Monday, August 31, 2009

Second Try



With better light and natural curl (frizz). I like the top picture, but the bottom one is probably a better likeness and Micah is smiling. If you have an opinion please vote for top, bottom, or to leave my profile picture the same. Use the comment box below. Thank you!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Lessons We Give, and I take to Heart...

Nursing a little one at midnight after a long week and a long week to come...

His arms are flapping, his toes curled tightly on kicking feet, he gulps madly,

"Shhh," my husband whispers, "Mama isn't going anywhere. It's all here. It's all for you."

Peace, be still.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Some (not so) Great Pics



I was hoping to update my profile pic with a new one of Micah and me, but this was the best of what we got. Micah looks sleepy and the light was low, so most of the pictures aren't in focus. Oh well...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who Is She That Cometh Forth?

When I was in college, I was a member of the Legion of Mary. What I liked most about being a member, besides our door to door evangelization on the streets of Santa Paula CA and a certain fellow member who would literally take his shoes off and shake the dust off his feet whenever we met with hostility, was reciting the prayers at our meetings. The Legion of Mary has some beautiful and inspiring prayers and the prayer I liked most was the Catena Legionis. And the part of the Catena I liked most was the antiphon...

Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?

And the part of the antiphon I liked most was the "terrible as army set in battle array." I love this description of Mary, so opposed to popular artistic depictions that would have us believe Mary is some sort of modestly clothed Barbie doll. There's nothing "terrible" about Barbie, at least not in the classic sense. But there is something "terrible" about Mary. The kind of strength that she had to give her life over to God and his plan for our salvation, to raise the son of God in her home and be subject to the persecutions of the world even from His birth, to stand at the foot of the cross and witness His cruel death knowing Him and His innocence more than any other human and then to hold His sacrificial body in her arms and lay Him in a tomb, trusting all the while in God's power, goodness and faithfulness. Such strength is something mighty, something terrible as army set in battle array. Such strength could only come from God.

I've been thinking about this again as I consider anxiety and the necessity of peace of soul. I can only imagine that the source Mary drew upon for her strength was a peace of soul and certainty of "things unseen" as vast and deep as the oceans. No "trouble" could stand against the tide of her prevailing faith. All struggle must have been like ripples on the surface, affecting nothing.

Mary, mother of the toddler Jesus, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Every Family Should Have A Baby

Simeon: Awww, Mom, Micah is so adorable when he is asleep. He looks like a saint.

Me: He is a saint. He was baptized into the life of grace and has never done anything to offend God. He has never sinned.

Alex: Wow, we should keep him that way. Let's never teach him to sin.

Me: One way you teach someone to sin is by your bad example.

Jacob: Let's never sin in front of Micah, then.

(All the others enthusiastically agree)

Zachary: Besides, we shouldn't be sinning anyway.

Me: Very true, very true.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Speaking of Which...

Micah is very active. In addition to crawling, he pulls himself up on things and even stands independently. He doesn't sit still and everything he finds goes into his mouth. He is a great danger to himself at all times and it makes me wonder why God didn't design children to be rational first and then mobile.

Today, he pulled himself up on a wooden bar stool and when he fell backwards the stool fell on him. He cried and we comforted him and that seemed to be that, but later when I was nursing him I noticed his head was swollen on one side. It didn't look right to me. I cannot describe in words the feeling that overcomes a mother when she senses something isn't right. I had my husband look at it and he didn't like the look of it either, though we both felt reassured because Micah was acting just fine. Even so, I brought him in to the pediatrician who ordered x rays.

An hour later at the radiologist's I took a call from my pediatrician who told me Micah had a linear skull fracture. It really sounds terrible, but Micah is fine. He has been playing, eating, laughing and smiling normally all day. The fracture, which must have happened when his head hit the floor, will heal without our doing anything more about it. I just have to watch for any abnormal behavior, which isn't expected, and take him in for a follow up at the pediatrician's office tomorrow. That's it.

But my nerves are frayed and I find myself tempted by anxiety over what he might do to himself tomorrow or the next day. How could one sleep deprived woman stay on top of it all? So, I went back and re read Rachel Balducci's old column, Grace Enough. I particularly like this paragraph,

There wasn’t grace for any of those other situations – things which may or may not ever happen – because all I could do was deal with right now. I had to stop worrying about the future and focus on this boy and this wound. There was grace for the here and now, and that was all the grace I needed.
And I'm thinking about the words of Father de Caussade in this month's Magnificat,

You should remember all your life that one of the principal causes of the small progress made by certain good people is that the devil continually fills their souls with disquiet, perplexities, and troubles which render them incapable of application of virtue. The great principle of the interior life lies in peace of heart...This blessed peace of soul is the highroad to heaven. And the reason of this is that peace and tranquility of spirit alone give the soul strength to achieve all that God wills, while trouble and disquiet turn the soul into a weak, languishing invalid.
I pray for the courage to not look into the future and what I can't know, and I ask for the grace to take the tumbles as they come.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wherein I Interpret My Own Dreams

I dream.

I dream a lot these nights as I have a very hungry (and chubby) little caterpillar who prefers my milk to any other food and therefore must nurse every hour throughout the night. What I don't do much is sleep. Between feedings, in my light sleep, I dream some vivid dreams.

Last night, I had this dream that the boys and I were hiking in the mountains (the scenery was definitely influenced by a recent episode of Survivorman, a real hero in our house). We came upon a great big punch bowl-like pool of seawater and the boys wanted to go swimming in it. I was anxious, but they reassured me that it was safe and all they had to do was "check in."

Sure enough, there was a desk with a man behind it "checking" everyone in which is a sure sign of safety, right? It was an approved recreational spot that others seemed to be using much like the YMCA. So, we "checked" in and they all dove into the strange water. That's when I spotted the narwhale, an enormous whale with a huge horn protruding from his head sure to make shish kabob of all my children in short order. The "staff" behind the desk were surprised to see a narwhale in the water (I was NOT as surprised) and my anxiety returned full force, but I held my tongue as I watched my oldest son mount the whale with ease and gently "steer" the whale by applying pressure to its horn so all the other children could enjoy this wonderful animal. Once again, I was surprised at the seeming safety (and even beauty) of it all.

That's when the tigers showed up on shore...and so the dream went with every new adventure causing me to nearly lose it only to find that it was all OK, wonderful even, and perfectly normal. I was the freak with some sort of anxiety disorder sure to ruin all the fun.

What could this possibly mean?

I don't need to need to take a course in Freudian dream interpretation to see that my boys' sense of adventure and my sense of danger are in a constant battle and that I don't yet know the balance between these opposing and very powerful forces. I wonder if I ever will.

Until then, I will dream...and pray.

Conversations in the Van

Kid in Back: Home Depot. Mom, what's a "depot?"

Me: Hmm, how would you say it, well... it's like a stopover, right? It's like a little place that you stop a while.

Kid in Back: Oh, I get it. It's the opposite of "drive-through."

White Belt


Simeon received his first Tae Kwon Do uniform today. He is so pleased and I am so pleased that he is so pleased. You know, it isn't those fast moves of his that slay me (though his instructor tells me he's a natural) it's that face and that dimple...but shhh...don't tell him I said that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Xylichew Review

I've mentioned before that I give my children chewing gum when they are doing schoolwork. It motivates them to get to their work, improves memory and concentration, and is a safe outlet for their chewing needs. My kids are chewers.

Well, we're two weeks into school and I thought now would be a good time to review the Xylichew gum we've been testing. We give it three stars out of five. It is amazing gum in many ways, but also not so great other ways.

Amazing: It is all natural--no preservatives or artificial flavors. It isn't just free of unhealthy additives or artificial sweeteners-- the sweetener, Xylitol, is actually proven to reduce cavities by up to 80%. That's really amazing. Really amazing. The flavor is good, too, for as long as it lasts, which isn't long at. all. So enjoy the flavor while it is there.

Not So Great: The flavor really runs out fast. The consistency could be better. The price is higher than I'd like to pay. It runs about fifteen cents a piece including shipping.

So, now we're going to try Epic. This looks promising. The mint and cinnamon flavors are all natural ( the fruit flavor is not) and this brand contains the highest amount of Xylitol per piece than any other Xylitol sweetened gum. Also, this brand is known for it's superior, longer lasting flavor and good consistency. Lastly, if you buy it in bulk it is only seven cents a piece. I like all this. I'm putting my order in now and we'll let you know what we think when it arrives.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mandala


It's what the younger set has been doing all afternoon.

My Heart is so Heavy

...for the Barrett family today.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

Please pray for the Barrett family.

Boston Massacre


by Simeon

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Teething Biscuit

Washington

Alex contributes the first president to our ongoing History Timeline.

Nest

Strong winds yesterday blew this beautiful little nest from a nearby tree.

Division of Labor

Me: I need something to write with and on for these directions.

Boy to other Boy: I'll get the with if you get the on.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This Girl's Best Friends

I have five diamonds on my wedding ring. When Nicholas was born, we often commented in fun how I had one diamond per child. We hadn't mentioned it in a while, but just the other night when we were out walking Zachary remembered. He reached for my hand and turning it over in his he said,

"Hey, you need a diamond for Micah."

"No," I said laughing at the thought that I'd ask for more diamonds as I have more children.

"Why not?" Zachary asked.

"Well," I said, "because diamonds don't really matter. It's babies that are forever."

This seemed to satisfy him and we walked on, me and my six babies, our next few steps in the direction of forever...

At The Table

Older Boy: Wow, this meat is flavorful!

Me: Thanks, I'm glad you like it.

Older Boy: Oh...well, I didn't say I like the flavor.

Funny thing is, he really was trying to compliment.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Coy Boy

I was thinking of this old blog post, Wherein I Behave Like A Maniac, as Nicholas and I went to the YMCA today and I got some exercise for the first time in a long while.

Mantis



Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things vol. 6

Cleaners Edition

1. Method. I like their almond scented wood cleaner. I water it down in a spray bottle and mist it onto my kitchen floors then mop with microfiber. It cleans so well and smells so nice. Also, I use their stainless steel spray on my appliances and I love their orchard blossom Daily Granite, though it's more like "weekly granite" around here.

2. Barkeepers Friend. Any friend of the barkeeper is a friend of mine, especially if he cleans my sink and pots and makes my ceramic stovetop shine like this product does. I can't live without this stuff.

3. Borax. Good stuff. It's great for getting rid of ants, but most often I pour a scoop of it into the laundry room sink and soak my husband's gym clothes in it before laundering. What can I say, some jobs take a 20 mule team.

4. Kaboom. It works. It cleans the glass doors of my shower when nothing else will.

5. Magic eraser. It really is magic. No, really, it is. How else do you explain how wetting a little white sponge makes it remove anything off of everything?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Baby Einstein

Micah's favorite sound is a long "E" like"eee...eeeeeee....eeeee...eee." He does it all the time. I keep telling Jeremy, "Any day now, he's going to finish with: Equals mc squared." I just know it.

Overheard

Frustrated younger boy: I can't think about that right now. There's a wrinkle in my brain.

Older boy: Don't worry about that. Your brain is supposed to have wrinkles. I'd be worried if you said it felt all flat.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Task:

Count out and circle a dozen doughnuts.

Little Boy: There, but now I'm hungry. Why don't they have us count broccoli?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mary of the Snows

I went to church by myself tonight for confession and wound up staying for a Mass in honor of Mary of the Snows. I don't know if it was all the incense, the Latin prayers, the simple and sincere homily given by an elderly priest, or the fact that I was alone at Mass for once and really able to pray, but I got all teary eyed when father passed out sheet music and we sang an old hymn I had never heard before.

Ave Maria! Thou Virgin and Mother
Fondly thy children are calling to Thee;
Thine are the graces, unclaimed by another,
Sinless and beautiful, Star of the Sea.

Mater amabilis, ora pro nobis!
Pray for thy children who call upon thee;
Ave, sanctissima! Ave, purissima!
Sinless and beautiful, star of the sea!

Ave Maria! The night shades are falling;
softly our voices arise unto thee;
earth's lonely exiles for succor are calling,
Sinless and beautiful, star of the sea!


Read the rest here...


Turn the Musical Keys

Nicholas: (Sitting under the piano by the pedals) You play the piano, Zack, and I'll step on the brakes.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Speaking of Funny Things my Children Say...

Engineering/Biology:

Me: (nursing) Oh Micah, you're out of milk. Let me try you on the other side.

Alex: Oh, so it isn't one tank with two straws, but two tanks with two straws...Hmm.

Fashion/Hygiene:

Zachary: (whispering in my face from the sidelines as we watch Tae Kwon Do class) If I were in this class I would choose the orange belt, or maybe red. I like orange.

Me: You don't choose your color, you earn it, and...um...did you brush your teeth?

Zachary: Yes. Sorry...well, sometimes it wears off, do you have a piece of gum?

Being Among My Men and Blessed Among Men

Our schedule is made and new books are ordered and some have arrived. We have been practicing our morning and night routines and have even begun light school days. We needed the peace that comes with discipline and order and so we're starting early. I expect we'll break in the fall when the weather cools down and maybe even take a mini vacation in the mountains. My heart is already there.

Some exciting new features in our schedule this year include flag football, Tae Kwon Do, and piano. We'll be doing book reports this year for the first time and I have the kids paired off in groups for afternoon science, history, geography, and religion programs. Jacob will make his first communion this year as well.

Then there's my marriage to maintain, housework to do, meals to cook, a baby to love on, family and friends to keep up with, bills to pay, doctor and dental appointments, holidays... and it all seems rather daunting. Life is full, very full. It is a wonderful thing and I am grateful...

But it makes me stop and ask myself what place this blog has in our life.

I considered making this a private blog and using it to just keep up with family and friends, but then I found myself wondering which "friends" am I looking to keep up with? The ones I know in real life, the people I've met and the community that is growing so rapidly here that we've started our own (very local) homeschool group just this last week? Or the friends I've made in the internet world, people who have been reading here whether I know it or not that find something that somehow benefits them in this little blog, Blessed Among Men?

And I realized that I couldn't know who to give the password to and who to block from reading here. That is your choice as readers, but I feel the need to warn you that while keeping this blog in its place, in an effort not to spend too much time or energy maintaining it, it may look ever more and more like a family photo album than a blog. That is to say, you may not be interested in reading here.

I've read that if you want to increase traffic to your blog, you need to stop and ask yourself how your blog can serve others. I believe that. But that is not what this blog is about. I don't need numbers and I'm not looking for traffic. This isn't a career move for me. I'm just recording some of our blessings and joys and sharing in a small way with a larger community. I love the community I find here. It is a community of intelligent, passionate, creative and devout women. I'm happy to participate as I can, but only as I can.

So, consider yourselves duly warned--for the forseeable future anyway-- this blog may only interest my mother and brothers and sisters and mother in law, or those who wish to see pictures of our kids and read the funny thing they say... because when I consider our new schedule I think that may be all that is posted here for some while. And I am Ok with that.

Thank you for understanding.

Good Neighbors, Perfect Couple

Nicholas spotted the neighbors out walking. Apparently, he hadn't ever seen this particular couple together before tonight.

"Look!" he shouted from the driveway, "The lady who bakes us muffins and the man who fixed my bike belong to each other!"

I could see them laughing as they walked away.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Component

Last night before bed the boys asked if they could turn the guest room into a "baby carnival" using sleeping bags and blankets in the morning. I said, "sure...sure" thinking they'd forget, but first thing this morning Jacob came into my room to tell me all about it. There were games and prizes and rides set up already.

"All that's missing is one important component," Jacob said hovering over Micah's crib, "the baby."