Friday, December 31, 2010

Quick Takes



--1--
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!



The last few weeks of the year always get away from me, with all the stuff that goes on.

--2--

There's an anniversary to celebrate in there.  Thirteen years ago, the husband and I looked like this:



Now, my hair is longer and I weigh, um, more. Justin looks about the same though.

--3--

I got to meet a blogging friend, her husband and their adorable baby.

--4--

We spent a couple of days with my husband's grandparents and mom and dad.  They hadn't met the littlest one yet.  We hadn't seen them in a few years, since our conversion to Catholicism.  It's been a difficult time, but the subject didn't really come up for discussion while we were there, so it was a pleasant time.

--5--

The baby?


He's not too fast yet, but look out world...

--6--
On an unrelated note, I hadn't planned on going, but I will be getting to go to Blissdom again this year.  It's a lot of fun, although my friend Meredith, who knows everyone, won't be there, so who will I tag along with?  I know no one, no one knows me, and I really, really am an introvert.  Even so, I'm looking forward to it.

--7--

And speaking of Meredith.  She's having a baby soon and like all moms-to-soon-be (again), I know she needs plenty of prayers to carry her through the last few difficult weeks of pregnancy and the weeks of newborn haze. So please remember her.

--Bonus Round--

Go read Betty Duffy.  She's awesome, and generally says stuff I wish I had said.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Preparing

Preparations are underway. In between getting bronchitis and having a child with a severly sprained ankle, we've baked some Christmas bread and Mexican wedding cookies and wrapped many presents. We've read stories that leading us toward the big day. My husband's Schola is practicing carols and Gregorian chant.

I think we're almost ready.

A happy Christmas to you all.





Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Will Jordana Break Next?

This blog is a hobby and when life gets busy, it falls by the wayside. I wish I could tell you all about the wonderful baking, creating and all I've been doing, but I haven't. Mostly I have been just barely keeping up and prying my eyes open, since the almost five month old has decided he rarely wants to sleep at night and when he does sleep it is only held by and attached to me. I don't get my best sleep that way.

Perhaps it is the lack of sleep that is causing a rash of breakages around here. It all began with my Panasonic Lumix, which I dropped lens down onto a tile floor. It has since failed to work. Then my almost brand new iPod Touch decided one morning to give me the white screen of death and turn super hot in one corner. Nothing I've done seems to have any effect and guess who lost the receipt? Guess who was keeping her Christmas shopping list on it? D'oh!

So I'm sleepy and breaking things. I hope nothing else crashes, smashes or starts pining for the fjords, but while I wait to see if everything else keeps working for a while, I have a shopping list to rewrite or the kids will be getting leftover Halloween candy for Christmas.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Saints and More Saints



Happy St. Nicholas' Day!  Growing up we didn't celebrate Christmas, saint days or anything of the sort, but when I started taking German in seventh grade, we always put our shoes out and found chocolate in them.  It was probably my first experience with the Saints, and although my children hear about the Saints frequently a sweet reminder of St. Nicholas is always welcome.

At the end of October and beginning of November, my oldest three children and I made art trading cards  of various saints and sent them off to Kimberlee for her ATC swap.  I was in such a rush at the time with one daughter's birthday and then our trip to Ohio that I forgot to copy the pictures we made, but they are out there somewhere and we've seen a few online.

A few days ago, our new cards arrived in the mail, which called for a break from school to examine and compare all our new art.  We got cards from England and Norway and perhaps most surprising, my six year old got a card from her best friend (I suppose we could have saved postage and just traded cards after Mass, but how much more fun to have a surprise from your friend show up via Pennsylvania instead!) Here's what showed up in the mail:

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta by Marcia, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Constantine and St. Helen, St. Anthony and St. Andre of Montreal by Josee

My 11 year old's cards: St. George, St. Damien, St. Patrick, St. Peter Claver?, and St. Michael by one of this blogger's children

My eight year old's cards: St. Lucy, St. Patrick, St. Elizabeth of Hungary by Marcia's daughter, St. Rose of Lima, and St. George


My six year old's cards: Bl. Kateri, St. Faustina, St. Bernadette, St. Christopher and St. Clare


Many thanks to Kimberlee and her family for hosting and sorting this enormous swap. It's been so much fun.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Becoming Mom


Eleven years ago, yesterday, I began the journey of motherhood (outside the womb, in a more tangible way). My little boy, who looked like a cross between an alien and a grumpy old man, has turned into a big boy complete with stinky feet and thoughts devoted to Legos, books and computers.

My first born was first in a much larger brood than I would ever have imagined.  He's glad to be first, thrilled to be the leader of the pack, but always happy to make room for one more sibling's arrival.

Although he sometimes makes my eyes glaze over at obscure facts about Star Wars or Legos or Harry Potter, he's interesting, funny and a good companion.  I'm still rather proud of him and glad for the chance to be his mom.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sick

I must have been precient when I had the kids memorizing Shel Silverstein's "Sick" last week. I thought was just bringing up old childhood memories as they recited the words, "I cannot go to school today, said little Peggy Anne McKay..." but apparently I was actually summoning the sniffle fairies, who arrived Thanksgiving evening.

The four year and the two year old started with drippy noses first, and then JH began running a fever and snot, all after our friends arrived for dinner. By the time our guests left, I started feeling worn out and sick and my husband had lost his voice. We're still sniffly and drippy, and I wish I had a neti pot for every family member.

It could be worse though. Some of our friends had a stomach bug going around just before Thanksgiving and failed to mention it before showing up at our house for dinner last Thursday. We've been waiting and hoping and now I'm feeling fairly sure that we would have been throwing up by now, had we acquired that particular hostess gift.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick Takes






--1--

It's mouse time once again in the Big Purple House.  Ugh. Saw two or the same one twice last week.  We set out traps, but apparently we have smart mice.  I hate mice.  I hate them more than most spiders and probably as much as snakes, which usually leave me alone.  Cockroaches might be worse, and I am thankful I haven't seen any rats in the house.




--2--


Maybe it's PPD or maybe its SAD, but this past week of cold, grey weather has been really hard for me.  When it all gets overwhelming, it is hard to get anything done.  And yet kids still need to get their school done and they still demand to be fed. For some reason this is always when the tasks I must perform seem to expand and relatives start complaining all at once that I have been terrible at keeping in touch.

Fortunately, in the last few days the sun has come out and my husband shoved me out the door and made me go to my homeschooling friends Mom's Night Out.  The last days haven't felt quite so much of a slog, but I'm still not very good at keeping in touch with people, because all the things that need to get done are still there. Sigh.



--3--


Thanksgiving's next week. Ack!  Talk about things to get done. I think we're going to have a house full of people, which I love, but which means I need to get the place marginally clean.  And I need to buy a turkey or two. And make pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.  I hope everything else is being brought by someone else.



--4--


I think there must be a four month growth spurt going on, because JH is wanting to party all night long at the Milk Bar.  Not getting sleep isn't helping my mood either, and that whole, "Sleep when the baby sleeps" thing doesn't work when you have six kids at home, and the four year old and two year old would think nothing of destroying the house while you slept.


--5--


I'm way more excited than you would imagine that my husband bought paneer last week, so that I can make Mattar Paneer for dinner tonight.  Does going meatless on Fridays count, when it isn't particularly penitential? I'm making lentil curry, naan and mango lassis too.


--6--


Unlike some years where I'm organized, this year I have no idea what to do about Christmas.  Urgh. Nothing like leaving these things until the last minute.  At least, I do have some nice plans in place for keeping the season of Advent -- poems to memorize for circle time, a few cookies to bake, and we'll read either Jotham's Journey or Destination: Bethlehem. The former we've read before and the kids love it, even if it is somewhat trite and poorly written. We haven't read the latter, but I bought it last year, so I'm thinking about trying it out this year.



--7--
 

It's very important to know how to have "the talk" with your kids. You know -- where you explain to them that Jar-Jar is evil and that Greedo didn't shoot first.




More Quick Takes to be found at Jen's place.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm trying to keep my head from exploding with kids who seem to remember nothing, crying toddlers, fussy babies and a dark, dismal day. But in the midst of it, this video from my brother brightened my day and entertained the kids -- since they love both Harry Potter and Tom Lehrer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Housekeeping

It came to my attention that perhaps I should add the latest Adams child to the header.  I don't like to rush into anything, but since we are pretty set on keeping him, I guess it was time for a change.  Not that I changed things all that much.  I like to be conservative in my changes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remember



Today, I'm thinking about my grandfather and all the other men and women who have served this country. 

It Ain't All High Brow Around Here Folks


I have two kids in diapers.  One who needs help after using the toilet.  And the rest of them think scatological humor is the best.

My two year old, who is still in diapers, has decided that when she's sleepy and feeling belligerent, it is good to go around insulting people by saying, "You poop in your diaper!"  Thanks to her siblings, she's also learned lovely phrases such as "Poo-poo head."

My older, classically-educated children, have been thoroughly enjoying their Latin class. Especially when they learned that boy was puer.  Or as the girls like to say, "Puer. It's like poo-air. Therefore our brother is really flatulence."

I suppose that's what I get for keeping a copy of Everybody Poops in the house.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lesson Plans: Phase 2

I'm sure you've all been waiting with bated breath wondering when I would post my second quarter lesson plans. No?  Well, why not?  Anyway, I've uploaded the plans we started using at the beginning of this week and added a bunch of useful links as well.  You can find them up at the top of the page under the appropriate tab. Carry on.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Home Again and a New Family Member

Photo by Patrick Hoban

We're home after a whirlwind trip to Ohio, in which I gained a new sister, who was in fact already a sorority sister and my best friend from college.  Long, long ago, I asked my senior year college roommate to be my maid of honor.  Also at the wedding was my older brother.

Being the clueless type, it never dawned on me that in the ensuing almost thirteen years, that there might be any particular reason why my friend would ask me how my brother was doing.  Nor did I particularly find it weird when my brother asked for my friend's phone number so that he could call her up whilst at a conference in her city.

I only seemed to get a clue when my friend called me a week or so after that and mentioned that she and my brother had been talking a lot since then.  After that, the rest is history.  Less than a year later, they are married and I couldn't ask for a nicer sister-in-law.

And don't you think the above picture is an awesome family photo?  I know you may not all know my children as well as I do, but I think their personalities show clearly through this shot.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Rainy Day

Although these days it sometimes seems as though I never leave the house, I did have to go out this wet, grey morning. I'm always surprised, although by this point I should no longer be, by how many people don't turn on their headlights when it is raining. People this is a no brainer. Do you remember nothing from driver's ed? Turn on your lights. It's hard to see you when the rain is pouring down.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Recommendations Welcomed

Not too long ago, Robbo mentioned reading Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. I'd never read it and probably wouldn't have appreciated it in my non-Catholic youth anyway, but when I was at the library and happened to walk past the C's on the shelf, I nabbed it, read it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was a German literature major in college.  I have an MA in it too, and yet I haven't taught my kids German and I seem to read very little literature these days that doesn't have pictures on every page. I know that Joshua and Prudence have many nice and useful parts. I've got The Big Red Barn down pat. I have been rereading some of my favorite L.M. Montgomery books lately, but I doubt they'll be on the great literature lists any time soon.

However, what I liked about Death Comes for the Archbishop was, in some ways, what I like about books Montgomery's Blue Castle or Tangled Web. They are about life and not always beautiful or perfect lives, but at the same time life is worth the living. In other words, they aren't like the German books I spent my early adulthood reading.  One reason I decided not to get a PhD in German lit (besides discussions like this) was an ever growing weariness with a feeling that all great literature seemed focused on misery and death.

Sure death comes for the Archbishop in the end, but it isn't the kind of tiring, romantic death that someone like young Werther seeks.  It isn't the painful, pointless, frustrating death of Gregor Samsa.  If Cather had focused the story on Magdalena and her misery, the book would have seemed more like the German literature I spent so much time reading. Instead, Fr. Latour's and Fr. Vaillant's small and large sufferings seem to have a purpose and bring them through long lives to a worthy end.

I appreciated the book, because it was a good story; one I wanted to stay up late reading.  It wasn't a slog to get through. Not a book I had to spend time analyzing to understand and enjoy, but one that later on, I am still thinking about.

Of course, this means that I am now back to entertaining myself with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and need to figure out what to check out next time I'm at the library. Fun reads. Fine literature not necessary, although certainly welcome as long as it isn't on the German model. Suggestions?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Year of the Butterfly

My whole childhood, I read about caterpillars forming chrysalises and metamorphosing into butterflies.  I wanted to see it, but I never did.  Caterpillars never seemed to survive in my youth and in recent years, it seems all we ever find are ugly caterpillars that turn into ugly moths.

This year we got wonderfully and amazing lucky. First, I plucked a fat squishy caterpillar off my carrots and brought it in.  The first day the kids marveled at how much the caterpillar pooped, and we identified it. The next day we saw it tie itself onto something and slowly over the course of a day turn into a chrysalis.  We were surprised to find it still wiggled when bumped (or poked and prodded) and in about two weeks we had a beautiful butterfly.
A black swallowtail
Even more butterfly luck came our way. A few days after the black swallowtail flew away, I was cutting dead plants out of my flower bed and into my hand fell another chrysalis. Totally different from the first one. Small, green with gold on it. It would have made a beautiful piece of jewelry. I couldn't identify it by the caterpillar, but Google helped. We had a monarch chrysalis! About two weeks after I found it, we came home from the grocery store to another lovely butterfly.


We may be studying chemistry in our homeschool this semester, but I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful chance to admire butterflies up close.  And I finally, after all these years, got to see some actual examples of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Four Years and a Couple of Weeks


I've been mostly not-blogging these days, it seems, but my kids are getting educated. I'm cooking real meals, and the house is moderately clean.  However, I do need to show my face around here too.  For instance, my adorable, sweet, sometimes belligerent second son turned four a few weeks ago.
 
I can't believe he's four already. The years have flown by, at the same time they dragged every day. When he was still in utero, we first looked at the big purple house. We sold our tiny, comfortable, non-drafty house when he was still a tiny baby.  Now he's a full-blown super hero.

Several weeks in advance, the four year old to be told me he wanted a monkey cake. If you've seen some of my other cake decorating attempts, you might know that I'll try just about anything, but the results are generally not all that pretty.  I like to tell people that while I am a good baker, icing is my downfall.  Sometimes I even just buy icing out of a can, and I still can't seem to pipe it properly.  This time I tried chocolate marshmallow fondant. Much better results (even if no one will ever hire me as a professional cake decorator, I think it's better than some of the professional cakes I've seen) and it tasted good too. What's on the inside? A banana layer cake, of course.  What other kind of monkey cake would one make?


Friday, October 22, 2010

All Saints' Art Trading Cards



Back in May, the kids and I made tiny pictures of the Blessed Virgin for a fun art trading card swap hosted by Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart.  We had fun making our cards and even more fun getting new ones in return.

Now Kimberlee is hosting an All Saints' swap and we're participating again.  Please join in the fun.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Homeschool Planning, Again

I've been working writing our second quarter lesson schedules in between trying to actually school the kidlets. This year has gone well so far and I'm happy with the resources I've chosen, but I see now both why people buy a full package of school materials and why people charge a lot of money for such things.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Those Kinds of Days

It started off just fine.  We were taking my visiting aunt to the local botanical gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit since she's rather fond of his art and we hadn't seen it.

I got the kids fed. We were on time to pick her up and everything seemed to be going smoothly.  Admission paid up, we set out on the path.  At the second stop, I noticed my eight year old sitting on the ground looking at the sculpture, but I also noticed her lips were white.  She claimed to feel fine though and set off at her usual quick pace.  But a few minutes later she declared her stomach to feel weird and then she leaned over and barfed all over the grass, which I thought awfully considerate of her -- the kids usually choose to vomit on me.

We headed back toward the exit. The four year old fell and scraped his knee and was dripping blood.  Of course, he also needed to visit the bathroom again. The two year old refused to hold my hand in the parking lot and screamed herself into a full blown tantrum when I picked her up and carried her.

By the time we got back to the van, the queasy one was feeling sick again, but couldn't seem to bring anything up.  Finally, I had to let her in the vehicle and not having anything to catch vomit, I gave her my sling to puke on, should she need it (fortunately, she didn't!).

My aunt, who never had children, was treated to the full family experience.  Vomiting and bleeding children, excessive potty breaks, and on the trip home blood-curdling screams from a two year old that waken both the dead and the sleeping baby, who decided to get in on the screaming contest.

Needless to say, I was glad my family did not run into any curious strangers and by the time I got home, I was ready for a strong cup of tea and a nap. At least I got the tea.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Warning! Breeder Alert!

I have been blessed through my years of parenthood to run into very few nasty or rude people.  I've never been told I can't nurse a hungry baby in public.  Most people who see me out and about with my entourage either say nice things or make the stock, "You've got your hands full!" comment, to which I can only agree.  There was the one fellow at the library one day who suggested that I needed to get a TV, but generally, I don't attract too many shocked looks or strange comments when the whole gang is with me.

Today I was out shopping at my local, teeny health/organic food store, where I buy spices in bulk, as well as steel cut oats, turbinado sugar and green lentils among other things.  Now, I don't live in the suburbs where all my Catholic mom friends with their mega-sized families live.  I live near downtown in one of those hip, trendy, urban neighborhoods, although I am not and never have been hip or trendy.  What kind of people mostly live in hip, trendy neighborhoods?  Singles, confirmed bachelors (if you know what I mean) and young-ish couples who might have one or two kids.  Not women who drive 12 passenger vans and regularly cart around half a dozen children. But there you have it, I live amongst those who are not like me.  But we occasionally shop at the same stores.

So here I was shopping in the hippy store (let's face it, that's what those stores are and they have the patchouli to prove it), and we ran into a friend with her son along. So even though my oldest happened to be off on a camping trip and not in attendance, I was still surrounded by six children when a woman came into the store looked at me with shock and said, "Please tell me these aren't all your children."  Well, they weren't, so I didn't claim them all, but my friend's son was quick to point out that my children weren't even all there.  More shocked looks.  But the woman regained her composure, told me I had a beautiful family and after I thanked her, I thought we were free to move on.

She could not.  Five seconds later, she followed me around the corner to ask me how I managed to take care of them all.  I told her one at a time and day by day.  I'm never good at snappy comebacks.

When we got to the yogurt section she was still trailing behind, still shocked and still discussing the size of my family.  When we got to the checkout line there she was asking, "So did you wait at all before popping them out?  Are they all 9 months apart?" And then addressing my five year old, "How old are you?"

It was starting to get a little weird.  I don't expect not to be something of an oddity.  There aren't many families with a million children out there, especially not in neighborhoods full of urban hipsters, but I do like to eventually be left in peace and I really hate discussions about my children that involve the expression "popping them out" -- especially conversations carried on in front of those same children.

In the end, after following us out to her car parked next to ours and gawking at what she had probably assumed was a delivery van, the woman left us alone and drove away.  I knew I was going to have to head over to my blog and write about the encounter, and I can only wonder if she headed home to do the same.

"I saw a woman at the store today with, like, a zillion kids! What the ^(&@!!@ is she thinking?  Doesn't she care about the environment?  Do you think she hasn't heard of birth control? Man, was she ever surrounded by kids! And you should have seen her van. O.M.G. It was huge!"


Friday, October 08, 2010

Quick Takes


--1--

For the first time in about a year, I started weeding one of my flower beds.  It is now apparent to me that I can grow children or flowers, but not both. Does anyone know where to buy Agent Orange?

--2--
In the spring, gardens are so full of promise.  The weeds haven't grown out of control. The bulbs come up and bloom all on their own. It seems so beautiful and so easy.  By mid-summer, even when I'm not pregnant, I tend to feel worn out and the weeds creep in.  By fall, everything seems to be in an impossible shambles and in the winter it will look dead no matter what I do.  But spring always comes again.  There's something philosophical in there, but I'll leave it to you all to tease it out.
--3--

JH went to the infant development lab at the local major university, where almost all of my kids have been taken in for experimentation.  They've mostly done studies on language development, but this one is looking at how kids learn to grasp at things.  Or something.  Mostly I like being able to say, "Kids, we've decided to sell you for scientific experiments."


--4--

Since I'm already doomed for posting that last clip, I might as well go ahead and post my other favorite song poking fun at Catholics.



--5--

One of my grade school teachers just asked to be my friend on Facebook.  Fortunately, it was the one grade school teacher I actually remember and liked.  It's still weird though.
--6--

Of course, if you really want to discuss weird -- my best friend from college is marrying my brother.  I'm happy for them. I am totally supportive of having a sister-in-law that I like.  However, I still think it may be crazy and it's definitely weird.

--7--

Moving back to further media related randomness, when Tony Curtis died last week, everyone mentioned Some Like It Hot, which is a great film.  However, no one mentioned my all time favorite Tony Curtis movie -- The Great Race. It's awesome.


Visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Oatmeal Fruit Muffins

I stayed up way too late last night, but we had muffins for breakfast this morning.  Not muffins from a box either.  Real muffins.  I did all the prep work last night, so this morning all I had to do was heat the oven, mix everything together, and wait for the muffins to bake.  Yum. 

It's a filling recipe, and even pretty good for you. I've modified it quite a bit from wherever I originally got it, so I thought I'd share.

Oatmeal Fruit Muffins
makes 12 regular muffins

2 large eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
zest of one orange
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 cup dried fruit (I use cranberries, cherries and chopped apricots)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin thoroughly with oil.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and add maple syrup, orange juice and milk.  Continue whisking and add vanilla, the spices and orange zest.  In another bowl, mix together oats, flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir flour mixture into egg mixture with a spoon. Fold in fruit.

Fill the muffin tin with batter (each cup about 2/3 full) and bake for 15-20 minutes, until muffins are firm in the center.

But what's even better than a tasty muffin?  A smiling baby, of course.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Eight Years


My oldest daughter turned eight this week.  It's been quite the wild ride with her in the past eight years.  As we like to say -- she sounds like a pack-a-day smoker with her deep, gruff voice, has the attitude of a teenager, and a flare for the dramatic like you wouldn't believe, but we are crazy about her anyway. 

She's an amazing person and full of energy and life.  Our on-going job as her parents has been and continues to be to teach her to use all that energy, power, drama and the rest for good.  She can be the absolutely best toddler watcher or the meanest sister in the house, all in the space of thirty seconds.  She can throw together a stunning outfit complete with accessories that I never would have thought of, but she's also the one who tries to dress her sister in blue stripes, pink spots and tie-dye all at once.

She's quite the kid.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Quick Takes







--1--


You have eight children in the house (not counting the baby), they are all begging for food and pretending that starvation is imminent.  What do you feed them for a snack?  I opted for popcorn.  I made two batches in our popcorn maker (similar to this one) -- one with butter and one with sugar. Happy children all around.



--2--


Why had I acquired extra children?  Or did you not notice in the previous quick take that there were 3 unaccounted for kids?  Well, extra children arrived yesterday afternoon, because my friend was headed to the hospital to act as a doula for another friend.  I haven't heard yet about a new baby arrival, but I'm praying that all went well.

UPDATE: A new baby boy for my friend. Deo gratias! 



--3--


I have greatly enjoyed reading the discussion on pants in the Blogosphere.  Sometimes I wear pants.  Sometimes I wear skirts.  I have a few friends who only wear skirts.  I knew a few women in Fairbanks, Alaska who only wore skirts (or wore skirts on top of their pants).  No one has yet shunned me for my lascivious pants-wearing, but now, after this discussion on the broader internets, my husband has derived a lot of pleasure from saying, "Woman. Cover yourself and stop tempting me with those pants!"



--4--


We've almost finished our third week of school.  Unsurprisingly, I suppose, all my planning has actually helped us manage our days better.  Also unsurprising -- my staying off the computer helps the day run more smoothly.  But it does cut down on my goofing off/blogging time. Hmph.



--5--


Does anyone have any brilliant ideas for breakfast? I'm tired of eggs. I'm tired of cereal. I'm tired of oatmeal and I'm tired of pancakes/waffles.  I'm also just plain tired in the morning.



--6--


This guy has a lot to do with my sleepiness.



--7--


He's two months old now and weighs almost 14 lbs.  If he continues on this growth pattern and doesn't drop off sharply like his closest two siblings did, he'll weigh as much as my two year old in no time.



More Quick Takes to be found at Jen's place.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Anniversary


Three years and two cradle Catholics later, today is the anniversary of our reception into the Catholic Church.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

My homeschooling plans are going fine. Now if the rest of the moving parts could stop causing problems, I'd be grateful. On Friday morning, I sent the three year old upstairs to get dressed. A bit later, he came down in his birthday suit, crying and with a Lego up his nose. I could see it, but it was soon evident that I couldn't get it out. So, I got him and everyone else dressed and out the door and we headed off to the pediatrician. She couldn't get it out either.

So we headed from there to the ENT at the Children's Hospital. On the way there, whilst getting into the turning lane, I scraped the side of another car and broke his taillight. I've never been in an accident before. No one was hurt. I was moving very slowly and the damage to both cars was minimal, but I was still shaken up and crying.

My husband came and took the little one to ENT, while I got the accident and dealing with the police taken care of. The Lego came out with special teeny ENT tweezers.

On Sunday, we went to Mass, had a lovely chat with friends. One person gave us a belated new baby meal and another gave us a cobbler (they must have known life was not so smooth). We got in the van to go home and it wouldn't start. The battery was fine. The starter motor had died.

And this morning? My e-mail account started sending spam hither, thither and yon. And now that it's sent so much spam out into the world, Gmail won't even let me send messages out explaining, apologizing or anything else.

I think I need a hole to crawl into -- preferably with copious amounts of merlot.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The First Week of School

Where the learning happens...(and no, I didn't chose the paint color)
Pencils scratch across paper. Pages flip. Science experiments, Latin songs and watercolors start becoming routine. It's been a busy week in the house. Usually, I begin our school year at some time during the summer when it is hot as blazes and no one wants to go out any way. This year, I didn't have the energy to even think about it -- I had a baby in July, if you recall, and we went on a long trip in August.


I decided to wait until Labor Day to begin (and we actually began on Labor Day, so as to get in a full week's work). However, although we didn't begin school until this week, I spent a lot of time over the summer getting ready for this year. First came the planning stage, which involved considering what hadn't worked and what had worked and why, figuring out what I wanted to cover and researching curriculum, mostly over on the Well-Trained Mind Forums and talking to friends. I made lists and checked them twice, reviewed them, and dithered.

Whenever possible, I tried to review curriculum items that sounded good either in person or on the web, before ordering something blindly, but ordering came next, whether blind or not.
 
After actually getting my hands on the books, I took the bold step of actually flipping through everything, considering how long I wanted our days to be, what I wanted to teach when, and making notes about the length of books and how long I wanted them to last -- also taking into consideration the fact that I have one child who speed reads (with excellent comprehension), one child who dawdles over everything and one child who complains that all assignments are too long and too hard. I started creating lesson plans and schedules for the first quarter, including typing in books that just require you to do the next thing. I know after four years of doing this, that if I don't write it all down, I won't remember even those things. I would have loved to plan the whole year at once, but things change. People get sick. Books are reviled. I didn't want to make that much commitment to anything, so I stuck to a quarter and will carry on planning as I see how things are going. In the spirit of sharing, although these will probably be too particularly specialized to be valuable to anyone but me -- here are my mostly finished grade 5, grade 3, grade 1 and Morning Circle Time plans.

Besides planning everything and putting it in writing, I also got each kid a three-ring notebook divided into nine sections with their weekly lesson plan inside as well as all worksheets to be completed each week. In the past, I have often spent time every morning finding, copying and printing worksheets or other necessary paperwork. This year, I did the work beforehand, so there is no more searching around. And to further save time during the school day, I bought each child a milk crate to keep all their particular books in. Books are returned to their place in the crate after they are used (or when I find them lying around the house in strange locations) and the hunt for missing math books seems to be some what tamed.

Finally, to get ready for the year, we cleaned, edited and rearranged our school room (which is also our family room). Thus far, I am much, much happier with the new arrangement of things.

So far, so good. I hope the rest of the school weeks continue to go so smoothly.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

MIA

Where have all the Adams gone? Long time ago...

Sorry, channeling my inner Peter, Paul and Mary...

It's never the most auspicious start to a family road trip of a thousand miles, when -- an hour from home -- the five year old yells, "Ewwww, [the two year old] has wet stuff coming out of her mouth!" Sniffing the air confirmed rather quickly what that "wet stuff" indeed was, but after stopping to clean up the child and her car seat, one more vomit episode, another stop to clean up again and to buy towels, Lysol and Febreze, things proceeded less eventfully for the rest of the trip with no more "wet stuff" spewing (although there were a few unexpected naps that moistened a few other carseats along the way, so the Lysol and Febreze saw a good bit of action until we could get home and really wash things).

But where, you might be wondering, did the Adams family go?

Our first stop was here:

Recognize that? My war-like almost four year old ran up to some strangers on the battlefield and shot them with his finger-guns. This may be reason number 5,687 why I homeschool, some of my children would be expelled from public school before they even got started.

Another long bit of driving and we arrived at our actual destination, where we toured a nuclear sub, saw a Supreme Court case in action (we'll call in professional development for my husband) and visited this fort below. Steve-o, were he still around, would I'm pretty sure be able to figure out exactly where we'd been hanging out.

We also got to take the kids on their first trip (for most of them) to a beach.

We were actually on our East Coast tour to acquire a beautiful God-daughter (picture shamelessly swiped from said Godchild's mother). And then we drove home a different way. Introduced the baby to some of his relatives in Ohio and finally arrived back in Tennessee, where I've been spending every available minute getting ready to begin the new school year and rearrange the school room to make it less of a constant disaster and more of a usable space.

School is upon us now and life is busy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Care to Rephrase That?

On the List of Things You Don't Want Said Outside the Home:

I'm sitting in the rocking chair, rocking JH and patting him gently on the bottom. My three year old walks by and asks, "Mom, why are you hitting the baby?"

On a side note: I can't believe he turned one month old yesterday.

Live or Let Dye?

A serious question facing many women of a certain age these days: when the grey hairs start arriving in droves -- to dye or not to dye?

It's not like there is any guarantee that your hair will look like Emmy Lou's:

You might look like this instead:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Broken

In my thirty-sixth year, I discovered I was not going to be around forever. Certainly, I'd known for much longer than that that I was mortal, and I hadn't received any specific sentence dooming me to an abbreviated existence. Simply, my body has reached the point where I know I'm not as healthy as I once was and I am not as young as I once was either -- and it's not just the long white hairs I recently found taunting me amongst what had until recently been all dark, glossy browns.

This past pregnancy has been harder than any that came before it. It would be untrue to state that I "bounced back" from any of them. My body never returned to "normal" when I had my first son and after each baby, long bouts of depression would leave me feeling like my mind was a wreck. As this past pregnancy went on, it was this depression I feared the return of most and it does come and go, but I gave no real thought to physical changes and problems. Other than the long slog back to a pants size that didn't make me weep too much, my post-partum struggles hadn't been too bad. This time though, it is the physical which has been at least as hard for me as the mental. I'm not going to spend too much time listing all the ailments. Someone else could top my list with much worse problems to be sure.

Not that long ago, I read a piece on Building Cathedrals and this paragraph really resonated:

I still remember sitting with our first daughter in Mass a few weeks after she was born. As the priest raised the host and said, “This is my body, broken for you,” the words took on new meaning for me. I suddenly realized that, as a new mother having just given birth to my daughter, I understood and experienced this body-sacrificing love in a new way. As mothers, in pregnancy, childbirth, nursing and child-rearing, we really do give our bodies for our children. Sometimes this gift comes at a great cost to us, sometimes it is just full of little crosses. Either way, what an honor and privilege it is to participate so intimately in the Lord’s work. As mothers, carrying out our vocations in love, we truly stand on holy ground (Exodus 3:5).

I'm either slow, because it seems to have taken me until my sixth baby for this to really make sense, or I'm forgetful and have to relearn these lessons of brokenness and weakness after every baby, but I understand broken right now. I understand both my own sacrifices and the gift of the Body of Christ in new ways every day. I'm learning to make peace with my own sacrifices, the ones I never really planned or thought I was choosing. I am beginning (note I said beginning and not that I'm good at it) to learn to bow my head and catch the meaning of, "Thy will be done," and to remember that the work I do every day, when I drag sore and tired body out of bed, is a privilege and sacred trust.

Now if I can only fix my mind on these thoughts as the slog gets tough.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick Takes -- The Very Random Edition


--1--

I'm just now looking at and downloading pictures from my camera, but we Christianized the heathen baby almost two weeks ago. He wasn't exactly happy about that water being dumped on his head, but he'll appreciate it some day.

--2--

Speaking of heathens (and perhaps more technically heretics) despite what has been reported in the comments section on Creative Minority Report when discussing a certain priest in my diocese, we are not all heretics in Middle Tennessee. My parish has all sorts of strikes against it, when judged by the statements in the video the CMR guys posted. We have a foreign priest, a married convert priest and we're orthodox! Terrible, ain't it?

--3--

Actually terrible, my brother-in-law and his family lost their home to a fire a few days ago. They aren't sure of the cause as of yet. They are pretty upbeat about it considering the loss. I'm not sure I would take it nearly so well. I probably need to work on a greater detachment from stuff. If you get a chance though, please say a prayer for them as they go through the frustrations and annoyances that are sure to come.

--4--

On a happier note, there is great luxury in having a child who is old enough to mow the lawn. Even better, half the time he'd rather take his payment in game playing time.

--5--

Yes, indeed. We caved in and allowed JH to buy his siblings a Wii as his gift to his new brothers and sisters. And we let the oldest buy the Lego Harry Potter game. Clearly, we've lost it in our dotage. Though it's still not like I let them sit around like dullards all the time, and as I said most of the oldest's game time is hard earned by sweating along mowing the yard in the August heat.

--6--

With public schools and a lot of homeschoolers starting their new school years and since we've usually started by now, I feel behind. However, I don't feel ready to get this show on the road either. I think our school year will just have to wait a little while longer.

--7--

And now a web page for discriminating Winos and those who aspire to be such: BumWine!
More Quick Takes to be found at Betty Beguiles.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pious? No. Honest? Yes.

Says my husband: We're going to church for the beginning day of a parish novena.

The five year old: I hate novenas. They take too long.

The seven year old: I'll pay you $100 if we just have to say two Hail Marys instead.

The ten year old to the seven year old: You haven't got $100.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Devotions

I never get tagged for anything any more (It's not that I try to be antisocial, but the kids bring it out in me. Kidding. Mostly), but here I got tagged twice (by both the lovely and very pregnant Hallie and by my real-life Nashville blogging buddie Amy) for a meme making its way around the Catholic blogosphere.

One of these, suggests talking about your three favorite Catholic devotions and the other five. I'm still getting used to the idea of having devotions at all. I think some things don't come as naturally to some of us converts.

When we were first in the process of becoming Catholic, I felt a very strong pull to pray the rosary. At the time, I didn't even really know what a rosary or praying one entailed. But I was convinced I needed to pray it. Right about that time, Elizabeth Foss posted about her favorite rosary CD, which I bought and have really loved praying with. I don't pray the rosary all the time -- certainly not every day, and not always with the CD, but I love the CD and I do love praying the rosary.

Almost every night as a family we do pray Compline. If it were up to my husband, we'd be chanting the whole thing, probably in Latin. Some of us appreciate chant, but are perhaps not quite as enchanted (har har) as others. We only chant parts of Compline. Chanted and/or spoken, it is a lovely end to the day. We have booklets for Compline and everyone who can read takes part in the Psalm and even some people who cannot read have begun to learn the hymn and prayers.

Another nightly tradition for our family, after Compline, is ask our family patrons to pray for us. As a convert, praying to saints sometimes still feels weird. I could easily ignore the saints as something I'm just not used to, if not for this nightly invocation and reminder of their existence. The good thing is that not only does this prayer serve as a great thing for me, but none of this will feel so weird to my kids. It will be part of what they simply know.

The baby is starting to get fussy, and so I'll opt for the choice of three rather than five devotions. And now to pass the buck on to someone else: Kiera, Robbo (when he returns from vacation), Mary, Kimberlee, and anyone else reading this who wants to join in.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I Haven't Run Away From Home

The day after my last whiny post, a very good friend lent me a teenager, I got a nap, did some laundry and felt a lot better.

Some days are good. Some days are hard. That much isn't so different from any other time in life.

The differences post-baby are that I have to get used to a tiny, helpless, demanding person, deal with physical pain and healing (more this time than ever before), fight through depression, and still do all the regular stuff.

Right now I'm having an extra hard time, because in my last trimester I developed carpal tunnel syndrome as I got swollen and the extra fluid pinched the nerves in my arms. I lost feeling in the fingertips of my right hand and gripping a steering wheel, a knife (to cut up vegetables) or a pen (to write thank you notes) leaves my whole hand both numb and painful at the same time. My left arm and wrist are even worse. I have a wrist brace, but I'm in constant pain and the littlest stuff hurts.

Although it is laughable, because I never achieve perfection in anything, I suppose I do have perfectionist aspirations. Not being able to do the things I want to do is very frustrating and depressing. I already have a tendency to suffer from post-partum depression and feeling helpless doesn't help.

I'm taking vitamins and fish oil, which seemed to help some with depression last time around and my husband is helping me get used to assigning more tasks and figuring out what I can do. So far it's going ok. I know we aren't guaranteed easy, but I find myself wishing it could all not be so dang hard either.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

One of Those Days

My husband went back to work on Monday. The first few days were okay. Not great, but we made it through. Today, I'm not so sure we're all going to make it.

The three year old has been at his most obnoxious. The two year old is crying non-stop. At lunchtime, she was hiding in the laundry room wailing because I wasn't holding her in my lap while she ate. The little guy doesn't feel like sleeping much today and has therefore also been crying (especially when woken by screaming two year olds or prodding three year olds). The older kids are trashing the house. None of my clothes really fit. It started to rain on the clothes I had drying outside. My mother-in-law, whom I haven't seen since December, is stopping by tonight on her way through town, and I don't know whether my husband will be coming home at a normal time tonight or going to a meeting after work.

Complaining isn't obviously going to do me much good, but just in case you were wondering if life with six children is always peaceful and quiet -- it isn't. Some days do go relatively smoothly. Others -- not so much.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Still Staring at the Little Guy

He may be the sixth baby, which is definitely not quite like being the first, but I'm just as crazy about him and his funny faces.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baby Having

Those of you squeamish types who don't want to read the gory details of having a baby, move along now.

***********************

Alrighty then, for the rest of you. Here's the story of JH's arrival into the outside world.

On Saturday evening, I had frequent, although not painful contractions. However, in my last labor I also had contractions that weren't painful, and didn't become painful until the last 17 minutes of labor and pushing. So frequent contractions alone are enough reason to be in a hospital, if I am planning to not deliver at home or in the car -- neither of which was in my birth plan -- and a good thing as it turned out.

All night long my contractions remained frequent, but irregular and not painful. When I arrived at the hospital, my doctor was on call and I had hoped to have him deliver, but as the night wore on, that looked less and less likely, since his shift ended at 7:00. However, for all I just complained about his practice, he's an awesome doctor -- and knowing that I wanted him to help me deliver, he stuck around after his shift for several more hours so that he could be there.

Anyway, back to the story. I contracted through the night, without great pain, but without great progress either. (My doctor and the nurse kept asking if I was in pain yet and seemed disappointed by my negative answers. Sadists.) I entered the hospital dilated to 4 centimeters and was only at 5 1/2 centimeters by morning. Though my fifth labor was my shortest, my sixth was the second longest (shorter only than the 25 hour marathon of my first).

At around 8:45, the doctor came in and asked again if I wanted him to break my water. I'd been resisting, because I was sure that my water not breaking until the very end was what allowed my fifth baby to arrive so easily and relatively painlessly and I was afraid breaking my water would make the baby arrive really fast and everything would get immediately horribly painful. However, by this point I was also ready to be done. I was strongly tempted to ask for an epidural before getting my water broken, but thanks to reminders from my husband and doula that I didn't really want one, I didn't do it.

With my water broken, things did pick up, but not immediately. Things didn't suddenly get crazy painful nor did contractions pile one on top of each other. They did get harder, stronger and closer together and definitely more painful as time went on. Actually, my contractions never did pile one on top of the other. They got longer and harder, but I think up to the end they stayed about 4 minutes apart (and never all that regular). I'm not sure what women in the other hospital rooms thought, but I have found during the end of labor I'm not at all quiet (I was moaning, bellowing and probably sounded like a dying cow. I am also a big whiner, alternatively complaining that there was no pain medicine they could give me and suggesting that the baby would never be born.)

The doctor checked my progress again and said I was at eight centimeters on one side and complete on the other. And then he removed his hand and my body started pushing and I remember yelling that fact out loud, "I'm pushing."

From this point on, I don't remember much except that I continued to be sure that I couldn't do it and insisting that the baby would never arrive. Also that I was having trouble focusing to push and that I pretty much let my body push down as it felt necessary. Although this part felt as if it took forever, I am told it all happened pretty quickly. I swear I was crowning for hours, but since the breaking of my water until birth was only an hour and 45 minutes, I guess that isn't true.

Eventually I remember them telling me that the head was out and to give a little push for the shoulders. They emerged just fine and I heard the news that I had another son. But then, instead of having a bright eyed newborn thrown on my chest, I remember the doctor shaking him and telling him that if he didn't perk up he couldn't come see me. I remember thinking he was terribly still and very big. I don't know exactly what was said next, but the baby was whisked to the other side of the room and a team of people surrounded him. I had nothing to do but worry and focus on the pain. I asked if he was alive and when reassured that the baby would be fine and was getting pinker by the minute -- as the doctors debated whether he got a 1 or a 2 for his first Apgar (he got a 2 because his heart beat was strong all the time) -- I asked for pain medicine, because I couldn't take any more and was getting shaky. That shot of Stadol was just what I needed.

Eventually, he came back to me, heplock in his hand and pink, too sleepy to even try nursing (but with an 8 for his second Apgar). Apparently, the trip into the outside world was too fast for a large baby boy and the squeezing action which pushes the fluid out of his lungs hadn't had time to work. Thanks to being in a hospital with a NICU team at the ready, he'd been suctioned, oxygenated and was doing fine. He was ready to go to regular care and didn't have to spend time in the actual NICU, where at 9 lbs 12 oz, he would have dwarfed the other guys.

After this point things were pretty normal. The last bit of labor without pain medicine is -- um, well, painful. I remember thinking at the time that if I ever had another child, I was scheduling a c-section. So why would I want to go through labor without pain medicine? Because afterward (even if I did need something to get me through the immediate hour after birth) recovery is so much easier. Epidurals involve catheters, numb legs and lots of swelling and discomfort. Without one, you can get up and walk. The swelling isn't bad and the general discomfort is much more manageable. I wouldn't begrudge anyone pain meds or think less of them for getting them. I've had four epidurals and two without. And in both of those without, I've spent most of transition complaining that it is too late to get an epidural. I'm certainly not superwoman. I've just found that the recovery period, which lasts longer than childbirth is better for me when I forgo the pain-free labor.

And thus baby number six arrived. With a decent labor and a scary arrival. We settled in for a day at the hospital and then came home a little over 24 hours later. His siblings are generally thrilled and fascinated by the new arrival, though since I haven't consistently been getting the two year old down for naps, evening meltdowns have come a little more frequently.

I'm still not sure how I'm going to survive life with six children. I need to get organized and I need to learn to delegate. Some how I hear one manages and gets by. We shall see.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Introducing...

John Henry made his appearance on Sunday morning, weighing in at a whopping 9 lbs 12 oz. I'll provide more details later, but for now I'll just say that I'm glad he didn't cook any longer.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Quick Takes Friday

--1--

My five year old walked in and handed me this paper this morning. I haven't exactly been the "fun mom" this summer. Okay, I'm never the fun mom, but I'm worse than usual.

--2--

At my last doctor's visit, another doctor in the practice told me that the stuff I'd been told was changing inside wasn't. That not much at all had happened really. Frustrating. I go in for another appointment today with my doctor. I hope things are more interesting this time.

I may also complain about the nursing staff, who when asked any question reply with a withering, "Have you checked the pink book we gave you?" And when told that I wanted to check something that isn't standard and/or mentioned in the book, they just refer to the book. It's not like everyone has a typical labor or that they can possibly mention everything you can or cannot take during pregnancy in one paragraph. And thus far, I have never heard one of them during this pregnancy say, "I'll check with a doctor and get back to you or if you are worried come in and we'll check it out." When I started going to this practice, it was small and I really liked the four doctors. I've recommended it a lot. Now it seems like much more of a big business with far more doctors and nurses. Hmph.

--3--

Damn you, Whole Foods, if I’d wanted to poison my baby, I’d have stayed conservative.
This essay that Robbo linked to cracked me up.

--4--

Belly shot:

You know you are huge when even your seven year old asks if it might be twins. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

--5--

My three year old was annoyed that I accompanied him to the bathroom instead of his father, so he told his two year old sister, "You stink." "I not stink!" she roundly declared. Being typically warlike and violent, she walked over and hit him. Naturally, he hit back. And the two year old walked over to me, batted her big blue eyes and declared indignantly, "He hit me!"

--6--

For reasons we are uncertain of, the two year old calls the three year old "Jo-Jo." His name contains neither J nor O.

--7--

I think I have a girl's name picked out, but not a boy's name. This practically guarantees that this baby must be a boy.

More Quick Takes to be found at Jen's place.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mmm...Bacon...

Pay no attention to the fact that I don't eat pork. This is still funny.

Lemon Squash Cake

I like lemons and I had a lot of yellow squash around. I was also going through the 9 million recipes I had ripped out of magazines or printed out from the web. I did have a lemon zucchini cake amongst them, but as I recall, I didn't like it much. I also had a recipe from a long ago Williams-Sonoma catalog for lemon bread, but it was a little weird and didn't contain any squash. Time for something new and different (although relying heavily on the recipes at hand).

Although you could use zucchini to good effect in this recipe, the yellow squash, when seeded, blends in and looks just like the lemon zest. No picky eaters ever need to know you stuck a vegetable in the cake.

Lemon Squash Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
2 small (or 1 medium) yellow squash (unpeeled, de-seeded and shredded, with as much juice as possible squeezed out of it)

  • Allow butter, cream cheese and eggs to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and flour cake pan.
  • Whisk together flours, baking soda and salt.
  • Mix butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Gradually, add sugar; beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon juice.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, one third at a time, mixing until just combined.
  • Fold in lemon zest and squash.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean -- about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan. Cool completely and top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Cute two year old is not necessary for the enjoyment of this cake. (And for those of you paying very close attention, this was her second birthday cake of the day.)

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