Friday, December 31, 2010

My Exit Interview

Life is made up of clubs and I’m about to be booted out of one club, irrevocably. This club is made up of parents who have many young children and only young children. You can’t REALLY be in this particular club unless you have had 3 babies in 3 (or less) years and your oldest is 5 or younger. You can not have a renegade 10 year old in residence – ALL of your kids needs to be little. I am about to get booted because my oldest just turned six and I am starting to feel a little bit of sanity coming into my days again. I’ve been a member of this club since April of 2009 – when I found out I was pregnant with my 4th child. Since I feel my tenure in this club coming to a close I wanted to write myself a note so that I won’t completely forget this period. I want to remember so that maybe someday I can help some other young mother the same way people have helped me. So Alexis, in case you forget:

*There’s no one to hold the baby. Or the other baby. Not even for a second. Not even if they are crying. Not even if you are crying.
*There’s no one to talk to. You’re constantly trying to understand but are rarely understood.
*You live on the edge balancing an impossible amount of needs. You desperately feel the need for some rhythm to your days, to their days, but there’s too many variables to ever feel comfortable. Someone’s always teething, always got an ear infection, always puking or pooping somewhere unacceptable. Adjustment, adjustment, adjustment becomes the only reliable rhythm.
*There’s no one to carry their dishes to the sink, pick up their shoes, brush their own teeth, wipe their own tush, get their own drink of water. And if they do any of these things it is because you are putting a lot of energy into training them. Energy which you no doubt don’t have.
*Your standards go lower then you thought you’d ever go. Any earnest promises you made to yourself about parenting styles, housekeeping structures, meal preparation, volunteer work – out the window. Just gone. Kiss it goodbye – you’ve got far more urgent needs to be met.
*Time with your spouse? Sure. Time spent parenting. Or trying to get some sleep. Or staring at the TV or computer in an effort to decompress from the intense experience you are sharing. “Fox hole parenting”, I’ve heard it called. Fox holes are neither relaxing or romantic.
*And mostly – no one sleeps. One baby is rough on a person but three in three years…the loss of sleep is exponential, not just multiplied. To the bone exhaustion. All the time.

The most difficult part of all of this for me is that because of all of the above factors it ends up being very difficult to see the good parts of young children. The hilarious things that they say. The comedy of all of their mischief. The tenderness of their affection for their mommy and daddy. The joy of watching them grasp a new concept or conquering a new physical feat. The subtleties of their personalities emerging. You get stretched so thin that you are just surviving. Living day to day – putting out fires (just metaphorical fires if you are one of the lucky ones). The joys of parenthood seems very small and distant.

Then one day you feel life slow down a bit and you notice all of these small people around you again. You start to SEE them again. At first just a little bit - then more often. The chaos goes from a constant drone (usually a sobbing drone) to being exclamation points in your day - and that’s doable. That’s human.

We can all laugh at those crazy things that happen in a house with small children – even the things that involve lipstick and white down comforters. As long as we can step back and SEE it. To quote a good friend on the 1st chapter of Genesis, “First God spoke. Then He SAW.” It’s so good to see. But for those in my club (and you know who you are) – sometimes the creating takes all of your attention and it may be a while before you get a chance to look back at your work and see that it is good.

Anyway, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have a very helpful 6-year old and my youngest just turned one. And there is not another baby on the way yet. I’m leaving the club in very capable (and full) hands. Blessed are those who don’t see yet believe. But seeing makes this all so much easier.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Out takes


“You did this to me! Hisss!” Just kidding. Now.

Thanks so much to Renneronie for the great photo shoot!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blogging Made Easy

“Mommy! Carrots in! Carrots in!”
I thought he was telling me that he wanted to put the carrots into the soup but later I lifted the towel off of the rising bread dough and lo and behold, he had been trying to tell me that he had already put the “carrots in.”


Saturday, December 18, 2010

A taste of this years calendar…

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Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Christmas Ode to The Stuff *Updated*

While I have wanted to post something I just haven't been feelin' it. The creative juices are being diverted somewhere along the way and I'm pretty sure that when you say "I want you to post again" you do not mean you want me to write: "And today we watched Charlotte's Web and then I took a nap and then the baby sneezed all over me and then I cooked a mediocre dinner which consisted primarily of sausages." So consider my long silences between posts a mercy. A severe mercy no doubt (har har) but a mercy nonetheless.
Today something did strike my fancy though. Especially during this time of the year I feel the need to speak up for the Stuff. The Stuff gets such a bad rep around Christmas time - in spite of the the alleged widespread indulgence of our every Stuffish whim. We all rail against the non-stop accumulation of Stuff in our disgustingly affluent society and we purge and declutter and our homes become increasingly stark and in some cases sterile. We become more and more dependent on our electronics to house the information that used to be housed between the covers of books. Instead of wrapping a gift for someone at Christmas we lick an envelope that will deliver to someone "an experience" - a trip to a store, to a movie, to a play. If we have really gone off the deep end we make a gift to a charity in someone's name (yikes).
There is nothing wrong with any of the above tendencies or actions or gifts (except the charity one - go ahead and give to charity but you just can't kill two birds with that stone. It's not that kind of stone). But I like the stuff. I do. I LIKE STUFF. I am a serious Christian. I live in America. I have a lot of children who have a lot of toys. I have a lot of furniture in a not-so-large house. I have a lot of artwork on a lot of walls. I have a lot of Christmas decorations on a lot of surfaces. There's not a lot of visual rest for the eyes in my home (my brother once said to me, "when people come in here do they have a hard time figuring out where to look?"). And I'm happy with it.
Sure - there are things that I want to get rid of. I do, in fact, have a large bin (OK, it's a huge black trash can in my basement) which I regularly fill and return lots of it to the place from whence it came - Goodwill. But I am not interested in boxing up or bagging up all of my kids Playmobiles, Legos, puzzles, trains, dolls, dressup clothes, stuffed animals, movies and certainly not their books (I even own an Encylopedia set and a dictionary. I know. I'm a dinosaur). I am very interested in keeping their toys organized and in working order and I am also interested in buying them toys that improve their imagination and education - not the junk. The junk toys come in a much more conveniently stored package. A little electronic box the size of their pocket and which keeps them occupied and quiet and the house clean for greater periods of time then your typical selection of quality, cluttery toys will.
I am interested in facilitating a rich childhood and a cozy home. A cozy home needs to be clean and organized and the Stuff often seems to be getting in the way of that but really each piece of Stuff, in it's proper place, is a building block that builds up into a childhood and a home. I think that the homes that look so nice in a picture in a magazine might end up looking cold and empty if you lived in it. I find that the effort it takes to maintain The Stuff can look very much like the effort it takes to make a home and to be a mom.
I just got back from a fabulous trip to the Goodwill where I bought my children lots of good, cluttery toy Stuff (some of it is even plastic with lights and sounds! Horrors!) that I can't wait to watch them open up on Christmas morning. A lot of it will probably end up back in my Goodwill trash can eventually but I'm happy to house it and and clean it up every night for the next few years of my children's lives. I will facilitate The Stuff, The Childhood and The Home and I will be exhausted and happy. And I hope my kids will be too. Welcome home, Stuff - welcome home.

P.S. After posting this I suddenly got very nervous that I was going to insult some of my dearest friends and best homemakers and mothers that I know. This is not about you, dear friends! This is about the unexamined purge - the heedless quest for clean lines in a home to the point of disregarding the people who live in that home.
Equally, this is not a manifesto in favor of the disgusting home in which clutter reigns supreme, but I think I made that clear enough.
Essentially this is just me coming to terms with the fact that my idea of providing a home and a childhood for my family can look different then that of the other good moms in my life. And that's OK. I'm OK, you're OK. Good holiday feelings all around, OK? Right. Love to all and I can't wait to come to your cozy homes and give my eyeballs a rest. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good Morning

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Daddy: Rosie, you’re my snuggle-puss.

Rosie: You mean your fluffy, toasty marshmallow.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Yesterday was an epically successful day. The list of accomplishments included:

  • Did all the laundry. Every stitch of clothes, every sheet, every towel. ALL THE LAUNDRY. I don’t even want to tell you how many loads. AND folded it. AND put it away.
  • Did all the grocery shopping. We were at the point of having been without bread and milk for several days so you know what that shopping trip looked like. John alone. With all four kids.
  • Cleaned the house. Did a Blitz (or, as I prefer to call it, a “reallocation of goods”), and bathrooms, floors, changed sheets, disinfected mattresses, and all the other weekly stuff. ALSO – organized a closet and a desk and rearranged some furniture.
  • Did some school.

This is like, 2 weeks worth of accomplishments in my household of many mess-makers and few mess-cleaners. But we did it. We have a fresh start today.
We need a fresh start. This last month and a half I’ve been dragging around here at maybe 50% and this past week sunk down to about 30%. It was just not working. Everything was going to you-know-where and it wasn’t even in a pretty hand basket.
I woke up yesterday feeling like a new woman but then I looked around me and realized that just catching up was going to deplete all my resources. So I came up with the plan. I did a good top to bottom (not including the basement…shudder) clean of the house while my "mother's helper" played with the kids and read books to them.
I loaded up all the dirty clothes from the last 3 weeks (no one had any underwear left. Let alone other clean clothes) and sheets from visitors and sleeping bags that had been peed in and damp towels that had been festering. Try not to imagine the smell. Loaded them up in the van. After work John dropped me off with my laundry, many quarters, Chinese for dinner and he took all the kids to the grocery store with a detailed list. While he was placating them with loads of surgery treats I filled up 1/2 of the washers with our laundry and watched days and days of continuous laundry tasks get accomplished in about 2 hours.
So now, instead of spending all next week getting caught up from my bad month I can just start fresh. Fresh and thankful for a good life. A healthy-ish body, a crazy but enjoyable family, a cozy home, a fridge full of food and a heavy but manageable work load to keep it all going.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Pumpkins to you, too!

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Pumpkin Lovers

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Also…Pumpkin Lover

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Thomas continues lovin’ on his pumpkin

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Poor innocent, unspoiled Thomas. Doesn’t know that his beloved will be rotten and covered with fruit flies by the end of the week. But for now, a few glorious days he will bask in the glow of pumpkin love.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Paci-Hoarder

“Hello, I’m Thomas. And I’m a paci-aholic.”
Now that we don’t let Thomas just wander around all day with a paci he has taken to squirrelling them away. Where to - I don’t know. What I do know is that there have been a couple of times when I’ve spent 10 minutes before bedtime scouring the place for a pacifier finally finding one left in a toy bin or in the backyard or sometimes going out to buy a new one. Then he’ll come puttering downstairs in the morning with his mouth and hands full of pacifiers. But I looked in his room, in his crib, under it, everywhere. I swear – I really don’t know where he is keeping them!

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The other neurotic paci-related behavior that he’s developed is truly weird. If he gets upset during the day and doesn’t have a paci readily available he will lick whatever is closest. Most often the ground. Tonight it was the sour crème. So someone will take a toy away from him, he’ll screech and then some observer will report to me, “Um. Your son is licking the sidewalk.”
To which I like to casually respond, ”Yeah, that’s what we do when we’re upset.” Today he licked a pile of mulched leaves and then the sour crème. Just weird. Kids can be so weird.
Anyway, I suppose that by letting him get so attached to his pacifier I am just doing my part to provide Marlboro one more faithful consumer. Anything to do my part.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Demographics is Power


6 years ago none of these children were here. Thank GOD for the Catholic perspective on being open to life and for blessing us and our friends with such an abundance of examples of God’s love for the world. Each of these little bodies carrying Christ’s message of hope and love and peace to a world wounded by sin and division. Each little soul carries God’s life within in it to the world. Any one of these babes would be a message from God that he loves the world but…WOW he must really love us.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Canning Season

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The picture above is about as much canning as I’ve done in the last couple years (aside from a quantity of freezer jam). October2010 376

I had my canning season rescued by the visit of a couple dear friends from HOME. They came down, we canned applesauce and apple butter and I realized why it is that I don’t enjoy canning down here in the south. I don’t like thinking. Canning is such a multi-tasking endeavor and so I like to do it but only when someone else is keeping all the plates spinning. Enter, Maureen.October2010 377

So, we “put up” close to 30 quarts of applesauce in a few hours, got to visit and even made a trip to the local antique mall and I walked away with a STEAL of a deal on an antique quilt. All while the husbands took the band of 6 youngins to visit a couple of the Smithsonian’s best offering. Easy cheesy, right? I think that they only lost 1 of the kids for a little while.

So next year I just need them to visit in May for the strawberries, June for the blueberries, July for raspberries, August for peaches, September for tomatoes and October for apples. You just get on top of that, please. Thank you very much.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Joey’s Doing Well!

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And we couldn’t be happier! Visit here for more info.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our Joseph

Joey has another big surgery tomorrow to close up the hole in his heart, the last of his 3 heart defects. Apparently it's as open as open-heart surgery gets. Please keep the whole family in your prayers. Especially ask God to allow this surgery, hospital stay and post-surgical care at home to be complication-free. Joey has a penchant for taking simple things and complicating them beyond anyone's expectations. We are hoping that since this is complicated already then maybe he'll just travel the shortest route to health. A to B. Not A to L to R back to M and finally to B. Just a simple A to B would be good for all. Especially since this A to B is flippin complicated just by itself.
He is going into this surgery healthy and ready to go. He's getting so chubby and plump that I think he could live off of his cheeks for a week in he needed to. His Gram is in town to take care of the girls, his mommy is ready for a campout in the hospital with her i-touch and projects. Daddy is in a good flexible position with work so he can be around.
But, all this said - they have a 4-month old having his 3rd major heart surgery. Please offer up your own sufferings over the next couple of weeks for them. It's the best way to help. Thanks, all.
This picture was 2 surgeries ago - I can't find my camera to load up a new picture of his fabulous cheeks but I'll keep looking for it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Poop Chronicles, vol. 5

Subtitled: the last crappy 12 hours.

You know how all toddlers WILL, at SOME point, take off their diaper and spread it around their crib? This is just something to be borne. At this point I expect it and generally take it in stride. But yesterday Cecilia did it. She is 9 months old. In fact, it seems she really had it in for us because she didn't poo and then take of the diaper, she took off the diaper and THEN pooed in the crib. And then cried. Yeah, well, what do you expect, dear? It's not a nice feeling to poop directly on the surface that you sleep in. Even dogs don't do that. She may have missed some evolutionary step that is critical to my peace and happiness.

Next - bath time. I put the girls in the tub and was just reveling in a boy-free bathtime (I love them but a bath with just the girls is so calm and peaceful) and thinking about how I had already washed them and the water was still relatively clean dirty are those boys? - when Anthony came running up the stairs raising the alarm for a plunger. Eek. That is never good. "Hurry, Mommy! I'm sure it's overflowing now!!!"
So I ran up to the attic to search out the plunger that is hiding among the construction zone. When I came down Thomas was sitting in the tub with the girls. With all of his clothes on. And the water was suddenly a dark tan. Sheesh. I knew that he was dirty but how could one 24 lb kid effect such a change?
I pulled him out, undressed him and put him back it. Then I saw the poop floating around in the tub. That explained the tan. Really nasty. Actually, it was too gross for my blood so I called in reinforcements.
Later on in the night said reinforcement spent from midnight - 3 am having his own issues in that arena. But thankfully for me he can wipe his own rear.
Then bright and early - 6:15ish - I hear fighting coming from the bathroom and all three "older" kids are in there. Rosie was taking a morning visit to the La Toilette and I am pleased to say that all was normal and as it should be. BUT, there was Anthony yelling at her because she had "taken so long that I pooped my pants."
Ahhhh. Parenthood. Ironically I need to run a quick spellcheck on this post and go change a poopy diaper before my nose hairs burn up. I Hope that this gets your morning off to a good start. It sure got mine off to a...start. Can't wait to see what the rest of the day brings.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Growing Up of a Mama's Boy...Sigh.

We had a big day today. First day of our home school co-op. First day of our new Little Saints Club. And first camping trip for Anthony tonight and tomorrow. It was good and exhausting and I am now feeling a little bit emotional about it. My little kids sat in a classroom and had a teacher other then me. Weird. I tried not to hover and tried to make myself scarce at various points so that they would have a chance to realize that they don't NEED me to interact with other people, that they are their own people. Actually, this is what I wished for Anthony. I was just hoping that Rosie wouldn't pee her pants and that Thomas wouldn't injure anyone in the nursery. We are actually 3 for 3! Everything went really well.

On the way home Anthony was telling me some of the things in the classes and he seemed to have genuinely enjoyed them so I gingerly asked, "did you feel sad or mad or scared when I didn't come back into the room for your second class?" (Rosie had decided that I needed to be with her and like I said, I was trying to put some distance to see if he could acclimate on his own better). His response was, "Well, at first I wasn't used to it but then I just...did what I needed to do. And it didn't take me long to get used to it at all!"
It almost bought tears to my eyes (if I were a crier it would have. Sometimes I wish I was more of a crier - then I wouldn't look like such a clod of a woman). I simultaneously want to push him out of the nest and see what kind of person he will be while also wanting to keep him my little satellite. My extension. My pal. But he "did what he needed to do." He is growing up and my response seems to be, "But...Without me?"

Of course without me! That is the whole point! He has to do it without me or then he's not doing it. If I had stayed in the class with him he wouldn't have participated at all, he would have nudged me to answer any question that was asked of him; he wouldn't have asked the teacher what he was supposed to do next, he would have asked me; he wouldn't have talked to his class partner, I would have talked to his class partner. Instead he "did what he had to do."

And now he's on a guys camp out with his dad, listening to talks by the dads about what makes a good man, looking at Jupiter through his telescope and going fishing for the first time. He and his dad will start their bonding in earnest and I'll fade more into the background. I won't be his all-in-all. And this is as it should be.

I remember thinking when I was pregnant with him that as soon as they cut the umbilical cord that this was the beginning of a long and painful process of letting him go. I was forwarned. But that bond with the first-born is fearfully strong and the idea of him not needing me at every turn makes me ache.

A little part of me died when he traipsed off so happy and excited (and brave) for his camping trip. But I'm so happy for him. Happy that he's becoming more comfortable in his own skin. Happy that other people are getting a chance to see what a great kid he is. Happy that he and his dad have a chance to forge a strong bond. Happy that I won't be his all-in-all forever because I am very well-aware of how short I come up as an all-in-all. He needs to look Elsewhere for that and needs to let go of me in order to start the search. He needs to grow up. And today we took another step down this road that we started down 5 years, 11 months and 3 days ago when his daddy cut the cord. I love that kid. I'm going to miss these early years with him. Things will be good and exciting and in many ways better but man, I'm going to miss how it's been.

Anthony on the first day of school this year. This is his "cool clothes pose". He is not exactly a demonstrative person but he can't seem to help himself when he thinks his clothes are cool. It just slips out.

7 Quick Takes or....

I have no single unifying thought whatsoever but I'm trying to blog more so...
1. Rosie came downstairs a couple days ago complaining that she had "very bad breath". Well, I could have told her that. It turns out that she meant she had a sore throat. Very cute.
2. This week has been one of great yelling. I don't mean "great" as a description of it's worthiness, just of the large amount. In fact, I have bad breath from all the yelling. Take that how you will.
I reached a point on Monday of looking around me, and upon viewing the disrespect being shown by each member of the family for each member of the family, and thinking, "Where the H#%l are the parents?! What is going on here?!" And I haven't stopped yelling since. I HAVE HHHHHHAAAAADDDD IT!!!!!!!
I am aware that there must be a better way of handling this, in fact I even have several ideas but I also feel the need to impart to my children my astonishment at the state of the behavior. Some things are NOT acceptable - the are, in fact, shocking. When one is shocked, one yells.
Justify much?
3. John and Anthony are going on a camping trip this weekend. I can't help feeling that I'm a horrible nurturer for sending them out, overnight, in this chilly fall weather. But they are going with a large contingent of sons/dads from our home school group so I guess there are other bad nurturers too.
4. Thomas has been climbing out of his crib several times a night, in the middle of the night and puttering the halls looking for his pacifier. At 2 am. At 3 am. At 4 am. "You must be tired", you say. Well, John the night-time martyr is tired but I'm doing OK.
5. We have peeps from home coming to visit us in our East Coast outpost next week. I'm so excited! It's also a great reason to really push through and get more of the attic done. I spent a lot of yesterday morning up there with John hanging drywall and it's a very satisfying experience. What was not so satisfying was the state of the house when we came down. But I can be pretty confident that I accomplished something less transitory then my usual fare of laundry, math, vacuuming, changing a diaper, feeding the masses, etc. It's nice to know that the drywall will continue being hung now that I did it. It's not going to end up in a heap on the floor at the end of the day or be thrown down on the floor because it doesn't have the right kind of red sauce.
6. I've started some very early Christmas shopping. Mainly it's things that I'm trying to justify buying because I like them and they're a smokin' deal.
7. If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian but need a little nudge then just buy 40 lbs of chicken, bring it home and spend 2 hours with your hands covered in chicken fluid getting it prepped to freeze individually. The sticky, slimy feeling on your hands and the meaty smell will surely put you over the edge. If you would like to continue eating meat though, I don't really suggest it.
Jen is host of the quick takes so visit her for more and better thoughts.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dedicated to James Logan - puttin' in his time with the Hos. You rock, bro.

"I am just a poor boy, though my story's seldom told.
I have squandered my resistence,
For a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises.
All lies and jest.
Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.When I left my home and my family I was no more than a boy,
In the company of strangers,
In the quiet of the railway station, runnin' scared.
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters,
Where the ragged people go.
Looking' for the places, only they would know.

Asking only workman's wages I come lookin' for a job,
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue.
I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome,
I took some comfort there.
La, la, la, la, la, la, la. And I'm laying out my winter clothes, and wishing I was gone, goin' home
Where the new york city winters aren't bleedin' me, leadin' me goin' home.
In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down,
Or cut him 'til he cried out in his anger and his shame,
"I am leaving, I am leaving."
But the fighter still remains.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Messy Party

Do you see that glint in her eye? She was NOT to be messed with. "What are these adults THINKING?!" [Note the chocolate pudding being hurled through the air by Anthony in the background.

And the man who inspired it all...

The Aftermath
If you are thinking that I should now have a picture entitled the "Afterbath" then you are right. But John deleted it before I got to make that clever blog-move.

For those of you who know Thomas "Gus Gus" Lovelette our choice of revelry for his 2nd birthday will not be a surprise to you. He entertains all comers with his remarkably coordinated abundance of energy, joy and mischievousness. He moves like a flash. He is also endearing. He is an extrovert who is easily bored. When bored (or tired, or hungry) he will start throwing himself at people or things or just throwing people or things.
He makes doing school...hmmm...impossible. Simply impossible. He needs to be directly in the center of the activity. Not just holding his own marker and drawing but holding YOUR marker and drawing on YOUR math book, or YOU if you get in his way. When you are reading he prefers to not simply sit next to you, or on your lap but directly on your book.

He moves through the house at a cyclone's pace grabbing and dumping things as he goes. He climbs onto all of the counter tops and can reach the top of the refrigerator and recently has discovered how to gain freedom from his crib. He is quickly angered, quickly crushed. But he is quick to recover too.

As he has neared the age of two I have twice witnessed him lining things up, not just destroying all order. He has started to sit in the reading corner and turn pages of books, not just rip them out. So...I don't ever count chickens but he may be turning a corner.

As a way to honor and commemorate Thomas' Epic 2nd year of life we decided to host a "Messy Party". We provided the supplies. Bins of: chocolate pudding, powdered sugar, ice, oats, marshmallows, cornflakes, and 8 lbs or cooked spaghetti and bottles of whipped creme and chocolate syrup. And we just let them at it. What a blast. It was a relief to not have to chase them around telling them to leave this or that alone. I was more relaxed at this party then I have been at a party since having kids. And the clean up was not so bad. We started cleaning at 6:30 and we were done, with the kids bathed and in bed by 8. No worse then a normal party. Here are a few pictures but you can't really KNOW the level of awesomeness unless you happened to have attended and stepped - barefoot - on a pile of cooked spaghetti covered in chocolate pudding and marshmallows. That is where it's at. C'mon - you know you're jealous.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Things that make me go 'hmmmm'.

That Thomas says "fart, fart, fart" with a big smile every time he passes gas and we all smile along with him but no one tells him to say excuse me.

When Cecilia came crawling into the bathroom covered in little white baby stickers from our Creighton NFP charting system. You got it baby, that was you.

Rosie figured out that we had "3 boys and 3 girls and one boy named Dodge" (the neighbor).

How I accidentally walked in on Anthony going to the bathroom today and he apparently goes number 2 crouching over the pot with his feet on the rim. So much for civilization...

That I got into my van yesterday and was immediately surrounded by a swarm of fruit flies. That combined with the trash and old chicken nuggets almost drove me to clean out the van but then...seriously, what's the point? I drive around a pack of savages. Cleaning is just the preamble to frustration. The silver lining to the whole fruit fly fiasco was that I remembered that I had a bushel of apples from the orchard in the back of the car and managed to rescue them.

Sorry for the long absence, I've been informed that it's been 6.7 weeks since I've posted. I guess that when life is fullest the blog is emptiest. I want to be better about posting because Lord knows I'm not going to remember any of this without the blog. But it's worth remembering so it's worth writing down. Thanks for visiting! It's nice to hear from folks and know that you are enjoying this life along with me. It [life] is always funnier or more profound when it's in writing then when it's taking off it's diaper and running out into the front yard so it's good to have the impetus of sharing it with you to get it down on paper. Hope to be back soon but I try not to promise anything because that's how I roll.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Van Etiquette

We are having our "week-off" between roadtrips. Roadtrips with a screaming banshee - even more accurately described as a Nazgul. This is just one HECK of a year to travel 3,884 miles. Thomas is at the worst age for traveling and among children of this age he is the worst. Ever. It's sort of like strapping a canon ball into a 5-point harness and then lighting the fuse and watching the fireworks. For 5 hours. Or 9 hours. Or 14 hours. And then throw in a couple of over-packed "vacation" days with late nights trying to sleep in foreign quarters and a return trip with 14 more hours of Nazgul-canon-ball-Thomas and what you end up with is a spilled-sour-milk smelling, chicken nugget rotting (I'm pretty sure those don't actually rot though. Which leads me to wonder if they are even digestible...ewww) van littered with bits of ripped up books and melted crayons. Not to mention the crushed bags and boxes that are evidence of the aforementioned McD stops. Or the box of CDs into which a milkshake spilled and covered the CDs which, of course, were not in cases.
This is why I am giving you this piece of van etiquette: When getting into someones child-carting mini-van just keep your eyes forward. They will appreciate your discretion.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Attic:low - medium glamour jobs

Over the summer John has been finishing our attic with the help of some of the more handy men of our acquaintance, most notable his stepfather. Do you know how hot is has been this summer? Have you noticed the humidity and the temp being in the high 90's? Well, if you haven't then it's because these guys have noticed your share for you.
Up until this point they have been doing a lot of low-glamour background work like fixing a broken condensate pipe on the AC, running all the electrical, pulling up floor boards for insulation and drilling holes in the floor (apparently called soffits) and solving many problems that have crept up along the way. They have done some medium-glamour work like getting all the framing up for the new walls, turning one switch into a three-way switch, and running the new AC ducting up (unfortunately all that cool air still flies straight up through the ridge-vent). So far the highest glamour job we ended up hiring out. We had 2, 4ft skylights installed. I don't know why no one but me thought it was a good idea to scramble around on our 43 degree slanted roof. i still maintain that I would have done it myself except that I have no skilz. You need a crazy person with skilz to do that work and I'm only crazy. The last steps are the high glam jobs like insulation and drywall and painting! But if I only did a post when that's all done then the poor low-glam and medium glam jobs wouldn't get their due. So this post is for them.
And for the men who have been sweating their guts out in the first circle of Hell.
In the Beginning...Then there were walls and light and AC and...SKYLIGHTS!

This is my skylight face
My first view of the mountains FROM my house!The ever-present soffits...only 20 more to go.
Notice the tip of that nose....

Glen, the step-father who can do it all...
Getting lumber up into the attic requires thinking outside the box sometimes...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Nature Study...Ahhhhh.

"She will point to some lovely flower or gracious tree, not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God, in which we may believe He finds continual pleasure, and which He is pleased to see his human children rejoice in." ~Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Burden of the Mind

Mommy: I need you to think about what you did to D. and what you need to do in the morning to make up to him.
Anthony: But I can't - I have SOOOOO much to think about!
Mommy: What?
Anthony: I have to think about how I need to get used to doing chores so that I can earn money so that I can buy more tracks so that I can build a bigger bridge!

Ah. Priorities, priorities.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The First of Many

It is easy to feel as if you are not giving your children enough. In my own experience it is not that I'm not giving them enough stuff but I worry about not giving them enough of myself. With them so close together I don't have the luxury, nor do they, of giving them an extended baby-hood or a leisurly preschool phase. Most days we just push through, trying to drown out the noise and get through the day. So I often feel like they are not getting attention, seeing enough joy, from me. I hope that these pictures of Cecilia's first meal remind me of the joy that I've been able to give them. I do believe that the gift of a sibling outweighs the chaos that the extra sibling brings. And when I look at these pictures I think that they agree with me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today's Nuggets

I know it's been sparse around here. The homeschool-planning "hamster wheel" (Thanks "Chris") is spinning at full-tilt and I've been afraid that if I try to step out to blog then I'll not be allowed back in. But last night was quite productive so I dare to act like a normal person again for one evening.
Today's Lovelette nuggets are:
Cecilia has entered her golden-age. The magical time of infancy where she is able to sit up but not crawl. It is so short-lived but oh, so easy for mama.
Thomas has taken to dragging Hungry Hungry Hippos around behind him like Linus' blanket. It's has kept him from making several escape attempts so I will encourage this rather bulky attachment.
Rosie is POTTY TRAINED! We've been trying off and on for a year but I have very little to no tolerance for accidents on a regular basis so we keep reverting after a couple days of "training". But it's been over a week with no accidents to speak of so, YAY! Her quote of the day was made while gazing at the result of a successful potty trip: "THAT is the poop of me." Yup. That's just what it is.
Anthony's quote of the day was a protest heard over dinner since Daddy made the red sauce instead of Mommy (it was delicious, by the by):"Why do you keep making my life so hard?!"
Must run now to go tyrannize over my brood. I hear that I am going to be forced through the sprinkler. I think it's Daddy who is truly the tyrant.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Joey update 7/10/10

Updates for Joey can now be found here. Please continue to pray for them. It looks like he might be headed home soon for a few months respite before his next surgery. I've been so blessed to spend a little time with him and his mom in the hospital and wow. All I can say is that grace is given to those who need it. Kate and Pat are accepting this cross with resolution and peace and even humor. I could not do it (do you hear that, God? COULD NOT DO IT!). So many physical and emotional struggles to deal with day in and day out. All the "little things" now that his life is not in immanent danger. "Little things" like not being able to nurse him. Not being able to hear him since he can't cry because of a messed up vocal chord. Having to have someone by his bedside 24/7 since he is unable to cry (read: sleeping on a hard "couch" in the hospital room for weeks). Having to watch your other children struggle with all the upheaval and lack of normalcy. Watching your little one have all sorts of uncomfortable things pulled in and out of him and knowing that these are the least of his worries. Knowing that this is the long haul. You know, all those little things...
They are people of great faith and great thankfulness and are a witness to all of us. Joey's whole life, from conception until this very moment, points to an example of two followers of Christ truly living the Fiat and we are blessed to bear witness to it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

To Vacate: to give up or leave a position, office, etc.

We just returned from the best family vacation that we've had in years today. Ahhhhh. I can breath again and that tight feeling is gone in my chest. We had a chance to stop and think and reflect on our life. I think that it is taking me years to decompress from this last phase of life with the babies coming fast and furious, job changes and and cross-country moves but I think it may be happening. We have lived in the Burg for two years and in our home for one year. We have a garden and a clothesline. We buy books by the ton (I probably mean this literally) without worrying about needing to move them soon. I have one year of homeschooling under my belt and have been depression-free for over a year. We have bikes and several bird-feeders (I've recently entered my bird-phase). We have a Costco membership and I'm in a Bible study with wonderful friends. I'm six moths post-partum and not pregnant for the first time in three babies. So I'm starting to breathe again.

This vacation restored me to the status of being a person. I did stuff. Thanks, mainly to my brother James, for the first time in years I did stuff. I "played volleyball" (read: I stood in a spot while the other people covered all but the 2 square feet surrounding me). I played whiffle ball. I went out late at night to help my brother celebrate his 21st birthday. I spoke to great people who are not yet in, or are no longer in, my particular state in life. They don't even know what an Ergo is! I talked about God and prayed to Him. I went to a bonfire and sang songs and had smores. I went to Lake Michigan and climbed a sand dune. I talked to my brothers about school and girls. I spent lots of time with people who knew me before I became Mom. People who remember, even when I don't, that I am Alexis. It wasn't until we were driving home (a hideous 15 hour drive in which Rosie and Thomas did not fall asleep until midnight in spite of a dose of NyQuil - or maybe because of it? I was not able to be a person on that drive at ALL) that I realized why I was so reticent to leave. I feel like a starving person who just started to have her hunger satisfied and I was filling up on as much person-time as possible. But after a much-interrupted conversation with John I think that we are in yet another transition.
This next phase of life is the one where time "flies by" because it's so good. No major life upheavals (God willing!) for a while. We made a plan (a Rule, if you will) that will ensure that we each get some "being a person time" so that we don't start to starve again without any hunger pangs. We may still get hungry but at least now we know that food exists and we have a way to get to it.
I can feel the peace seeping into my soul and I'm dreaming about rhythm and breathing. About being alone in a canoe on a still lake with the full moon rising and a loon swimming nearby. It was a good vacation. And I just finished watching the fireworks with my husband from the roof of our porch (very 'A Whole New World') while the kids slept, so coming home can be wonderful too.

Joey Update 6/26/10

Sorry for the sudden drop off in updates. Hopefully you were able to keep up with Kate on her blog or on Facebook. We went on vacation under the impression that we would have internet access but there was none. We were able to keep in touch with the Trammas via cell phone which was important but were not able to pass on the information.
So, in case you were relying on me for information, here it is, much delayed.
Joey had a very risky surgery to open up the valve that was reducing blood flow to his body and compromising the proper functioning of his organs. It was SUCCESSFULL!!! Very important and very exciting.
They waited for his lungs to dry out (?) and then successfully weaned him off of the life support. YAY!
He is receiving his mother's milk via feeding tube and digesting it. YAY!
He breathes 90% on his own and the breathing tube does the other 10% when needed. It is mostly needed when he is getting upset. Over the next few days they will hope to get him breathing entirely on his own.
He also had some withdrawal symptoms from the narcotic painkillers and will be on methadone while the wean him off the pain killers.
He will have the another surgery again in a few months to open that valve up as he grows and needs more blood but the older he gets the less risky it becomes.
It's a marathon but thank God for the marathon. Modern medicine and prayers are a beautiful combination. Thank you so much for your prayers and sacrifices. Keep them up for the Trammas who will be on this road for a long time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

6/16 9:30 am Joey update

Pat's text:
"They're putting him on full life support this morning to stabilize him for a valve-opening procedure tomorrow. The biggest risks will be weaning him from it in a couple days. St. Joe, pray for us."
Having spoken to Pat a little more in depth last night we know that the mis-functioning valve is the problem that is causing his blood pressure to drop to such dangerous levels. His poor little body is just not able to support all of the vital organs enough to stabilize him for the necessary surgery but going on full life support means that his body won't be as quick and sharp and able to adjust as it is now, hence the danger being weaning him off in a couple days.
Pray for Pat and for Kate. They are strong and have family support and priestly consolation but this is a very hard road to walk down.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Joey Update

Joey is stabilizing for now and the Trammas are very grateful for everyone's prayers. Around 6:15 pm tonight his BP dropped dangerously low and his less essential organs had begun to shut down. The hospital staff tried everything to get it up and they were about to use the heart/lung machine to relieve the stress on his heart when he began to improve. Pat says that the situation is stable "but still dire." The use of the heart/lung machine carries some risks and likely complications so it is good that they didn't have to use it today. Apparently patients that have to use this particular machine have a 50/50 survival rate. Pat said that the best case scenario from here would be a gradual increase in Joey's capacity to breath easily and pump enough blood through his body on his own. There are many risks and dangers along the way, and so they ask that you keep up your prayers.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us. St. Joseph, pray for us. St. Thomas, pray for us.

Update on Joey

He got out of surgery and was doing well but has taken a turn for the worse. Please pray. No phone calls to the parents, please.

requesting prayers

Our very dear friends have got a huge burden to carry today and over the next several months. Their teeny-tiny guy (11 days old today), after being home with a clean bill of health for one week, has been unexpectedly diagnosed with three separate heart defects and is undergoing open-heart surgery for the most complicated one this morning at 7:30 am. Please be their Simon of Cyrene by offering prayers over the next several months and especially this morning. His name is Joseph Thomas and he is...well. He is a completely dear and wonderful little person who has been working very hard to stay alive for the past week. Please pray...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More Morning Rose and Morning Mose

This morning

Rosie: Hey! I haven't had breaksist yet.
Daddy: You're right, Rosie. What do you want?
Rosie: Um...maybe some Kix. No - I want pasta with cheese. That's my favorite.
Daddy: That's a good idea, why don't we have it for lunch?
Rosie: Yes. Let's have lunch.

Anthony scrambled up on my lap while I was sifting through my morning internet reading and eating a bowl of Rice Krispies with sugar on top. (yes. I know. But I don't let the children see me putting the sugar in the bowl.) He wanted to see the weather report because this is what we do.

Sunny, followed by thunderstorms but Sunday is going to be sunny all day.

"Why does God always make Sundays sunny?" I explain that he doesn't but maybe he is trying to make Sunday special this week since it's been so rainy.

"Why does God spell Saturday wrong? It should be Sat-ur-day. But he just puts it Sat."


Does anyone have an email address for God's IT director?