Wednesday, December 31, 2008

earlier today

Maria- And then this big crystal ball drops down from this huge, giant pole while everyone counts down, "10,,,9,,,,8,,,,7,,,,6,,,,5,,,,4,,,,3,,,,2,,,,1,,,"

Kain, excitedly- And then the ball crashes on the ground and breaks into a million pieces?!!!

Maria- Um, no. It doesn't break or anything. It just drops slowly down the pole until it gets to the bottom.

Kain- Oh. Well, that's pretty boring.

The last post of the year....

I am way too overloaded right now to dig up Christmas pictures. That will have to wait. But I couldn't resist posting one last time in 2008!

We will be having a ham dinner tonight, complete with Hoppin' John, plus some goodies to ring in the new year. John is off tomorrow, for a change, so he will get to stay up with us. We've let Maria stay up until midnight for a few years now. This year I had a vision of a family slumber party,,,everyone staying up as long as they can, sleeping bags on the floor, playing games and hanging out. But so far, Kain is uninvited to the party. I know, that's really mean. He's been really hateful and boogery the last couple of days though. I can't see rewarding that with a party. I've threatened him with this, but his behavior hasn't improved. Somehow I don't think staying up half the night eating junk food is going to improve his behavior. I may cave. But I shouldn't. What to do, what to do...if these kids only knew how much we agonize over these things.

Tomorrow we will go to mass for the feast of the Solemnity and have our traditional Rosemary Chicken dinner (it's traditional if you do it twice in a row, right?). We will make rosemary candles for our home altar and say this prayer.

Happy and blessed 2009 to you all!

H/T to totus tuus

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lap book giveaway!

Quick like a bunny, run over here and enter before tomorrow at noon!
Just the perfect thing to make the rest of the season memorable.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Holy Night

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours...

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~Norman Vincent Peale

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent- week 3

I'm tired.

But I'm done.

Would you like to share some eggnog?

A couple of days ago I had a shopping's amazing how much I needed to pick up, considering I did the bulk of my shopping online.

The highlight of our week was the Polar Express train ride, complete with hot, hot, hot, hot chocolate (as you can see from the dregs on Kain's face), and a visit from Santa.

Last night we finally put up our tree and the kids got to open their new ornaments....

Maria's new ornament, an Irish dancer...

Kain's is kind of...odd...a big "K". He loves it because of the crystals in it. It's getting hard to pick ornaments for him.

Jack's, a Polar Express...

and for Tess, a Pooh one...

This is for Mom, a new piece for the nativity,,,Melchior.

Taking pictures of Tess has gotten trickier. She's figured out that when the red eye reduction light comes on, the flash will follow, so she's started flinching ahead of time....

...the big kids think this is hysterical fun.

Coming up for week 4?

--Today I am finishing up *almost* all of my baking. I'll still need to whip up some quick brownies to take to my mom's on Christmas as I am in charge of bringing a "child friendly" dessert. We are also catching up on cleaning and laundry...yes, we, I'm putting the children to work, they are SO, SO glad to be helpful and industrious, let me tell YOU! I need to wrap presents also...big chore.

--Tomorrow we will go to see a couple of little girl friends dance in Christmas ballet.

--Wednesday, Christmas Eve!! We will bake some brownies and make a birthday bake, and in the evening we will go to the Christmas pagaent at our parish. Maria will be singing in the choir, and Kain will be staring in his break-out performance as "cow number 2". I will be in charge of wrangling preschooler angels, and John will be in the pews with Jack enjoying the show. We will come home and have munchies and stories and send children to bed so that we can wait, exhausted, for them to finally pass out and allow us to set up the living room for....

--Thursday, Christmas morning!! Nothing new here,,,you know the drill. Gifts, stockings, filling up the landfill with wrapping paper and boxes, and then we'll pack up and go visit grandparents.

Hope everyone is having fun wrapping up their Advent as well. I'm looking forward to Christmas, but I'm also already feeling like I want to get back to our regular routines. There can be such a thing as too much sugar, too many crafts, too many disrupted routines and late bedtimes. The children would disagree.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

reality check

If you, like me, woke up cranky and overwhelmed again today...

...maybe this will give you a reality check over your cup of coffee of all you have to the thankful for. Maybe you will feel blessed when you hold and nurse your fat and happy baby this morning instead of feeling irritated at the interruption...maybe...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The meaning of me

Tess says "Momma". Aren't you impressed? She's a genius, we're quite sure.

Of course, she doesn't seem to really know what "Momma" means. Momma is not her name for me...Momma is a plaintive wail of comes when she is hungry, or sick of her carseat, or bored and wants to be picked up. Typically she will start to fuss a bit, and if that doesn't bring quick results, she'll start to call,,,"ma ma, ma ma" slowly and purposefully.

She never says it when she's happy,,,only when she has a need to be filled. For her, "Ma ma" is a word that fixes what's wrong.

Maybe she knows the meaning after all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent- week 2, and what the littles are up to

Well, we were thrown a curve ball in the way of sick kiddos this week. It never developed into anything more than a mild virus, but it was enough to keep the littlest two up at night and make getting to new activities a bit hard.

Here's Jack, being sick...

Here's Jack, feeling better...

Jack has learned to sound out words. I still haven't started anything formal with him. He just loves letters and I think will be a natural reader. He loves to type words on the computer...real words or made up ones.

Excuse the embarrassing pile o' junk on in the desk.

Jack- "What does 'd-h' spell?"

Me- "Um,,that doesn't really spell anything."

Jack- "That spells 'duh-huh'."

Tess, by the way, is now six months old, and I haven't posted an update on her cuteness in quite a while.

She is just amazing...sitting up now,

and sort of experimenting with solid food a bit, and look!

A tooth!

Here's a few pictures of what we managed to get done...Maria made this ornament with a little kit she got in her shoe on St. Nicholas' feast day.

We also made homemade ornaments to put in our goody gift plates. I haven't gotten pictures of those week. We already made a couple of gift plates to give out to PSR and dance teachers we won't see again until after Christmas.

Here's our opened Immaculate Conception prayer candle...

We did go to the town square to see the light display. It was *very* cold, and I stayed in the car with Tess. Maria took the pictures. Jack loved it and wants to go again to see the "beautiful lights". There's a beautiful nativity too, but that picture didn't turn out.

Coming up for this week...

Today, Sunday, we will have our 3rd Sunday movie day...Rudolph and, my favorite, A Christmas Carol. We will also, finally, have our Mexican dinner we were supposed to have our the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe,,,before everyone got sick! I've made some homemade flan, which smells and looks wonderful but seems a little...loose. I have my doubts as to how it's turned out, but we'll see!

Monday- Jack's shopping day.

Tuesday- I need a shopping day wrap up my list. Is John off?

Wednesday- gift making day...pumpkin bread, snickerdoodles, and fudge. We will put together a batch of gift plates for mailing and for Kain's therapists.

Thursday- Christmas train ride!

Friday- Read "The Night Tree" and make bird-feeding ornaments to string up on our trees outside.

Saturday- Make a gingerbread nativity.

So, we'll see how this week pans out. I know John wants a shopping day too...I need to look at his schedule and I can't seem to put my hands on it right now. I'm feeling unorganized and off my game still from our brief illnesses, so we may be flying by the seat of our pants still for a few days.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My new look

All Advent-y, yes? I think it makes my eyes burn a little. The children love it though, so I guess I'll suck it up for a couple of weeks.


I have a couple of friends that are really rather neurotic about illnesses. They stay as close to home as possible all cold and flu season and compulsively sanitize everything their children come in contact with outside the home. One of them even sanitizes anything that comes into her home from the outside.

We have always played pretty loose and dangerous with cooties. My husband, after all, is a nurse, and once upon a time so was I. Coming into contact with all manner of cooties is pretty much inevitable when you are a nurse,,,even the coughing up blood flesh eating ones that certain authors make their fortunes writing novels about. After spending the first half of nursing school pretty wigged about all of that, you learn that most reasonably healthy people can fight off most cooties and you get over it. Even after having a child, I wasn't one to worry much about germs. I would dismiss such overprotectiveness as silly,,,"This is how children build their immune systems," I would say with smug authority, "And, you are building resistant bacteria by throwing all of that antiseptic stuff around."

Then, last winter happened. We all got the flu. I was pregnant and very sick, and Jack and I literally spent three days in bed together, just shivering and sleeping. I alternated worrying about whether or not my high fever would hurt my unborn baby with jonesing for some Nyquil that I wasn't allowed to have. We had several rounds of illness blow through the house, each one taking us out of commission for weeks at a time while it cycled through each child, causing me to cancel important committments I had made and bringing rumbles of mutiny from the unsick children that were going insane with boredom over their forced confinements. Kain, especially, was quite ill each time, having managed to impress even his seasoned pediatrician when he managed to spike 105.8 fever the night he tested positive for both flu *and* strep. Yes, he did get a flu shot.

So now, I am facing another cold and flu season, and we've had our first brush with cooties, albiet a pretty benign one. I realize now that the people I thought were too neurotic about keeping their kids germ-free all had large families. It was bad enough with three we have four, and I can't imagine doing this with six or seven! When you have one child, an illness may keep you out of commission for a few days, but when you have four kids, it can keep you at home for weeks at a time. And if mom gets sick during that time...uh oh. I find myself thinking in terms of preparation now, wanting to keep up with the housework and keep a certain amount of necessities in the house so that we can manage a fall to illness as easily as possible, because nothing is worse than dragging sick little children to the store at 11pm when someone spikes a fever and you are out of juice and Tylenol. I'm toying with the idea of stashing some movies and board games aside to whip out when the inevitable fall comes.

There is something, however tiny, kind of satisfying about caring for my sick children. We are forced to slow down and stay home, but that brings advantages sometimes. I am forced to spend a lot of time sitting in a rocking chair snuggling too-warm bodies...but that brings advantages sometimes too. But still, sitting here, looking down the barrel of a new cold and flu season, I'm having trouble thinking positively. I try to put my energy into preventative measures, keeping everyone eating well and resting well and taking in extra Vitamin C when I know they've been exposed to something. Mostly I try not to flinch and picture all manner of crawlies on my husband when he comes home from work.

Anyway, I still realize that children need to build their immune systems. But I think they can wait to build them when they are older...say, when they are able to accept comfort from dad or an older sibling instead of only wanting to be in Momma's lap 24 hours a day for days on end, so that maybe sick Momma can rest a little too. Or, at the very least, when they learn to vomit into the toilet, or at least into a bowl, instead of all over my bed.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Me as I put some of the yummiest dressing ever on my salad- I bet this would make a good chicken marinade.

Kain- What? BBQ sauce?

Me- No, Kain, this salad dressing. Do you think I'd be putting BBQ sauce on my salad?

Kain- Sure! I would!

We're hit!

We've got our first illness of the season. I'm kind of relieved. People around us have been dropping like flies, and I've been waiting for one of our own to fall. The suspense was killing me. Anyway, that's why I'm posting again so soon. We've had a rough night, and I'm stalling getting our school day started. I'm just not feeling up to Latin and fractions quite yet.

Sleeping arrangements in our house are pretty fluid. Tess's crib has one side removed and is bumpered up against our king-sized bed, and she travels back and forth between the two at will during the night. Not on her own steam, of course. She expresses her will though, and I reach over and haul her to me. And Jack almost always ends up in our bed before morning, on his own steam. So, when he appeared around 11:30 last night, it was no surprise. I was nursing Tess, and he climbed between John and me and curled up, pressing his back into my back, his hot little feet against my legs, and we drifted back off to sleep with hardly a word. Just as I was drifting off again, a little alarm went off in my feet? It's 30 degrees outside, and we live in an old drafty house with hardwood floors. I reached over and felt him, and sure enough, he had a good fever going. I put Tess back in her crib and rolled over to Jack, felt his burning head again, tucked him in good, and snuggled him to me, wondering what he had, hoping it was anything but a stomach virus, and praying as I fell asleep again that the baby would at least be spared, and hopefully me too...because when Momma gets sick, the world ends.

A few minutes later, Jack half sat up in bed and started gagging. I tried to aim him off the bed as I woke up John with those words every parent loves to hear in the middle of the night, "HELP, he's puking!" This was necessary because while I was sandwiched into the middle of our giant family bed, John was on the end and could get up far more quickly. And he did, rushing Jack to the toilet, but for little good. It was too late.

We cleaned up the boy and the mess, and John went to sleep on the couch. Jack was upset, shaking with chills and muttering about the "yuck" of it all. Tess had woken up, but thankfully was happy enough to drift back to sleep with her mobile, so I snuggled Jack back into bed and prayed for uneventful night, and if not that, that at least both babies wouldn't need me at the same time.

The rest of the night was not too bad, really, compared to other stomach virus nights we've had. Jack had had a fairly small dinner several hours earlier, so that helped I'm sure. Last year Kain fell ill soon after two helpings of a big spaghetti dinner. I scrubbed a lot of spaghetti out of the floor that night. Jack didn't throw up again, but he slept fitfully, which means, of course, that I slept fitfully too. And he woke up early, which means, of course, that I woke up early too. He seems to feel pretty good this morning, so I'm waiting to see what the day holds. One thing is certain, we won't make it to mass.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Advent- 1 week down, 3 to go

Here's some photos from our first week.

Our Advent wreath...

And the pretty candle I made for the Immaculate Conception novena.

The Jesse Tree,,,each of the little bags are opened each day,

and each one contains one of these scrolls inside with our marching orders for the following day.

Our nativity scene, a hodgepodge of an old white ceramic one and the Fontanini one I'm slowly replacing it with...

A blurry mug of hot, hot, hot chocolate to go with our viewing of the Polar Express.

Mobiles made at the art museum,

and pictures from our history museum field trip featuring an exhibit on quilts,

and they designed their own squares.

followed by some fun with their hands on exhibits.

Shoes filled by St. Nicholas with a bit of candy and small gifts from the museum...

Saturday was the Christmas parade, with some lovely floats reflecting the meaning of the season...

And others, maybe not so much...

Cute kids...

And these wonderful guys...

My kids had a blast. Jack was all about the cool trucks and cars...

And Tess was warm and cozy in her sling, right up until the end....

Things went well as planned, except that we didn't read Country Angel Christmas and make the glitter stars because we are having library issues...long story involving a lost dvd and a load of fines that I will have to pay this coming week. Instead, we read the Legend of the Poinsettia and made a trip to pick up a couple poinsettias of our own.

Plans for week 2-

Sunday, today- Second Sunday movie day. We'll watch The Grinch and Miracle on 34th Street. We'll also have a cookie walk after mass today, which means we'll have some goodies to munch with our movies.

Monday- Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We'll finish our novena and unwrap our candle to reveal the tiny little swaddled blankie I made out of wax and snuggled inside. We'll attend mass at noon and make a special craft.

Tuesday- John is off of work, and so I'm planning to make some hot cocoa in our big thermos and go see the light display on the square. They had our official lighting of the square already, but John was working that, it was a week before Thanksgiving and I thought lighting the square that early was obscene.

Wednesday- Ornament making day! Also, a general "getting ready" of the gift baskets we make for family and teachers and such. Also, a read aloud- "Small Miracle".

Thursday- John is off again, so I'll take Kain to do his Christmas shopping and we'll bring home a goodie to share with everyone. Read aloud- "The Little Match Girl".

Friday- The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe- Mexican food, making tissue paper flowers, maybe a mariachi mass if I can find one, though most parishes that do that had theirs this weekend already. We'll also read Tomie de Paola's book about the feast day.

Saturday- We'll hit Lowe's to build a gingerbread house. The third Sunday is the feast of St. Lucy, who's name means "light". Our lights will go up that night, and we'll make a special bread wreath. With that, I'm out of's taken me all day to get this post done!