of Hugo’s to Pope Francis. The following pictures will illustrate the impact our Holy Father’s words had on me.

decorating cookies nov 2013

Wasting time with my kids!

 decorated cookies nov 2013

Now, I just need to find that cup of tea so I can enjoy one of these yummy confections the kids and I whipped up this morning.  I think I’ll go check the microwave…

“‘And tell me, do you play with your children? Do you waste time with your children? The free gift of a parent’s time is so important,”

Pope Francis October 2013

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | October 5, 2013

Dear Matt Walsh

Dear Matt:
I’m hoping I can do justice in my response but it will be written in a hurry because as a mother of a bakersdozen, I don’t have much time  and company is coming tomorrow. In a family this size – that’s a lot of hand prints to clean off the wall.

I was troubled by your very intelligent and cleverly penned words in answer to the very personal and, well, nasty attack this woman made on you.

By herself, she manages to be a black eye to the pro-choice group with her crude and not well thought out arguments for being pro-choice. If I were pro-choice I would be cringing! She embodies everything that is wrong with the evil of “choice” and its advocates.

But she also embodies something else.

The pain that abortion rains down on women, the unborn and society.

I saw in her twisted words, and the hatred she spewed at you, a cry of deep deep pain. This woman is almost assuredly a victim. Whether of abortion or simply of the immorality of today’s secular world I don’t know, but clearly she is very wounded.

I think if our beloved Pope St Francis had read your article – he would have wept. For her… and for your lack of sensitivity. The very plea he is making to the world  was ignored in your choice of words.  He would have rather you had ministered to this woman in love and when sufficient healing had taken place, gently lead her to the truth. In short he would have asked you to be Christ to her!

Yes, Christ took the Pharisees to  task. In righteous anger, he drove the the money changers out of the temple. But she was is not a money changer or the equivalent of one,  She was the woman at the well and she is the woman about to be stoned. A poor sinner, lost and suffering. Jesus would have born her spittle and the love pouring from his eyes would have either driven her away, or shamed her to her core causing her to throw herself at his feet weeping and willing to be healed.

We are not Jesus and can not, with one look, heal. But we can minister with His love. This is what Pope Francis is calling us to do.

Many are, shamefully and purposely, misconstruing Pope Francis’ words and leading others to mistakenly do the same and so some will argue SHAME ON YOU MATT! The Pope has admonished the faithful to not discuss abortion any more.

FALSE! I think Jesus would say to them: “Get behind me, satan!”

However, Pope Francis is calling us to love the sinners and to gently lead them to the truth. Until someone is healed and feels the love of Christ – he can not hear the truth.

Matt, her words were hurtful and painful and a personal attack. Your response is understandable. But I would have shelved my answer to her for at least a week and then read it. It was clever, amusing and you did a good job of ridiculing her.  But did you love her, forgive her ?  “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

Does she strike you, Matt, as one who knows what she is doing?

I hope, if you are attacked like that again you will correct them, but with love and humility. You have been given a wonderful talent with your ability to write powerful words and to influence many in this battle against the horrendous evil of abortion.  Use your gift wisely, and with love, Matt. To whom much is given… much will be asked!





Posted by: ourbakersdozen | September 27, 2013

Groaner of the day

Groaner of the day:
Four yr old Cici was so excited to be helping me make the pancakes for lunch. She eagerly pulled open the fridge door under my watchful eye, and I directed her to take two eggs off the door.
I admonished her : “Carefully – very carefully, take two eggs Cici and then very carefully pass them…”
“Ummm, ok take another egg Cici…”

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