Sunday, March 24, 2013

random thoughts

I'm trying hard to get back in the habit of blogging again...I do miss it. It's just an easy thing to put off, and then next thing you know weeks (months!) have gone by. So I'm just going to prattle on about our weekend a bit.

--I'm in the playroom with Henry right now. He is driving me crazy because he keeps popping the front door out of place on the dollhouse. He very much wants it on. But when I pop it back in place, he drives this big car through it and pops it back out. I have refused to keep putting it back in, so now he is fake-crying and looking pitiful at my knee, pink plastic door in hand.

--We went to mass last night instead of today. We rarely go on Saturdays. Usually if John needs a Saturday mass, he goes by himself. But Maria isn't here this weekend, so it was either go with John on Saturday or take everyone by myself on Sunday. We picked the kids up donuts for the purpose of bribery dessert afterwards. John and I were bummed about not having any, what with it being Lent and not yet Sunday, but then I had the brilliant idea of saving ours for breakfast the next morning.

--I am a zombie right now. Tess was up at 1am with symptoms of what looks like a bladder infection. She does this every once in a while, and it has resolved without a doctor trip, but I'm not sure this time. She was pretty miserable. Today is Sunday, so we are stuck watching and waiting whether we like it or not, at least until tomorrow. Anyway, it was a nightmare scenario. John was asleep downstairs because he had to work today, and so I was upstairs with Mary Claire and a weeping (loudly) Tess, and feeling mildly hysterical as I tried to help Tess and keep Mary Claire from waking. It didn't work, of course. All three of us ended up downstairs, all in tears. ..I was desperately afraid Henry would wake up and push me over the mental edge. John heard the ruckus (can you describe the ruckus, sir?) and...did something, I don't remember. Held Mary while I situated Tess? Situated Tess while I held Mary? It's all a blur. But I ended up laying Tess down on the couch with a blanket a pillow...this was after her symptoms finally subsided...and I lay on the other couch nursing Mary back to sleep. Eventually Mary and I migrated back upstairs, and eventually Tess did as well.

--Did Tess sleep in after all that? Oh no! No she did not! She was awake before 7, and seems to be feeling fine now. I am, however, as I stated earlier, a zombie. But then I remembered that there were donuts to have with my coffee, and that made me happy. Happy Zombie.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Large Family Road Trippin' part 2- a review of Catholic Familyland

Read the first post in this series here.

(((I hope there's no spelling errors because I didn't really check, and where is the spellcheck on here blogger???)))

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the travel here, I wanted to share more of our familyland experience. I wish I had written this earlier when things were more fresh in my poor old brain, but....that can't be helped now I guess. Please click on the link there to learn more about Familyland and their apostalate.

Here's how a general "day at the fest" unfolded for us.

-Mass is at 9am. So a couple of hours before that we were up and getting ready for the day. Each of us big people was assigned a little person to take to the showers. John had Jack, Maria had Tess, I had Henry. But I had breakfast to make and kiddos to get ready, so Henry and I saved our shower for evening. So, anyway, John/Jack and Maria/Tess would go to the showers while I got breakfast together, got kids fed and dressed, etc., and then we would drive down to mass. Mass was just at the bottom of the hill, so many walked. We walked once. Usually we were running too late to try to walk with all our little people. I have to tell you, it was a moving site, to see all these people flowing down the hill and into the church every day!

-After mass, Tess and Jack went their own way in the "Saints Under Construction" groups, each with their own age group. Maria went with the teenagers. They all *loved* their groups. Think vacation Bible school, but lots of great catechism worked in, especially for the teenagers. And one morning during the week each group gets to go down to the pool to swim with their friends. They have formation programs for the adults too. Of course, John and I still had Henry and newborn Mary Claire! They have a couple of nursery areas with the adult programs streamed in though, so you can go hang out with your little people and (try to) listen.

**Hanging in Noah's Nursery**

**The kids in their groups. See Tess there in the pink shirt, you know, participating? Then see the back of the big brown head in the green/blue striped shirt, ignoring everyone and staring off into space? Yeah, that's Jack. Just after this he sat in the grass, lol. He doesn't participate in stuff like this without a coach.

**This huge playscape is outside the auditorium where they have mass and the morning activities...the kids loved it of course!**

-Then we got back together with the big kids and went back up to the cabin for lunch. There is also a snack bar where you can buy lunch and other goodies. We did do this one day because it was Tess's name day. :)

***Eating lunch at Momma C's Snack Shack***

But otherwise I fixed lunch in the cabin. After lunch, John usually walked down the trail to Holy Family Park with Jack and Maria. This is where all the action is...the pool, sports, pony rides, etc. There are cabins in Holy Family Park too, as well as areas for tents and RV's. Our cabin was in St. James Field where mass and such were held in the morning. There is a trail connecting the two areas. Clear as mud? :)I stayed in the cabin with Tess, Henry, and Mary Claire and got them down for a nap. I know I had the better end of that deal, napping in the cool cabin in the afternoon. Such is the cross of breastfeeding. I considered it fair enough. John, after all, got to drink coffee and listen to talks with grown ups all morning while I hung out in the nursery! Plus, once they were both asleep I would clean up the cabin. It's a big enough place to sleep in, but that's about it, so we overwhelmed it with *stuff* pretty easily. It needed to be cleaned up daily, at least!

*At the pool*

-After naptime, I would load the babies up in the van and drive around the corner to Holy Family Park and try to find John and Jack. Usually they were in the pool or playing foosball. :) There's a nice little fenced in play area for little kids, and this is usually where I ended up.

**the St. Jacinta play area**

If there was time, I took Henry to the kiddie pool. It just kind of depended on how long they napped that particular day. Dinner was at 5:30 for those that paid for the catered dinner plan...we did.

**Dinner at Blessed Francesco's Shelter**
Keep in mind that I'm focusing on what we did with little kids. There's lots of stuff for older kids/adults too. Waterslides, frisbee golf, fishing, trail rides, tournaments for everything from softball to chess...

After dinner, there was always some kind of family activity, usually after a family rosary...a bonfire with marshmallow roasting, family banner night, family dance night, etc. Then we would head up to the cabin, totally wiped. I would put out a bedtime snack and go shower with Henry, then we'd get everyone in bed. Except Maria. The teenagers go out for more activities until after 11pm each night. Guess how much Maria liked that! This is where John got his reward for letting me nap earlier...I would wait up for Maria and let him go on to sleep.

**The bus that drives the kids around, and the shelter where the teens meet. They raise/lower those tarps as needed to warm/cool the place.**

**The teens show on banner night, and the little kids show on banner night. I wish I'd gotten a recording of the teens. I tried, but my camera didn't cooperate. Maria is in that teen group, though you'd never recognize here. See the girl bottom left in the blue shirt? Her head is behind her right shoulder, kinda turned...

**Here's MY little kid during the show. She wouldn't get up on stage. Sigh. Jack had already been taken out at that point because he was falling apart. So I didn't have anyone up there for that show! A friend warned me that the banner night was hard on the little kids...lots of sitting at the end of a long and tiring day. She was right. :)**

-All through the day there is always benediction/adoration, confessions with fantastic priests, a bookstore to peruse, etc. We did a little of each of these, though I suspect those without little kids make better use of those activities!

I have to add a note to say how friendly and warm everyone was...the staff, and the other families. The most remarkable thing we noticed was how....normal we were there, lol. Everywhere you looked were moms with nursing babies in slings, dads with several little kids hanging on their knees,,,,there was even a surprising number of special needs kids there. Not everyone had a large family, but many did. Not everyone homeschooled, but many did. Certainly, it was lovely to be in a place where no one batted an eye at our usual weirdness. :) Mass was full of fussy toddlers, dinner was full of loud kids, it was all good. They go out of their way to welcome new families. At one point, I was talking with this one dad, and I made a comment about Jack bothering people with something,,,I don't remember exactly, but Jack had a hard time with some things, especially the first day or two. And he looked me in the eye and said very seriously, "No one cares about that here. He's not going to bother anyone, not here. This isn't like everywhere else"

We left there so lifted up and recharged. We tried to take some of that peace with us, milk it for all we could. The whole time I was there, I thought, what would the world be like if everyone always treated each other this way? What would it be like if all of our lives centered so strongly around God and the sacraments and the rosary every day? And I looked hard at myself and at my family to see what we could bring back, what we could change in our own lives. And that, I think, is the whole idea of the apostolate and of the Family Fests, giving you grace to take home and spread around. John and I are reading the consecration this Lent (we have both started it a couple of times and didn't finish!It's very meaty). We plan to consecrate our family by Easter. We really, really loved our trip and have registered for this coming August already. If you are at all interested in going, some of the fests fill quickly, so don't wait!! If you are there for fest #5, I'll buy you an ice cream cone at Momma C's! :)

Coming next, the logistics of living in a one room cabin with 7 people, and then the actual rode trip. There are so many things I wish I had taken better pictures of! Ah well,,,next time!

Habemus Papam!

I have nothing to say in particular, except that our hearts are full. We have stalked the TV for two days and done very little else. We had to go out for piano lessons yesterday and got back just in time to see the great news. This is our superbowl.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Well, literally right after I posted my last post, I heard a ***wretch*** and then a ***splat***, and ran to the living room to find Tess vomiting on the floor. So, we didn't make that mass, or that park day. Let's see, that was Friday morning...later that day I noticed a plugged duct on myself, and then Saturday morning woke up sick as a dog with mastitis. The weekend has been one of high fevers and sweaty naps and I finally feel much better today, though still taking it easy, relatively. Tess's little bug just seemed to last through Saturday. Henry had a touch of it too. Right now, all is quiet and everyone seems healthy. Things are behind around here though, especially was behind before I got sick, but this morning we reached emergency behind-ness, the type where you are digging through the dirty hampers pulling out the most crucial stuff to get washed so that everyone has something to wear? Yeah, that kind of behind. I *never* get that behind! Anyway, just thought I'd pop in so I can keep up my bloggy habit. I still have those pictures to post! I am trying to get a picture of Tess and her toothlessness but never think of it at a good time. Maybe I can do that now...hmmm..where's the camera, anyway?...

Friday, March 08, 2013

Cough, cough. Uh hem. Is this thing on?

Hello? Hi there! I am not dead! Let's just leave my long absence at that and jump back in, shall we? Gosh, been a long time! Have you lost weight?

So, blogger changed it's format. Blogger, I hate it. Truly. This is just ugly. I hope it posts better than it looks here. Also, where the heck is spellcheck???

So, how 'bouts an update of sorts? I still want to finish my Traveling with a Large Family posts....especially since time has come 'round to register for Familyland again. I have been thinking about that. But we have lots going on today, daily mass and then a park day with friends, so first,,,an update and new pics of the gang....

Here's our Christmas pic!

Of course, that's old news, it's MARCH!

So, I will post a little update on us all, and then maybe take some new baby pics at the park today, how's that? Because, you know, the big kids haven't changed much since December, but the baby has of course changed a lot!


She hates this picture. Ah well,,,she hates pretty much all pictures of herself. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be a self-conscious, navel gazing teenaged girl again, NOT! What can I say about Maria that won't EMBARASS her greatly...see, she's a big kid now, and can read all by herself, so I have to be aware of such things. Well, she's 16, and she is ready to (finally) take her written driver's test, which we really need to get on with because I could sure use another chauffer around here! She's wrapping up tenth grade this spring, and doing really well. She's still very involved in Life Teen and is just growing up to be a wonderful young lady. Oh SORRY, that is soooo embarassing to say. What I mean to say is that she is really cool and stuff, and uh, like, whatever....


What can I say of Jack? Jack is awesome. I hesitate to say that because those of you that see him in PUBLIC don't see the Best of Jack, because Jack doesn't always handle PUBLIC very well. But he is, really, such a great kid. You know, like 98% of the time. Or, maybe, like 90% of the time. Or,,,no less than 85%, surely. heehee. Really, he is so funny, and loving, and really fun to be around. Except when he's not. And that's Jack. He will be just fine and wonderful most of the time, but he has those days....those days where everything is just WRONG for him and we don't really know WHY. So we just buckle up and muddle through. He is doing so much better with his school work this year. His reading comprehension, though, is atrocious. He reads really, really well. But understanding what you read is a totally different thing than just physically being able to read it. I am learning that. He is obsessed with geography and is the resident expert. Our second grade curriculum has him learning the state capitals. Well, he did that in the space of a few weeks, and now has memorized the state birds, and trees, and nicknames, and most of the world capitals, and their flags, and....obsess much? So if you want to know the state bird of Utah, he's your man. (He tells me it's a seagull. Would a landlocked state have a seagull as their state bird? Beats me.)


I can say this because Tess can't read yet. Tess is my wild child. That's right, in a house with a teeenager, an autistic boy and a 2 year old, the sweet and angelic looking four year old girl is my wild child. When I say that to people, they say, "Awww, but she's soooo sweeeet!" And she is! She is very sweet. Until you cross her. Look out, that's all I can say. This one turns on a dime. She was a very easy baby and laid back toddler, so I'm hoping this is maybe just general preschool-ness and that her sanity will return. She is not at all unlike Maria at this age, and she turned out ok, hehe.


now this one...this one is easy-peasy, sweetness and light. Eerily obedient for a two year old most of the time. Until he's overtired. But most of the time, Henry is gentle and sweet and eager to please. And oh, so darned cute. We have cut his hair since this picture, btw. All those lovely locks are gone.

And baby Mary Claire...

She was six months old when these were taken, and is 9 months old now...and there's a big difference, isn't there, between six and nine months! Also, she has just woken up and is crying for me as I type. So I think I will give an update on her with some new pictures later today. In the meantime, you can reassure yourself with the knowledge that in spite of her frail, thin appearance at Christmas-time, her appetite has picked up and she has filled out nicely. (snort)