Posey and I share a special day today. She is officially 10 months old, and I’ve now come of age as per Shire reckoning. I suppose this means I must settle down now and live like a very respectable hobbit, not doing anything unexpected or going off on crazy adventures, but I confess I haven’t much hope of that. In fact, when I’m 63 or even 93 if I make it that far, I fully anticipate I will still be trying to garden something every warm season and rack up a whole slew of overly ambitious knitting goals in the cold seasons, when I’m not traveling the world with Haus Meister. It’s a simple life, but it’s fun.
Not that most people would think it simple if they had caught a glimpse of me this afternoon, trying to pull the boys through their respective math lessons while they were still on a party-high from the previous birthdays this weekend (more in my next) and not wanting to do school at all, and at the same time Trooper was frustrated because his iPad battery is on the fritz, Princess was hollering for a sharpened pencil so she could draw and the toddlers were breaking into the ice cream in the freezer and the baby wanted to be walked around. That was a tough hour. But eventually everything smoothed out and by dinnertime life was good again. 😉
And overall it is a great life, and it is fun, and being in my 30s isn’t nearly as dreadful as it is sometimes made out to be when you’re not there yet.
So thanks, Mom and Dad, for putting up with me for 33 years. I’d thank my sister for putting up with me but she really didn’t have a choice in the matter. 😉 Thanks Haus Meister for putting up with me for 14 of those if you add in the dating years. Thanks, kids of mine, for ensuring that our lives will never in the slightest be dull.
One last week of Christmas until the liturgical season definitely officially launches us into Ordinary Time this Sunday with the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. I thought I’d finally document the kids’ Advent calendars to eek out a little more cheer as we slowly begin to put things away. The above magnetic calendar was Princess’ charge this year. St. Joseph was temporarily misplaced as we stored the bag of figures in my metal file cabinet and when she shook out the bag he stuck somewhere in the depths and I only just found him today. Oh well. This calendar is on a rotation basis–I’ll draw someone’s name for it out of a cup next Advent while the others will enjoy their own personal sticker calendar.
And Sunshine’s: (Ah, preschoolers. At least the stickers stayed on the page!)
So as this past weekend progressed we kept an eye on the news watching out for the folks in Indiana as well as wondering what our share of this latest winter storm would be. Things still looked promising for some white stuff as we tucked the children into bed. It was so promising that we indulged in the hope that Haus Meister would have one more day off work (the city shuts down if there’s about 1.5″ on the ground) and if he was to stay home, then we would delay going back to school for a day. When we woke up, only a frost lay on the ground. Any dangerous sheets of ice had been sanded over, because amazingly we actually have sanding machines in the city now, and so it came to pass that we returned to school today half begrudgingly while Haus Meister sallied forth to work wearing the heavy wool coat he usually reserves for winter trips to Indiana. We did get the cold blast of Arctic air, at least so it seems for us Southerners. When I say that our record low may be broken tonight if it dips below 7F, you’ll see what I mean.
My parents and my sister’s family, meanwhile, are dealing with 14+ inches of snow and -41 degree windchills.
When my mom sent this picture of my dad this morning, the kids went wild. When my sister skyped to show us the snowdrifts against their house, the kids were jealous. They didn’t understand that you couldn’t go out in the snow lest you court hypothermia and frostbite thanks to the bitter winds. All they saw was that some of their favorite people had the snow we’d been denied, and I couldn’t blame them for feeling a little bummed hitting the books even though I was secretly glad to be going back to the old routine. After all, there’s a sled in the garage that they have only been able to use once in two years!
Or rather, a multitude of little plans, all hinging on the outcome of a big round of colds that currently afflict the Haus. Will no one be running a fever for Christmas Day? Will we be tag-teaming Christmas Mass instead of attending the sparsest attended one as usual, as a family? We almost always go Christmas Day in the morning anyway because it’s the one Mass guaranteed to have enough seats for us without coming two hours in advance. Will we still be hosting Christmas Day dinner on Christmas Day??
Things began to unravel last Friday when what seemed like a simple cold for Rascal escalated to a fever of 104.6. A trip to the pediatrician’s office ruled out strep or flu, and his first ever chest x-ray ruled out pneumonia. Just a bad bad cold, we came home to begin the rounds of fluids, Mucinex, vaporizers, and relaxing. The very next day all the other children began coughing. On Sunday Sunshine woke up with a fever of 102, Dino at 101, and today Princess peaked at 100.5. The upshot of all this is that I have a handy new thermometer (ack! It was cheaper on Amazon?! Oh well, I needed a new one fast). It makes me feel like Dr. McCoy.
The kids love it. They askme to take their temperature. Even Sunshine, who hated the regular ol’ thermometer even being under her arm! I just didn’t think I’d be using it as often as I am, especially right now.
So over the weekend plans began to be tweaked and changed. For once, we are doing most of our decorating tomorrow, on Christmas Eve. We achieved this goal of ours partly by laziness–Haus Meister’s giant boat was blocking my way to my boxes in the garage and I finally used the last 65 degree day we had last week to dig them out. I opened a few things and put them out. My Advent box had already been opened and dispersed through the house, making sure there was at least a little cheer in every room, even if it was only a window candle. I’m glad of that.
The Nativity set still stands, if in disarray. The Holy Family are due to arrive tomorrow.
My straw goat stands proudly on the mantelpiece. More than I can say for his Swedish counterpart, who got torched last Saturday morning.
When Haus Meister informed me at dinner tonight that he was starting to feel a little under the weather, I seriously began to think about postponing our big dinner. After all, Christmas lasts twelve days at least! Extended family are arriving at different times throughout the week (my parents at the weekend, armed with chicken broth and whatever it is they take for colds these days :)), so there’s always going to be someone to help us eat that 26lb turkey I nabbed at the grocery store before Thanksgiving when turkeys sold for 59cents a pound. NOTE: If you have the freezer space and are planning a turkey dinner for Christmas, shop before Thanksgiving. My frugal tip of the week.
Seriously, I told my husband I would make empenadas on Christmas Day if it was just going to be us here for dinner. We all love empenadas (except Trooper, the mac and cheese maniac). I will just need to go out tomorrow morning for peanut oil. I could tell he didn’t like that idea much–especially as he’s in the shop cranking out a Christmas present for our girls–but (sssh!) I also forgot the licorice that Princess wanted to give him for Christmas. And four more over-the-door wreath hangers so we can hang stockings the way we did at our last Christmas in the Old Haus. Somehow the lack of those two things bother me more than any other plan gone awry right now, and I chalk that up to pregnancy loopiness.
But you know what, whether or not we have the feast on the 25th, whether or not anyone’s still coughing, whether or not I get those over-the-door hangers, whether or not my Christmas village ever gets out of the box, whether or not I ever make my homemade buckeyes, it’s all going to be okay. We’re all here and we’re all together.
And really, Christmas never was about our plans or decorations or parties anyway.
It’s about welcoming Him into our lives. I thought a lot during Advent about how the people in Jesus’ day didn’t recognize Him at first when He came. Not everyone in Bethlehem flocked to the manger. That only happens in Fontanini! Sometimes we in our day to day life don’t see the way God manifests His will for us because we’re looking somewhere else, for something else. We expect everything to be just as we ordained it, just as the people looking for a Messiah thought He would come in the way they ordained it. This year, if He came to our house this Christmas in the form of seven kids with coughs, sniffles, or fevers, then that’s how I’ll meet Him.
And it will be perfect.
(There we go, Star Trek, Swedish Goats, pregnancy loopiness, Mucinex and an Advent meditation. Classic Haus Frau at her best blogging randomnymity!)
Now having written a very serious post not too long ago, I am now switching gears and going to write my 2cents about The Desolation of Smaug….
So, if you haven’t seen the movie yet and are planning to, you might not want to read ahead.
On the other hand, in this age of social media, nothing I am going to say is anything you probably haven’t already heard.
Except for my opinions, that is. 😉
So, without further eloquence….
UPDATE January 2015. I gave a glowing review of this movie in December 2013. I can only say in all honesty that I liked the movie because I wanted to like it. I wanted it to be a good movie and wanted to watch it in conjunction with the LOTR movies later on with my teenage boys. I dismissed the feeling that it was just a bad interpretation of the book in the hopes that all the things I had issues with (elf-dwarf romance? Please. Save it for the MMORPGS.) would somehow be solved/fixed/edited with a stunning third movie. Rather like “The Two Towers” was with “Return of the King.” We bought this movie in May when it was released. I wasn’t halfway through before regretting our misspent money.
Suffice to say, this time I believed the reviews and didn’t even see the third film. A FB promotion of Kili and Tauriel from the Hobbit page itself with “hashtag ‘It was Real'” was gag worthy, and I didn’t need to see her sobbing about him onscreen. I’m not a fan of over the top CGI battle sequences, so sitting through an hour of it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. I guess I am a Tolkien purist more than I realized. But frankly, Haus Meister and I are lucky to have a date twice a year. I’m not going to waste our rare date nights on something that we’re going to regret having spent the money to see. And it’s a shame. There could have been one very good long movie made from this book. Possibly two. It’s just a shame that the screenwriters kind of forgot the book was actually about a Hobbit.
I just couldn’t let another week end without mentioning a HUGE EVENT in our family life.
Someone turned 10 last week.
One of the reasons I don’t bother writing birth stories is that it’s usually more information than the male readers of my blog ever needed to know. Another is that Trooper’s birth was scary. I was 22, six months married, and had absolutely no idea what was going on, why my water broke, and whether or not the baby would live. In fact, I was sure he would die. Just writing those sentences puts me in a tremble.
Then the nurses and doctors came in with their prognoses. One thing that cheered me was that the statistics were getting better for Trooper–he’d have about a 35-40% chance of survival.
But he would never be “normal.”
He would never be happy.
He would ruin our lives.
We would probably divorce over him (we were told this twice).
“Are you sure you want us to keep him alive after the birth?”
And through my shock and pain and fear as I lay there all I could think of–and this is honestly what I thought–He is a baby born into this hospital. That makes him a patient here. Why the h–l wouldn’t you try to keep your patients alive?!?! Isn’t that your JOB? Isn’t that what you are here for?!?!?!?! Isn’t that why we came in?!?!?!
Instead in a small voice I said, “If God wants him God will take him. Keep him alive, at least let us baptize him before anything happens.”
The moment he was born he was whisked to the waiting NICU staff. I remember Haus Meister saying, “He’s here, he’s ours, he’s beautiful.” They paused the briefest moment for Haus Meister to take the tiny holy water bottle we’d grabbed on our way out the door and perform an emergency Baptism. And then I knew Trooper was going to be taken care of, and I relaxed a bit for the first time in 24 hours.
10 years later….
He’s here. He’s ours. He’s a ham.
He has cerebral palsy, autism, and sensory processing disorder. He has challenges he fights daily. He is so proud of his accomplishments.
He is, and I stress this, THE HAPPIEST KID I HAVE EVER SEEN.
He has enriched our lives beyond measure.
We are still happily married.
We thank God for each day we have with this boy.
We thank God for the special nurses who fell in love with our boy, especially the night shift team we got to know so well–it was the only time Haus Meister and I could visit together. Rusti, Courtney, Christina, Tricia, and Debbie. I have never forgotten you. Drs. Kennedy and Thomas, God bless you too. I know how you fought for our boy. All the respiratory therapists, one of whom actually passes us in the speech therapy office and smiles to see that fragile baby now standing 4’9″ and weighing 74lbs.
No, it is not an easy road to follow, raising a child with special needs. It challenges you, stretches you–even sometimes to what you think might be the breaking point. You learn more medical vocabulary than you ever thought you would need. Your speech/OT/physical therapists go on your speed dial. You learn to rearrange your life to adapt. Some activities you drop all together, some dreams you postpone indefinitely, and sometimes it takes you a while to figure that out. Sometimes you fight denial for days, months, years. Sometimes you find yourself fighting the apathy of a world that doesn’t understand the value of a life that isn’t “normal.” You can couch it in any sugar coated term you want, but in boils down to the fact that they think your kid isn’t normal, that they think your kid is useless.
No one is useless. And so you pick up and go on, knowing that it’s your lifework now to help this person entrusted to your care. It is both your cross and your reward.
What do I mean by that? Sitting next to the hospital bed for the nth time isn’t a treat (cross). Seeing him smile when he does his homework correctly–we both feel like a million bucks (reward).
It is worth it every step of the way.
Once as we left the grocery store with the bagger pushing our cart to the van–a complimentary service by this grocery chain–the gentleman turned to me and, gesturing toward Trooper, said, “I bet he’s a real challenge for you, huh?” I closed my eyes for the briefest space thinking for the millionth time that I wished people wouldn’t naturally assume that if someone doesn’t speak, then they must be deaf as well. Trooper can hear and process exactly what we are saying. Then I thought amusedly that most of the time my typically developing children give me more potential for gray hairs than the Trooper does.
So I smiled and said, “No. If there are challenges we face them together. We are a family. And we are happy.”
We love you, our big 10 year old Trooper.
You are worth everything. You always have been, and always will be.
We are so excited to see what the next 10 years bring you.
The plague has for the most part subsided. Trooper is still coughing and sniffling every so often but as soon as school was over for the day he wanted to go outside for as long as the sun was remotely in the sky. I think I remember the docs telling us in the NICU that by the time he turned eight his lungs would have repaired themselves from some or most of the damage sustained by his premature birth. He’s almost ten now. Since he’s rarely had a problem with breathing since, I doubt we’ll know for sure just how much of the old scarring is still there. I’m just grateful we’ve not had to worry about his lungs for a long time. Now I don’t know why I am saying all this. It’s rather a stream of consciousness stemming from my realizing he really is the last of us to shake the cold/cough/flu/nastiness that hit us two weeks ago.
So anyway it was back to school for us today. We took a Fall Break last week since the floor was half-finished and we were all dropping like flies. Streaming The Magic School Bus episodes on Netflix got us through some of the days. The kids had never seen them before and I had the consolation that we were getting some small sort of education in during the downtime. Still, today was nice to begin our routines again, at least for me. For the kids it was “Do we haaaave toooo???”
Haus Meister finished the living room floor last night. He needs to put up the baseboard trims before I can move all the furniture back around. Our huge dining table is at its shortest right now, the extra leaves sitting against the wall so my recliner and some other things have space until my nook is finished. This is the view from my recliner this afternoon.
It’s dark in the living room because the afternoon sun is shining on the back deck there. Our walls are still “pecan,” not blue. 😉 The door is wide open because Fall came last night and the breeze was cool and delightful without being too cold (while the sun was up). Some fallen leaves even skittered in and I was glad to see them. So there’s the glimpse of the living room floor and the sign of things to come. Unfortunately this is one of the busiest months of the year at Haus Meister’s workplace and so really that weekend we all got sick was probably indeed our best bet to get this floor done in one fell swoop. Ah well, even though it goes up a bit at a time it is still a far far better thing that we have done. Seriously, now when something spills on this floor I smile like the moms in the paper towel commercials and swipe it all away. It’s glorious! Before I’d be groaning and mentally calculating how much chemical laden carpet cleaner we had sitting up in the cabinet.
And now someone can propel herself across the floor as much as she likes!
In the front corner of the room I moved two armchairs back from the various parts of the house where we’d left them as well as a random end table. They had been in front of the windows in the previous arrangement but I think I like them here. It must have exuded cosiness because not ten minutes after I arranged this, Miss M crashed there for a nap.
Sleep is sounding very good right now, so signing off….
Most holy and immaculate Virgin, Mother of Jesus and our loving Mother, being his Mother, you shared in his universal kingship. The prophets and angels proclaimed him King of peace. With loving fervor in our hearts we salute and honor you as Queen of peace.
We pray that your intercession may protect us and all people from hated and discord, and direct our hearts into the ways of peace and justice which your Son taught and exemplified. We ask your maternal care for our Holy Father who works to reconcile the nations in peace. We seek your guidance for our President and other leaders as they strive for world peace.
Glorious Queen of peace, grant us peace in our hearts, harmony in our families and concord throughout the world. Immaculate Mother, as patroness of our beloved country, watch over us and protect us with your motherly love. Amen.
I’m sorry to say I missed the coverage of World Youth Day in Rio this year. Last week we bustled about getting school started for another academic year (yes, it’s early, but trust me, it’s good) and working to get the Old Haus back on the market since the renters have gone on to a new home in another part of the town closer to their work. I was able to catch snatches of WYD to tide me over until I can once again read snippets of Pope Francis’ homilies with my morning coffee thanks to Vatican Radio. I love his homilies.
And I really REALLY love it when he does something like this:
Pope Francis has personally requested the presence of a sick child when he presides Sunday’s closing mass for World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The little girl, who suffers from anencephaly, a condition which means she was born without a large part of her brain, will be brought up to the altar during the Offertory procession. Most children affected by anencephaly do not survive this condition or are aborted before the pregnancy comes to term.
The little girl’s parents presented her to Pope Francis as he was leaving Rio’s Saint Sebastian Cathedral following Saturday’s mass with religious. The couple said that though they could have legally aborted their sick child, they decided to celebrate her life.
Fr. Lombardi said, “the Pope will welcome this very tiny girl during the Offertory procession of the final Mass for World Youth Day as a sign of welcome and of offering of life to God.”
WOW! I can see why her parents would have wanted him to bless their child–who doesn’t want their baby blessed by the Pope? But after all the stress of the birth and the pressure they must have received to end their child’s life, to have this moment to present her to the Holy Father, and the result?
Pope Francis asked for that girl to be there at the final Mass to show the world that, as his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said:
“Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”
Each of us, no matter who we are, where we are, what abilities we have or lack. Each of us is necessary.
Each of us is loved.
And on that note, belatedly, but with sincere intent:
O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”