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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Yarn-Along: Baby edition

Dusting off the cobwebs that settled here during my blogging absence.  Ok…..done. 🙂

I didn’t expect to stay at the hospital when my friends brought me on May 1, but I grabbed my Follow-Your-Arrow shawl as we headed out the door, just in case. How fortunate I did so! Not only was Littlest on her way, but we would end up being at the hospital all day May 2, 3, and then unexpectedly May 4 when she had a problem with jaundice. Now the beauty would be if I were able to tell you that I had finished the shawl, but alas, such is not the case. On the other hand, I got quite a lot more done than I would otherwise have been able.

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First, though, there were yarn balls that had unravelled/been unravelled by The Mischief Squad. And there were four podcasts from the Restore Workshop that I had been unable to listen to at home, so part of that Saturday in the hospital was spent untangling the yarn while listening to them. What a blessing in disguise that was–I had felt so bad that I couldn’t listen to the podcasts at home, as I never seemed to have a whole hour free to enjoy any of them after the first one. Now I had ample free time and gave myself a mini-retreat! Later in the day our parish priest stopped by to give me Holy Communion as I wouldn’t be out of the hospital for Sunday Mass. I considered it a day of grace, let me tell you.

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I took this picture especially for Yarn Along. There’s Ginny’s podcast, my Jane Austen puzzle book, my shawl & the bag, and on the chair in the background are two issues of Tea Time that my dear friend left for me.

Unfortunately, in the euphoria of the day (or postpartum mama brain freeze), I wasn’t reading my knitting chart correctly. Up to row 16 there was the general instruction to purl a certain amount of stitches on the WS row. At row 16 that changed. Meanwhile, I blithely went along not seeing this, added an unnecessary purl row in between rows 15, 16, and 17, and didn’t realize my mistake until I had started row 18. This was Sunday at that point, and so I had to take out everything back to row 15! That was painful but had to be done, after all. The cloud had a silver lining because I was able to stretch out the shawl on the hospital bed and see my progress better than I had ever been able to before.

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Excuse blue glow from bilirubin lights. I have made many a small mistake in my progress but overall I am pleased with the shawl. I was able to get it all back on the needles and knitted rows 16-19 before leaving the hospital. I couldn’t make more progress on Sunday than that, as someone was not fond of her bilirubin “tanning bed” and liked having my hand near for comfort.

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How could I blame her? She spent most of Saturday swaddled and sleeping on my chest while I knitted. Sunday she had to lay unswaddled under blue lights. We made up for that, though, and since she’s come home she gets held quite a lot by many eager and loving arms. Miss M is the loudest in proclaiming it’s “her turn.”

With a few more doctor visits to check bilirubin levels and weight (for her), and the start of the return to normalcy (for me), I’m afraid my knitting went by the wayside for a week. On Sunday I sped through row 20 and yesterday began row 21. So close to the end here, so close…

Meanwhile I took a return to childhood for my reading over this past week. While my sister was here staying with us she drove me around and twice we had the indulgence of going to our favorite bookstore in town (the buy/sell/trade used variety, where treasures can be found for as low as 25cents sometimes). As Rascal’s reading skills have improved incredibly since last year, I wanted there to be a ton of choices for him to while away the lazy hours of our humid Southern summer, so I found myself going back in time to my own summers between grade school years and brought home some Beverly Cleary books and various other titles that I will expand upon in another post. And of course, I read many of them to see if they were as good as I remembered, back in the days of Chef Boyardee lunches and fig newton snacks, taking a break from riding my pink bike with the neon colored popping things on the spokes of the tires, the hum of the window air conditioner in the background with Kool-Aid in my cup. And oh yes, they were every bit as good. Even with my grown-up cup of coffee.

Last Week of January (P,h,f,r) and Yarn Along


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Pretty

 

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And also Real: Outside our front door, the morning after the “big snow” that crippled our city for a day. Seriously, it did. My Northern relatives could hardly believe that a sudden half inch of snow could cause over 200 motor accidents and close schools and businesses down.  Around noon on Tuesday I began seeing the neighbors on their ATVs going up and down our road (one of the main roads in the subdivision). At first I thought they were out joyriding or something until I saw them giving rides to the occasional person walking. When Haus Meister came home early from work, hitching a ride with co-workers who have 4-wheel drive trucks and wisely not attempting to drive his little Jetta up the ridge, he too was ferried home on an ATV. There were too many cars stuck in the roadside near both entrances to our subdivision and even a school bus was stranded near our street (all the kids and driver safely home by the time Haus Meister passed), so the entrances were roped off!  The next day Haus Meister took four of the kids sledding down the hill near our house–actually the street, packed with snow. The plow and sand truck didn’t come our way until 4pm Wednesday. 

Another pretty, at least in my eyes:

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The Shalom Cardigan is off the needles! Huzzah! I need to block and button it and then I can call it complete, and give it to my Mom before I keep it for myself.

More RealThis was my January project, since I knew I would be working on the Follow Your Arrow Shawl knit-a-long into February. Knitting is how I relax. Sometimes it even feels like a link to sanity, depending on the day. 😉 Midway through this month I was feeling pretty drained of stamina after the looooong bout of sickness that started before Christmas, and then the bustle of new routines and new schedules for the new year. I wanted to make grand resolutions for the year, but instead came to the probably more reasonable solution to give myself small goals to work on every month. I find if I carve out some quiet time to knit and listen to a movie or to EWTN or to my thoughts or whatever, so long as I have even ten minutes, I’m a lot calmer and able to focus on what needs to be done next in our daily life. If I can accomplish a project a month this way, I shall be very well pleased but I also know that sometimes it isn’t going to happen, so I’m just going to see what these little times can do.

Happy

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Miss M prepares for launch

 

This year she determined to go outside in the snow, unlike last winter when we got a bit of the white stuff and she couldn’t bear to step out onto the deck. She made it down the back steps and out into the yard, but only until she slipped and got her mittens wet.

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It was great while it lasted, though.

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Now that the big Christmas tree is outside, we moved Pumpkin House into the corner of the basement family room/playroom. “Pumpkin House” is the name of the giant dollhouse in Tasha Tudor’s The Dolls’ Christmas, and ours is in a continual state of flux. It isn’t completely furnished yet, as we intended just the bare beginnings to be the girls’ Christmas present last year so we could add to it as our daughters grow and their own touches can be included. However, when I asked the kids to clean up the toys downstairs, they rearranged everything around the dollhouse to include their kid-size kitchen set pieces, and the “lean-to” wings of the dollhouse became doors. Real: Even if it doesn’t fit your original plan for the toy–if it’s cleaned up and they’re playing with it, who’s to argue?! But what my cupcake stand is doing down there is more than I can figure.

Also, the bedroom of the dollhouse acquired bedding thanks to some Liesl Gibson for Oliver & S flannel that I bought nigh on two years ago for a project I’ve forgotten. I know the “beds” are set up kind of like that bizarre arrangement in the original Willy Wonka movie, with the four grandparents in one huge bed, but hey, the dolls aren’t going to complain. In fact, I’ve heard they are quite comfortable now that they don’t have to sleep on a hard shelf. 🙂 This fits into “Real” too because I’ve come to the conclusion that hardly anything in my yarn and fabric stash will go to waste because eventually I will find a project to fit it. Eventually. 😉

Funny

In the days prior to the Big Snow of 2014, when the weather was in the 50s and the neighbors were out sprucing their yards, Miss M and Sunshine dumped out the hats and scarves bin and began to play dress-up. Sunshine then took a scarf and used it as reins on the rocking horse to give Miss M a ride. 

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And here’s the obligatory snowman to end the post!

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{pretty, happy, funny}

Did you hear that? It was the sound of jubilant children. School is out for the summer! Huzzah!

Pretty

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I love my Mary garden. As usual, I can only take credit for about 5% of it. Haus Meister did half of the landscaping (we used a flower bed previously made by previous owners) and expanded this year. I just added the rosebush.

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I took these on a cloudy day but I was excited to see my rosebush had made it through the winter. These are the first blooms I’ve seen on it. We bought it last year from the Antique Rose Emporium, and it’s called ‘Lafter.’

Happy

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Trooper began equestrian therapy last week. He’s already doing more advanced things than the instructor usually sees on a second visit. We are proud of him, and he is so happy.

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Our backyard art projects continue. That table isn’t coming in until October.

Funny

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Because winter boots (on the wrong feet!) are what you’re stuck with when you get a trip to the park but there’s no matching shoes in the cupboard.

My personal Purgatory will be locating and matching missing kids’ shoes, of this I am certain.

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My girls, my sweet sweet girls. They love helping Mama in the kitchen.

But at some point…

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…there’s almost too MUCH help. 😉

My Real gets a post of its own today.

Have a great weekend!

The lesson you don’t learn from a book

I received an e-mail from my Dad earlier this week and in it was a link to the a replay of Pope Francis’ Easter Mass. Dad urged me to pay attention to something that would happen at around a certain time in the video replay, “and grab a kleenex,” he added. Unfortunately I couldn’t access the video on my phone, and I wasn’t by my computer because I received the e-mail as I was waiting in the pediatrician’s office with Miss M, who needed stitches on her heel thanks to an accidental glass breakage. I was trying to keep her occupied by showing her shoes on Amazon (hey, you do what you gotta do when distracting a toddler for 20 minutes who wants nothing more than to be running around, cuts and numbing gel aside). So wholly occupied by the drama in front of me, I forgot about the e-mail.

Until I saw this picture today.

And I cried.

Nine years ago today Trooper came home from the NICU. His cerebral palsy is milder than little Dominic’s, but the lesson he teaches us is the same. It has always been the same. And what lesson is that? Thanks to Mary at Passionate Perseverance I found a link to the story the boy’s father told about this encounter at the Vatican. Here’s an excerpt.

Why is the whole world so moved by images of this embrace? A woman in the Square, moved to tears by the embrace, perhaps answered it best when she to my wife afterward, “You know, your son is here to show people how to love.” To show people how to love. This remark hit my wife as a gentle heaven-sent confirmation of what she has long suspected: that Dominic’s special vocation in the world is to move people to love, to show people how to love. We human beings are made to love, and we depend upon examples to show us how to do this.

But how can a disabled person show us how to love in a way that only a disabled person can? Because the Cross of Christ is sweet and is of a higher order. Christ’s resurrection from the Cross proclaims that the love he offers us, the love that we, in our turn, are to show others, is the REAL reason he endured the Cross in the first place. Our stony hearts are transformed into this Christ-like love, and thereby empowered to change hatred into love, only through the Cross. And no one shares in the Cross more intimately than the disabled.

You may read the whole thing here.

Now excuse me, but I’m going to go give my incredibly tall former preemie a hug. There’s always so much more I want to say about our big guy, somehow to encapsulate all he has done for us, for our lives these past nine-and-a-half years. Truly, we do so much for him, to help him meet his goals, but as the article indicates…. we’re the gainers. Just by being himself that Trooper of ours teaches us more about living than we could learn from a book.

He also shows us how to truly love.

Week Recap

The week ahead promises to be chock-full of its own amazing news so I want to put up some pictures before things start rolling around here. We’ve been thrown off as usual by the “spring forward” of Daylight Savings Time (my annual groan) and with Posy Pea’s arrival imminent we decided to take Spring Break this week instead of next. This morning we had the unprecedented experience of two night owls as Miss M and Sunshine decided to be bright eyed and bushy tailed from 3am-present (well, except for Miss M, who crashed around 6:45), and as I struggle to keep the eyes open I realize our Spring Break decision was probably amongst the wisest academic decisions I made this year. 😉

So without further eloquence…

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My foyer shelf, all decked out for March and April. Gardening ….

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…and Spring Cleaning are on the mind.

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Getting out on the “last” cold weekend before Easter (the previous weekend).  Haus Meister took the big kids back to the lake for another nature walk (and yes they did return with another driftwood piece).

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Two boys lost a tooth this week, one of them for the very first time!

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An aunt and cousins came to visit and stay with us for a few weeks while we wait for Posy Pea and welcome her home! The children are loving the captive audience of their 5month old littlest cousin.

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Reading assignments are less of a chore with such a smiling face next to you!

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The oven fix mentioned a few posts ago worked for the door for all of three uses (not Haus Meister’s fault), but the error code soon returned and was replaced by another, indicating that we’d need to replace the entire control panel for the oven. As the door was still crooked, the temperature sensor still faulty, and now that, we decided just to replace the oven. What joy! What rapture!

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Over the past weekend the weather warmed up, and so what did the corgyn do? They decided to stay glued to an inside wall. I question their intelligence.

When Miss M and Sunshine, in complete juxtaposition to their actions this morning, granted me a free hour on Friday afternoon by napping after school–both of them, at the same time–I decided to bring out my sewing machine. Almost eighteen months ago I packed up the machine because it kept tangling the thread on me as I tried to make some homemade gift bags during an Advent season. I had a pile of mending to do and figured I would at least see if I needed the machine serviced. To my surprise, the machine behaved itself and I was able to knock several mending projects off my to-do list. What a relief–I love to sew, but mending is my bane. How ironic is that? I also found a pair of cotton nightgowns at the bottom of my mending pile that needed to be scrapped. I upcycled the lower parts of them into petticoats/slips for my daughter and niece.

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The girls were quite excited and wore the petticoats over their skirts the rest of the day.

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With the balmy Spring air coming in from the deck door, the sunshine softly lighting the room, the recliner beckoning for impatient children to rest in while I “sew them up something,” and the corgi chewing on something or other down there, I become more and more convinced that I appropriated the best room in the house for my sewing nook. It’s not going to turn into a dining room again anytime soon.

My two cents…

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This morning began like any other, of course. Haus Meister woke me before he left, gave me my coffee as only he can make it, and we sat on the sofa in the living room to say our morning prayers. After he left for work I sat at the computer to finish my coffee, check e-mail, and the weather for the day. Absently scanning the headlines at the bottom of the Weather Channel page, I was shocked suddenly to read: “Pope Benedict XVI to step down.”

Impossible. It must be a hoax.

Now of course it took about three minutes and a quick browse through other news venues to see that it wasn‘t.

Most of the day has been spent in a myriad of emotions, trying to wrap my mind around this. Trying to avoid reading vituperative comments (hard to do down here in Deep Bible Belt where the Pope is the Jack Chick Antichrist). Trying to avoid those who decide to figuratively exhume Bl. John Paul II and point out every physical ailment and how it impaired him and how he should have been the one to resign.

As if we’re the ones to judge. We’re not the ones in the papal shoes.

If any two men in the world ever prayerfully considered this step, I am certain it must have been these two. John Paul considered it but continued on. Benedict considered it and found it to be God’s will for him. No Gallup poll, no amount of Facebook comments, no votes or likes or thumbs up or plus-ones factor into this. It was between them and God. We can speculate all we want, but ultimately that is where the decision lay.

Still, for the practicing faithful Catholics of the world, it’s a blow. There is a shock to it as well. It has been 600 years since a Pope stepped down, and now the man we know, honor, and love is going to step out of the picture. We know he will still be praying for us, but we will miss seeing his smile. It’s like, well, grieving without a funeral. It’s odd also because in our normal parlance we think of someone resigning in terms of failure, like CEOs who step down because of fraud or Nixon resigning, or something like that. This is different. This is so vastly different. He didn’t fail in his task of leading the Church. He just recognized his own limitations, his age, and while he could he wanted to pass on the baton. But he didn’t fail. In fact, so much of his work was done so quietly, so subtly in contrast to the very public John Paul, that I bet we’ll come to see and appreciate it more as the years go on.

And then there’s the anticipation. The joy and hope in the knowledge that Christ will never abandon the Church. There will be a conclave in a few weeks. There will be a new Pope (by the by, I wonder how the eligible Cardinals are sleeping tonight). We’re standing in the thick of Church history. More of my children will be able to remember this day, will be able to tell their children about this day. I’m excited for them. Trooper was only a little guy–maybe 19 months old when Benedict was elected. Rascal was months from his due date. Now they’ll remember, and so will Dino and Princess and maybe even Sunshine. We’re going to make this a big celebration.

But oh, we will still miss you, and pray for you, Pope Benedict XVI.

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