Archive Monthly Archives: November 2008

Walter’s in Surgery

Today is Walter’s big day for surgery. He’s been suffering from recurring strep throat for a long time and this surgery should make his life a bit easier. He has been very brave and relaxed.

As soon as we made it to his “holding” room, he was immediately drawn to the television hanging from the ceiling playing cartoons. You could have poked him with needles and he wouldn’t have cared a bit. You can plainly see his tv joy with this picture.

The bottom photo is a picture of Walter leaving the cartoon room and heading to the Pre-op area. The sleepy meds they gave him are kicking in by now.

It should be an interesting weekend.

Both Ben and Sam tested positive for strep and this morning Tommy was complaining, as well. Greg is thinking that if Tommy tests positive for strep, that he’s going to get testing, too. Better to get the antibiotics going now so that next week we can all enjoy turkey pain free!

Quitting Stuff Is Hard

Today we had some ISDN trouble again so right as we were about to start today’s broadcast, we were brought to a screeching halt.

Apparently AT&T was having problems on their end again, but they also suspect something might be wrong on our end, too, so they’re heading out to fix the problem.

In the meantime, Jennifer and I decided to do something we’ve been trying to do for almost two weeks now and that is to record an episode of our Rosary Army Catholic Podcast.

The RA Podcast is what got us into this business in the first place almost 4 years ago. We’ve officially been running the Rosary Army apostolate since March of 2003, but it was the podcast that took us in so many different directions.

And today we recorded the very last RA Podcast. With the radio show on Sirius 159/XM 117 along with our quickly expanding family, after a lot of painstaking prayer, we’ve realized the time has come to bring the show to a proper close.

It was an incredibly sad thing for us to do, and Jennifer and I even got choked up a couple times, but hopefully the apostolate will continue to grow strong without the podcast.

Thanks to all of you who have supported the podcast over the years through your prayers and other means. We can’t tell you how much we’ve appreciated it.

You can check out the last episode here.

Posted by Greg
November 19, 2008

Title Track From the Debut Album

After a roaring debut on today’s edition of The Catholics Next Door, the brand new band Venezuelan Ministry of Defense has recorded two different versions of their title song from their new CD, And Wealthy And Dead.

We hope you enjoy them.

If you do a cover for YOUR band name, here are the rules:

  1. You must mention the name of your CD in the song
  2. You must use the secret words of either antelope or cantelope
  3. There must be some sort of Catholic message in your song.

If you record one, send it to us at and we’ll play your tune on the air!

Posted by Greg
November 17, 2008

What’s Your Band Name?

For two weeks in a row, Kyle from Popple has posted something cool. He rocks. Maybe it’s because he’s getting married next month, which will make him a more complete person and he is getting closer to completeness.

Anyway, ever wonder what your name would be if you were in a band?

Here’s what you do:

1. Band Name: Random Wikipeda Link
2. Album Title: Random quote generator (take the last four words from the first quote on the page)
3. Album Art: Flickr Interesting Photo (pick one)

My Band Name: Venezuelan Ministry of Defense
My Album Title: and wealthy and dead (That’s totally depressing!)
[from: “Early to rise and early to bed makes a male healthy and wealthy and dead.” – James Thurber (1894 – 1961), New Yorker, Feb. 18, 1939 “The Shrike and the Chipmunks”]

Posted by Greg
November 17, 2008

39 Trees Attacked Us This Weekend. But We Won.

This was the scene of our backyard on Friday afternoon:
My Dad and my sister Nancy came over to help layout the trees we’d plant on Saturday. We had feeble hopes that we might actually get some digging done on Friday, but it took us a couple hours just to figure out where we’d put all the trees we’d bought the weekend before.

In total, here is what we had to plant:

The one Taiwan Cherry Tree will grow:
-upwards of 25 feet tall
-20 feet wide

The one Redbud Tree we have will grow:
-25 feet tall
-15 feet wide

The one Riverbirch Giant tree will grow:
-65 feet tall
-50 feet wide

The three Nuttall Oak trees will grow:
-40 to 60 feet tall
-40 to 60 feet wide

The three Weeping Willow trees will grow:
-30 to 40 feet tall
-35 feet wide

The nine Green Giant Arborvitaes will grow:
-40 to 50 feet tall
-15 feet wide

The ten Leyland Cypresses will grow:
-30 feet tall
-10 feet wide

The seven Upright Japanese Maple will grow:
-15 feet tall
-10 feet wide

The six Loropetulem Shrubs will grow:
-5 feet tall
-5 feet wide

Obviously, we had our work cut out for us.

My Dad and sister had planted many, many trees before.

I, on the other hand, in my entire life, had planted zero.

I once tried to plant a honeysuckle bush and it died within 3 weeks.

By the end of Saturday, I felt like a horticulturist expert. We were digging and planting and planting and digging but by the end of the day we were getting so stupid with exhaustion I almost planted Jody thinking she would grow into a dogwood tree.

We were rather ambitious, for certain, but to make it even more ambitious, we also decided to bury about 400 feet in rubber and soaker hoses to help facilitate watering of all of these trees.

So at 6AM Saturday morning, Dad picked up a 2-man auger for digging all the holes, plus a trench-wench digging thing that also took both of us to move around.

After digging all the holes, we created a zig-zag trench all around the yard.

This alone exhausted us, but we were only getting started. We planted all the trees while Dad cleaned off the equipment and returned it (we only had them for 4 hours).

Nancy and I worked up what I thought was a pretty efficient planting system and we just cranked away all day. Dad eventually returned and started burying the hose.
Dad had to leave by 2:00, so that left me and Nancy to finish off burying the hoses and planting the rest of the trees.

By the end of the day, every single inch hurt. I had blisters on my toes from stomping so much dirt.

There’s still a lot of work to do on getting our “Hillbilly Irrigation System” working, but Dad seems determined to get it done this week.

I am absolutely amazed and humbled at how generous Nancy and Dad were with their time and talent. There’s no way I could have planted a single tree without them.

And now, after 10 years of having a barren clay-filled backyard, we’re well on the way to having our own little garden of Eden right here at home.

Posted by Greg
November 16, 2008

Homemade Pie for XM Listeners (and links!)

Actually, this pie isn’t for XM Listeners. But we’re glad you’re here anyway! Welcome to all new folks who are here after listening to The Catholics Next Door on either Sirius 159 or now on XM 117. How cool is that!?!

But this is an actual pie, the pie talked about on yesterday’s program. This cherry pie is an old family favorite for some good friends of ours and our son, Sam really wanted this pie for his 11th birthday.

For cherry pie, this was really good. I don’t even like cherry pie. I’m so glad Sam loved it. Thanks Linda!!

And here are links to some of the guests and things we’ve been discussing lately:

Again, welcome to all XM 117 listeners, as well as our already good friends from Sirius! Very glad you’re here 🙂

Baby Girl’s Room

We bought sheets this weekend for the nursery, as well as a crib mattress and diaper changing pad.

It’s looking more like an actual bedroom with every passing day.

Thanks to all of our guests from the last few days. Here are links to our guests, as well as things we’ve been talking about:

Also, here is the list of Board Games that were recommended to us:

  • Ticket to Ride
  • Settlers of Cataan
  • Go To The Head of the Class
  • Sorry
  • Pictionary
  • Guess Who?
  • Apples to Apples
  • ImagineIff
  • Statego
Posted by Greg
November 10, 2008

All Our Trees

Here are all of the trees and shrubs we bought.

That picture doesn’t do justice to sheer amount of horticulture we’ve brought into our yard.

I think it total we have somewhere between 20 and 30 trees we’ll be planting, along with a small handful of shrubs.

I’m not really looking forward to the actual physical labor that is waiting for us on Saturday, but I definitely am looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labor afterward.

In five years, our backyard will be looking quite nice.

I’d still like to get a few more things done in the front yard this year, but I’m worried we’re running out of time!

Below Walter gawks at the size of one of the new trees.

And here Jennifer shows off one of the Japanese Maples she begged for. Maybe in 20 years it’ll be big enough to really enjoy! My sister Nancy is in the background. Couldn’t do this without her!

Posted by Greg
November 10, 2008

After 10 Long Years, We’re Finally Buying Trees.

After being in our house for 10 years, we’re finally getting some trees.

My sister Nancy knows a lot more about this than we do, so she’s helping me shop.

First the inside of the house got a proper clean up and redesign and now we may actually have some curb appeal!

It’s really an overwhelming task for Jennifer and me. We’ve never done much with plants and the one time I bought a plant for Jennifer (Honeysuckle) it was dead within a month.

So this is a big adventure for us. Again, so glad my sister is helping us plan and next weekend she and my dad will help us actually plant everything. We’d hoped to plant today, but I’m glad everything worked out the way it did so that we could plan things out a little better.

We didn’t buy this exact tree, but bought a bunch of very new saplings that will look like this in a few years:

Here are some dwarf Japanese maples (Jennifer’s favorite) that we found for $10 each. They’re very slow growing, but hopefully in a few years we’ll have some nice variety in the back yard.

All of these trees will soon be in our yard. That’s my sister Nancy in the background (she rocks):

We bought 10 of these smaller Leland Cyprus’.

We were going to go with all Leland Cyprus’ until we spotted a sale on some similar trees that already had some growth to them:

This was a great deal. A nice hardwood “Red Bud” tree. Already about 10-12′ feet tall. Got it for $40 from the nursery’s “hospital.”

Bought a bunch of these shrubs, that can be shaped to look like miniature trees:

Here we are on the way home with the back of my brother-in-law’s truck weighed down with plants, trees, and clay-cutter. Jennifer went back with my sister for the second batch of trees. It’ll be a lot of work getting these in the ground next weekend, but at least the ball is rolling and in a few short years our backyard might actually look more welcoming!

Posted by Greg
November 8, 2008

Greatest Cake EVER!

Here’s how I started my birthday morning.

After getting all the prep done for today’s broadcast, I sat in our new recliner, reading Magnificat, in a silent house, clean living room, with a sleeping dog.

Quite nice.

After the program we dove into the carrot cake, not even bothering to wait for the kids to get home from school.

If you like carrot cake, this is the greatest carrot cake recipe ever.

My mom made it for countless birthdays, and now my wife makes it for Father’s Day and my birthday.

I love this cake.

This is a perfect cake.

Here’s the recipe:


4 Egg
2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
2 TSP Soda
1 TSP Salt
1/4 TSP Cinnamon
1 1/4 Cup Salad Oil
2 (7oz) jars of Carrot Baby Food (yes, baby food)

Place all ingredients in a bowl, beat until well combined.

Pour into 2 greased round pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cool, remove from pan.


One 3-ounce package cream cheese (softened
1/4 Cup margarine
2 Cups powdered sugar
1/2 Cup chopped nuts
2 TSP vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well, and spread on cake.

If you know of a better tasting Carrot Cake, I’d like to know about it.

This cake is just beyond words.

Thanks to everyone for all the kind emails and messages on Facebook and elsewhere today. Very much appreciated! You all are almost as awesome as this carrot cake 🙂

Posted by Greg
November 6, 2008