Sacraments and Special Needs

This past Sunday, our Sunshine received her First Holy Communion. It’s an amazing day for any child growing up in the Catholic Church, but for those who need a little extra help/patience/encouragement/etc., it’s a triumph.

This Sunday was all hers.

Picture by Grandpa Mark

A little over a year ago, we were saying goodbye to dear Ms Connie in the nursery of our previous parish. I gave Ms. Connie my tried-and-true recipe for Cranberry Cider Jelly since she had liked it and we wouldn’t be there at Christmas to gift her another pint. She has been working Sundays at the nursery for a couple of decades, watching rambunctious young ones so the parents can attend Mass. Or, in our case, hugging the enthusiastic ASD child who towers over the wee ones and who came every Sunday with her little sisters to play in the nursery while I watched Mass on the big screen TV until Communion, when one of my older children would relieve me as soon as they had received and I rushed into church, hoping not to be late. That was our season at that time and at that place in our lives. Sunshine was too loud and fidgety in the pews to often sit through Mass, and if a toddler was overly rambunctious we often resorted to the nursery, and of course she came along, for she remembered the toys.

As we prepared to move, I realized we would likely be in a unique position with no other help besides “homegrown family help,” and no nursery with a big screen Mass viewing TV!!! Masses are still our weekly lessons in humility as we still have toddlers. And Sunshine still fidgets in her seat, still wants to greet babies near her, and examine the rings of all ladies in a certain radius of her chair.

BUT.

The first Sunday we attended Mass here last year we had to motion to the Deacon that she wasn’t able to receive Communion despite her willingness. After Mass, he asked me how old she was, and I admitted she was old enough chronologically, but academically she was in first grade thanks to developmental delays, ASD, etc etc. He smiled at me and said joyfully, “Anyone who wants to receive Communion that badly has a right to receive. Let’s see what we can do about this.”

Another tiny victory: the last time I had a picture of her with that hairstyle was in 2012. She seems to have gotten past the self-haircut stage…

I was in shock. As we drove out of the parking lot, I turned to Haus Meister and asked, “Do you think she could?”

She not only could. She did.

March 23rd she made her First Confession. I had prepped her in advance by working at home with the church’s course (DynamicCatholic.com) and through a little comic book I made for her of ‘[Sunshine] receives her first Sacraments.” She loved it and wanted me to read it often. On her First Confession Day, she wrote out her small transgressions on a piece of paper. When it was her turn, she entered the small chapel where confessions are heard with her face beaming. We could see her through the glass doors, and the beatific smile on her face is something I will carry with me forever. The DRE put a hand on my shoulder and whispered. “She’s doing great!” At that moment I saw Sunshine hand Father her list, and she smiled all the time, and he blessed her, and I realized that if anyone in the church at that moment wasn’t breathing, it was me. So I reminded myself to breathe.

Seconds later, Sunshine came out of the chapel and fist-bumped the air. “I did it!”She shouted. ‘I remembered everything!” Then we went into the main church and she recited out loud one Our Father and one Hail Mary, which in itself is a huge matter as she does not ever willingly pray out loud. The only fly in the ointment was that I had forgotten to mention in our comic book just HOW MANY Sundays would elapse between First Confession and First Communion. The book made it look like it would happen immediately. After she cried at the end of Communion the next day because she was so ready, we made a countdown on the kitchen calendar for her to see and every Sunday I’d remind her that it was 5-4-3-2-1 Sundays until the day.

6:30am May 5. “Mom? Can I put on my dress and veil now?” For a 10:45am Mass!

This photo stole my heart. She was so nervous and happy all at once. And the azaleas seemed to hold out just long enough for this moment.

I approached the First Communion rehearsal with some trepidation. Her ASD + ADHD had prevented her from sitting in regular 2nd grade CCD (so much more fun to be with her sisters in the K/1st room where there was a kids’ Bible and crayons EVERY week). I figured she would sit with us in a pew and I would go up to Communion with her. But I reckoned without her. She sat with her class. She processed in–and out–with her class. And when the glorious moment arrived when, as she reminded me before Mass, “The King of Heaven is coming to my heart,” she was there on her own. Our pew was across from the pews of the First Communicants, and as the rest of the parish filed through the Communion line, she whispered, “Mom? Did I win?”

“Yes,” I whispered back. “You won. You did it.”

She did it. And He helped her. Because when someone wants to receive Jesus so much, there’s no reason to keep her in a nursery! Not toddlers or folks who get annoyed at her involuntary loudness or fidgetyness.

She won.

Recovery

Is it harder to recover from an illness or to recover from recovering from an illness? That’s the question that has been occupying me this week.

Sunshine enjoys the last snow of the winter this past March.

Ironically, I’m not the one who was very sick. In fact, few of us were, but when a viral cold hits a family hard, all of us are affected in some small way. Monday morning I looked down from the “gallery” or “top deck” or “open foyer” and wondered when the last time that was cleaned. Or that. Or that, that, THAT. Ack!!! Time to get down to brass tacks.

Happy 2019 “Sibling Day” to my little sister, the only person in the world, besides my husband, and our parents, who can “get” all my jokes. I love you, Kiddo.

We had an excellent March, dear reader, mostly because the month gave us Spring Break in the form of two extended visits from both sets of grandparents. My parents came first, bringing as a surprise for the cousins, my sister and her children (we hope Uncle Dan can come out soon as well, but as a tax accountant he was much needed at work)! It was the first time we had all been together since Bright Eyes’ Baptism in Sept., 2017. Fortunately, everyone got along as if no time had ever separated us. The teenage/preteen boys tried to pull pranks on their Grandpa Mark, but they soon found that you can’t kid the champion kidder. Mwa-ha-ha-HA.

Posey thinks grandparents, an aunt, and cousins, makes a 6th birthday just that more special!

Haus Meister’s parents came to visit at the end of the month and we had a jolly time with them as well. Hikes, sewing for Princess & Grandma, teepee building, and board/card games filled our extended weekend and we were, as always, so sorry to see them go.

Ugh, sick days are bad. Until someone turns on “Kipper the Dog”!

Fortunately for them, however, they left just in time as Viral Cold 2.3 hit the children. Bright Eyes and Rosebud tested our new pediatrician office’s ability to handle dual sick kid visits on a Monday (they pass!). One by one, everyone fell prey to it in varying levels. I was probably the last man standing through most, through a mix of sheer stubbornness, turmeric, bone broth, and the grace of God. Not to mention the fact that Rascal and I were registered to run a 5k race last Saturday, and neither of us wished to miss it. We probably could have done better had both of us admitted to our condition, but neither of us did, and despite that I’ll have nightmares about the second hill until I run it again, he scored second best in age group, and I even managed a personal best, so what’s to lose?

That boy in the white shirt beat his ol’mom by about a minute and was so upset he missed his target time…until that moment, when his name was called for second place.

But as I said, Monday arrived, and I saw all that had been undone in a week of sick-care, and as we were all well enough to go back to school and chores, so we did. Our life may be chaotic, but though it may sound silly, one of my life’s goals is to provide coziness to a home, and too much gone awry shakes even my incredibly complacent self. Suffice to say, Monday shook it. Now, on Wednesday night, as I type, we are as relatively close to normal as we can get. HA.

Don’t kid yourself; one of the girls picked this flower long ago.

That being said, the notice arrived from the hatchery that our postal label has been created. Our new chicks will arrive soon! Our littlest one can barely stay inside and hangs around the barn like a child in a Tasha Tudor painting. We scramble to finish assignments and tests. Our back porch container garden is slowly coming to form. The kids are planning for summer break, and I am looking over enrollment forms and marvel that, come August, I will have both a high-schooler and a kindergartener in our 21st century “1 room Schoolhouse.”

“Normal,” for us, is certainly a lot different from what is “normal” for everyone else. And as I try to ignore the chaos in my laundry room, I lift my glass and declare that it’s all just fine.

And it is.

Animals down on the Farm

My social media reminders reminded me that apparently it has been one whole year since Haus Meister brought home the box of chicks from the hardware store. I thought for a moment that it couldn’t be, but yes, it was ten days from our move-in day… we still didn’t have our furniture then… the movers would place things, with a chuckle, around the makeshift brooder we set up in the basement. So, on that note, how about a look at the animals on the farm?

And may I add a laugh on me? When the last of the corgyn fellowship passed away in Sept. 2017, having slipped a disc in his back after jumping out of the bathtub and never recovering, I was DONE with pets. I said we would not have another pet until Bright Eyes was in kindergarten. Of course, I had seen Fredregar killed in a hit-and-run just in front of our mailbox in 2011; the black labrador rescue gone sour the same year; my favorite corgi Meriadoc died in front of me after a cruciatus tear to his knee exacerbated an abdominal condition in 2015; and then Pippin… well, it was quits for me and the animal kingdom.

Until December, when we visited a farm owned by some friends, and Sunshine picked up a cat. Fortunately, she alighted upon the most placid cat in existence who didn’t mind a bit that this strange girl was carrying it around everywhere while she visited. Sunshine decided from that afternoon that we, also, needed a cat. She repeated this often. She went on walks in the neighborhood looking for a stray to rehome. We didn’t think cat + move = good idea, so we tried promising a cat AFTER the move. The second time she went in search of a stray, we decided it was time to just adopt a cat.

Guarding his domain? Or sleeping in the late afternoon?

Here comes the laugh on me. March 3, 2018, enter Bilbo. He was a sweet, quiet kitten for about five days but ended up being an agile, hilarious critter. He likes warm hearths, warm blankets, or warm windowsills bathed in sunshine. He also likes to attack when least expected, or when we are showing the slightest attention to the outdoor cat. When seated, he resembles some Egyptian statue and wants us to recall that his ancestors were worshipped as gods. He thinks he’s fierce, but he also has only brought home one rodent and a pile of crickets. He also hogs the dryer top in the wintertime.

I said we only needed one cat. That much is true. However, last August, after a few weeks of rain and storms, my parents were in for a visit and reported that they had seen a gray cat outside their bedroom window. Two nights after they had left, I saw the cat myself, meowing and rubbing against the screen of the sliding door in our kitchen. I had seen an orange stray meandering before then, but he always ran at the sight of anyone. This one stayed put, so I feared she was lost and needed some food (I am a sap, I admit). I went out to give her a bit of cat food, and she was skittish as I grew close. She even now will rarely let me pet her, but she comes by every night and she has proven a good pest controller–better even, than Bilbo– so I keep feeding her. It’s not like the cat food provokes raccoons or opossums any more than the fact that we have garbage cans on the property, anyway.

So here she is: “Tabitha Twitchett”

The “barn” is actually a large shed/workshop built at the same time as our house. It was full of junk and leaning when we moved in but Haus Meister cleared the place, straightened it, replaced the rotting floor, and made it habitable for chickens…and rabbits, but not in the exact same spots. We repurposed a lot of wood in the barn for nest boxes and perches. These feathered idiots only truly like the top three middle nest boxes. Why did we bother adding more?!

And now, the chickens! When Haus Meister went to the hardware store last year and inquired as to the availability of chicks, he was proffered the deal of “buy 4 get 1 free” if we chose week old chicks instead of the day-old ones. So he came home with 4 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Rhode Island Reds, 5 Barred Rocks, and the last Ameraucana the store had in stock.

The Buff Orpingtons: Banana (deceased January 2019, thanks to a hawk); Pillow; Sunflower; and Polka Dot Sunshine Sleeping Beauty Princess (named by Posey. Note: there isn’t a single polka dot on this yellow hen).

The Rhode Island Reds: Galatea (named for the cow in Farmer Giles of Ham), and Speckles Worm-Bane.

The Barred Rocks: Pecksy, Eugenia Lincoln, Baby Lincoln, Polka Dot (the original), and Turkey Neck.

Ameraucana: Queen Spotta.

All of the chickens have been great with the kids. They may not always be kind to one another (“Pecksy” and “Turkey Neck” received their official names from a feather-plucking habit developed over the last four months). We’ve learned a lot about chicken keeping in the past year. The reason “Banana” is in a towel held by Rascal in the second picture in due to the fact that she suffered a vent prolapse after her first laid egg. “I just gave a chicken an epsom salt bath” was probably among the most surreal texts I sent in 2018. Poor Banana! She was the runt of the bunch and became my favorite.

It’s a fact that we have not needed to buy eggs at the supermarket since last August. We’ve given eggs away to friends, neighbors, and even electricians. All our current hens lay brown eggs except Queen Spotta, who lays a blue green egg. One day I opened our refrigerator to see that Sunshine had decided to have a bit of fun with an old nest we found in the woods, and one of Spotta’s eggs.

Another amusing story from our first year here came from the same weekend that we acquired the outdoor stray cat, Tabitha, mentioned above. My parents were due to arrive late in the afternoon of one particular Friday last August after a time which, as I said, we had a lot of rain and storms. A lost hen decided to visit our barn that same afternoon, and moved in that night. Luckily for us, she wasn’t carrying any diseases or ailments, and began to lay full size eggs in the nest boxes as if she had always known this place. Rascal said she was his chicken since she arrived out of the blue on a weekend we were celebrating his birthday. He named her “Candy.” I’m hazarding a guess she’s either a “Red Star” or “ISA Brown” hen. It really doesn’t matter, as we don’t plan on showing her at a fair anytime soon. What we find amusing, though, is that we acquired a stray chicken. That doesn’t come up in many stories! And yes, I did look around for a few weeks in case anyone was missing a chicken, and as no one seemed to be at a loss, Candy fits in well.

By this time, I had utterly forgotten anything I had ever said about when to get a pet, and was not surprised when, after unearthing and restoring a rabbit hutch from the woods behind the barn, that Rascal would save his money from pet-sitting for our neighbors and buy some rabbits! He has two American Blue does named after characters in the Redwall series of books. “Dottie” is the smaller of the two, more personable, and very sweet. “Mumzy” is more aloof, larger, and as I call her, “The Adventure Rabbit.” Haus Meister and Rascal plan to build a larger, more secure hutch for the rabbits next weekend after Mumzy the Adventure Rabbit decided this weekend to find a way out from under an old loose feeder and see the Great Outdoors. Fortunately, she only explored to a woodpile about ten feet from the barn door, whereupon she was returned to her hutch to nurse her offended dignity.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the glimpse of our ongoing “nature study” here on the Farm. The joke on me will continue as April should bring us some brand new chicks (from Murray McMurray Hatchery this time) as well as a nuc or two of honeybees. Stay tuned!

Yarn Along & Lenten Reading

The rosary is from VonClef creations on Etsy, where Kristin has a wide assortment of lovely handmade Rosaries. I chose this one because the centerpiece looked like the medal I wore on my First Communion. Also, St. Therese seems to be directing my Lent a bit (see sixth book down).

Lent Game On! I began my Lenten planning by deciding to fast from Facebook and I’m feeling the effects already as last night I had thought of two blog posts and I’ve been knitting a little today. You really don’t know how much time you waste/spend on an app until you delete it.

Of the books above, only ‘Relics of the Crucifixion” is one I carried over from last year. I’m going to read it with my boys as it reads like a mystery in a way. Most of the others are personal.

Knitting! I am so happy to participate in Yarn Along as not much happened successfully last year. I finished the first Maize mitten and began the cuff of the second. I spent the summer working on a tunic that I later frogged. In November I finished two quick simple hats for the girls who are so happy to live somewhere that snow falls, seemingly more than once a winter. Currently there are two other projects on the needles.

Top: A Temperature Scarf! I have seen many ideas on Ravelry but went with my own colors (all bought from KnitPicks). Basically I’m knitting two rows in stockinette with a color based on the high temperature of the day. It’s going to look very bright in the middle and very green on the ends! As pictured, I’m already a little behind because the yarn on the needles are for February 1! This is hopefully the loudest project I’ll ever make. I imagine it will be reserved for un-self-conscious preschoolers or snowmen in future years. Little Bit insists it is for her. Let’s see what she thinks come next January…

The second is a Swoop Beanie/hat done in Spud & Chloe Outer. I have had three skeins of that yarn around since I began to knit in earnest. In fact, I packed up so much yarn in the move that I acquired very little in 2018. The Swoop hat is for Princess and she is doubting my ability to finish it before the warmer weather.

To be honest, I am as well. Let’s see what I can accomplish before the next Yarn Along!

Monday Night Musings from Misselthwaite

Come to think on it, that blog title sounds like it should be some sort of “Secret Garden” fanfic piece, but no, it’s just yours truly blowing the dust off the blogosphere and settling in for a bit.

A long bit, I hope.   I have missed writing here.

We are ten days out from our move-aversary.  A year from the date that we pulled away from our second house in the sunrise of a lovely Tennessee Spring day.  One 12-passenger van stuffed to the gills with children and miscellany, a row boat strapped to the top, and pulling a Uhaul trailer stuffed with mattresses and lamps for our bivouac in the big empty new house until the movers would follow with our main furniture. One Audi wagon stuffed with our duffles and spare things, and houseplants.  I was determined we needed to bring those ourselves.  Just like I was determined not to leave behind our outdoor statue of the Blessed Mother, and the rocks we had brought home from our family vacation to Haus Meister’s late grandparents’ house on Burt Lake, Michigan, the previous summer. Yes, I insisted on rocks. They had been brought back from the kids’ new favorite vacation spot and we still had talked about where we had found them. Little gestures of the familiar.

Rascal and I were in charge of the Audi. We listened to “Ember Falls” on Audible. We passed through Knoxville and I spoke to him of his late great-grandparents’ house. There would have been daffodils in the woods around their home by this time. The first time I visited Haus Meister’s grandparents’ house, before we were even engaged, I loved it. I loved the welcoming house, the congenial hosts, the large yard with gently rolling slope down to a babbling creek, and the woods in the back. I always thought it would have been ideal for children to grow up in that place.

Our move was a leap of faith. We were going to a city with some familiarity only to Haus Meister, who had visited it on business for some time now. Only he had seen our house in person. We had each seen it online, and I had dismissed it at first. The house looked too large, too pretentious. I had been looking for a modest Cape Cod. But then I looked past the original photo of the house’s exterior, and fell in love. I texted Haus Meister who was at work at the time and said, in effect, “even if this is an impossibility, I have to see what this stairwell looks like.” It was an open stairwell to a second floor gallery open to the living spaces below. Honestly, I envisioned my children running around it just like Sr. Mary Benedict imagined her school children running in Mr. Bogartus’ building (“Bells of St. Mary’s.” You should see it some time).

The stairwell sold me.

This was shortly after the furniture arrived. It took me 10 months to know what to put on that wall upstairs. For the record, the baby of the family became an expert stair navigator even before she walked unassisted.

That gray January day he navigated a route now familiar and investigated the house for me. Just a look at the land and the house sold him. He knew it would be a home place, like his grandparents’ had been for his family. We still looked around, but as we did, every potential house was snapped up in the kind of market we would have loved at the time we were trying to sell the Old Haus (family annals 2011-2015).

(Incidentally, I did drive past the Old Haus once before the move. I had to say goodbye. They had my curtains still hanging in the kitchen window.)

So while we tried to make the Tennessee house look like something that hadn’t been toddler-scarred for the past six years, we were in contact with lovely realtor who worked hard to find us a spot. And God closed doors and opened windows until it came down to the moment that it would be this house.

Sometimes I still can’t believe it.

I just know I drove up to it that afternoon in March and said aloud, “Oh good, it looks cosier than the pictures!”


Moving day was Posey’s 5th birthday and for months after she would brag, “I got the Big Blue House on my birthday.” I fretted that we didn’t have a cake. I spent no little time wondering how to acquire a cake for her. In the end, we found our realtor had been to Sams and left some food in the home for us. She included a massive tray of cookies that became Posey’s birthday treat, but in the euphoria of seeing her new home she didn’t mind at all. So of course, the photo I have is of her not smiling. She’s fourth from the left at the island.

It was Posey’s 5th birthday and for months after she would brag, “I got the Big Blue House on my birthday.” We would occasionally remind her that she wouldn’t get that big a gift next year (although she has a house-sized gift list, and all pink.) I fretted that we didn’t have a cake. I spent no little time wondering how to acquire a cake for her. In the end, we found our realtor had been to Sams and left some food in the home for us. She included a massive tray of cookies that became Posey’s birthday treat, but in the euphoria of seeing her new home she didn’t mind at all.

For two weeks, the island pictured above was our kitchen table, precisely because our tables were being packed in Tennessee. Even now, we gravitate toward the island at mealtimes. At one point, the island was the only thing that worked perfectly in that kitchen–and even then, we had to replace the garbage disposal in that sink now that I recall.) We were soon to replace every major appliance. The wall oven we have eeked along on a wing, prayer, and online manual. It is dark in the areas behind because the kitchen had the only working lights in the house. Everywhere else there were burned-out bulbs from a house too long empty. The lamps we had brought went into the living room and bedrooms. Even now, this past winter has definitely taught us which parts of the house needs the most hygge.

It’s still hard to put into words all the emotions of moving day. Perhaps that is why it has taken me over eleven months to attempt to try. For the record, we feel entirely at home here, and love our new home. And do you know? The moment we walked through the front doors (which may be replaced this year with something that insulates), the kids rushed up the stairs and began to run around the gallery, just as I imagined they would.

And they still do.

Catching Up

Pray, dear reader, bear with me as I try to sum up the greatest whirlwind adventure of our family’s recent history.  In the past month, we’ve picked up and moved a state away and found ourselves in a house twice as big as our previous one with six times the land!

And we had no idea this was coming until shortly before Christmas.

Friends, we are home now in Misselthwaite.  I began to call it thus about four days after our arrival.  We relocated to a huge empty house in the country, a house that had been left to itself for around 18 months and whose grounds had been basically overgrown.  Because it was the perfect time of year to listen to “The Secret Garden” on Audible (or read it in actual book format), we had it playing as we unpacked and I realized that we had landed in our own Secret Garden of sorts.  A house left alone had become a HOME again, and we were waking up along with it.  So I determined one rainy Monday that this house is our own Misselthwaite Farm (not Manor, it’s not THAT grand; we don’t have a “hundred rooms”.

But it is a farmette, of sorts, because we have an overgrown grapevine, and we have chickens.

That’s right, dear readers, seven years from the time we were building the “Poulet Chalet” in the backyard of the Old Haus–which had to be abandoned because we moved to an absolutely wonderful neighborhood in every respect except not chicken friendly–we quickly made good on a promise to the older kids that they could have their chickens at last… by acquiring four Buff Orpington chicks, five Barred Rocks, two Rhode Island Reds, and an Easter Egger from the local True Value even before the rest of our furniture arrived.

Because we are crazy like that.  And you know, it is not a bad thing.  Did you know that chickens are hilarious and sort of calming to watch? No, I’m not insane, just hie thee to the nearest “Chick Days” location and watch the little ones scurry about the brooder.

Besides, we acquired a CAT a week before we moved to help Sunshine cope with the transition. And he did.  He’s Patrol Cat in the evenings now, but he lets her cuddle him when she needs the extra comfort.  We sadly lost Pippin, last of the corgyn, in September when his back broke after jumping out of a bathtub, and I had sworn then that nary a pet would we have until Bright Eyes was at least of kindergarten age…  We make plans, and God chuckles.

We have twelve chickens and we are on the waiting list for RABBITS, but when God gives you six acres, why not?

So, why are we here? Because Haus Meister was offered a new position in his company. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Do we miss our old home? We miss our family members and the friends we had to leave behind.  You can’t have fifteen + years of roots and not feel the pangs when uprooted.

But….

We look at each other every day and wonder at the generosity of a Providence that remembered our dreams and granted them when we least expected.

There’s a mountain view at the end of my driveway. Our house is nestled in a valley. I counted twenty deer in the clearing across from my kitchen window on Holy Thursday, and after Easter all of a sudden some wild turkeys showed up. The wild birds have discovered our bird feeders at last (there’s a downy woodpecker couple that think we put up that suet block just for them).

We mourned leaving our wonderful parish Church, and then found ourselves in a little stone church in the country (and when I say “little” I mean it could fit in a quarter of our dear old minor basilica) who welcomed us with open arms.

We mourned leaving our friends, and were greeted by neighbors who brought over fresh eggs from THEIR backyard coop (!), flowers from their garden, goodies from their kitchen, and wine from the local area.  As a thank you, I tried to make a lemon pound cake loaf for them but forgot to add the eggs so fell back on my very favorite chocolate-chip cookie receipt.

And for the first time in three years, the kids had a good snow to enjoy.  And they, themselves, even as they write notes to the friends they left, can’t help but tell me how happy they are.  Rascal himself came up to me on his own and said, “I feel like I’m getting stronger here.  Like Colin in ‘The Secret Garden’!”

Stay tuned, dear reader, for more “Misselthwaite Matters.” Or in regular parlance, the antics of our family as we adjust to life in the country!

And I will post pictures…once our internet catches up…because we are in the COUNTRY!

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Merriest Christmas

From all of us, to all of you!

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It’s been quite a year, and quite a holiday.  I’m still working on cards and still trying to get the baking done this year! Happy 2nd Day of Christmas!

“Bright Eyes,” the littlest of the family, is peeking out on Rascal’s lap. You will hear more about her soon.

 

Ups, downs, and joys

(She was slightly “over” the monthly sticker thing this month)

I’m not going to begin this blogpost with yet another apology about life catching up with us or time flying by.  These days, it seems to be a given.  Four kids have had growth spurts sending me scrambling to find seasonal clothing to fit them in time for the next heat wave and summer vacation.  We renewed our enrollment with Seton Home Study School for another academic year.  I’m grateful for a solid education for our children and also a special services department that helps me find great resources for Trooper and Sunshine.

Little Bit turned three earlier this month.  She’s such a feisty, imaginative little imp. She loves to trot around the house carrying her brown-and-white stuffed dog, whom she has named “Snowy” after the dog in the Tintin books.  She’s talking up a storm and asking all sorts of questions, mainly beginning with “What’s THAT?”

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Spring has brought a spot of nature to our yard.  We have apples on our two apple trees this year, and we have had not one but three house finches nesting in our porch eaves.  Just when one set fledged and we thought it would be time to pressure wash the porch down at last, two more nests appeared almost overnight!

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And then there was the episode of the stray cat.  I had seen that cat a few days before, looking utterly bedraggled, but it hadn’t stayed around.  Then, on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Miss M happened upon it in our driveway. She immediately named it “Polka Dot” (it was once a lovely tuxedo/calico kitty).  Rascal and Princess came out and fed it small amounts of food and gave it water.  Polka Dot did not move on that day, as we made a bed for it in a crate and I posted a notice in our neighborhood forum (as well as warning Haus Meister about it via text, since he was away on business).  Close to dusk, the trio moved Polka Dot into our fenced backyard deck area so it would be safe from the coyotes in the area.  However, we were the last stop in Polka Dot’s nine lives, and Mother’s Day morning found me digging a quick grave in the backyard with Rascal’s help before the smaller girls woke up and wondered where our overnight cat had gone.  A promise of a trip to Dunkin Donuts did much to dry tears (and give me some much needed coffee)! So that’s the tale of our 24-hr cat.

Our Spring has been full of house painting projects but we did turn our attention outdoors a but.  We thought about planting a garden but are satisfied to keep some houseplants alive and two tomato plants on the porch.  After my Texas rosebush came into bloom, I really think I’d like a rose patch.  One bush for each child.  What a fun variety, and a tribute to St. Mother Teresa’s famous quote, “How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”

Which brings me to the big news of this update:

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We knew officially that she was coming on my birthday back in January and she will join us around Haus Meister’s birthday in September.  What a gift from God!  The kids are quite excited and while the boys were hoping for a brother to counteract the reign of pink in the Haus, they are rather more complacent since we moved them into our old spare room.  Now their LEGOS are safe from the marauding habits of the Toddler Mischief Squad!

That’s all for tonight’s update. I hope this missive finds you all well, and enjoying the early days of summer!  God bless!

Blessed Eastertide!

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

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A blessed and joyful Easter from all of us

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to all of you!

(Posey Pie and Miss M were both unsure of the carpenter bee that was buzzing ominously around.  Little Bit on the corner there was simply contemplating mischief, I’m sure.  Rosebud, standing with Rascal, gave me a big smile right after the picture took, of course.)

I’ve got a chance to sit back and put my feet up and reflect on the great joy that the Church grants us 50 days of Alleluias and Easter celebration, but that the candy in the house already will not last even ten more days.  I honestly had no idea how Easter Sunday would play out this year. Crazy family schedules had me praying that Haus Meister would be back from an emergency business trip in time for us to get to Mass on Sunday (he did!) but this year just to make sure dinner happened, I actually ordered a meal from the Publix deli than try and make something from scratch.  But things worked out, we did make it to Easter Mass as a family, and we did have a pretty joyous day. 🙂

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Lamb Cake 2017! It survived! And no, I didn’t intend to miss frosting that ear. I had helpers this year. Sunshine and Miss M both wanted a go with the frosting tool, and there wasn’t much left by the time I noticed the omission.  Besides, it was still STANDING.  I wanted this to be a year of Lamb Cake success.  It was.  I suppose this means that Pillsbury Gluten-free baking mix and a tub of frosting is the key, rather than homemade. Hmm.

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Someone enjoyed her first Easter with us.  And her siblings enjoyed accessorizing her. Win-win!

It was a long Lent, but a “good” one for Haus Meister and I, at least.  We decided on a penance to do together for the entire Lenten season–including Sundays, and although I flubbed on some other personal resolutions, we managed to carry our joint one through. We gave up eating meat. Suffice to say, I feasted on ham today like there would be no ham tomorrow.

I don’t want to think about ham right now. Maybe a salad.

Which is funny because last night at this time I was thinking a lot about ham and not at all about a salad, unless it’s one of those with peas and lettuce and bacon bits.

Mmm. Bacon.

Which is related to ham.

So I’m moving on.

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Here’s Little Bit playing with some Peter Rabbit “skittles” I came across (cheaper on Zulily) but which will and have become a set of peg dolls. I think that is Benjamin Bunny in the red with the tie still disturbingly around his neck at time of picture (gone now).  Peter Rabbit is in her hand and Jemima Puddleduck is being whisked out of the picture by Miss M, who was actually trying to get her front and center.

I confess I didn’t take many pictures. After our ham fest, and a pleasant visit from Haus Meister’s youngest sister, the day was pretty much relegated to “hide the remaining candy as fast as you can.”  My parents texted this afternoon and asked if I wanted to Skype.  I listened to the din around me for a second and responded: “We are tired, sugar-high, and grumpy.” That about summed it up.  Haus Meister took some of the bigger kids to enjoy the neighborhood tennis courts and the playground, which is a pretty good consolation, and I kept Posey Pie and Little Bit out of the rest of the jellybeans, which didn’t console them at all.  But peace was restored to the family!

Just before she went to bed, Sunshine hugged her Daddy and said, “Thank you for the tennis!” Our hearts were warmed.

That’s good because twenty minutes earlier, Miss M told me that they had all gone to “played at the park, and playeded some baseball.”

“Tennis?” I suggested.

“Yeah that,” she replied calmly.

Proving that even with my sister’s husband patiently reminding us of the Twins baseball season over the last decade, there’s still some of us who need to work on our sports knowledge.

Happy Easter, all. 🙂  I’ll be back with another update later this week.

Happy Birthday, Posey Pie

Four years ago today, the sun was shining, it wasn’t sleeting, and a perfect new redheaded daughter came into our lives.

Although it might be pointed out that she didn’t give us much of a chance to see that red hair for about 15 months.


Happy 4th Birthday, our sweet sparkling girl! We love you so much. You dance through our day with such joy!


(Not much changes in two years).

We asked you for weeks what you wanted for your birthday. All you’d say was, “Pink!”

So we made sure that she woke up to a bit of pink.


Again, happy birthday, our precious Posey Pie!