THIS IS BIG.

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We’ve hit a milestone, dear reader.

Now I should warn you, that in my extended family we have a habit for good or ill of quoting from movies we’ve seen together at random times.  Sometimes these are carefully staged, such as the letter I still have somewhere from my sister (then 15) during my freshman year at college, wherein the entire letter is movie quotes modified for the situation.  We do this at the darndest times too, usually if a situation looks too sentimental, as a way of coping, or to “trivialize the momentous and complicate the obvious.”  It has gotten us into mischief sometimes, and I crave pardon because I’m going to subject you to a small example of this tonight.

Tomorrow, someone has a big birthday.

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And just going through the pictures is enough to make me want to cry.🙂

Tomorrow, we’re the parents of a TEENAGER.

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No way, right?

“Now I see in your eyes, the same fear, that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when [we really regret that the teen years are here], but it is not this day.

“This day, we [celebrate!]”

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. MAN!

I’m not scared of the teen years.  We all survived our own, and so did our parents.  It’s going to have its ups and downs, and maybe more downs than ups, but what good would it do to fret about it?  It’s not going to stop the clock!😉  So no, I’m not afraid.

((Cue Yoda: “You will be. You will be.”😉 ))

Yes, I know, I’m incurably optimistic and naive.  I’m facing uncharted waters full of breakers and other things-not-so-good.  But you know what? We’ve been facing uncharted waters all the time since that evening of December 5, 2003, when a sort of normal pregnancy went suddenly very not-normal and things happened so fast we didn’t know what our lives would look like the next day.  We were getting the no good really awful terrible news. Life was not turning out how we thought. But he came. He began by beating all the odds, and he’s still at it. Life may not have followed our original plan, but a much better one.  Trooper needed us, and we needed him.  We are all the better for him.  And God has a way of getting folks through uncharted waters, so it’s all good.  It’s all grace.

Happy 13th Birthday, our Trooper. We love you so much, you crazy, funny, sarcastic teenager. You still light our world with your smile and our days with your laughter.  It is an honor and privilege to be your parents.  You mean the world to us, big guy.  We bless and thank God for the first 13 years of your life, and we look forward to sharing the teen years with you.

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Yarn-Along: A Trio of WIPs

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I once wrote of my horror of too many WIPs (work-in-progress).  It seems I’m bound to have to occasionally eat my own words.  I have three projects on the needles at present! Three!  I’m sure this is still a reaction to having two projects back to back that stretch out over a year (0r two), because suddenly I want to do All The Things!!!

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From Left to Right: The Evelyn Sweater, the Quick & Thick Mountain Man Boot Socks, and Mini Stocking Ornament.

The Evelyn is on hold probably until after Christmas.  I love the sweater.  I love the pattern. After Christmas, during that week between holidays, I will gladly return to it as I drink my tea and enjoy our Christmas break.  Besides, I chose to knit it in Icelandic wool, and it’s still in the 60s and 70s here.

The Quick & Thick Mountain Man Boot Socks began as a quick response to Haus Meister’s request to socks for Christmas.  That’s now been changed to slippers since we found these soles, but the pattern is nice and I want to go back to it again sometime.  I finished three inches there while waiting in line to vote.  I know I got a few quizzical looks, but I also made a few ladies smile and one told me she wished she’d thought of bringing her own knitting.  The yarn I am using was discontinued, causing no little shock here because that yarn had been a Christmas gift from him to me not so very long ago (I thought). So another reason I’m doing All The Things is also because I want to start going through my stash. (Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal in Thunderhead)

The Stocking Ornament is something I thought of after getting this year’s Comfort and Joy Advent bundle.   I have been reading Elizabeth Foss’ blog for about eight years now and have enjoyed the love and attention she puts into her family celebrations.  Advent and Christmas was such a fun part of our own childhoods so Haus Meister and I have enjoyed these years of blending and creating traditions. This year we are going to have the children hang their stockings on St. Nicholas Eve, and during the recent visit with my sister and mother, we discussed the idea Elizabeth puts in her book, about giving each child an ornament at Christmas that can go with them to their future home.

I love that.  I do have several ornaments that have come with me from my parents’ house (including the Ugly Nutcracker that my sister also wanted, so one year I graciously gave it back). The only problem I could foresee with gifting ornaments is that we tend to buy plastic ornaments by the bulk in those wannabe elegant sets from Wal-Mart or Lowes in the hope that said ornaments might survive the season.  Did I want to spend an extra $4 per child ($36!) on 9 individual fragile ornaments that might last if I put them up VERY high and nothing occurs to knock down the tree.  Resin ornaments are as worthless as glass when they hit the family room floor, by the way. So in the stash busting spirit, I decided to knit some ornaments and give them with my love. I think that will do just fine.

Reading?  I’ve been returning to Sally and Sarah Clarkson’s The Life Giving Home often throughout this year, and especially this Fall.  It has been a great aid in helping me think of ways to make a haven here during a year that has drained us all in more ways than one.  Also, of course, the aforementioned Advent planner, particularly the journal.  It may be early, but we’re hosting Thanksgiving and Advent comes directly after.  It’s a soothing thing to plan for at the end of a year that has drained us all in one way or another.  Plus it is the season of hope. And that’s a lovely thing.

 

 

 

Coming into November

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It hasn’t gotten very cold here yet.  Only recently has the temperature dropped near the acceptable level for the wood stove, but we haven’t gotten to light it yet. After a 3week cough jag in September, it took most of the energy to get back to normal, so I finally decorated for Fall in October (a month late).

 

It’s been so dry that wildfires have burned 69 acres of the mountain across the valley from our ridge.  And coming along with the barren dryness of our season here, we have the election tomorrow.  What a malaise has settled on the country’s atmosphere.  I wish with all my heart that the decision rendered tomorrow would be the best for our country.  I cannot see how the current choices offer that promise.  But I never pretended to be one of the Wise who can see all ends.

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General response to election news and robo-calls.

I’m just tending my little corner of the hearth and guiding nine little souls on their path in this crazy world.  The flame we light in our children’s hearts is what will make America great again.  It is the small, quietly kindling flame of love, joy, respect for each other, honesty, fairness, and the rest of those small virtues that need to begin at home. And Faith. Always Faith.  I cling to this, no matter what political season or what party wins.

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An unexpected rainbow in the sky this weekend. Princess called it “the smile of God.”

Now, on to more family news, shall we?

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Our three big girls started attending American Heritage Girls in September.  The picture was taken that day, when the dogwood was still green.  Keeping it real: Sunshine still finds it overwhelming, and we got permission to move her into Miss M’s Pathfinder group.  It was just a better fit.  However, I adore this picture, and Sunshine’s sweet smile.

For Fall Break, Haus Meister took Rascal, Princess, and Dino up to Northern Michigan to visit his grandfather (their great-grandfather).  Granddad turned 99 last month!  It had been about five years since any of us had last seen the cottage on the lake, and the kids made many memories.  Granddad enjoyed conversing with Haus Meister after the kids had gone to bed, and while they were awake, the kids told Granddad all about their lake exploring and even prayed the Rosary with him.  It was truly an “epoch” in their lives.

Cousins came to visit!  Jipped out of a nice cosy family gathering after Rosebud arrived owing to her being in the NICU that time, my mom and my sister brought our nieces and nephew down for some cousin fun over their Fall Break.  The kids had such fun together, despite autumn cleaning.  More memories were made.

On Hallowe’en we had a quick trip to the grocery store where Publix had staff stationed throughout the store offering treats and pumpkins to any costumed trick-or-treaters.  So my sister and I packed up a few of ours and headed out.  Most of these costumes are self-explanatory, although I’ll mention that our niece at the head of the lineup there was Molly McIntyre of Pleasant Company/American Girl fame, complete with doll.  Dino was “Vacation Stormtrooper,” hence the swim trunks.  It is a perfectly legitimate costume; “Vacation Stormtrooper” is a fan-fiction creation of Dino’s own.  Sunshine went out for the candy hunt in the neighborhood, dressed in the dinosaur costume that has seen a few Halloweens now.  We had a merry gathering for dinner, including dear friends and all three of our parish priests.  It was definitely a party to remember.

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November 8 for us means 17 years as a couple.  He was 19, I was 18, we were college freshmen, and our first date was him making me tea on a camp stove at a picnic table in the woods, because neither of us had a car.

So was the charity event Haus Meister and I attended last weekend.  Our church had a fundraiser for our sister parish in Haiti.  There was a silent auction, swing music, wine and appetizers, and the fun of having conversations with other adults from our parish without having to turn around and chase a toddler.  Not that we mind doing that.  They are darling little toddlers, after all.😉

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Can it stay cold soon?

 

The Pumpkin Costume 🎃

Once upon a time, October 2003, I was out on a mission.  Haus Meister was at our apartment studying with some fellow engineering students (he graduated with his engineering degree in Dec. 2003, having been to Christendom with me for two years and then doing four years of engineering classes at UTC in two and a half years), so I had an evening to myself. I decided to hit the mall and get a Halloween costume I’d seen in the Gymboree window.

Now, I was expecting Trooper at this time but it was before I had even any idea that he was a he.  I just knew I loved that little costume and I really wanted to get it lest it not be available the following year (for the record, it wasn’t available in store).  That I could look for it on eBay when I needed it also didn’t occur to me at that time.  I went to the store that weeknight in October when things were pretty empty.  The eager saleslady, no doubt seeing a sucker, talked me into not only the costume and hat but the coordinating socks and a black sweatshirt and pants to go with it.

I then had to go home and justify to my husband why I spent $60 on our unborn baby’s future Halloween at a time in our lives when our budget prohibited going within 10 miles of any mall in the first place.

But he was a good sport, and nine children have now worn at least part of that costume at some point! The socks didn’t make it past Princess, but the little boys wore that sweats outfit often and it was still good enough to pass on.  In the end, it wasn’t such a bad bargain.

And how cute is it to see the same costume on the littlest?

Trooper, Halloween 2004

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Rosebud, Halloween 2016

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12 years

It was not particularly my intention to pick up the blogging threads on a somber note, but it’s someone’s birthday today, and we still remember him.

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I picked up a cake mix for his birthday cake. I wonder if he would have liked this vanilla creme one with chocolate glaze, or just chocolate.  I still sometimes wonder if he’s a redhead or flaxen haired like half his siblings. Did he have brown or blue eyes?  Part of the grief is the not-knowing.

Why bother with the birthday cake? Someone will ask, I’m sure. It’s simple. We believe that all life is sacred from conception to natural death. We celebrate every member of the family, even this little guy, taken from us before he was born.  The children know they have a brother in Heaven, even though only Trooper ever saw Jacob.

Besides, it was actually Rascal’s own idea to have a cake, years ago. Likely he wanted an excuse for an extra dessert back then, but it launched a little tradition that I’m glad we do.  There will always be sorrow for Jacob, our sweet baby Jacob, but there is after all, cause for joy, too.

As God wills, we shall one day see him again.

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(The hands and feet of a baby born at 23weeks gestation)

 

 

 

 

 

Busy Living Life

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I’ve come to the important conclusion that I need to stop beginning blog posts with an apology for being busy.  I am probably going to be busy for the next twenty years, so it’s entirely redundant and unnecessary to apologize for it.  If you do not hear from us in over a week, we’re just busy living life.

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Rosebud hit her two month milestone and just looking at this picture makes me realize all the more how much larger she’s grown and how much she’s adorably rounding out.  And how much time has passed since my last blogpost, but again, no apologizing.

School started, and on the same day that school began, Little Bit decided it would be a fun day to slice her finger on an exercise bike and thence need stitches.  Thankfully, her aunt was able to take over the school day (good practice before beginning her Montessori job the next week) so I could get her to the pediatrician.  Elizabeth Foss wrote an excellent article once about the first school day never going as planned, and I repeated that like a mantra all that morning.

The mischevious, marvelous Miss M turned five (5!!!!!!) in August, obtaining a princess dress that she has worn almost daily since.

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Rascal has turned 11, reestablished his LEGO collection, sprained his thumb, and is currently out hunting doves.

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We rediscovered the old episodes of “Zorro,” starring Guy Williams, which has given the kids another hero to imitate, and taught Miss M that “Z” is for “Zorro.”  I should mention though, that the boys also like to impersonate the bumbling duo of Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Reyes.

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My laundry basket (plastic) broke and it was tiring lugging it around. Serendipitously, I discovered it was much easier hauling the laundry with our leftover IKEA bags.  There’s a bit of sage advice for you.

Haus Meister went to Idaho on business, reminding us of a trip we took out there ten years ago.  The picture top right is of a lake in the Grand Teton National Park where little Trooper and Rascal waded and splashed.  Haus Meister camped in the Park for two days and snapped a bunch of pictures for us while hiking.  We left a bit of our hearts out West on that trip.  Haus Meister and I like to joke that one day we’ll retire there.  Near enough to see these mountains often.

In the meantime, our own mountains are near enough to visit in a day, so we took my parents out over their last visit.

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Of course, 0ur hiking was limited but the kids accomplished a bit of creek stomping.

I liked this view of Miss M and Posey Pie exploring a trail.  The arch of the woods ahead of them reminded me of the scene in the movie version of “Fellowship of the Ring” when the hobbits first meet the Black Rider.

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“Get off the road!”

And by the way, whomever you are, TG, your initial carving on that tree is now captured for posterity.

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This is a Yarn Along picture I meant to post a few weeks ago.  I am making slow but steady progress on my Evelyn cardigan. I’m also continuing on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.

July: A book you should have read in school:The Virginian,” by Owen Wister.  I had looked for that in high school because it was on our reading list but our library never had it.

August: A book published before you were born:”A Wrinkle in Time.”  I had never read that because someone told me it was weird.   Then I found it on several reading lists and at a sale so I decided to give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was like a lighter version of C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy!  And one of the characters happened to mention one of my philosophies of life quite perfectly:

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I’ve been doing that for years, for better or for worse.   I know many people who have misunderstood me on that score, who think I should deal with life more seriously.  The thing is, I do take life seriously, but I refuse to let it get me down without a laugh.  After all, the news channels and social media are chock-full of things being taken far too seriously.

We cannot all do that.  How bogged down we’d all be!

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We need to find some brightness in anything.  To have some corner of joy to lighten the darkness.

To find something funny in the mess….

…like this: what bug did they catch in my jar-mug?!

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And why wasn’t it THIS FIEND FROM GEHENNA?!!  (Seriously, that was a huge cricket)

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So, recapping July?

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Well, hello there.  It’s been a while.  One hot dry day after another and suddenly, summer break was over for us and this beauty started first grade.

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We were–are–in “summer hibernation” anyway.  Too hot and humid to want to spend a ton of time outside, unless it’s neighborhood poolside!😉  One night we had “Christmas in July” and turned on our DVD of London’s Nutcracker Ballet and the girls danced out their energy.🙂

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Back on July 2, we went to the nearby Civil War Battlefield Park for a renactment cannon fire in honor of Independence Day.  This is one of our new family traditions.  It takes longer to drive our van up the mountain and find a van-friendly parking spot than the cannon program lasts, but it’s worth the experience.

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And the view.

These two lovelies handled the sound better this year.🙂

My family came for a visit in time for Rosebud to come home from the NICU.  Unfortunately, my sister and brother-in-law and their kids had to leave the morning of her homecoming, but we had as pleasant a time with them as we could with all the hospital runs.

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Posey and her buddy, Grandpa Mark

 The kids enjoyed my parents’ stay through Independence Day, and Rosebud’s Baptism .  My Dad brought a little whirligig thingamabobber that really had the kids laughing.

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I’m looking forward to updating this picture very soon–that baby has grown!

I tried to get a one month picture with those ubiquitous month stickers that seem to be all the rage these days.  Of course, this was the best I could get on her actual monthaversary.

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I tried again the next day, but couldn’t find the sticker!

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But it’s a lovely picture of her.

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Our Rosebud.

Toward the end of the month, I finished a knitting project that we affectionately call Grumpy Bunny.

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Miss M asked me to make it for Rosebud while the baby was still in the hospital, and I’m glad I did, even if Rosebud takes little interest in it right now.😉  When my kids actually request me to knit something, I’m always ready to oblige!

So passed July away.  We started back to school on August 8, homeschooling grades pre-K through 6.  Only three days in, but we’re glad to be back on routine.  There’s a lot going on this autumn for us, so I hope to keep this a little more updated.🙂

Ending on a geeky note.

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Posey Pie decided, after I bought the Star Wars band-aids, that I had a lot of boo-boos on my arm.  I think I had maybe a mosquito bite. One. If that.