Sunday, October 26, 2014

20 Week Halftime Report

We're halfway there!!! (Whoa-oa! Living on a prayer!)

I've been enjoying Mama Holi's weekly pregnancy updates. I'm using her format to do a little halftime analysis of this pregnancy.

How far along? 20 weeks.
Clothing? Maternity on the bottom, half-and-half maternity and regular on top.
Stretch marks? No new ones, anyway...
Sleep? Don't talk about sleep today.  Waking up to pee, but waking up due to Katie Rose more often.  Molars are coming in, her blanket came off, she fell out of bed, she wants to come in my bed.
Best moment of this week? Pregnancy related?  When Katie Rose kissed my belly and said, "I love you, baby!" Also the get-together last Sunday at our friends' house in the country, and just the gorgeous fall weather.  And taking the children along with us to the mall to pick up my birthday present and they thought we were at the airport.
Worst moment of this week? Just being tired all the time.
Miss anything? Sleeeeep.
Movement? Yes!  First kick this week that I was absolutely sure was the baby.  A few other kicks since that first one.  All of them seemed surprisingly high up.  Is carrying high supposed to mean you're having a girl or a boy?  I've had one of each and other people claimed I looked very different, but I never really noticed other than I got a little heavier with Anthony.
Symptoms? Sleeeeep.  I've noticed my varicose veins showing up already, although I haven't had any pain from them.  I got them for the first time at the end of my pregnancy with Katie Rose and they HURT!  My mother and grandmother both have/had them terribly.  I also had a random bout of morning sickness this week after having had none of that for a couple of months.  Also Christmas planning.  A bit of early nesting?  I usually never even think of Christmas until, "Oh my gosh, it's Advent?!?"  I don't have much nesting to do directly for the baby, because really I already have a spring girl and a spring boy, so clothing=done.  We've got all the gear.  It's too soon to set the crib up so...  I did find a Moses basket at Goodwill and was stoked all day.  But we've got away from symptoms, so moving on.
Food cravings? Cheese and bacon.
Gender? I've felt boy all along, but we're planning to be surprised.  At my last ultrasound (~14 weeks), the tech said, "If you want to know the gender, I think I can give you a pretty good guess."  That confirmed my boy suspicion, because that's kind of early, and wouldn't a boy be more obvious?  Then a friend of mine said that another tech told her that it's easier to identify a GIRL.  So who knows?  We're still calling the baby Daniel until further notice.
Labor Signs? Nope.
Belly button in or out? It kind of doesn't exist.
Wedding rings on or off? On!
Mood? Pretty great.
Rituals? I don't really have any, other than praying for the baby every day.  Anthony has made a ritual of saying good morning to Daniel, though, and gets upset if he should forget.
Looking forward to? Seeing my midwife tomorrow morning, so hearing the heartbeat again! Halloween on Friday!  Still racking my brain for a middling-pregnant, last minute costume for me, that preferably requires little to no shopping.  Any ideas?

Friday, October 24, 2014

7QT: Braggy mom post alert.

I'm narrating photos from my phone today, something of a slice of life that other people would put on Instagram but I've not joined it.  Why yes, all my photos ARE of my children!  What do people without kids take pictures of anyway?  Food, I think.  Also the occasional house project, but this time that's for the children too! 

1) They've shared a room for a few months now, and at last I've moved out the bookshelf from this spot.  I really liked the reading nook, but truthfully it was a perpetual mess because the books were seldom properly put back.  So now Anthony's stuff is where the bookshelf was:

And Katie Rose has the other side:

Not pictured are all the out-of-season/soon-to-be-grown-into things hung above.

2) My child wants to be a CHICKEN for Halloween.  So here's what we came up with:

My favorite is the feet.  Thanks, Pinterest!  I think we will leave off the beak.

3) We went to the dentist.  All of us, while I got my teeth cleaned and they talked off the hygenist's ear about trains and how numbers go on forever and personal discussions like, "Do you have cavities? Do you floss your teeth at home? I don't floss, but I don't have cavities so I think it's okay," while all I could add was, "Ahhh-ah." Anthony had his cleaning last week so he was quite at home. Katie Rose very bravely had her teeth inspected.  My dentist is a great sport.

4) This is what Anthony made to welcome Daddy home from a business trip to Geneva.  There are some lowercase letters in there, and I didn't even need to tell him how to write them. See? We really are homeschooling! I had no idea.

5) This happened.

6) Obligatory playing in the leaves photos:

7) Last and most certainly not least:  20 WEEKS!!!  And I felt the first definite kick!  Hooray for Daniel!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Liebster Award! Everyone's a Winner!

Christine at Splendor in the Home tagged me for the "Liebster Award," reminding me that oh yeah, I have a blog! And she's right, it's exactly like what we used to write on Xanga back when that was a thing.  So here goes:

1. What's one thing you do really well?
I'm really proud of my quilting.  I don't do it nearly enough because it is so very time consuming and there is always so much that seems more urgent, but I love being able to make something beautiful.

2. What's your favorite blog post you've written (include link)? 
Snappy Comebacks on Family Size for the Rest of Us: Because the big families aren't the only ones who get comments in public!

3. What is one blog post or article by another writer that has stuck with you for a long time (include link)?
 In which Auntie Leila gives me permission to do "an hour a day".
 So, I may have interpreted this in a different way than intended, but I would get majorly stressed out if I couldn't end a day "ahead" of where it began.  Also I had this feeling that since I was home I had to be working all the time, to earn my keep or what have you.  If a room was dirty, I wasn't doing my job.  But reading this I was like, "An hour?  That's it?  That's good enough for the day to day cleaning?"  What a relief!

4. Are you a "cat person" or a "dog person"?
Neither, really.  I've never had a pet.  I would like to have both, but the dog would be more for my son and the cat would be to keep the mice away from the coop!  I expect I wouldn't be the type to ever let a cat or dog sleep in my bed.

Show us your favorite internet meme or cartoon.
I don't have a favorite, but I made these recently as my contribution to an e-mail discussion among friends.  It started out with sharing an article and asking for responses.  It predictably became a very long exposition on the nature of equality among persons, feminism vs. chivalry, and blaming the whole mess on the French Revolution.  So summing up:

6.  Do you subscribe to any publications?

Urban Farm magazine.  I doubt we'll keep renewing it after this year, because my sister Teresa is about to graduate from high school and won't have to sell magazine subscriptions any more.

7. If your house was on fire, and you had time to grab ONE object to save (assume all other people and pets are already out safely), what would it be?

Probably this painting we received as a gift from our wedding party:

They commissioned another friend to paint it for us.  It's derived from a photo Katie took of us on Piazza Navona in Rome.  That's a very special place for us, and we simply have to go back there some day. Piazza Navona is where St. Agnes's church is, and she was patroness of our courtship, along with St. Raphael.  That's also where I first felt sure that I would marry Ryan.

8. Are there any kids' toys that you suspect you might enjoy playing with as much as/more than the kids?

When I get into it, I really enjoy figuring out the Brio train setups with Anthony.  It's a puzzle to figure out how to make the track as elaborate as possible while also making sure all your male/female ends match up, AND that your train is capable of accessing all parts of the track smoothly, without turning around or getting stuck in one loop.

 9. What kind of candy will you be handing out for Halloween?
Reese's for Ryan and that mini Hershey's mix for me. Because you know we'll be hoarding a few! (I pick out all the Special Darks.)

10. Have you ever seen or experienced something you suspect was supernatural?

Something I KNOW was supernatural.  When I was a teenager I had a fainting disorder, POTS.  (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, if you care to know.) You know how if you get up too fast you might get a bit dizzy for a moment? Yeah, well POTS was like that, but on bad days if I got up at all I'd pass out completely. I was on all sorts of drugs to keep my blood pressure up enough to keep me conscious, but it wasn't easy to live with.  I would still have dizzy spells and pass out on occasion. I was miraculously healed of it my freshman year of college.

It was at a praise-and-worship night at Franciscan University of Steubenville, not far from my school in Pittsburgh. I was praying for my then-boyfriend to be healed of his chronic Lyme disease. A girl went up to the stage and said she'd felt the Holy Spirit was asking us to pray for ourselves as well as others.  Well, I'd never prayed for my own healing before!  I don't know why but it just never occurred to me to do that! So I did, very simply, and immediately I was "resting in the Spirit." I had a vision of myself as the woman in the Gospel who had hemorrhaged for twelve years.  When I saw Jesus passing through the crowd, I knew what I was supposed to do.  So I reached out and touched the hem of His robe.  He turned to me smiling and said, "Daughter, your faith has made you well."

The next morning in my dorm room, I prayed the Rosary standing perfectly still in front of the full length mirror.  I was watching for the blood to pool in my hands and feet, as it always did if I stood still for any length of time. It never did.  My blood pressure was about 150 instead of it's usual 90, so I didn't take any medicine that morning.  I never needed it again.

So there you have it folks!  Some random things I bet you were all dying to know.  Part of the Liebster thing is you have to tag more bloggers to answer some questions.  I'm tagging:

Emily at Mama Holi
Stacy at My Life is a Comedy Show for God

It's taken me a week just to answer these myself, so rather than come up with new questions at this point, just answer the same ones!  If you haven't been tagged yet and feel like playing a long, go ahead and I'll add you to this post.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hermione's Day Out and WIWS

I hope everybody had a happy feast of St. Francis of Assisi yesterday! The parish in our neighborhood had a blessing of the animals yesterday morning, so we loaded one of our chickens into the wagon and headed down!

This may sound simple, and in principle it was.  But what a spectacle we made. Our progress was rather slowed by Anthony wanting to pull the wagon all by himself, and tell everybody we met all about our chickens for a half a mile each way down a very busy street.  And it was COLD!  Two days before we'd been in shorts at the zoo, and yesterday it was in the 40s and windy.  Welcome to the Midwest.  But it was still a lot of fun, and I suppose a chance to evangelize our kooky Catholicism and crunchiness.  Because of course everyone was rather interested in why in the world we had a chicken in a groundhog trap in a wagon in the city in freezing wind.

At the pet blessing, there were about 20 dogs, a few cats, and us.  The Keanes and their wagon attracted a lot of attention, to put it mildly.  Much of which was from the dogs who might have liked to eat the chicken, but the human reactions were all delighted.  We learned there are more chickens and even some goats and pigs in the neighborhood!

Hermione about to receive holy water, blocked by excited child.
On the way home, we treated the kids to some clearly necessary hot chocolate, and parked the wagon outside.  When we came out we were talking to another family we met there, answering all their questions about backyard chicken-ing.  In the few minutes we were chatting, we'd gathered a small crowd of 15 or so people who'd stopped to listen and gawk at Hermione!  At last we made it home for a hot soup lunch, and some excellent naps.

For today, I offer you to this fabulous mirror selfie for What I Wore Sunday:

Sweater: Motherhood via Goodwill
Pants: Motherhood
Jacket: Ann Taylor via Goodwill
Scarf: Goodwill!
Bump: 17 weeks

A bit more casual than my usual Sunday attire.  Pants!  Eek!  My leggings were dirty and I haven't found the maternity (aka cut waist) tights yet.  And we were seriously late.  The scarf is one of my favorites for fall and winter, because it is big and soft but not bulky.  It makes a great headcovering for Mass that doesn't fall off all the time.

Happy Sunday and don't forget the feast of the Most Holy Rosary on Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Daniel Keane?

 Yep, it's a baby bump!

By now everybody in my life already knows and has for some time, but I haven't officially told the internet at large, so here's the pregnancy announcement post.

Estimated date of delivery: March 11, 2015, which puts us at about 16 weeks right now.

I'm feeling good now.  Some minor morning sickness early on, then some very scary bleeding that landed me on quasi-bed rest for about three weeks.  The whole experience was rather horrible, although I was well aware throughout how much I had to be thankful for. The baby looks absolutely perfect and our friends really came through for us with helping with childcare and just getting through.  I did get pretty depressed because of the inactivity and feeling so useless and burdensome to everyone around me, and of course the lingering fear of losing another child.  I wasn't even fully aware just how down I was until about last Sunday, some days after being cleared to do normal activities again.  We had some good friends over for dinner, and even though I'd been having friends over constantly to help out, the contrast between that simple enjoyment of friendship and all the horrible feelings that marred all of those other "play dates" was so obvious.  I'm so thankful to be back to normal.  It all seems like a bad dream now.  Now I'm finally able to enjoy this pregnancy!

One of the best things about this pregnancy has been Anthony.  For a four-year-old, he seems to be extremely aware and he already loves this baby so much!  He figured out I was pregnant when I was about six weeks along.  We had been careful not to say anything in his hearing just yet.  My belly was ever-so-slightly bigger, maybe. But it's right at his eye level, and he noticed when he squeezed in to give me a hug when I was standing in the kitchen! He asked point blank, "Hmm, is there a baby in your tummy?" He's named the baby "Daniel" and it seems to be sticking. If I'm still in bed when he wakes up in the morning he'll climb in with me and with, "Good morning, Mommy!  Good morning, Daniel baby!" with a hug to my belly.  He's been enthralled by all the ultrasounds we've been to, laughing with delight when the baby on the screen moves. Now that we don't need to go every week he wants to know when we're going to see the baby on the big computer again.  He's asking all sorts of questions about how the baby knows it's time to come out, why does it take so long, why are babies born in a hospital, why can't daddies have babies in their tummies, etc. Katie Rose follows her brother's lead in talking to Daniel and stuffing her baby doll in her shirt but I'm sure she has no idea what's really coming!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Open to Life, Open to Loss, Open to Love

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." ~1 John 4:18

A lot of wonderful things have been written this week in the Catholic blogosphere about childbearing and the culture at large.

It occurs to me that the very root the issue of family size and motherhood even being an issue is that of fear.  We're afraid of having too many children.  We're afraid of the very process of childbirth.  We're afraid of infertility.  We're afraid of losing control.  We're afraid of what people will think of us.  We're afraid of losing our figures, our sanity, of having less money.  We're afraid of anything and everything connected to this great mystery of bringing new human life into being.

We all know fear is from the Evil One.  The book The Apostolate of Holy Motherhood is on my desk as I type this.  There is a lovely painting of the Madonna and Child by Murillo on the front cover.

Beautiful, isn't it?  You know what is absent from their faces?  Fear.  Mary knows that "a sword will pierce her heart." She knows the ultimate sacrifice she will be asked to make.  Jesus knew from all Eternity that the moment of His Passion would come.   They know that mankind would so often scorn that sacrifice, and return love with hatred or indifference.  Yet they possess a perfect peace, born of their perfect love.

Love simply doesn't have any room for fear.  It gives without thought for the suffering, or if it does think of the suffering, it sees past it toward the good to be obtained by it.  Love can look at the cross and see beauty, not merely ugliness and pain.  We can talk about the sufferings of motherhood and still find joy in it.

For us in our fallen human condition, there is inevitably suffering.  For the sufferings particular to the vocation of marriage, only love can cast out the fear of that suffering.  That's really the answer to the anti-child culture, is the need for love to counter the fear.  Love is fruitful of its very nature, flowing out from itself.  The greatest and most perfect Love is that of the persons of the Trinity.  The love of the Father and Son brings forth the Holy Spirit.  The love of God brought forth all of creation.  The love of husband and wife is ordered toward bringing forth children.

Love is not afraid of suffering.  On our human level, even though it is natural to not wish to suffer, we open ourselves to it any time we allow ourselves to love.  Our family and friends will hurt us at times.  People we love will die.  People we love will have sufferings of their own and we too will feel pain out of compassion for them.  Our anti-child culture is afraid of suffering.  And fear will always shrink away from love.

When a married couple simply allows God to send the children as He wills it, we certainly do open the floodgates to a whole new level of suffering.  Whether our particular cross is the pain of many miscarriages, of infertility, of having a child with special needs, of losing an older child to illness or accident, or the pain of seeing a child reject God, or whether it's simply the day-to-day sufferings of family life, we opened themselves to all of it when we made the choice to love each other and fully give ourselves to each other until death do us part.  There is no going back.  And we will find there is nothing to fear!

Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Quick Takes

No news on Europe.  There are posts opening in Geneva, but no news on whether an American might be taking one of those either. Je suis calme.

Stacy Ann recommended the Duolingo app to practice my French.  I've been using it for a week now and I like it. However, it has you saying smarmy French pickup lines from the very first lessons: "Je suis un homme et tu es une femme.  Je suis rich." ("I am a man and you are a woman.  I am rich.")  What more could you possibly need to know, girl?  Next I need to learn how to say, "He has ten thousand a year!"

TMI alert:  Potty Training Bootcamp.  Or Panty Camp.  It's not as scary as it sounds, but today's only day two. Yesterday we had five accidents.  I know Katie Rose is ready. In fact I think I should have done this months ago, but procrastinated.  She was actually doing a lot better three months ago.  Now we've pretty much completely regressed, even doing #2 in her pants which she's told me about beforehand for months!  By the end of the morning she was informing me right before she went, so... success? So far today we've kept the panties dry, even with an hour long walk around the neighborhood!

American Ninja Warrior. I just think you all should know that this exists.  My dad introduced us to this on our visit a couple of weeks ago.  This could have only come out of Japan, where it's called "Sasuke" and apparently it's a big deal.  It's as if someone said, "Hey, what if we made Super Mario Brothers real?" The obstacle courses are over-the-top elaborate and even comical, but the feats of strength required to get through are truly impressive.  One woman ever has beat the course.  This video is only the qualifier to do the full competition, but it gives you an idea.

Anthony is on his way to becoming an American Ninja Warrior.  We were at the playground with some friends this past week.  Anthony wanted me to give him a boost up to the monkey bars, but I was too busy helping toddlers to come immediately. He decided to climb directly up the pole and do the monkey bars rather than wait around for me.  Then he didn't want to drop from so high up, so he shimmied over to the other pole and slid down.  Then of course it was cool so he kept doing it, maybe about five times before we went home.  Independence win, but dang that's a strong four-year-old.

Kendra wrote this morning about how she would fix Frozen.  I've only seen it once, but the messed-up plot really bothered me too.  I totally was expecting Hans to kiss her and it wouldn't work, just like Kendra wrote!  Making Hans into a villian is just so contrived and off-puttingly post-modern.  So, supposing Disney had consulted Kendra and made the plot actually make sense, I have a great sequel.  Because you know there will be one.  My Frozen sequel would be based on Midsummer Night's Dream.   We already have our fairy folk trolls, and Elsa and Anna already have a great Helena/Hermia dynamic.  Clearly the final pairings ought to be Elsa/Hans and Anna/Kristoff.  Olaf and Sven would make a good Puckish team.  Or maybe I should write things that are not alternative universe Disney/Shakespeare fan fiction.

While we're being frivolous, what shall I do with my hair?  It's been a year since I've had a haircut, and it's definitely time.  It's not bad or unhealthy, but there's not much shape to it anymore and I'm in a ponytail/braid/bun rotation that's getting really boring.  I like when my hair has some texture to it, and when it's too long it just hangs limp.  Unless I blow dry it, which is never because it takes so dang long with my thick hair.  When we go to San Diego my hair will do waves like this:

Ali Larter's Graduated Bob

Which I really really like.  Doing it in Ohio would require me to, you know, use product and style it in the morning.  Which wouldn't be bad as long as it wouldn't require use of a blow dryer, thus stirring up children before their time. I would also love highlights or even to go a little more coppery in color but let's be real, I would never maintain any sort of coloring.  I guess I'm feeling very pale and Gothic-looking, because even though I'm outside all the time I will always be Irish and my makeup is always pretty much gone by the afternoon which doesn't help matters.

Bonus take:  Katie Rose is suddenly calling me "Mom".  I don't like it very much.  Really I think I would prefer Mama/Mother but I'm not insistent enough and "Mommy" is okay with me.  But "Mom"?  Not from a two-year-old.  Anthony never calls me "Mom" so I have no idea where that's coming from.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pros and Cons of Grandparent Caregivers from a Total Outsider

Lately I've been surrounded by grandparents taking care of their grandchildren. There has often been a grandparent or two at story time or the playground, but lately there has been an explosion of them! By now I've seen a lot of the same faces often enough to get to know them a little bit. My observation seems to match an actual trend:  According to the last census, grandparents provide the primary childcare for 30% of working mothers with children under age five. As a mother at home, I have an outsiders' perspective on the whole dilemma of childcare, aside from the very very occasional babysitter or my babysitting buddy. I'm also certainly an outsider to the grandparents-providing-regular-childcare phenomenon, as my children's closest grandparents are nine hours' drive away.  But I still find it all fascinating.

One thing I have to say is I really admire their stamina! Some of these grandmothers are running circles around me at the playground. I get tired now; I can't imagine doing this every day when I'm in my sixties!

Caregiver who really loves the children.  Stability and security for the children, potential for closer relationship.  Grandparent care is bound to be incomparably better than what can be found at the local Kinder Care.

Family. Perhaps out of necessity moving back to a more inter-generational model of family life?  I think it's unnatural how the nuclear family model and people moving so far from where they were raised has made extended family some people you see at major holidays, but you don't share the day-to-day experiences with. Could be a step toward reversing that isolation. Obviously, it wouldn't have that effect if the family is already far apart, but for those that aren't, I could see it bringing families together for their original purpose, which is of course to raise the next generation.

Corollary to the above: Increasing respect for the wisdom of the previous generation. Mothers my age are so far removed from the "collective memory" that we are vulnerable to every stupid parenting fad marketed by the "experts".  Having one's own mother intimately involved in the raising of the children would cut down on a lot of that crap.

Tough on older/less healthy grandparents, and then by extension the children.  Clearly cannot work for everyone. Affects grandparents' social lives, ability to travel, and it's tiring!  Make no mistake, even if they love those children to pieces it is WORK.  I don't want to comment on any particular people I've met, but sometimes I think the grown children don't always appreciate the sacrifice entailed on the grandparents to take on this responsibility.  I think grandparents would be completely justified in saying, "I raised you, now you raise your children! I've done my time changing diapers!"

Potential to make family relationships sticky, with children caught in the middle. So individual that it's not really worth exploring it further, but I don't think it takes much imagination to see how this might happen.

Still inferior to parent as primary day-to-day caregiver.  Grandparents giving free childcare might make mother's job financially more worthwhile, therefore discouraging her from coming home. Here's where I'd get flamed, if I actually had any readers.  I completely understand and accept that in this day and age it is sometimes truly necessary for both parents to be employed, or there is a single parent, etc.  Let's take all the disclaimers as given.  However, it is not always necessary.  Very often it is a choice, made to serve the woman's own desire to do something important, live up to her potential, live a more glamorous lifestyle, whatever.  Some are nobler reasons than others. And also very often, those desires were instilled in her by her own parents. Many women were raised to value career.  Grandparents becoming regular babysitters is in part a logical corollary of the feminism of that generation.  Grandparents end up sacrificing more than they may have bargained for when they encouraged their daughter to "have it all."  So insofar as it's enabling feminist values, I'd have to assign that to the "con" side.  Obviously the grandparents I'm talking about would disagree.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Home Again, with a Big Possibility

Hi, Internet.  We are back after being in Pennsylvania for a week. A good time was had by all: We became godparents to the absolute sweetest baby Maria, saw lots of family we hadn't seen in a year or more, went on lots of hikes with the kids, and Ryan and I even had a day and a night away alone together! Most of the pictures in this post will be from Hershey Gardens, where we spent the morning of that little getaway.

We could grow these to cover our ugly brick posts, right?

 The timing of this trip couldn't have been better.  I certainly needed the break from routine. The week before we left I had been completely worn out by motherhood.  I was ready to just go get a job already so I could just go to Mass alone on my lunch break. Incoherent mommy burnout thought processes and a tearful phone call to a friend who has been there many times.  I did go to bed early that day and then took the Saturday before we left to paint a toddler bed for Katie Rose, which while it is yet another project it was something I found very relaxing.  Sleep and doing something creative but easy started getting me back to normal. No time for blogging it so here it is now:

She chose the color. Anybody surprised?
We also found out before this trip, just after the burnout day, that we may be moving to Paris for two or three years!  There is a position coming open in Ryan's company in August or September that Ryan could definitely fill.  It seems like a toss-up as to whether or not he'll be given the assignment or not. Not really doing anything about the possibility and above all not freaking out seemed like a good plan for the moment.

Weeping Beech
After a week away my house is still dirty and the basement of death is still there and my children haven't changed much either, and we don't know in which country we're going to be spending Christmas, but the thought of dealing with the day-to-day doesn't reduce me to tears. I can do an okay job. And I might be just leaving all the stuff behind anyway sooner than I think!

Of course there was a butterfly house.
Apart from all the obvious benefits of culture, broadening horizons, etc. of living in Paris for a few years, I think what is most appealing to me is the idea of just starting over.  Getting rid of all the stuff and paring down to what is absolutely essential in life.  I keep thinking of the many many immigrants who came through Ellis Island with just a few dollars in their pockets or maybe nothing at all and built a life and a family in a new land.  Now we wouldn't be anywhere close to their experience, of course. But if they could do it and be happy, I have no doubt we could too.  Of course, many more people just stayed where they were and made a life and a family successfully too!  Wherever we go, or don't go, we'll do fine. It would certainly be very hard to get used to being in Paris when none of us speak French, especially given the Parisians' reputation for rudeness to non-Francophones. (I have been working on Rosetta Stone willy-nilly, so I have a start anyway...) It would be hard to make new friends and give up the support system we've built up in Cincinnati. But there's no guarantee anywhere that life won't be hard.  In fact, there's more of a guarantee that life will be hard.  I figure it's in God's hands.

I'm sure I won't always be capable of such philosophy about the whole thing.  I probably seem like a big looney for writing about crying over day-to-day trials and then being so detached about something as big as moving to a different continent all in the same post!  But as weird as that is, that's how I'm experiencing it! Say a prayer for me, please, in anticipation of the inevitable shift in emotions! :-)  I'll certainly post when I have any news on this.  It may be several weeks before a decision is made.

Hiking in Codurus State Park. Both kids walked almost three miles!

Meanwhile, I need to find a new home for this guy:

The chick named for great-grandma Shar turned out to be rooster, as was suddenly apparent on returning home. We better find him a home fast, before the crowing gets loud!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Twenty Questions and Then Some: Breakfast on the Porch with Anthony

Just the questions. Anthony is suddenly in the asking questions phase, with a vengeance!  I got a notebook and started writing them down about seven or eight questions in.  It was an experiment to see how many he could ask in one meal if not stopped. Oscar is the two-year-old boy who lives two doors down, and Anthony and Katie Rose clearly just love him. The experiment was stopped in the interest of the subject consuming more calories than he was burning while eating his breakfast.

Disclaimer: You might need a grown-up drink when you're done reading this list.

Is Oscar awake? Can I play with Oscar today?
May I pet your dog, please?
Can I go see if Oscar's awake now?
Why is Oscar still sleeping?  Is Oscar sleep-deprived?
Can I please have some coffee?
Is coffee a grown-up drink?
Is coffee like wine?
Why does Daddy say, "Coooofffeeeee?"
Do butterflies poop?
Where does the poop come out?
Hey, look there's Bearcat! Can I go pet him?
Is Oscar awake now?
What are we going to happen today?
Hey, can I ride that bus?
Does that bus go to Daddy's work?
Are we going to the library for storytime today?
Are we going to get books?
With Oscar?
Will we get a train book?
Can I go give Oscar his Thomas back?
Katie Rose, can I have your strawberries please?
Do we have more strawberries?
Do we need to go the store?
Do we need to go the store tomorrow?
Can I push the little cart? And Katie Rose, too?
Why are my Cheerios all soggy?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Never a Dull Moment

It's been eventful lately, around here.  We had a birthday, a feast day, a power outage, a fire, and lots of dessert.

First up, feast of St. Anthony of Padua, and the Second Annual St. Anthony's Treasure Hunt.  The treasure was cake, given us by a neighbor with fantastic timing.  I didn't take many pictures, but I did take this one as Ryan was reading the first clue:


 Love the anticipation on Anthony's face!  I did take some short video of them finding each clue to share with Ryan's family, as they did treasure hunts all the time with Ryan and his sister.

On Saturday Ryan spent twelve hours or so moving extremely heavy machinery.

Father's Day.  The photo sums up what Ryan felt like doing.  I drew a train track on the back of that t-shirt with a Sharpie, for use exactly as seen here.

It should say, "Best Patriarch Ever" on the front.

We mostly relaxed and did things together like a normal Sunday, but we did go out for ice cream!

Monday our power was out for the entire day. It was our first hot day for a long time, and our substation was overloaded.  The place where our power would have been re-routed was unfortunately down for maintenance, so first summer blackout for us. I had planned on laundry, vacuuming, you know, Monday after a messy weekend stuff. But this did afford me a chance to get a start on my Little Oratory!

This isn't exactly how I want it, but it's a start! For one thing iron that cloth since I have electricity back now!  Our "family altar" has been our mantle. But it was too high to be really used and I honestly never really liked the images of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart there because they just weren't that good but I felt that I had to place them up there because obviously Sacred Heart is important!  So they were there but I never really looked at them while praying. They were much too high anyway, especially for kids.  Auntie Leila addresses all that in the book.  I've lit my candle and did my morning Lectio Divina at the prayer table yesterday and today.  So far so good. I would like a standing crucifix so it can be in the center of the table, and spots for more Rosaries and maybe a small shelf for the Breviary books.  The nails were already there so I used them like that for now. Under the cloth are little drawers that are sure to be handy for holy cards and other devotional ephemera.

Oh!  I can't forget to mention the power came back on around dinner time.  A few minutes later the transformer in front of our next-door neighbor's house catches FIRE.  Power out again.  Fire truck, police cars, Christmas for my kids.  I suppose everyone cranking the AC overloaded the line.  Fire's out, we go get Ryan from work and make it to Wendy's for supper.  8:30, kids in bed, Ryan's off to Adoration, Rosary said.  BANG!  BANG BANG BANGBANGBANG!  Duke Energy is replacing the blown transformer with a jackhammer, apparently.  And there are TWO trucks! Right in front of our house!  And there are men up in the sky, mommy! Oooh, and fireflies!  Can we catch them?

10:30, all is quiet again.

Yesterday, the man of the house turned 28.   Anthony especially was wanting to make this a very special birthday for Daddy.  He assisted with baking the cake:

We had some help reducing it to half this fast. :)

 And with decorating:

My mom gave us a bin of decorations when she was decluttering. That banner on the door is about as old as Ryan is. There is a picture of me somewhere at my first birthday party with that banner in it.  We also found Blue's Clue's napkins from the last millennium, and balloons and streamers in my high school's colors.

Anthony also made a book for Daddy's birthday present, all about an adventure Anthony and Daddy make together.  I had no idea he was capable of making a story with an actual plot to it! 

Today was mostly normal, except for Anthony managed to unlock, open, and climb out of his bedroom window on to the roof, with Katie Rose right behind!  Thank God thank God thank God I was only a few seconds behind them and nobody was hurt.  Anthony doesn't seem to grasp at all that it was a very dangerous thing to do, despite my hysterics.  Ryan and I are going to be childproofing upstairs windows tonight for sure.

Edited to add this to the Little Oratory link-up.  Click to see other little oratories!

The Little Oratory

Friday, June 13, 2014

June Is Bustin' Out All Over! A Peek at the Vegetable Garden

Oh my goodness, the vegetable garden is the exploding phase!  The pea vines that the seed packet promised would only reached two feet high are easily four.  Hundreds of green tomatoes are popping out.  We've eaten up most of the radishes before they got smothered by the rest of the verdant mess.

I really pack my garden tight, with the obvious exception of the bed in the front right.   If there is a spot of bare soil I will find something to plant there.  For one thing, I didn't want to double dig this year.  It is a big pain with our heavy clay.  I also keep a variety of plants all mixed up together, and feed with compost all the time, so I think it should be okay for soil quality long-term.  The other bonus is less weeding, since there just isn't much room for weeds!

Sometimes though, I forget all about little things that I planted under taller things.  Like the arugula that the tomato plants covered up.  A sad little yellow flower bolted to the surface, and I thought, "I wonder what that could be?"  Oh yes, there's about a square yard of arugula under all of that!  We'll be having that with our pizza tonight!

These things from outer space are onions.  I grew them from seed last year, but they were so puny at harvest-time that I decided to leave them and see if anything would happen.

Pea vine jungle!  Usually the peas are long finished by mid-June, but we had such a late spring they are just flowering now.

This may be unclear, but down the middle of the tomato bed I have Romaine lettuce in the very center, flanked by cucumber plants.  The cukes will grow up and over the lettuce on a string trellis.  They shade the lettuce, so I can keep growing it through the hot summer months.

Roma tomatoes!  I have ten plants of these.  Right now things are looking good for canning spaghetti sauce!  Also visible is some of the forgotten arugula and butterhead lettuce.

We're getting tomatoes before peas this year!  And aren't green bean blossoms pretty?

Tons and tons of tomatoes!!!  These are "Jelly Bean."
I don't know why this photo is upside-down.  But it's a pumpkin vine sprawled over the hugel.  That's basically a glorified compost pile, because there is just too much carbon from the wood underneath for things to grow well there this year.

Also upside-down.  Biggest broccoli head I've ever grown!  How to I know when to harvest it?  And yes, I am that pale.

And finally, a miniature chicken up in a tree.