Friday, February 24, 2012

Annie Loves Babies

I tidied the playroom. It's amazing how much playing occurs in the playroom after everything is tidied up.  I wrapped this baby in Annie's favorite blanket while cleaning the playroom.  Annie discovered the baby later and started rocking the baby.  She let out big sighs as she hugged the baby and occasionally hummed to the baby.  She rocked the baby for a few minutes and then I ran to get the camera after I relished the moment.  So this is the moment after the moment.  I think it is amazing how nurturing Annie is.  Our other daughter hated dolls initially and is not naturally nurturing.  Although, Kristiana is a sensitive and caring little girl.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

7 Quick Takes: What are Miracles?

1.  On Saturday morning, I finished reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to Alex.  In one of the final scenes Aslan feeds a multitude of people and no one knows how he did it or where the food came from.  I paused and said to Alex, "Oh, that's just like Jesus. Do you remember the Bible story of how Jesus fed a crowd of people with only two fishes and five loaves of bread? And afterward there were twelve baskets of leftovers?"

"Yes, but how did he do it?"

"It's a mystery, Alex."  I meant mystery as in things we cannot know about God.

Alex replied,  "Oh! Then let's use logic and science to solve it."  I told him that this mystery was not meant to be solved, but we are to understand that God takes care of us even when it does not seem that there is enough.  I suppose I could have told him the logical explanation that folks have come up with: that people in the crowd were holding out and when Jesus passed around the offering of a child people felt bad and shared what they had.

What are miracles?


2.  People have started to ask, and it's a little embarrassing for me and for them.  People have started to ask when I am due.  When I reply, at the beginning of May, they give this look of shock and say that I have a ways to go!  Seriously, people?  Ever hear of a poker face?  May is only two and half months away.  It's not like I have half the pregnancy to go.  Yes, my belly is way out there.  I usually get to 33-34 weeks and stop growing so much.  I am huge and I don't need people to draw attention to it.  I also don't need a reminder that being huge is not going to be over for some time.  I am not self-conscious about being pregnant, huge and waddling around with my three other tikes.  I just don't like the shocked faces people make.  It' not pretty.  It's uncomfortable to see their reaction.  Am I supposed to comfort you and let you know I will be okay?

3. I do not like comments about how close in age my kids are either.  (This is not true all the time. Only when they question in reference to my pregnancy.)  What is close to some may not be close to others.  I feel like siblings that are 3-5 years apart in age are a little too far apart because when they start going to school they end up being more like strangers to each other.  I think there is a greater opportunity for childhood friendship between siblings that are close in age.  Or maybe not.  I don't really know, but I hear a judgmental tone from folks who question about my kids ages.  "When are you due?…What are your other kids ages?…Oh you have three?!…(judgmental, final) Oh." When people question about my children's ages , they judge something about me, whether it is that I am brave, or crazy, or pity me.  It does not feel very comfortable to witness someone judging you and you may or may not hear their judgement.  And truly, of all things to judge someone about, is this really one of the things that is worth our time?

I try not to judge other parents I see--whether they have one child or many, whether the parents are young or old, single or married, because I do not know their story.  But, I do know what it is like to be a parent, and I know the job is hard enough without people judging you.  I do hope for parents I see that they are raising their kids well and with love.

4. Annie found the rosaries.  I don't keep them put away or well-hidden.  But, she recently discovered them.  She does not do this with our dress up beads as much anymore.  I wonder if she likes the varying styles of beads in the rosaries.  After she played with the beads, she pulled all our religious books from the table for the third time this week.  I do not know what she is looking for.  It's just cute and interesting watching her quietly discover the world.

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5. Last week was a little rough with the sick kids.  But, we have had it worse before.  A couple of mornings, I discovered that Annie had thrown up a little in the night (too much mucus in her chest) and she needed a morning bath to wash the stinky smell out of her hair.  She gave me some funny looks while in the bath as though she was not fully awake and did not know what she was doing in the bath.  Sometimes, the looks she gives me remind me of my brother.  She gave me a look like that in the bath, so I took some pictures.  It's her looks and the fact that when she gets naked she runs around sucking in her stomach so that you can see all ribs.  He used to do that to show you how hungry he was. ;-)  Every kid has to have bathing baby pictures for reminiscence later in life.



6. I went to the midwife yesterday and was told I was slightly low in iron.  That explains a lot.  More iron, please! I came home and had a spoonful of peanut butter and a couple squares of dark chocolate.  Yay, for high iron treats.  Later, I made burgers for dinner and discovered the bread crumbs I used in the patties had more iron than the peanut butter and chocolate combine.  That was funny to me.  I guess I need to eat more iron rich food in greater volume.  I do eat iron rich foods, so I guess the baby is taking more than that.  I probably need to be better about taking my pre-natal vitamin, drink less caffeine and eat more vitamin C too.

7.  I have been helping to organize a retreat for my Catholic moms group again this spring.  The retreat will be this weekend.  Please say a prayer for the ladies who will be attending.  It is a Eucharist centered retreat.  I am very pleased with the topics and flow of the retreat.  I have had a great team of organizers too, which have helped in the ease of planning and executing.  But, now we are in the final hours before the retreat and I am feeling anxious.  It has not happened yet, and if it flops, it is on my head.  I also have been anxious throughout these days, because I have a few important details to tie up.  It has been very difficult to complete with the household to maintain, the kids to care for and total exhaustion.  (The kids have been waking a lot in the night. I'm average six hours a night.)  But, when the retreat finally arrives all I can do is pray, "Thy Will be done."  And rest it in His hands.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Beginning the "Tithe of the Year"

The Great Fast begins tomorrow.  My soul heaves a big sigh, both in mourning for the loss of our luxuries (good-bye coffee creamer), and in relief from the excess.  All things return to God.  Let us sweep away all our distractions that keep us from true communion with our Creator.

Follow these links to Fasting time inspiration:

  • Thanks "Fear Not Little Flock," you are so often an inspiration in our Byzantine ritual.

7 Quick Takes on Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving for Lent

Suggestions on Keeping the Great Fast

And because it can be so difficult to come up with meatless dinner dishes, here are some ideas.  I will post more meatless meal ideas as they come and recipes later on.

My Menu Plan for Two Weeks:

For Breakfast: (break-fast, get it? This is a break in the fast.  If not restricted by childhood, health, or pregnancy, etc., skip breakfast) I have plain oatmeal.  To make oatmeal stick to the ribs a little longer add a couple teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil.  A couple slices of plain whole wheat toast are good too.  The keyword here is plain--no luxuries piled on top.

For Lunch: (I am pregnant, so this is my opportunity to eat meat while my husband is not around to be tempted.)  Hummus and crackers, Babaganouj and bread, pita, homemade pretzel knots, leftover Lenten soups from dinners, in smaller portions than served at dinner.

For Dinner:

Monday: week one - Orzo Tomato Soup; week two - Red Beans and Rice; Kid sub - condensed tomato soup and grill cheese sandwich

Tuesday: Not every meal has to be meatless; we do need to stock up on some days. This doesn't mean overindulging or eating lots of luxuries.  Traditionally the "strict fast" is kept on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  We eat meatless on M, W, F only, because we find it difficult to make it through otherwise.  Ever so often, we go meatless the entire fast and only eat meat on Sundays.

week one - Chicken Alfredo with spinach and pasta; week two - spaghetti and meatballs marinara

Wednesday: week one - Mexican black bean soup and tortilla chips; week two - Lentil soup and bread; Kid sub - cheese quesadillas

Thursday: both weeks - Cheese take and bake pizza from the grocery store

Friday:  week one - Fresh fish portion and boiled red potatoes; week two - (Gorton's) fried fish filets, french fries and corn

Saturday: week one - Burgers and fruit; week two - meat lasagna and salad

Sunday: week one - Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches and green beans; week two - Burgers and fruit

Another idea is that we are suppose to be giving up luxuries--therefore, I saved a ham bone and a turkey carcass from earlier in the year and will use them in soups over the Lenten period.  I never normally make a bone soup since we live in the land of plenty.  Usually if I make a soup for a meal I only make it for a meatless meal on a fasting day, because my husband says that soup is not a meal.

A final thought:

"Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. True fast is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood and perjury. Privation of these is true fasting." -St. Basil the Great



Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Am Not Worthy

Rembrandt - The Prodigal Son


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


What do you do when your sisters have been sick all week and you haven't gone anywhere in days?  You make mud pies in the backyard, and your mom doesn't say anything.  Now when the mud pie ends up thrown against the side of the house, then mom says something and that something may not be so nice.  And Daddy is a little depressed right now, because the backyard is all torn up.  The hole was already there.  We have lows spots in our yard that pool with water when it rains and the grass died.  We have to fix it anyway…


Here's Annie eating her breakfast biscuit and I caught her with her arm around her pal, the dog.  She was jabbering away to her.  When I crouched down to take a picture, she smiled at the camera.  Before now, she had not figured out to smile at cameras.  I have an expensive set of professional photos in which she has a dead face in all shots.


Annie has had fevers since Saturday and Kristiana has had fevers since Tuesday.  Alex has a cough now too, but no fevers.  Annie slept for six hours yesterday and seems better now, but still mucus-y.  I feel a little sick too, but it's not so bad for me.  I think Kristiana has had it the worst.  First thing this morning Kristiana woke up and puked up some nasty mucus everywhere.  I had just woke up and puked too.  Then right before dinner, Annie puked mucus on me.  Yuck.

I have not been anywhere since Sunday when I took the older children to church.  Today, I went to the mail box and back inside.  I thought about taking the kids and dog for a walk in the stroller.  But, the kids have been crabby and clingy so I didn't want to push it.  Plus, I would have had to spend way too long pumping the tires back up.  My husband has agreed to come home early tomorrow and let me go to the gym.

I can't really complain.  It's been a week of cuddling and watching movies and eating biscuits.  We're doing fine.  And a big thanks to my hubby for being supportive as always and helping me tag team the crabby sick bunch-o-kids…I can't believe we're about to have four.  It just feels right.

Prepare The Way Pie

"A voice of one calling: 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'" (Isaiah 40:3)

My husband totally came up with this week's menu.  He never does that.  I usually ask him what he wants and he says, "I don't know, food. I'm not good at thinking of that stuff."  And then, I huff away.  I think he must be anticipating a strict fast this year.  The year I met him, he had just finished a strict fast.  He pretty much only had a bowl of cereal each day.  He truly relished the Easter feast.  I was totally impressed by his dedication to the fast.

Tonight we had quiche.  Good-bye, eggs. Good-bye, cheese.  Good-bye, cream. (Okay being pregnant, I won't be giving up eggs and dairy the entire Fast.)


Prepare the Way Casserole

"He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake." Psalm 23:3

Normally, we only make last night's dish on Easter Sunday.  But, my husband requested it as a part of his preparations for the Fast next week.  One can only eat this once or twice a year, because it is so rich.  So here's a recipe that reminds me of both good and evil.  It tastes so good, but too much could be deadly.  It's the Fall wrapped up into one casserole. ;-)  I like to call this dish "Potato Crack."  It's a little bit addictive.  We always end up eating more of it than we intend, because it is so tasty.  But, my husband wanted a grand send off the the luxuries in life.

Cheesy Hash brown Casserole

2 lb. bag of frozen southern-style hash browns
1 can of cream of chicken soup
2 cups of sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Mix together in a bowl.  Spread evenly in a 9X13 glass casserole dish.  Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Little Confessions, Part 2 - Keepin' It Real

If you walked in my house right now, what would you see?

  • First you would see an Icon corner.  Someone has turned on the stereo underneath our table of religious books, and then flipped up the nice leather ottoman in front of it to hide their devilish deed.

  • Then you would see a piano with a number of family photographs hung on the wall above.

  • A wet dog is fast asleep on the sofa.

  • There are a little bit of toys strewn everywhere: in the living room, all the bedrooms, the bathrooms and a whole lot of toys spread across the playroom/former dining room.

  • A very dirty, beat up sofa sits in that playroom and all the cushions have been pull off for jumping on the springs.  But today, the kids have taken blankets off beds, two kitchen chairs, three cushions off another sofa and built a fort.  It's a rainy day.  This is allowed.  There are two calm and happy kids ages three and five sitting inside the fort eating a snack.

  • Every bed in the house is unmade--including guest beds.  This is understandable since there is a big fort to be built.

  • In the kitchen, a big 28 week pregnant woman is sitting on the floor with a 16 month old baby in her lap, surrounded by laundry baskets and sorting the laundry.  Baby is helping sort.

  • There are dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, clean dishes in the dishwasher, toys on the kitchen table and under the table, an unswept floor.

  • Sitting on the far counter is a computer playing Gregorian chant music and surrounded by a number of papers: some important and some not.

  • In the master bedroom, there is a mess of books--kids books and grown-up books. And a nebulizer machine sits cued up on the bed.

Some days our house is tidy and clean.  Some days it is not.  After a weekend of cuddling and nursing a sick baby, our house definitely is a disaster.  It feels a little overwhelming to think of having to clean it all up again.  At least I had the good sense to set aside the cloth diapers and not use them while baby is sick.  Instead of getting to work on the mess.  I am blogging about it.  God help me--Need grace to clean both heart and home.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Ode to Andrew

I bought Andrew a piano.  Happy Valentine's Day, Honey.

This is my expression of love to you.  I saw a need in your life and I pursued it.

I desired to hear the beautiful music l I know plays within you at all times.

Play on, Andrew.  Play out loud.

"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing…" 
John Keats

Andrew played piano for nine years and finally called it quits when life got serious in college.  I mean, who has time for playing piano when you are courting a beautiful woman, double majoring, being a resident assistant and running for student body president?  Andrew's piano talent was never a big part of our relationship.  He was always too embarrassed to play in front of me.  But, I knew classical music was a big part of his life.  He gave me an appreciation for the great composers that I did not have before I knew him.

He did not really get to play again, except occasionally, for another eight years.  Every time we visit his parents in Washington, Andrew gets a little time to play on their piano.  This last visit Andrew seemed to rifle through his old piano music and play a little bit more than previous visits.  I told him it was time that we buy our own piano.  We have finally settled in a house.  We have space and soon our children would also be old enough for lessons.  Andrew did not believe me because he knows how much pianos cost.  I was determined though to find something we could afford.

I have been checking Craigslist for pianos for the last year.  Finally, I found one worth looking at.  It was in our area too.  Andrew went and played it and said, yes.  We brought it home and had it tuned.  It's not a terribly good piano.  But it will do in the mean time.  Most importantly, Andrew gets to play and relax as he works out his fingering.  I thought that this would be a perfect release after work.  I was right.

Andrew has been practicing after dinner.   It's amazing how the children suddenly all sit and imaginatively play when the piano music begins.  Here is Andrew on the piano right after we had it tuned.  In time, it will all come back to him. I am sure he will be embarrassed to know I posted him fiddling. But I love to hear him practice.

I think this piece is the perfect expression of why Andrew needs a piano.  This is the musical expression of what is going on in his head at all times. (Bach - Prelude & Fugue in C minor.  First part is the Prelude and the second part is the Fugue)

This piece is just beautiful and we both love it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Relish the Little Children

Sisters - I love when the kids all get along and show their love for each other.  They really do care about each other and enjoy each other.  But obviously, as I have posted before they pick at each other too, which is so sad (  I just pray that as they mature, they learn to be friends before adulthood.

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My Little Afternoon Helper - For whatever reason, Alex has decided to do this chore in the afternoon.  Every afternoon before I make dinner, I wash up all the kid cups and put any other dishes in the dishwasher.  Alex has watched me do this and say to him, "Not right now, Honey, Mommy's got to wash these dishes and tidy up."  So one day he told me he would do this "chore."  He makes a watery mess and has a lot of fun.  I love it.  It does free me up a bit.

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All Glory to God - I love how children think.  I often catch Kristiana rearranging figurines as though they were alive.  Yesterday, she rearranged this figurine of the Holy Family so that it looks as though they are giving praise to the Icons.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Little Confessions

My mommy blogger, friend, Kayleen, has made a call for little confessions on her blog.  Not big confessions needing reconciliation, but ones that can be atoned otherwise.  I have always wanted to do this and have not gotten around to it.  In the same vein, I have always wanted to do a pet peeves blog.

  • For instance, nothing gets my goat more than when someone tries to tell me how I am feeling.  They are usually wrong and it usually is meant to be hurtful.  I have funny eyebrows, okay. They don't always express my mood.

  • My master bathroom has not been cleaned in far too long, and I invite people over in order to force myself to clean the other bathroom and tidy up our living area.  (You thought I invited you over because I wanted to see you. That is only half the truth. I'm a bad lady.)

  • I have to wipe off all the kitchen counters before going to bed at night or I feel crazy, depressed and disheveled in the morning.

  • Often I feed the kids lunch while the youngest is sleeping.  Instead of making her her own lunch when she wakes, she eats the leftovers of the older kids.
  • Sometimes on the weekends, I let my kids watch TV for 5 or more hours.  You do what you have to survive.  Babysitters don't come free and I am already paying for the TV.

  • Recently, I have started more books than I have finished.  I wish my time and mental capacity were greater.

  • My kids hear my stern/mean mommy voice more than I would like during the day.  I wish I was better at talking to them/correcting them like Michelle Duggar in a sweet, soft voice.  Though, I am not sure my kids would be able to hear me over all the ruckus.

  • I feel like my life is so full of just my immediate family, I do not have time to be caring and concerned toward others on a regular basis.  I do care, but do not have time to express it. :-(

  • I am not a very precise sort of person.  I am a "it's good enough" type person.  I only seek to achieve the facade of being perfect, or not so perfect.  I guess I'll never be the best.  I know that's very obtuse, but it applies to almost everything in my life.  It's very hard to be balanced perfectly on all sides.

  • Yes, I think my kids are cuter than yours.  What can I say, I am biased.  I know what's best for them too. ;-)

  • My husband and I have hardly slept in the same bed all month (or really since we went to Washington in December).  A lot of the time he goes and tends to one of the children in the night and he falls asleep in their beds and stays.  He's good like that.   But, I sure do miss him.

I guess that's enough for now.  I could do this once a week every week.


Just thought I would throw in a preggy pic (can't have a blog without a pic).  Not that anyone cares what you look like when you're having your fourth child in six years.  I'm big, k, but still cute.  I think pregnant women are cute.  I took this picture myself by putting the camera on the dresser and setting the timer.

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Where's The Peace Button?

I talked to another mommy friend.  She is always willing to lend an ear.  She is more experience and wiser.  I would call her more often if she, or I had more time, but such is life.  She gave some GREAT advice today.

I was calling her about five year old boys.  Recently, I have been talking to friends about their five year old boys.  It seems that they are all experiencing similar situations with their five year old boys.  Which led me to wonder if this is simply a phase, even though I view it to be my son's personality.  So I called to inquire about my friend's boys when they were five.  She is a homeschooling mother of six children, so she ought have some insight.  I asked if her boys were like this when they were five.  She said that they were a lot shyer and she was a lot sterner.  She does not put up with anything.  But her boys went to school when they were that age and then the boys requested to do home school.

She digressed, that children will always be testing their limits.  They are not trying to push your buttons.  They are trying to find the boundaries.  If you do not firmly let them know where they are, they will push it.  Not knowing where the boundaries are, they will not feel as secure in the world.  But don't take offense to their tests.

I feel more at peace with this answer.  Actually, I have been a lot more at peace with this week and I feel a lot more productive.  In general, my mood feels more stable and it seems that the fish oil I have added to my diet is helping.  Or maybe I have just come over some hormonal hill and this rough patch is now passed me.

It has now been two weeks that Alex has refused all "home school" lessons.  I guess my aforementioned friend would simply get stern and make him mind.  However, my son is five and stubborn.  He does not just lie down and roll over when I get stern.  When I reason with him (insomuch as tots are capable), I do get some results.  It runs in the family to be turned off something forever with one bad experience.  I do not want him hating school, and learning, and me teaching him at five years old.  So I try to play it cool and use child-psychology of which I know very little.  But it turns out a lot of it is intuitive.  As in, show people love and respect and you will be able to work things out, most of the time.  So this week, after deciding that he is going to kindergarten outside of the home next year, I have played it very cool with him (this has brought me peace as well).  And you know what, his desire to learn has not decreased.  He just has to be the instigator of it.  So we HAVE done a lot of learning without school books and worksheets.  This makes me a little sad, because my current home school plan is out of the question.

I have picked up some more books on home schooling from the library.  I have not really been interested in Montessori, but I picked up the handbook.  We will see.  I could see myself doing some sort of combo of Montessori and something else.  But, I do not really know anything about Montessori in depth.  As someone who came through conventional schooling, this is what I know and am inclined to desire conventional lessons, perhaps with some life skills lessons littered here and there.  I just have to think about how to creatively teach Alex without doing it under the guises of "this is a home school lesson."  Which puts me out of my comfort zone unsure of whether I can do this, despite my desire to homeschool.  All along I have said, I can do this if some curriculum program spells it out for me.

Still praying about it and trying to surrender it all to our Maker.

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After Alex worked with the pattern blocks he wanted to make his own pattern - a pyramid with different color levels

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Kristiana's lesson - shapes and letters

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Annie's home school lesson - cups and lids

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