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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I had an "I'm pregnant!" post all ready to go.  There were just a few relatives we needed to inform before I could tell the internet.

And then I started bleeding.

This really could be like a birth story, but horrible.   In fact, many women have written them.  I've decided not to publish the physical details of my miscarriage.  If you really want to know, my blog isn't the vehicle for that. If you don't want to know, well then that's just awkward. The essential facts are that I was supposed to be 11 weeks pregnant, but the baby died around week 6 or 7.  Once we confirmed via ultrasound that the baby had died, we let nature take its course and no other intervention was necessary.

I do want to talk about what happened after the miscarriage.  In our culture, we do not grieve publicly.  Especially after a miscarriage, we don't even talk about it.  I have been guilty of saying, "I'm okay," when a friend kindly asked how I was, even though I was definitely not okay.  It's an automatic reaction. 

But more than that, the culture at large doesn't recognize a miscarriage as a true death.  If you're grieving, it's for what might have been and disappointed hopes, not for a particular child with an eternal soul who can never, ever, be replaced.  Even if you get pregnant again immediately and have a baby in January instead of October as originally expected, there was another person, your child, who DIED and you will not meet him or her this side of Heaven.  That child's life, brief as it was, is just as real and unique as anyone else's.  And just as deserving of being honored and respected.

Even those who believe that a baby is a baby from the moment of conception do not understand this.  I didn't understand it myself until I lost my child.  It's just something I didn't think about, precisely because miscarriage is so invisible to everyone else.  There was a doctor who wanted to take away the baby's tiny body for "testing".  Testing for what, I have no idea.  But I asked how soon I would get the body back for burial and she looked at me like I was insane.  Then she put on her compassionate voice and said, "That's not what they do."  This was at a Catholic hospital.  They do not do abortions or sterilizations.  But bury a miscarried child?  It simply isn't done.  But if we believe that's a human person, there is absolutely no reason NOT to give the child a respectful Christian burial if it is at all possible.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In talking to other women who have had miscarriages, especially multiple miscarriages, they are all unique much in the way that every birth is unique.  Even if they don't name their children, the memories of each don't blur together.  My own mother related the events of all three of her miscarriages in precise detail, even though the most recent one was over seventeen years ago.  Of course this is all anecdotal, etc. take all disclaimers as read.  I didn't have to work too hard to gather this evidence.  All it took usually was a friend saying, "Oh, I'm so sorry.  You know, I lost two babies myself."  And almost all of them said their miscarriage(s) were one of the worst experiences of their lives, unprompted by me.  Often I had no idea they had had a miscarriage at all, even the ones I consider close friends.  See?  We just don't talk about it.  I'm not advocating that we talk about the deaths of our little ones to all and sundry, but it's absurd how taboo the topic seems to be.  So many women, and men too, go through this!  My midwife told me that as many as 50% of pregnancies end in loss of the baby.  We need to talk about this.  Especially as pro-life people, how do we support those grieving the loss of their child, how do we honor the lives of even the littlest ones we've lost, that we've never known and never will?  There are many, many things to discuss on the subject.

First of all, we named our baby.  Joseph Martin Keane.  It just seemed fitting for a child to be given a name.  It was obviously too early for us to know for sure of his being a boy, but I had a boy feeling all along so we went with it. Joseph for St. Joseph, of course.  Martin for Bl. Louis and Zelie Martin.  They lost three infant sons themselves, all of whom they named "Joseph." I do think of him by name.  It seems to help for grieving a particular person rather than just a generic, abstract, "baby."  I may have another baby.  I will never have another Joseph Martin.

Naming Joseph was also helpful in honoring him as our son and we are and will always be his parents.  Nobody else could give him a name.  And really, that is one of the only things we will ever be able to do for him.  Now, two months later, I think of him by name every day.  Of course his soul is eternal whether I named him or not, but he is alive to me in a particular way and I can pray *to* him as my own little saint in a way that I think would be difficult to experience if he were merely, "the baby we lost."  Also, it does witness to the unique humanity of each individual, no matter how small.

If you are one of the many women who have lost a baby and you haven't already, I encourage you to give your child a name, even if it is years ago.   Pray about what it should be.  It doesn't have to sound good with your last name or anything.  This name is for your child, and for you.  We wouldn't have chosen "Joseph" for a child brought to full term, because "Joe Keane" would always be thought to be just "joking!"  But it was meaningful to us and the circumstances of his life, and therefore the right name for this child.

And I am praying for you tonight.