Saturday, August 29, 2009

More summer fun...

When the Friday night lights turn back on at the stadiums around these parts, we don't rush into our storage bins to air out our winter sweaters.

Nooooooope....not for a few more months anyway.


You don't have to remind us in these parts that it's still officially summer.

We try to make the most of it and continue with our summer fun...

Our lake-jumpin' monkeys plus one.

Ridin' their rock 'n' roll water taco...into the night.

So, what else do we do around here when we're two days away from reaching the all-time hottest summer record? (We're currently at 67 days of 100+ temps this year; record is 69.)

Go spelunking, or course!

Construction crews found this cave system when they were building I-35. After they drilled down to a sufficient depth, they poured concrete for bridge supports. They kept pouring and pouring...and pouring--then got suspicious.

They found a pretty neat cave, no?

Have you ever been in complete darkness?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nine! in '09

She went against our wishes and did it anyway.

Mary Kate went ahead and turned nine yesterday. Hard for us to believe!

Her cake request for this year was:
"A volcano cake with tropical flowers."

An early AM trip to the pool.
Sweet potato waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast.

The beautiful newspaper drapery behind her is hiding her cake.

Friends over for cake and ice cream.

The kids ate the "lava" while we were serving up the cake.

Eating lava

The fam

(I can't wait for it to cool off so we can wear our hair down again...)

Ah, a lengthy childhood birthday...
started off with the neighborhood gathering last weekend,
celebrated her "real" birthday yesterday,
and tomorrow Joe is off work, so we'll all go do something fun.

Everyone should have Polish (extended) birthdays...
oh yes, and a Calvin shot to end the day on a good note!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not a common sight

When was the last time you saw a nun...and one wearing a habit?

The new sisters that are to teach at our neighborhood Catholic school campus and work in our diocese just arrived from Michigan, so the ladies (& young ladies) at our parish greeted them with a welcome shower. Until now, the teaching sisters in these particular schools had dwindled down to...none.

These ladies are a joyful and fun bunch! The average age of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is 26 years old. They even play soccer in their habits...after they remove their Rosaries and (usually) don proper shoes.

Each one of them told us where they're originally from and their story of when they became interested in becoming a sister.

Fun fact: This order of sisters has ties to the guy who started Domino's pizza. In 12 years, he helped them grow from 4 sisters to now 99...and counting.

Other fun facts:
Two of the eight sisters are twins, one sister is originally from Austin, and two were homeschooled. Cool!

The sister on the left is originally from Austin and was homeschooled.

Okay, quiz time.
Is there a difference between a "sister" and a "nun"?

Yep...but in normal everyday conversation, not really--sisters and nuns call themselves by either name.
Short answer: Nuns live in monasteries, sisters work in their communities.
Long answer: Nuns make perpetual solemn vows, and sisters profess perpetual simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience...the difference has to do with patrimony, but that's a longer answer!

As their gift to us for the occasion, they sang a beautiful chant. Lovely.

I visited with one of the sisters' identical twin sister--who is not a "sister". Got all that? She's a local physician who is due with her first baby in December (we also have the same doctor). After I mentioned I was from the Twin Cities, she told me a story about the wife and baby of one of her medical school friends who was from there. You can read about the story on this website. I've never experienced postpartum depression but have had friends suffer from it. It's something that should be talked about, and this site does. What a story it is.

While I was visiting with all of the vibrant sisters, I thought I had seen this one before. I just couldn't place where or when.

Sure enough, it was on TV. These sisters also have a religious education program for youngsters on EWTN, the national Catholic TV station. Here she is on the cover of her DVD.

Turns out a couple of the other sisters who just moved here have done different grade levels in this series as well.

Behind her in this photo, you can see some of the plans for our soon-to-be-built new church that Joe has been working on so hard. He'll be overseeing its construction, which is planned to begin fall '10.

As I was leaving with the girls, Mary Kate reminded me to ask one of the sisters a question for Jimmer. His question was: "Are you sisters going to be taking people's spark plugs out of their cars?"

(I had to remind the sister that we had just watched The Sound of Music not long ago. The nuns removing the spark plugs from the Nazi's vehicles was the kids' favorite part!)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

There must be something about November

Once again, we celebrated all the August birthdays on our block. In 9 adjacent houses (4 on one side of the street, 5 on the other), we have 8 people celebrating birthdays within 2 weeks of each other. Cause for celebration, of course.

Our hosts

(He is celebrating a BIG birthday year!)

Dueling grill sergeants

The crowd

The birthday peeps minus one little boy

A fun and lively block--17 kids in 7 of the homes makes for busy yards and sidewalks!

All these August birthdays...
Like I said, there must be something about November!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looking forward

What Mikey sees in our near future.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Solar Cookin' :: Bottling Up the Sun

I confess the solar cooker my father-in-law helped to develop that we've had for, um...a barely-used 5 or so years was giving me the eye lately, so I cleaned her up and took her for a spin. After all, I had a quiche I wanted to reheat and feed my family for dinner, it's too hot to turn on the oven, and I've been given the green light to once again walk across our recently sealed deck.

She worked like a charm (if charms even work, that is)!

I was amazed that I was able to reheat the whole quiche straight from the fridge to the cooker at 5:30 pm. It took less than an hour to get it all toasty warm, and part of the time I realized it was in a spot of shade.

You can read about what I made today, what I used, how it works, where it came from, who created the cooker, etc. here on my recipe site.

A peak:

I think it is quite cool that my father-in-law was a solar film inventor. These solar cookers actually save lives. So not only are you green if you use one yourself, but you're also helping another person in a struggling country get one to help them avoid wiping out their fuel resources and becoming very ill.

The solar is REALLY on around here--49th day of 100+ temps. How about where you are?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A little backyard excitement

After all the power washing and scrubbing, the deck finally got a nice new wardrobe. A new coat of sealant.

I just love looking at dirty rags.


Okay, not really.

I should mention the sealant was...

oil based.

And that the rags were left in the direct sunlight.

And did I mention that it's still been over 100 degrees 'round these parts?

A combination that can lead to some excitement in the back yard for sure.

Joe was just getting ready to put the oily rags back into the can and fill it with water, but...

...he was a bit too late.

(Kids watching Dad from inside the house.)

Actually, the entertainment part started when Joe noticed the rags were smoking. We all kept a close eye on them after that.

If you know Joe, you KNOW he would have never left those rags unsupervised. It is just so against his nature.

It ended up making for a really cool science experiment. Well, not a planned experiment, but it does have a good scientific lesson.

And I'm just wondering if Joe didn't secretly really want those rags to burst into they wouldn't have to be washed.

Less work for me, an exciting science lesson for the kids.
We're all good here!

And the deck sure looks nice too... =)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flying Monkey

She just had to teach herself... to do an aerial (no handed cartwheel).

Now resting:
Sore ankle.