family life

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!

family life

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!

family life · The fine art of crafting

Yarn Along & Recap so far….

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The afternoon sun is out for a moment in between showers of rain.  It’s not very wintry here.  My aunt just posted a picture of snow in Indiana on Instagram, and here I am in the South posting pictures of daffodils.

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Don’t get me wrong; I do wish we had one more good snow before Spring begins in earnest. I wish we hadn’t already had mosquito bites in January.  Overall, though, I’m not complaining because I don’t have to try to drive in the snow. 🙂  If we get more than an inch, none of us go anywhere and we just enjoy the stuff and pray the power stays on. 🙂  Otherwise Haus Meister has to pull the Charles Ingalls routine and chop wood for our wood stove.  I do remember the night he was out at 2am restocking the woodpile because the power had gone down.  How homestead-erish it made me feel!  Ironically, true homesteaders would have had all their wood chopped and near at hand already.  But I digress.

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I finished Haus Meister’s socks/slippers before Candlemas so at least it was technically still in Christmastide. 🙂  I need to work on stitching soles onto slippers but he tells me they are quite comfortable.  I have some yarn I’m going to use for socks for me using the same pattern but without the leather soles.  I enjoyed the pattern a lot.

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My first official project of 2017 ended up being the Antler Toque.  I’m stash busting some Istex Alafosslopi in blue tweed.  Since the dusting of snow around Epiphany reminded me that we are woefully undersupplied in the hats and mittens department, I thought to keep happy doing small quick projects that help me use the yarn on hand.

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This picture was taken last week before I began the cables on the hat.  These are my reads for February.  The Brothers Karamazov is what my sister and I chose to fill the “book of over 600 pages” for our Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 reading challenge.  Some chapters were hard to slog through without Russian v0dka, I’m sure (I didn’t try), but about halfway through I just couldn’t put it down.  Haus Meister kept teasing me about binge-reading, but I was.  I just was.  And then it ended.

Dostoyevsky, if we meet in the hereafter, you must tell me how you were going to wrap up the loose threads at the end of your story. Yes, I do insist there are loose threads at the end of a 718 page novel! The only explanation I can find is that the author was a few months from his own death, but he left one character on the verge of death, and I’d kind of like to know what happened to him.  And two of the others as well! Whom does Alexey marry eventually? What becomes of him?  And Dmitri? Does his plan succeed?  It was the nearest I have come to throwing a book against a wall in a long time–I merely banged the book against my knees. How could it be over at that point?!?!?!  I did actually throw Tess of the D’Ubervilles because it was (in my humble opinion) just awful.  This time, I had come to the end of 718 pages and I wanted a quick epilogue, at least. Note: since writing the above I have learned some editions do have an epilogue; I just happened through frugality to have purchased the one that didn’t. Heh.

Suffice to say, it was a good book.  I’m going over it again, a little more slowly, to see if I missed any clues now that I know how it ends.  Besides, February isn’t over yet.

Different is also a nice book, and definitely not in the same genre as Brothers K, so it’s rather amusing to see them pictured together.  It’s non-fiction and encouraging, like a warm cup of tea from a friend who has been there raising a high needs child.  I have been taking this book slow, reading a chapter every few days, so I’m not finished yet.

In other news….

Happy girls.

Happy boys.  At the end of January, the lads went to Dallas as the support team for Trooper who was due for a trip to his CP specialist.  They had a fabulous time visiting cousins, climbing trees, watching trucks (that’d be Trooper), and seeing the Frontiers of Flight Museum.  Trooper is standing in front of the Apollo 7 capsule.

Trooper is going to be getting new ankle braces soon.  He has totally outgrown his last pair. This guy is growing like a weed!

I’m having fun with a new teapot and new candles, except that one on the right didn’t look as nice once the label was off. It looked like a soft-boiled egg with a wick in the middle. So why did I take a picture of it?  Because I wanted to prove to anyone who heard me vent about it (my mom and sister, mainly), that it looked like a soft-boiled egg.

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This handsome fellow (picture taken by Sunshine), has been busy with more painting.  He did the kitchen, upper half of the basement, and is going to do the classroom in Lowe’s Historic Collection Antique Filoli Lace (which I mention in case I forget and need to look for it again).  The hallway, foyer, and upper living room is rapidly becoming Woodlawn Colonial Gray (from the same collection).

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Better picture forthcoming; this was all I had on my phone.

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As the laundry room was never entirely finished last year, I made up for lost time while the guys were in Dallas and painted the whole in “Craft White.”  It looks so fresh and warm in there now.  These doldrum months between Christmas and Spring is the perfect time to renew the home.  In our case, that usually involves painting, but there it is.

Well, all for now.  Have a great week!

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Remember the days when the messages were embossed on the hearts, and you didn’t have to use Google to know what they said?

 

Advent/Christmas · family life

At Year’s End

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Merry Christmas!

(I can still say that; it’s the 6th day of Christmas)

and Happy New Year soon!

I know 2016 has gotten a bad reputation lately. Ok, it’s been blamed for everything from the weather, to celebrity deaths, to the presidential election.  As if a calendar is really responsible for circumstances, or specifically, how we humans deal with circumstances. Admittedly, back during our long drought and heat wave I was looking forward to 2017 but that’s because we get Winter here from January-early March. 😉

I also realize I was pretty quiet here on the blog. I suppose most of it was the plain busy-ness of our life. I suppose also because it seemed that everything online was about politics. I felt like chiming in, but then I didn’t.  There was so much shouting, so much disrespect, so much MUCHNESS about it all, and the idea of adding anything to it did not appeal. But in abstaining from blogging I forgot the reason I do so….

It’s to share a little of our light with you.

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And if we all snuffed our light because we were afraid of being scorched by others, how can we hope to bring some joy into a world that has had quite enough of all that isn’t?

My aim with this blog is to share the joys and realities of our crazy cosy chaotic family, and to make you laugh while doing so. If I succeed, I am content.

So, without further ado, here’s the sum of 2016 and what you can expect from 2017 here at the Haus.

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Princess Rosebud would like you to know that she has to endure six more of these photo shoots.

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There will be LEGO

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There will be Star Wars (and SW jokes)

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There will be homeschooling! (You got to love fine motor practice. Meanwhile, they balk at the end of Christmas break fast approaching. If you listen hard tomorrow night you’ll probably hear the collective groan).

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There will be knitting! Especially since I’m about 3″ into that second slipper sock!

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There will be books! My sister and I made up a reading challenge together based on one at the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy site.  Stay tuned for more on that.

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There will be boats.  There will be fun.  There will be a vacation.

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There will be laughter.

There will also be a time when I can keep that workstation cleared off!

Maybe.

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So in this coming “month of hope and new beginnings,” I wish you again a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 See you in January, 2o17, dear readers.

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Oh, what, you didn’t know Tupperware was the latest fashion trend? Well, around here, according to Little Bit, is definitely is.  She raids my Tupperware drawer and keeps clapping one on her head and passing others out to whomever is near.  Yes, she expects you to wear them. One night I was clearing up dinner and suddenly up she pops with a tupperware container.  It happened to be precisely what I needed at the moment so with an absent “Thank you” I began schlopping the soup into container.  Schlopping is a very descriptive word.  Anyway, my attention is grabbed by a heartbroken “Awwwww!” and I turned to see her shuffling off with her tupperware hat on, head bowed, looking for all the world like a pouting Ewok. Ewoks pout, I’m sure.  So, I make a point to wear the hat when it’s offered.

And yes, I do wash them after wearing. 😉

family life

Yarn Along — A knitting buddy?

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Gratuitous baby picture to start this post!

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She’s at long last filling out those booties I knit her this summer!  She’s in them as often as I can find both of the pair!

I’m at that stage of Christmas preparations where despite my early shopping and all my early plans, I still feel a week behind and like there’s a thick fog between me and Christmas with zero hope of accomplishing anything.  I’m still on the first of Haus Meister’s two socks. I’m still wrapping presents.  I’m on the “G” page in our address book for Christmas cards.  The jam hasn’t been made, and the cookies are still in potential (I have the ingredients, but haven’t put it all together).

And then Miss M, chatting to me while coming home from errands tonight, whines that Christmas is taking soooooo looooong to get here. I could use another week of prep, myself. 😉

I say this to dispel the notion that I have it all together. But let’s talk yarn now.

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I took this picture last week for a Yarn Along post that never got written.  I’m about ten rows further on that sock, mainly because little hands got at it and took out the needles about twice a day. The little stockings are two of the four ornament stockings I did finish and will have in four of my children’s St. Nicholas stockings in Dec. 2017.  I am putting a note in my August 2017 planner to start the other five that very month.  Maybe I will put it back until July. That sounds reasonable. See–positive thinking.  I’m not late for 2016 but ahead for 2017!  Right, I don’t buy it either, but it sounds good! 🙂

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Now that bright variegated ball of yarn?  That belongs to our Princess!  Princess came across this book on her shelves and decided she really wanted to learn to knit.  So when we had our visit from St. Nicholas, there was a ball of yarn in her stocking as well as her very very very own first pair of circular needles and stitch markers! She did recognize the yarn as a ball we had dyed using KoolAid something like two years ago, but she didn’t mind and was thrilled with the gift.

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She wanted me to help her start this project that very morning, so we did.  A week later, she’s still excited about it, and still knitting!  She has her own little workbag, made by her Grandma out of fabric that has adorable geese on it.  So she totes her work around, upstairs, downstairs, to Grandma’s house, etc. Grandma and I have both helped with “damage control,” and the little hat definitely has an endearingly lopsided appearance under Princess’ nimble little fingers.  I’m pretty sure she accidentally taught herself short rows at one point and reverse stockinette in another, but for the most part she’s getting the hang of it.

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At this point, and so early in her knitting career, I didn’t have it in me to make her take out all the stitches and redo those spots.  She has ambitions for this hat and a deadline to meet, and I didn’t want to dampen her enthusiasm. I might be stricter with the next project, but at the moment I’m waiting to see if there will be a next project.  I’d love to have a knitting buddy!

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Here’s the book that has been my mainstay this Advent.  I am going to miss this devotional.  I want something like it for every day of the year!  On top of it is a fun mug I received from one of the mothers in our American Heritage Girl Troop (we had a Christmas party and sock gift exchange for the leaders and parent volunteers).  She even made me a darling Swedish Goat felt ornament, because as with every Advent I’m still checking on this guy:

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A little smaller this year, as the usual huge Goat was burned down on the first Sunday of Advent.

So, anyway, up there’s my devotional, my coffee mug, and my husband’s Christmas present.  Because as I said before, it’s God, my husband, and coffee that gets me through.

And knitting.

((And yes, mom, being able to call/text my mom and sister, but a phone would really have not looked good in that picture. ;)))

family life · special needs

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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family life

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?

 

family life

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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family life

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)