Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013

Playing Ring around the Rosy with Grandpa 


I love how even Lucy, an 18 month old, grasped the concept of this game


Making cookies for Santa - What a mess!


Holy Supper - We don't have a dress code


Gifts for babes


Kristiana helping Lucy open a gift


Annie's Delight - Her own beautiful, princess garb


Lucy and Gramps - it seems the one year old always ends up naked on Christmas


The Greeks for Alex - Thank you, Mommy and Daddy.


Lego Research, as Alex calls it


Grandpa's icon



Kristiana's one Christmas wish - to have a beautiful dress


Annie's Despair - "What do you mean I can't open all the presents?"


The neighbors all came out for some sun and so did the pets.





Family Beyblade battle! Everyone took turns.  Beyblades are engineered tops.  They have special skills.  They bang into each other in the arena.  The first top to stop spinning loses.


Unfortunatley, I did not get a picture of the gingerbread house we made despite making the kids wait at least a week before eating it.


I am particularly fond of this picture.  Lucy, the red nosed baby, eating gingerbread.


Epic Nativity Puzzle - I am now of the belief that this puzzle was too large, because I felt I could not rest until it was complete.  I neglected my children for this puzzle.  It took four days of working all day.  After accidentally spilling pieces all over the kitchen, I am one piece short.  This is such a tragedy, because it will never be complete and my mind can never rest!  I am going to try a smaller puzzle next year.






We also watched "The Nativity Movie" this year.  I am not sure we will watch it again.  Our seven year old and five year old called out many the errors of the movie.  I thought it was wonderful they could identify inconsistencies in the portrayal of Mary.  There were lots of questions like, "Mommy, that's not how it really was, was it?"  "Mommy, Mary was not like that.  She was always good and obedient."

Our Christmas celebrating has died down due to illnesses.  

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Monday, December 30, 2013

What Do You Do With A Wedding Dress?

Wedding dresses are the most impractical thing.  They cost a fortune and you only wear them once.  No, I am not going to make into a pillow or a memento out of it.  The other day my mom told me she was going to toss her wedding dress after holding onto it and protecting it all these years.  I told her to send it to me.  Maybe I could do something with it.  Now that I have it, I look at it and think that it was a mistake to want it.  Mainly, I don't have use for it.  

I saw that dress hang in my mom's closet and listened to her revere it for years.  It was a symbol of the the sacrament.  When it arrived at my house, I hung the revered dress in my closet.  I made peace with the dress.  Now I too am ready to toss it out.   I think maybe it was like a funeral for the dress. 

…that is unless I can come up with some fantastic idea of how to re-use it. 

Oh so, seventies!

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My own wedding dress is in a storage container in my closet.  I love it dearly too.  When I selected it, I looked for something timeless.  I hope one day my daughters are interested in wearing it.  I have a friend who wore her mother's dress.  It is a sweet notion to think that the dress might be passed to someone else like a legacy.  On the other hand, there is something special about selecting one's own dress.  

I will hold onto mine for years like my mother did.  I do not know when my love affair with my wedding dress will end.  Every time I drag it out my heart stops a little just like it did the first time I wore it.  I love every inch of it.  It has stephanotis flower (greek wedding crown flowers) embellishments with beads and crystals and sequins sewn in the centers. Aaah, sigh.

My dress came out today as we cleaned and reorganized our closet.


Friday, December 20, 2013

She Takes After Her Mother

I know this photo strip is not terribly interesting to most.  However, each night as we eat dinner I take great delight in watching our one year old gobble up her dinner.  The other children eat maybe one in four dinners I cook.  But, Lucy eats and eats and eats.  She begins the meal eating with her utensils.  Alas, she discovers that she can eat more if she eats by the fistfuls.  She enjoys it.  She asks for more.  She laughs and laughs, and is always the last one sitting at the table long after the other children have excused themselves and scampered away.  When the dishes are cleared and the surfaces wiped, she finally decides she's had enough.  Then she is wiped down by a loving parent and whisked to the bath for a playful soak.

I personally take delight in Lucy's eating, because it is a relief to see a child with hearty eating habits and a grateful heart.  I secondly take delight because she is much like myself as a child in eating habits.  Food is good and tasty.  While there are seconds, thirds and fourths to be had, nothing should go wasted, nothing should be leftover.  I often profess that I am a bottomless pit.  I almost always can eat more.  Some would say this is unhealthy.  Perhaps.  Moderation is good--a learned habit.  On the other hand, one could say it is a healthy appreciation of God given gifts.  All Glory to God.

I have a very early memory (a high chair memory) of loving tomato soup and asking for bowl-full after bowl-full.  I get it, Lucy.  Eat away.  Lucy asked for four bowls tonight and slurped it down straight from the bowl.  However, she did begin eating each bowl with her spoon. :-)





Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holy Altar

Alex left Jesus a Lego present.  It's a Holy Altar.  Kids say/do the darnd'st things.

This is the icon I am working on.  It will be done tomorrow. Yay.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sweet Success

Recently, Alex perused his copy of The Dangerous Book For Boys in search for that ever illusive "something to do."  He found a page about making crystals.  One of the neighbor boys had received a crystal making kit and Alex wanted to make crystals too.  I looked in the book and it recommended using alum powder.  I was not about to go out searching for alum powder.  But, I knew we could make some tasty crystals with ingredients from our pantry.  Yes, we made sugar crystals!

I had never made them before, so I searched it on eHow.  I ended up using six cups of sugar.  The site said I needed 3 cups sugar per one cup of water.  I wanted to make sure I had enough for all the kids.  This was a bit much.  I am using the remaining syrup to make another batch.  I ended up only making two crystals in the first batch because I had string troubles.  It kept floating up.  I did not have anything that would weight it down.  I ended up using a pipe cleaner.  I had plenty of popsicle sticks.  I should have used one of those. 

But we had success, and the look much grander than the store bought crystal kit, and they're edible.




Sunday, December 15, 2013

Keep on Reading

To My Dear Children,

Keep on reading.  Read whenever there is time.  Choose reading over electronic things.




Alex picked up this book on his own and read it through.  Last week Annie dumped a bunch of books off the kids bookcases.  I was perturbed.  I insisted all the children help put the books away.  As we sorted through the books Alex picked out at least 30 books that piqued his interests, and he piled them aside.  He has taken time each day since to look them over.  He doesn't always read the books he looks at, but I am glad he is taking more of an interest in reading.  It's so difficult to get kids to read with the temptations of technology. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Form of a Christmas Tree


The Greeks, specifically Plato, spoke of the form of a thing being the perfect idea of a thing.  I think we found as close to a form of a Christmas tree as possible. 

Since our first Christmas as a family we have had a plastic tree.  We were happy with this arrangement.  However, we have had two plastic trees in our short 8 years as a family.  This seems like a lot to me considering how much they cost.  Faced with having to replace our tree again this year our children wanted to experience a real tree.  We decided to oblige.  We may continue this trend for at least a few years.

After Thanksgiving, Kristiana saw that some of our neighbors had Christmas trees and began incessantly asking when we could get a Christmas tree.  When she waits in anticipation of an event she is quite relentless.  Friday, It had been two weeks since she launched her conquest for the acquisition of a Christmas tree.  So, despite the icy cold rain, and the inconvenient hour, we ushered the entire family off to a nearby grocery store to peruse trees.  We were not sure we would find one, but we were going to begin our search.  

We arrived at the store and there in the treed foyer was a Santa Claus character handing out mini candy canes.  It was instant magic for the children.  The store was having an event offering samples in every department and an entry into a $200 gift card drawing for trying 12 samples.  We decided to try for the drawing and hoped it would be fun for the kids.  After sampling, my husband went to dicker with the tree man.  I walked out of the store and my husband said the man would give us this tree at a 10% discount.  I gave a big smile and said, "Wrap it up!"  He did and we took it home.  This tree's size, shape, color and virility are perfect.  The needles are green and full of life.  We could not be more charmed by this tree.

I told Andrew stories of how my parents' tree always seemed to fall down at least three times before it was set right.  He exclaimed that his parents' tree never fell and it was always a lovely time.  I said, okay…We set our tree and had it decorated the same evening.  The next morning it was leaning.  All day we spoke of fixing it, but I had a headache, so the readjustment was delayed.  Then late in the afternoon, Kristiana tugged hard on an ornament and down the tree went.  We lost a very beautiful glass bulb.  The rest of our ornaments are impervious.  

Now Christmas seems wonderfully imminent. 

Christ is in our midst!


Monday, December 9, 2013


It's hard to believe it was a year ago our family sat and watched Kristiana frozen for a whole hour at her first dance recital.  Well, guess what?!  She thawed out tonight.  She danced every move and it was adorable.

This was my favorite song of the evening.  The girls spelled out Jesus with their arms.  Kristiana's arms are supposed to be making a "J," but she's just turned five and perfect letter formation with her arms is not on her radar yet.



See how Kristiana is the only little girl in this line who has her arms outstretched.  That's because all the other girls in this picture are FROZEN.  Kristiana just happened to squeeze in between the three little girls in her group that froze.  I really had empathy for their families.  On the other hand, I was so proud of our little girl.


In other ballet news, I have found an adult ballet class and come January I am going to go play ballerina.  I have a friend who is going to teach a short five week ballet class.  Then my husband and I ran into a colleague and his wife.  She teaches ballet too and she said her studio has adult ballet classes in which I could buy a punch card for a reasonable price.  So that is a possibility if I must have more ballet in my life.  I think my learning ballet may be a good thing, because it is something the girls and I can do together at home during the day. 

Mno hya lyta!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Notes to My Daughters - On Beauty


This post origination is two fold.  First it rises out of my own insecurities.  I want people to like me and be friends with me.  I am an idealist.  I hope the best for everyone.  I believe there is a solution for every problem.  There is always hope in my eyes.  I feel like I have love and good tidings for everyone.  Therefore, I feel like I could/should be friends with anyone.  That sounds so nerdy…it is.  That's me.  Alas, I am not extroverted.  I am a borderline introverted and a little, eek, awkward.  It's bit difficult for me to start conversations. When people do not like me, or do not show the mutual camaraderie I desire, I immediately look for faults in myself, possible reasons for not liking me.  I cannot accept it.  I know it's unreasonable.  Not everyone is going to feel a connection with me.  Perhaps we have nothing in common.  As an introvert I should not desire this, because I could never maintain broad relationships and be happy.  Sometimes I reason that people do not like me because I am not pretty enough, thin enough, put together enough, or witty enough.  

Another reason for this post is that my daughters are one, three and five years old and they are obsessed with make-up.  I hardly wear make-up.  Mostly, I only wear it to church on Sunday.  So I do not know how they became so obsessed as though they watched their mom doll up everyday.  (Heh, dolls, toys with painted faces.  Maybe that's the problem)  I know children are naturally drawn to beauty, but I'd rather them not be obsessed with the commercial idea of beauty and how it is attained.  So I thought I would jot down some of the things I have learned about beauty thus far

To my daughters:

You are beautiful just the way you are.  I will spend your  entire childhood trying to convince you of this.  Hopefully, by the time you are grown you will believe me and come to the same conclusions I did.  I know at low points in your life it will be hard to believe.  I know that when you feel insecure about yourself you may want to blame beauty.  It's not so.  What makes you beautiful has very little to do with your physical appearance.  Just as every person looks differently, so too will your appearance be different to each other man's eye.  So do not ever try to make your appearance please another, because you will only end up confused and dissatisfied.

Part of the reason your mommy never wears makeup is because as a young teen I obsessed about my image and never felt pretty or perfect.  Then I started to wear makeup and I started to feel pretty and put together.  That's not a bad thing.  It is not a bad thing to put your best foot forward and look like you care for yourself.  There is nothing wrong in feeling more confident about yourself because you feel pretty.  However, you should find ways to feel confident and pretty and put together without putting forth a facade.  

One day when I was in high school I had a rushed morning and had no time for makeup.  I spent half the day feeling sad and insecure because I wasn't pretty enough.  Then a boy I liked took me to lunch.  I tried to look away from him as much as possible so he would not see my face.  I told him I felt ugly because I did not have any makeup on.  He shrugged and said he had not noticed.  He thought I looked the same.  I wondered why I was putting forth so much effort with makeup when the people I wanted to notice did not care.  That day I decided I was wasting my time on makeup because it made very little difference in the way people saw me.  People are going to see you the way they want to see you.

I told this story to one woman and she immediately rebutted that it was easy for me to say, a woman with beautiful coloring.  Fair enough.  I do have eyelashes that need no mascara and lips that need no lipstick.  However, makeup only goes so far.  It may add a little color and definition to your face, but no amount of makeup covers up a snarkey attitude, or selfishness.  No fancy dress will convince others that you are kind and full of humility.  No expensive handbag or designer boots will convince others that you are a worthy friend.  

Your physical adornments only make you interesting initially.  At some point you have to be more than a tattoo, or colorful hairdo, or blue lipstick.  At some point, you have to have depth, because beauty fades and what is fashionable, changes, but the consequences of how you behave and the friendships you make will stay with you always.  One of the things that heavily influences the way people feel about your beauty is your inner beauty.  Beauty is from within.  What does that mean?  It means you need to be good, kind and holy within first.  Be genuinely interested and concerned for people.  Be generous.  These things will win more attention than your lipstick color or pretty outfit.  Be confident enough to know you are beautiful and see beauty in others.

I look around me and I see beauty everywhere, because if there is something to love, there is beauty.  If there is something good, there is beauty.  If you look around and see how God has touch everything there is beauty.  Just be you.  That is beautiful enough.  You do not need makeup, or the best dress--you only need to emanate love and goodness to be beautiful.  Someday you will understand what this all means.  Until then I will try, in little ways, to help you see beauty in all things.  You will be so happy I did. 

Friday, December 6, 2013


My new camera is a point and shoot.  I refuse to buy a dslr camera at this point because it would not suit my needs (not that I can afford it).  I am not going to make photography my hobby.  I just don't have time to learn how to make desirable shots with a camera that can do more.  Plus odds are someone little would get their hands on it and break it.

At first, I bought another camera and took four pictures with it and knew it would not suit my needs.  It was an inexpensive point and shoot.  Then after days of agonizing and reading reviews we picked another camera.  This time I was more than pleased with the camera.  Now I have to figure out how to use it.  As in, I need to be able to grab it, set it and shoot, because photographable moments are gone far too quickly around here.

Today, I played with settings a bit.  It was nice, because each setting it explained the conditions one would use that setting. It's a camera for dummies. ;-) Out of 19 pictures I took in a set this one below turned out perfect.  The rest were unusable.  But, they were all taken without flash.  One thing that is so great about this picture is that it was taken in a low lit room without a flash and with a free hand.  How this marvel was achieved I do not know.  It's totally amazing.  I am glad I found this setting.  It was the auto high ISO setting.


Here's a photo with flash. This little three year old has been spending a lot of time nudey lately.  I try to get her dressed, but she has been working on potty training and every time she has an accident she ends up nude.  Unlike my other kids, she seems to have mastered #2 first, but #1 is hit or miss.  Oh well.  You can't win.


St. Nicholas Coloring!



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Veni, Emanuel

I wish we could say that we were more interesting, but we're not.  We're just an average American family, doing the things average American families do.  

We're preparing for Christmas.  I was not sure how we were going to pull of Christmas this year, but I think it will be as good as any Christmas that we have had before.  I think our family is particularly good at leisure. ;-)

I only let the kids put ornaments on our Jesse Tree every three days so they can each put one on and no one fights who's turn it is. 

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I decided I wanted to make our Christmas season a little bit magical.  As in, I am planning on some low budget Christmas activities during the Christmas season.  I decided these can be done prior to Christmas or during Christmas.  The kids are not sensitive to timing at this age.  I am trying to line up twelve activities, but if I don't come up with twelve or some of these ideas fail I am not going to sweat it.  It will either happen or it won't.  If you have an idea, please feel free to comment.  Here's my list so far, Claytonopolis 12 Days of Christmas:

1. Drive around neighborhoods seeing Christmas lights
2. Hot Chocolate night and Marshmallows – Go outside, sit down, pile on blankets, and look for the biggest star
3. Popcorn and Movie Night (Nativity Story)
4. Make Christmas cookies
5. Make a popsicle stick ornament
6. Learn traditional Christmas Carols around the piano
7. Put together 500 piece nativity puzzle
8. Game night
9. Collect toy donations in the neighborhood 

I've been trying to prepare myself for Christmas as well.  I did a little St. Nicholas reading.  He inspired me to be holier.  Now I have to actually try to achieve my inspiration.  I can not say exactly what I found so inspiring about St. Nicholas' story except for his seemingly profound connection with the Almighty.  I get the sense that in years gone by people were a lot more willing to accept that which is mystical (e.g., miracles and visions), but it need not be something that those in our modern times have lost.  Think hard about times in your life when something seemed mystical.  You have a choice to shrug it off as a coincidence, or you may choose to see a Divine hand at play.  I can think back to many a time in which I saw something mystical.  I try to hold those moments in my heart always, because these are my glimpses at the Divine.  They are too few and far between and I now that I am at fault for not having a greater connection with God. 

In other news, I now have a new camera bought today.  So hopefully I will have blog posts with better pictures in the future.  Part of not posting recently was because my camera was totally kaput.  I have been taking pictures with my phone as you see in this blog.  I only discovered today my phone has different photo taking settings.  That would have been nice to know around the kids' birthdays.  It does not have a flash though.  Oh well.  I am grateful to have a new camera.  

First piggy tails - She's getting big.  But, still my baby.

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Learning Cursive

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Mno hya lyta!