Friday, May 29, 2009

Required Reading... be a Temple boy.

Banana Pops

Throw in the blender...

3 over ripe bananas

Splash of milk, or whatever is left in the carton (but don't forget to call husband and ask him to bring home milk for tomorrow's breakfast)

Finish off the vanilla yogurt, too (maybe there was half a cup in there)

1 scoop of ice (minus whatever Zachary drops along the way)

And as much brown sugar as Nicholas decides to add (I think I kept that to a half cup or so)

Blend it up good, pour into twelve popsicle molds and let freeze overnight.
These were so delicious. They're like banana bread frozen on a stick. Yum!

This one is for Margaret

Nicholas: Mom, are Minnisodas the little cans?

Have you seen Margaret's newest little Minnesotan yet? Gosh, he's cute.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

He's Gotten so Good, He's Giving Lessons

Boy: Look Mom, Micah is our dance instructor!

All five of them were following his lead. Look out, Richard Simmons.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

True Love

Zachary: Sparky (his favorite stuffed dog) really isn't mine. I'm just taking care of him until Micah is old enough for him, then I'll give him up.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's Good to Think Ahead

Alex: I have a great idea for a fake blood trick. First you take a boot and fill it with Tabasco sauce and put it on your foot. Then you step in a bear trap with that foot and...oh wait...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Frog and Toad are Still Friends...

...despite the intelligence disparity.

Simeon: Did you know that if you put a frog in a maze he can get out, but if you put a toad in a maze he can't get out?

How very Toadish of him.

He Has a Dream

Very Excited Boy: Mama, there's such thing as people in the world who find snakes and lizards and frogs and birds that nobody has ever seen before and they get to name them themselves because they don't even have names yet. I want to be one of those people.


Nicholas: Mama, I checked on Micah and he is quite sleeping.

Fruits and Vegetables

This row of lettuces my husband planted is so ridiculously cute, I half expect a little rabbit wearing a blue overcoat to pop out from under them.

Micah's first pears. I wonder if they'll be ready when he's ready for food.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

(Re) finished!

I'm so pleased with the way this project came out. For one thing, the table and chairs are not a set so I was able to match the wood a little better with a new stain. I used three coats of Poly and a finishing wax. The finishing wax made all the difference. It buffed the table to a velvety sheen. The can says to reapply the wax every six months or so to ensure a lasting finish.

You can see the wainscot in the background, too. I didn't end up doing that project myself. I had no idea how to handle the corners, so I hired a carpenter to install the materials I had purchased. The result is really nice. It adds a Cape Cod feel to the kitchen and protects those walls that were getting beat up by the chairs.

Next, I'm painting the wall Hawthorne Yellow, then I'll sew curtains. To help decide on fabric and a pattern for this kitchen window, I'm imagining a summer dress. Would you wear a summer dress based on a similar pattern and style as your kitchen curtains?

Secured Loans

Boy: Mom, can we borrow twelve dollars on the teeth Jacob and Zachary are going to lose?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


He ran off before I could get a better picture, but that's him. Anyone missing a peacock?

Surreal Moment of the Day

The kids are watching a documentary on crop circles and I look out the kitchen window to see a peacock walking across our front lawn. Yes, a peacock.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


His reward?
He got to keep the sandpaper block. That's all he wanted.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Was I the only one who Didn't Know that? vol. 3

Decisions, decisions...

I learned a new use for vinegar today. Did you know it pulls stain from wood once the finish has been stripped? I used it on our kitchen table, which has desperately needed to be refinished for over a year now. After scraping with liquid stripper, the vinegar pulled out most of the stain and so tomorrow's sanding should be easy. I can't believe how clean that table looks now. I should use furniture stripper on everything!

Also in the works, painting walls and sewing curtains. One day at a time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

These Two

The other day, I thought Zachary would appreciate a one on one trip to the craft store with me. I was wrong. As we headed for the door, I saw Nicholas was prepared to come, too. I explained that the outing wasn't for him.

Zachary objected, "He wants to come, too."

"Yes," I said, "but this was for me and you alone together."

Zachary looked confused "...But I like him," he said.

So we all went together.

Then today my husband was running out to pick up a few things for the garden. Zachary asked to go along and my husband agreed to take him.

"Oh yea!" Nicholas said running after them, "We're going to Home Depot."

"No Nicholas, Papa is just running a quick errand with Zachary. He'll be right back. So, you stay here. Is there something I could put on for you? (I meant on the Netflix box)."

"Yes!" Nicholas said with glee, "my shoes."

And so they all went together.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Items I Bought From the Grocery Store...

...and would not have otherwise, but Jacob came with me today.

1. 1 package Biscoff Gourmet European cookies (expensive taste, but very good taste).

2. 1 package Jet Puffed marshmallows (not so haute cuisine).

3. 2 packages Trident sugar free gum (better than chewing Lego).

4. 1 large box of new flavored Kix cereal (kid tested, and well...mother approved).

5. 6 Kiwi fruit (one for himself and one for each of his brothers).

6. 1 large bag of little cocktail umbrellas (I was enamored with these as a kid, so when Jacob asked I couldn't say no).

7. 1 box Nestle hot chocolate (So funny, he pronounced it like nestle, as in ...all nestled in for a long winter's nap. I love our commercial free home).

I think that's it. Not too bad.

Shorter, anyway, than the list of things he asked for and didn't get. I'll call that balance.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Alex's Bird

I'm in love with Alex's bird.

From the Inbox

Brian writes (my response in blue):

I read your essay - and felt moved to reply. You sound like a lovely lady with a lovely family.

Why thank you. And thank you for this email and respectful disagreement.

I've never lived in the south, but my impression is that kudzu is a nasty invasive parasite that kills desirable native plants. When you liken "contraceptive culture" to kudzu, you are clearly judging. And pruning.

I think you misunderstood Father's and my own position here in that we are NOT calling PEOPLE Kudzu. The "contraceptive culture" was born in the 1930s with the first widespread use and public acceptance of highly effective contraceptives. It is composed of ideas, mentalities, expectations and presuppositions about family life and the roles of men and women within families and society. We say that those ideas have pervaded the natural family structure and weigh on husbands and wives and good citizens of this country in ways they may not even be aware. We believe those ideas are harmful to people, to families, and society as a whole.

These lines are completely artificial and only exist in our heads. You chose to practice natural birth control. That's wonderful, you have a lovely family. I am sincerely glad for you. Other people practice "artificial" birth control. Does that distinction really justify comparing them to "kudzu"? Can't we just allow people to be different?

NFP is not birth control. It does not approach a woman's fertility like a medical problem that needs treatment. Avoiding a pregnancy through communication of spouses and self sacrifice while observing the natural law for the common good of the family is a very different thing than engaging in a natural process while at the same time actively thwarting that process.

I do not say this to say that anyone is better than anyone else, but that these distinctions are not just in our heads. They are real and they have real consequences. We should be aware of those consequences.

Again, we do not compare PEOPLE to Kudzu, but the harmful attitudes and ideas contraception promotes.

I am sorry that some of the women in your neighborhood treat you poorly for having a large family. They are in error (and maybe even envious). But honestly, don't you think any group of people (including men) will find things to gossip about? It's the human nature that we all wrestle with. And if it wasn't the size of the family, it might be one's ethnic origin, or religion, or social class, or taste in music, or the model of car, or the style of clothes, or the way "their kitchen" doesn't smell like "our kitchen".

I don't think the women in my neighborhood treat me poorly at all. I think when my neighbor said that it was the least my husband could do to give me flowers, she meant to show a kind of strange friendship or sisterhood. She was standing by my side and helping me protect my rights and make my demands of the man in my life she assumes owes me on account of my having all his babies.

She's wrong, of course. My husband is not the demanding person she must imagine and we love these babies, but I think she sincerely thought she was standing up for me. What she didn't know was that I don't need her to stand up for me. I don't need to stand up for myself. There is no warfare here. What she revealed is that there is some kind of warfare between man and woman in her mind and I could see the other women agreed. It is in our culture. It has been a big motivation behind and reason for the continued widespread promotion of contraceptives. I don't think it helps women to think this way at all.

I promise you, many couples are criticized for *not* having "enough" children. And that criticism and judgement hurts just as much as yours. Furthermore, that criticism is directed from ubiquitous talk radio shows, bumper stickers, even employers, political leaders and especially church leaders.

I know couples are criticized for not having enough children. I agree that this is not anyone's business and such comments are nonsense and show no charity or subtlety of thought. It is a small minded person that assumes all people and families must look like her own.

Choosing if and when to have children is a very personal matter. When community authority figures discuss it (especially in church, from the pulpit) it makes it a public topic, divides people into groups, creates a false dichotomy, frames the world as black and white, instead of the (sometimes crazy) rainbow of colors it really is. Maybe the world would be a better place if we all just accepted each other.

Sexuality is at once a very personal matter and a very public one. The intimacy between spouses should not be unnecessarily encroached upon, but the bonds between spouses are also the ties that hold a society together. The family is the basic unit of society much like cells in the body. Society depends absolutely on the health of the family. If the natural bonds within family structures are weakened, then the society that is built upon those structures is also weakened. For this reason it is not only appropriate, but necessary to address these issues publicly.

blessings to you and your family
from me and mine

And many blessings in return. Thank you, again, for this respectful reply.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So Alex

Alex: Mom, can we have an in ground pool in our backyard?

Me: NO. They cost tens of thousands of dollars...

Alex: Oh.

Me: ...and they are A LOT of work.

Alex: Wow. You pay all that money and they still make you put it together yourself?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Positive Spin

Nicholas, bringing me a pair of shorts that were wrinkled beyond recognition on account of sitting unfolded in a laundry basket for a day or so too many:

Mama, I can't wear these. I think they've been washed too much.


Leave it to Father to give a sermon on Humanae Vitae on Mother's Day. The priests at our parish say it is as much their job to "disturb the comfortable as it is to comfort the disturbed." So, after a warning about eye rolling, father asked the congregation to consider for a moment that the Church is our mother and her messages to us are given in love not to constrain us, but to lead us along the way of true freedom. He asked that we open our hearts and minds and open discussion in our homes on the purpose and beauty of married love.

He said that a contraceptive culture has grown up all around us and is tangled in the landscape of society much like the vine, Kudzu, has taken over vast areas of the south, choking out life wherever it pervades. He acknowledged that the changes required to live the Gospel fully in this area of life may be large for some and may require encouragement, support, and practical advice from other couples. He's working hard to build that up within our parish community, actively encouraging couples to come together and discuss the blessings and practical difficulties of natural family planning. Also important was Father's point that we are not to judge others, but take everyone where they are at and leave the pruning to God. Father is a good example of this himself. He takes everyone where they are at and then, ever so gently, invites us to take one step closer to God.

Now, my husband and I don't much like talking about NFP with other couples. It's just so...personal, but father has been inviting us to open our minds and hearts and see if we can't take one step beyond our comfort level. He's been introducing us to people looking to spread the message and then ducking out of the conversation. Have I mentioned that Father is a master of disturbing the comfortable? We're going to a meeting in June to learn more about what we can do. We're trying to be more open...

In many areas of life, we're trying to be more open. It isn't easy, but we moved here into a neighborhood where children come to play in our yard. We're very comfortable as a family unit and as a family of all brothers who are each others' best friends, we don't feel much need to reach out beyond our own family. We're a big draw, however, for other families' children seeking friends and we've been trying to draw the line where we're comfortable. It isn't easy. I'm often tempted to send them home to their own families since we don't send our children to play in other yards. But, I also want to be a good neighbor and I decided to reach out a bit and get to know some of these mothers whose children play here.

Today, we had a neighborhood Mother's Day celebration at our home with cake and coffee and we invited the neighborhood mothers and children into our home. This sort of thing isn't easy for me. I have a hard time socializing with women whose ideas of family life are so different from my own. I often feel defensive in such situations and I resent what feels like their judgments, but I'm trying to be more open.

"I love your flowers," one mother remarked, noticing the sherbet roses my husband gave to me for Mother's Day. "Thank you," I said, "but you know, Jeremy brings me flowers almost every week." He really does. The other mothers all shared looks of surprise and then knowing looks. The speaker then voiced their thoughts to me, "Well, quite honestly, he should. It's the least he could do."


It's the least he could do? It seemed absurd to me. This husband of mine who presented me with a beautiful bouquet of roses on Mother's Day Eve (if there even is such a thing) treated me to TWO cards--one from himself one from the children, breakfast in bed, a day at the gardens and dinner out just the day before? After such a dreamy day of gratitude expressed for this poor little mother who tries to overcome her faults, but isn't always as successful as she'd like to be... and that's the LEAST he could do? I'm still basking in the glow of a lovely day and feeling ever so humbled and not good enough for these people who so trust and love me with their every day lives and that's the LEAST they could do? It baffled me. It really did.

When Jeremy came home and asked about our day with the neighbors I shared this story and he said quite simply, "It's Kudzu. The idea that my good and the good of the children are somehow opposed to your good-- it's Kudzu." He's right. The contraceptive mentality makes individualists of all. It makes the husband the enemy of the wife and the children the enemy of both. Here, we live a common life with a common good. We all contribute to that life and it pays us back, each of us, more than we put into the pot. Much more. I don't need to look out for my own good-- others attend to it. I don't need "protection" against my own spouse. I shouldn't be pitied because of my children. I see the concept of a common family good is in some ways foreign to my neighbors, and sadly, the blessings of it must be, too.

And what about me and the concept of a common good within our neighborhood and within our parish community? Could we be more open, less self-protective? It isn't easy. It isn't perfectly comfortable, but because of Father's example I'm willing to try.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

We had a wonderful Mother's Day here filled with flowers and sunshine and long happy hours spent with those who made me a mother.

I hope yours was happy, too.

Friday, May 08, 2009

So Trusting

Nicholas: Can I help make the pizza, too?

Zachary: I don't think so, Nick. Trust me, this isn't easy.

Nicholas: OK Zack, I trust you.

Brothers in the Morning

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Have You Seen These Guys?

If you keep your garbage in an attached garage like we do, chances are you have seen these guys around your house, too. I've been putting a bounty on their heads to get the kids to swat them for me. Yesterday, I found this Wanted poster hanging and had a good laugh.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Quote of the Day

Jacob: I'm not made of money, I'm made of scabs.

For Sale

Yesterday was rainy and my husband was out of town so the kids and I decided to turn the whole house into a store. Actually, this was part of my secret plan to get the kids to practice counting change all day, but they didn't know that.

We took out the Jar of Money and the Register for a bank. We distributed cash and coins and the kids made price tags for everything. Alex ran a used book shop, Nicholas was the grocer, Jacob had a full scale department store going, and I was the cook. When I charged $2.75 for lunch sandwiches, Simeon called me a crook. He said "You can't charge us for lunch. Lunch is supposed to be free."

This, from the kid who just sold me my own purse for $200.00. Besides, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Not all prices were exorbitant. Check out this steal!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Heavenly Sleep

I can't resist sharing this picture of Micah napping on Father's shoulder from baby Bernadette's baptism party last Saturday. Father asked if he could hold him when he saw Micah falling asleep on me. I heard from many who went to the 9:00 on Sunday that Father mentioned in his sermon what a joy it was to hold a sleeping baby. Father has five brothers himself and is such a strong pro life voice here in our community. Many thanks to Mary L. who let me borrow her camera when I realized mine was at home.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Home Made

...felt chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven. Such a simple project--felt, scissors, glue. We used a Montessori inset for tracing. He loved it!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Good Shepherd Sunday

Deep Thoughts

Zachary: Mama, what happens when a tow truck needs to be towed?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Holy Chrism

Today, I had the joy of witnessing the baptism of a friend's baby. I remember when Cathy told me she was expecting. There was a note of caution in her voice and reservation because she had miscarried many, many times in a row before conceiving this baby girl. Then, toward the end of the pregnancy, there were complications and times we all worried about the baby, about the mother. Would they make it to this day? But they did; they made it and beautifully so. I kissed baby Bernadette after she was baptized and smelled the sweet perfume of the Holy chrism.

Later, I caught the scent again on my own skin. Baby Bernadette must have passed it on to me when I kissed her. It reminded me how appropriate this baptismal symbol is to the life of grace. Every soul is a vessel for God's love and grace and when we come into contact with one another, we have the opportunity to pass a bit of that grace on. Today, baby Bernadette joined the body of Christ and blessed us all with the sweet smell of God's abundant mercy and saving grace. Welcome, little one, and thank you.

Don't Try This at Home

The kids have been watching Mythbusters and inspired by this show, they have been taking on a few myths of their own. You know, like that urban legend that if you take your mother's Aerolatte and create a whirlpool in a large glass of syrup it won't suck down and spit out all the vitamins and small pieces of Lego you floated on top. Busted.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Only a Boy

..would wave from the driveway as I arrive home, obviously excited to show me something, when that something turns out to be an ugly rat snake in a tub and a snakebite on his hand. On the bright side, rat snakes aren't poisonous. Sigh.


Jacob: Mom, you should see Alex's mawble run. It's impwessive.