Words from Trooper

Before Christmas I had an inspiration (thank you, Guardian Angel!): instead of having Trooper practice handwriting with random words out of a textbook, I would verbally ask him questions and see if he would respond.

And he did.

So every day we practice and you can see the joy and relief he feels to finally tell us the thoughts in his head. In the following “conversations,” I am speaking to him and he is writing. Sometimes he gives a lengthy answer, and sometimes he gives the monosyllabic response of the 11yr old boy who would really rather not talk right now. 😉

Me: what’s something you want me to make for you?

Trooper: Mac n cheese

(Go figure)

Me: Do you think you want to drive a car someday?

Trooper: yes

ME: what kind?

Trooper: truck

ME: a little pickup truck?

Trooper: yes

Me: Is there a question you’d like to ask me today?

Trooper: How do you spell Indianapolis?

Me: (blinks) um…like that.

Trooper practices typing by emailing his grandparents. One day he began instructing my dad as to what type of yogurt is best. We have a running family joke that Trooper missed our recent bout of stomach virus–and past ones–by a daily quart of plain Dannon.

Trooper: I like yogurt. You will too. Just the plain kind, not the silly kind. The silly kind has fruit in it.

Me: You’re going to see Mr. R (his wonderful speech therapist) today. Would you like to tell me about him?

Trooper: Mr R is my friend and my helper.

And yesterday I asked him something that had been on my mind for years. The answer is what apraxia is like for the boy who has had to live with it.

ME: when you were real little you tried to say some words and then stopped. Do you remember why you stopped?

HIM: I stopped because I couldn’t think of the way to get my words out.

ME: But you had the thoughts, the words all the time?

HIM: yes

Hilarious or heart wrenching, I love these conversations. I love not having to guess what he’s thinking! Because sometimes I have guessed wrong, I’ve found…except about the pickup truck. 😉

Pregnancy Observation

No, I’m not going to launch into detail about how I’m feeling/how I look/what the midwife said at the last appointment. HA! I just admitted to using a midwife this time around. Cue Jim Gaffigan: “There was also a midwife there, because we believe in witchcraft.” Oh that made me laugh. And, no, we really don’t believe in witchcraft. It was just that I was already 11 weeks when I went to the OB office to have the first look at Littlest. My regular doc had switched practices between Posey’s birth and this first visit, and as much as I liked him, that was the third time he switched in almost as many years, and I had grown fond of the folks in the current office. So I stayed, and the midwife who works closely with the docs there was available. No, I’m not doing a homebirth, a hypnobirth, or a hydrobirth. In fact, I’m more than likely still going to beg for my epidural the moment I set foot in the hospital door.

All this rambling to say, here’s a sampling of observations I’ve been receiving from people now that I definitely stick out past watermelon stage.

WELL MEANING RELATIVE: (Back in February!) You’ve dropped already?!

LADY AT RECYCLING CENTER: (In March) You’re carryin’ high. I always carried my gals high.

LADY AT CONSIGNMENT SALE: (today) You’re carrying low. It’s a boy, right?

OUR MAIL-LADY: (seeing me two weeks ago) And you’re due in MAY? You’re so tiny!

(I love her forever)

LADY AT CHURCH: (three days after maillady) You sure you don’t have two in there?

Today I also had help putting a new toddler bed into the van from the significant other of one of the consignment sale workers. Seeing the sheer number of carseats and boosters in our van (it does add up), he asked me “just how many little ‘uns do y’all haul in this thing?” I simply told him “8” because it’ll be that soon enough. He stood there aghast for a second, then told me “y’all need to get yerselves some cable tv.”

Wow–I finally got the TV one! Usually it’s the “hands-full” one or “So do you watch the Duggars” (No, because we don’t have cable, and also why do we want to watch reality tv about a large family when we live in a large family)? Someone once wrote a great zinger of a response to these kind of comments, including the TV one, but I couldn’t remember who, sadly, because I loved their response to the TV comment. In the end it’s probably best, because by the time I called it to mind he had already gone on to list how many siblings and cousins his past family members had (his grandma had 8 kids) and how they rented a community center to bring the clan together for Thanksgiving. Kind of hard to zing a person who gives you a good tip like that, even if I could zing someone. Which would definitely depend on the hormone level. But I said I wasn’t going to talk about that, so I’m off.


The things they say and do….

As I mentioned in an earlier post we had a bit of snow on March 25th. None of it actually stuck, but we had a flurry-ious storm at one point that did look quite blizzardish. I’ve never seen snow blow horizontally up my street before. At the back door, Princess was worried about the way the tall pines and oaks swayed in the wind. Dino decided to take matters into his own hands, perhaps with just a little delusion of grandeur.

DINO: “Watch, it’s going to be okay. I’m going to do the Jesus thing.” (Turning then to the window–and the storm–he said loudly:) “PEACE! BE STILL!” (Turning back to his sister:) “Did it work?”


The other day, for reasons unbeknownst to me, Princess managed to stick a lock of her hair into a desktop fan. She had the presence of mind to shut the fan off but was wailing considerably and small wonder! Fortunately it didn’t do anything terrible, like pulling out her hair by the roots, but she was quite shocked and scared. I unplugged the fan and began to try to unwind the hair, gently reminding her that this is why we don’t stick anything into fans, ever. She quite agreed. At one point it seemed a little hopeless so I warned her:

ME: I’m sorry, sweetie, but I might have to cut your hair.

Ordinarily this would be a fate worse than death, as one of her ambitions is to be a second Rapunzel (hair length wise, anyway). Today, however, there was a worse fate in her mind.

PRINCESS (pleading through her sobs): “Oh, please, PLEASE cut my hair! I don’t want to go to sleep tonight with A FAN on my head!”

This was so unexpected that I admit I burst out laughing. Be assured though that we did unwind her hair without cutting any and she did not go to sleep with a fan on her head.


This part wasn’t overheard, but rather, a serendipitous bit of luck to have seen this. And finally, I can say I had my camera ready at just the right moment to catch this spontaneous sister picture.


Posey & Miss M, 2014

They were just rocking on my armchair. It’s one of those pictures I’m going to carry with me always.

Kind of like this one.


Dino and Rascal, 2007


Midtrimester Musings

Pregnancy is an amazing stage in a woman’s life. A new baby is growing inside and it’s indescribable. The nesting crazes are awesome times to get things done and, I imagine, a crazy time to sign into Pinterest. That’s probably why I’ve never tried Pinterest. I can only imagine what I’d try to attempt with so many ideas at my fingertips. And then, pregnancy brain hits and I forget that I’ve made tea in the microwave until I go an hour later to make tea and find as I put the mug in that there is my old mug still waiting. Sigh.

We’re at 25 weeks now. I always breathe a little easier at this stage in the pregnancy game. We lost Jacob at 23wks. Trooper was born at 24 weeks and 5 days. So while I tend to breathe easier in one respect I’m also getting to that watermelon stage of pregnancy where it seems there’s a huge melon in my midsection that gets in the way of everything–and seems also to attract more stains on the shirt than the average two year old. Almost. I guess scratch “getting.” I’m at that stage.

Watching my family grow around us makes me often think of my parents’ families and my father-in-law’s family, all of whom had 6 or more children. My paternal grandparents were blessed with ten children (40+ grandchildren, and 12-13 great grandchildren if my count is accurate) and of those 10 my dad is #4 down the line. Grandma often tells me–in person or in letter–that she just loved the time of her life when the children were babies. I mentioned this to my dad once, and he said that at one point in time it seemed for most of his young life there was either a new baby coming or a new baby arrived.  Grandma and Grandpa loved each other through all their 55 years of marriage (Grandpa died in 2004), and loved babies. Once when I received a letter from Grandma after announcing that our fourth or fifth child was on the way, I was a little nervous about opening the envelope. After three children society generally thinks you’re insane to go on without a reasonable excuse (still trying for opposite gender being the only one apparently), and as she had lived a season of her life with lots of littles in the house–and a hand-cranked washing machine to boot–I hoped she, at least, wouldn’t think I was nuts welcoming yet another baby into the world.

I should have known better. Congratulating us in her lovely cursive handwriting on the impending new addition to the family, I read and reread the line that followed: This is what happens when a husband and wife are in love with each other, just like your Grandpa and I were. 

It’s true, and it’s beautiful, and I kept that letter as a token of one sane thought in the morass of nonsense that hits a pregnant woman.

But of course usually as I start having to strategically maneuver differently around the toddlers and have the big kids check under beds for me for missing items, such lofty thoughts are reserved for these quiet moments with my knitting and my tea and my favorite corgi at my feet. The house is quiet and our seven blessings are fast asleep. I just can’t believe how big they are all getting so quickly. I looked at Rascal the other day, watching him make Posey Pie giggle and thought that while my memories will be much like Grandma’s (oh is this time of life just so precious or what?)  his early childhood memories will be a lot like my dad’s–“Mom was either pregnant or there was a new baby.”  And we’re all pretty fun and a little loud and crazily happy.

This similarity to my dad’s childhood was driven pointedly home to me the other day when Rascal accidentally turned as I was walking behind him down the hall and he collided with the baby bump. After apologizing he looked up at me and said in a matter-of-fact tone, “You know, Mom, I don’t think I can remember when your belly was normal.”

I had to laugh, perhaps a bit ruefully. “At this point, neither can I, son.”

Random art from the boy.

Some kids draw as soon as a crayon touches their fingers. I have a few who think any bare space in the house is an acceptable art medium. And then there’s the one who won’t draw unless he absolutely has to, or unless it is a battle sequence involving Angry Birds or mice (he being the one who only tolerates our Nutcracker DVD for the mouse battle and the fast-paced Trepak). Lately he’s been surprising me by sitting down and drawing while Rascal and Princess create page after page of masterpieces.  Last week I could hardly keep from laughing as this exchange happened behind me as I made dinner.

DINO (at the kitchen table): “I’m gonna draw a DEAD turkey.”

PRINCESS: (shocked) “Oh no! You can’t do that!”

DINO: “Yes I can. Look!”

PRINCESS: “No no! It needs to be ALIVE! If I found a baby turkey I would keep it for a pet and love it and never never let it be killed!”

DINO: “Well, I like mine DEAD. Dead and roasted!”

ME: “You all like roast turkey at Christmas.”

RASCAL: “That’s true.”

PRINCESS: “But he shouldn’t draw dead turkeys.”

DINO: (issuing the ultimatum) “God made turkeys so we could eat them.”

PRINCESS: (woman-like, seeking the last word) “But not all of them.”

DINO: (Undeterred, brother goading sister moment) “I’m gonna draw MORE dead turkeys now.”

I then turned from the sink to see exactly what kind of “dead turkey” he had created and found a passable resemblance to our Christmas turkey as I had prepared it for roasting, no head or neck in sight.   I have to confess I put it on my fridge. Perhaps it’s my odd sense of humor, but I liked his spontaneous art. I added his profound statement regarding the purpose of turkeys. It seems to me that should be a slogan embroidered on some sort of hunting camo or something. Hmm.


scribble added later by Miss M


In a nutshell

Our youngest son stumbles into the room, rubbing his eyes.

HAUS MEISTER: ‘Morning, [Dino], how did you sleep?

DINO: I slept well, Dad, but the problem is… I woke up.

ME: Congratulations, my boy, you have captured Monday mornings in a nutshell!

{pretty, happy, funny, real}



Silly Miss M.


We’re nuts about those curls!


It’s official. Our dining table is too small. So, we’re hoping that if we can get the Old Haus back on the market within the next month or two, it will sell fast — or heck, sell period!– and then with that off the books we can finally tear up the white carpet in the upstairs living room and put in wood floors and  a beautiful all-purpose 12′ table. We’ve had this project planned for a while– that Haus Meister is going to build out the table of cherry wood we received from his boss after a cherry tree fell on his property.

But every plan has to begin somewhere, and so last weekend two of the boys accompanied Haus Meister to a local sawmill, where the massive logs became slabs of wood that will become a table to be remembered. Meanwhile, the boys remember the hollowed-out log on the property.


And all too soon, our visitors returned to the frozen North this past weekend. My mom drove south to fetch my sister and nieces, and while Winter Storm Virgil’s imminent approach to their home cancelled plans to stay a few days, Mom did get to enjoy reading to nearly all of her grandchildren at the same time.


You just can’t see her under all those kids. 😉


Trooper learns to use the phone’s camera.





Miss M likes to come sit next to me any time she catches me sitting down with Posey Pie. Someone suggested that Miss M was jealous of her sister, but I’ve found it to be otherwise.

She’s not jealous of her baby sister, rather, she’s jealous for her sister.


I think that Miss M is convinced that ‘Baby’ is a real live doll we’ve provided for her to love, and so if I’m sitting with the baby it is Miss M’s cue to come over and give hugs and kisses galore.

And in the postpartum department of mommyhood…

DINOSAUR: So, Mama, there’s no more babies in your tummy?

ME: Nope. No babies there right now. We just had ours!

DINOSAUR: So your belly is getting back to normal!

RASCAL (chiming in) Well, it sure doesn’t look like it!

ME: Thanks, son.


Spring just keeps getting closer…

…which is nice to think about considering 3/8ths of the family are currently down with a flu bug. Ugh.

…and my oven door is broken (temporarily. It’s just a hinge, and Haus Meister is calling around town for a replacement).

But to our great excitement, my mother-in-law informed us that a garden plot next to one of hers at a nearby community garden is open! As said garden is on the same grounds as our farmers’ market, Haus Meister stopped to talk to those in charge while he was there on Saturday. Once we get the application sent, we’ll have our own spot of prime gardening area! Yippee!

So of course the farming bug bit all of us (age 4 and up) over the weekend, even the ones simultaneously afflicted by the flu. Borrowing Square Foot Gardening from my in-laws, I planned a grid of all the requests we could reasonably attend to/hope would grow. Princess kept asking for pink vegetables–like pink carrots, etc.–so she had to make do with seeds for an Atomic Red Carrot. 😉  I know I want bell peppers and tomatoes and Haus Meister wants pole beans and green onions. The kiddos want carrots and radishes ala Peter Rabbit and we know the plot already has lettuce plants that over-wintered. This is very exciting and will be a great project for the kids to help out with their dad. They have taken turns visiting their grandparents’ garden plots already and like to help out there, so it was fun for them to think we’d have space of our own.

But somehow this wasn’t enough. When the local animal shelter advertised that they were being overrun by rabbits, there was a moment when the kiddos wondered if it would be possible to keep a rabbit. I mentioned that it would be fun but there are enthusiastic toddlers in this house who might over-love a rabbit (read: hug to death, but I didn’t want to tell it quite like that), so it wouldn’t be a good idea until some of them were older. Rascal suggested that the rabbit could stay in a cage in his room. I reminded him that he would have to clean the cage, as rabbits don’t just run outside for their business like the dogs. That settled the issue for him.

Not so the Farm Boy. The night after the rabbit discussion, just as we finished night prayers, I heard Dino’s voice pipe up: “Hey, Mommy? Sunshine is bigger.” Not thinking much about it, I replied, “of course. You’re all getting bigger every day.” Without missing a beat he responded: “So can I have a rabbit?”

Poor guy. He would love backyard homesteading or any “farm” activity. My favorite example of this was when he came up to me and asked me for a “chick tank.” I realized after a moment he meant a chicken coop.  And really, if we could petition for the housing association to allow a couple of hens as “acceptable pets” and could get the kids to help us clean the coop, I would be fine with it. Especially if we had one of these in the yard:


Hobbit-hole style coops! Huzzah!


It’s like your own personal Shire! Of course, the kids would want to play in them…..


So there’s also these herb garden coops.


For goodness’ sake, even Williams-Sonoma is hopping on the bandwagon here. What is taking our HOA so long? 😉

Haus Meister even found a farming simulator computer game that Dinosaur likes to watch. Dino spends the time telling Haus Meister where to go, what to harvest, how to run the vehicle, etc. He’s a “backseat farmer,” who alas, will be virtually farming for some time yet.

Except for the garden plot. That’s for real. Come quickly Spring!!!