family life · my thoughts on the subject

Now another Monday…

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???”


Moving on.

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.

photo 3

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!

photo 2
Princess dressed her in the tutu. She thought it was very nice. I think Posey did as well, it’s hard to say. She raspberries at everything these days.

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.

photo 4

Sleep is sounding very good right now, so signing off….

family life

(pretty, happy, funny, real)



Ah, September. The month that always makes me happy because the Apple Orchard Store is open with its limited time run of the best apple cider in the world. There’s a good deal to be said for something being limited time only. If the Orchard Store was open year round then it wouldn’t be as special as that first time we make the drive up the next mountain over and come out with gallons of the stuff. And some apples, too, of course. Typically, September heralds the coming of Autumn. There’s even notes on the calendar reminding us that the First Day of Autumn happens in September. Or should, but down here it will still be 80 degrees even if I have my mulled cider-scented candles burning and I’m listening to my Loreena McKennitt playlist again (somehow I associate her music with fall and winter).  Down here I will still be washing shorts and T-shirts even if I’m longing to pull out the sweaters and jeans. But that’s okay. The cooler weather is coming.

This picture was taken last year in Indiana, where it does get around to feeling like Fall in September.

This pretty little lady has a birthday coming up in a few days. Stay tuned!


As I mentioned in my last post, my globe-trotting parents are at it again! They are on pilgrimage to Rome. Burglars beware–their house is being monitored at all times by my sister’s family, not to mention the neighbors’ menagerie of dogs, cats, and yes, even ducks, so I think I can blog about their absence with impunity.

Anyway, on Monday by pre-arranged e-mail my sister and I tuned in to Vatican TV to see the live feed of St. Peter’s Square. Nothing was going on at the time of course, but we knew our parents would be there, and were going to try to stand at the obelisk in the Square and wave to us. They would be holding a red and a blue umbrella.

They made it. And we were on time to see it. Both minor miracles, I think. 😉

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 11.03.41 AM

Then the piece de resistance–the Wednesday audience with Pope Francis. I had seen an aerial shot of the audience as I watched and took a screenshot, thinking I recognized my parents but after e-mailing Dad, learned I was way off the mark.  He told me where to look and soon the kids came running as I started screaming “THERE’S GRANDPA!” while replaying footage of the Pope driving around the square. My mother is slightly obscured by someone’s arm–she’s under the arrow pointing to the woman in teal.

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 1.56.44 PM

My dad managed to find a better shot of my mom.


So we sit back and enjoy their daily missives about where they’ve been and what they’ve seen, and hope someday we get the chance to do the same.

Also happy (and a little funny)

This is my Picture of the Month.


He didn’t know I was taking a picture. She did, though, the littlest Ham in Training.


The Movie of the Month here, chosen by the children, is Mary Poppins. They all thoroughly enjoy it, although I find myself rather envying Mary Poppins.


After all, she can:

Fly (albeit with an umbrella based on the wind)

Sing children to sleep effortlessly

Snap her fingers and tidy up a house

Look practically perfect even with soot on her face (that’s Hollywood for you)

Pack everything into one bag




homeschooling · special needs · The Everyday

{Pretty, happy, funny, real}


I wanted to get a picture of this before it comes down this weekend to make room for our Advent tree. 🙂 This was our “thankful wall.” Last year I had high ambitions for copying other people’s ideas and make an actual tree on the wall out of brown construction paper and then add a leaf every day. Well, two days in the toddlers had ripped half the tree off the wall. So this time I cut out leaves and the kids and I came up with ideas on most of the days this month and then I taped them to the wall, out of reach of the toddlers. 🙂

The lovely and elegant Miss M, who after arriving at her cousin’s house this Thanksgiving, immediately appropriated the best kids’ chair in the place. Seriously, we worried that she’d try and drag it home with us. 😉


It’s the Pink Puffer Coat girls!

That would be Sunshine and her cousin of the same age, burning off energy at the playground on a rather chilly day after Thanksgiving. We didn’t stay out long.

Miss M and her littlest cousin know exactly what to do on the day after Thanksgiving!


The boy brings me his LEGO guy and said: “I put the girl’s hair on him and made him look like Luke Skywalker!”

He has a point.


I’m a genealogy nut. I love learning the history of our family and was thrilled in high school to have a look at the extensive genealogy my uncle was compiling of my dad’s side of the family. We’ve been in this country since the late 1700s and I’m in the ninth generation. There has been an ancestor or current living relative in nearly every war this country has fought. After our wedding I learned that I wasn’t the only one with relatives in Indiana. Haus Meister’s mother’s family–whom heretofore I had assumed were as Southern as can be–had ancestors that lived in a little town not twenty minutes from where I grew up. One of them was a Quaker who left the church to fight in the Civil War–even in the local battlefield hereabouts–writing home very often and distinguishing himself enough to earn a promotion to First Lieutenant before the war was over (I confess I’m a bit jealous. My Civil War ancestor wasn’t as illustrious). He then came home, resumed his Quaker religion, became a county assessor and died in 1917. I heard that Haus Meister’s late grandfather had spent the time on our wedding weekend to go the little town and see the house where his own grandfather had lived and presumably visit the graves of his family. I found the house myself on a previous trip, but until this time we didn’t know where the cemetery was that the Lieutenant rests in. Thanks to (how’s that for a macabre name!), we learned that not only the Lieutenant but his son and grandson–Haus Meister’s other direct relations–are buried there. So we made time this weekend to try and find some of them before Mass last Saturday. Fortunately, we found the Lieutenant and his wife.

Now that we know where to go, we’ll do some more family history and find the others next time.

And for some REAL on a somber note, please click this link for something that affects anyone related to a person with disabilities, particularly children.

The fine art of crafting

Yarn Along: The Gandalf gloves *finis*!

 I took these pictures last Wednesday fully intending to link up but never did. I completed the second Gandalf glove on the highway as we headed north to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

This is what the glove looked like at 12:30am the day of our departure, pretty much just as Anastasia with Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman finished streaming on Netflix. Like the stitch markers? They are my favorites. I found them at Frost Lane on Etsy.

Here’s an amusing look at the finished product. I’m modeling it while sitting in the passenger seat of the van as we headed up the highway. Well, technically we’re stopped at a rest area when I finished it. I brought a skein of Knitpicks Swish in Squirrel Heather to make another pair of gloves (I was on a roll) and finished one but I am going to frog it as I think it needs another inch of ribbing. The Swish had a lovely look to it and I am pleased with the way the glove knitted up, I just wish I had knitted that extra inch. Meanwhile, there is another project in the queue I need to start in time for Christmas. More on that next week!

Incidentally, my project bag is a small tote I purchased from Georgiepie on Etsy and I was not reading North and South even though it was on my dashboard. It was on my dashboard because my sister-in-law returned it to me probably some time in October when I was picking the kids up at her house. I just kept forgetting to bring it inside. I have read three more Wodehouse books that may or may not appear under the tree this Christmas, deviously hidden behind the jackets of other Wodehouse stories so that Haus Meister wouldn’t know I was reading his gifts. I’m bad that way. It was an irresistible temptation. 😉

Oh, and Haus Meister completely revised his original opinion on fingerless gloves and wore the Gandalf pair any time we were required to go outside in Indiana. He thinks they are perfect for our Southern winters but if we go back up next Thanksgiving or any other wintertime, he wants me to either knit him full mittens or fingerless ones with the tops that can fold back. I love it when I hear someone in my family say, “Can you knit me this…” It makes me happy.

family life

There and Back … again.

This post is brought to you by Procrastination. There are dishes to be done, and I’m putting off the doing of them.

Well, our Thanksgiving weekend ended uneventfully, thank Heaven. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for at least three incidents we passed on the other side of the highway, which is why I’m thankful. We had a pretty fun time visiting my family for the holiday and the kids are beside themselves watching half the world put up their Christmas lights. I caved and put on some Christmas music cds in the car (I was getting sick of Veggie Tales songs and Danny’s overworked cd needed a break), but my response to the begging was: We don’t decorate until Advent! Personally, I have nothing against people decorating right now. I know my weakness and it is Christmas decorating/music/planning, etc. So I can’t blame people for decorating now.

I do hate it, though, when they are “done” with Christmas on Dec. 21st. When their trees are on the curb on the night of the 25th or 26th. When they are sick of it all because they started too soon. Don’t Scrooge everyone else’s Christmas because of that, folks!!!

I’m happy to say, though, that my Christmas shopping is now 99.75% complete. I have two handmade gifts to finish and I need to get some old fashioned candy canes (psst-Mom–Cracker Barrel has some! Wanna get me about 5-7 on your way down for Trooper’s Birthday? I’ll pay you back! 😉 ). My sister and I bravely sallied forth on Black Friday to visit two in-town stores: Wal-Mart and Menards. Because Wal-Mart had no less than 3 Black Friday events, there was a ghost town quality to it at 5am on Friday when we arrived. I joked that the policemen stationed in the parking lot were wondering why they were there. My sister found some of the things she was looking for, and I came across an unexpected LEGO deal. Ever the slave of electronics, I whipped out my phone to see what the going price was on Amazon and the LEGO store–and score! Wal-Mart by far had the better deal. Then my sister found me and chided me for being one of “those” shoppers–the ones glued to their phone in stores. I had to laugh. Menards was much more crowded and I scored a $3 hand mixer that I don’t expect to last long, but I did need a hand mixer for those times when you’re supposed to puree the potatoes in the soup, right?  More importantly, I found a wooden rocking chair that will appear under the Christmas tree this year. Princess has been longing for one for over a year now. After our shopping excursions we went to McDonalds and in the haze of having hit two stores on Black Friday on no coffee or food, we messed up our order three times. Fortunately we were actually dressed–not in flannel jammie pants and sweatshirts like most Wal-Mart shoppers but actually looking cleaned up and normal so our outward appearance belied our inward craziness. 😉

When we got home tonight everything started to go back to “normal.” Dino grabbed his LEGOs and sat in his usual spot. Miss M grabbed her high chair and pushed it over to the kitchen counter to use as a step stool. Trooper went out back to swing for a while. But when it was time for bed, Rascal called me over.

“Mom,” he says. “I want to tell you something. I wish I could live at Grandma Rie’s house forever.”

And you couldn’t ask for a better compliment than that.

Now I have to do those stinking dishes. I’ll try to write more coherently next time. 😉

family life


Thankful for…..


….the gift of family.

As we celebrate this holiday we are grateful for the chance to be together, to run around and feast together. To worship together, plan the next holiday together, read and watch movies and laugh and play together.

And we remember those who might not be with us this holiday. Especially today I thought of Haus Meister’s late grandparents who used to host massive family gatherings every Thanksgiving.

And so on this Thanksgiving I end with the song we would sing in thanks to the Giver of All Good Things, Whom we can never hope to repay.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The fine art of crafting

Yarn Along — 1 Glove down, 1 to go!

Ah, it is good to be here. Let us build three booths.

heh heh, sorry. I’m just pleased to report that Gandalf glove #1 is complete. I just need to work on the second of the pair. 🙂

My loving husband did oblige me by modeling the glove for the picture, complete with props that wouldn’t be too out of place in the Shire. 😉 No, he did not light the stove especially for the picture, but we liked the backdrop.  After he saw my work, Haus Meister did in fact begin to admit that the fingerless gloves might have some use–especially driving a car on the rare cold days we have down here. I think he’s afraid if he likes it too much the gloves might end up in his Christmas stocking. He’s probably right. 😉 I plan to cast on glove #2 tonight. I’m rather pleased with the ribbed wrist; you can’t see it in the picture, though.

I’ve been doing some more British reading. My sister gave me The Cranford Chronicles last year. I enjoyed “Dr. Harrison’s Confessions” and “Cranford”–in fact, when Princess was born a friend loaned me her paperback copy of Cranford. I must have read it three times cover to cover before we left the hospital. That being said, I find “My Lady Ludlow” to be a downer and I didn’t actually enjoy the Cranford film adaptation very much. There’s enough in Cranford itself to make its own movie, but why did they need to combine three novels? Oh well, just my two cents. I’m currently in the middle of a biography of Beatrix Potter

family life · homeschooling

Still looking up….

I just wanted to thank those of you who commented on my blog post last Friday either verbally or otherwise. One problem with “keeping it real” is that within about 15 hours I felt like a huge whiner and just wanted to delete the post off the face of the earth. But I didn’t. I do want to add that I never expected homeschooling to be the One Perfect Goal to Shelter My Children from All Imaginable Evil. That’s not why we do what we do. Perhaps some of you thought it odd that I should have been so cut up that a special needs nearly 9yr old was shunned or that a 7yr old got his feelings hurt. I do want to clarify that I wasn’t cut up because “oh, we’re homeschoolers, that should not happen amongst us!” No, I was cut up because I’m their mom. And I feel their hurt.

Meanwhile, we did have a glorious Fall weekend and we did manage to take a bunch of random family pictures for the annual Christmas card, none of which made the final cut. I did make the unfortunate comment to my husband, “Well, we can rule out the formal backgrounds,” as I browsed Shutterfly, unaware that he had just taken a drink. 😉 Upon recovering he instantly agreed. I do have a couple of shots that I will print for the family archives. I have a scrapbook someone gave me in 2004 and in it I put each year’s family picture, and there’s a slot for every year until 2o24. It’s hard to imagine right now how our family photo will look then. I hope we are all going to be facing forward, at least! Or goodness–will we even have photos then? For those of you interested, in this year’s card I chose a layout that had enough picture spots for each of us (without looking like the Brady Bunch) and fortunately the children all obliged me by smiling individually for the camera. And I did it this early because it was on sale! Yippee!

We have a fun week ahead. I’m going to make pumpkin pancakes in the morning and we are going to begin putting up Thanksgiving pictures. Thanksgiving has been forgotten by the commercial decorating world, except for those monstrous inflatable turkeys you see in people’s yards. I rather miss plain autumn decor in stores, you know? Luckily I have my stash from college still out, and I need to bring up my pilgrim candlesticks. Rascal is going to finish out a level of reading this week, a big triumph for him. So no, if I’ve been away from the keyboard it’s not that I’m still having a bad day. It’s just that we had a couple of good days, and now things are as always still looking up. 🙂

P.S. I did call the funeral home on Saturday and reported the missing vase from Jacob’s grave. The kind gentleman did ask me whether the vase was gone or perhaps just inverted. I felt for a second like the lady who calls the Geek Squad when really her computer was unplugged, but I confidently asserted that “Um, no, I could stick my hand in the hole that was left there.” Whereupon he instantly said “aha” like the game was afoot and told me to call back Tuesday when the boss would be in the office. So, we’ll see where this goes.

my thoughts on the subject · special needs


I’ve read that the principal fault of “mommy blogs” is that we write only things that are happy, warm, fuzzy, and perfect. We make ourselves so ethereal that the “common mom” cannot hope to aspire to be as spiritual/beautiful/organized/spic-n-span/coordinated as ourselves. Those of you who have been following my blog these past few years will, I hope, admit that I’m not perfect. I speak often of projects that may or may not come to fruition. I rarely have a picture of my house in a perfect state. I rarely have my house in a perfect state. There hasn’t been a picture of my family taken in about four years where everyone is facing the camera. And smiling. Ok, make that maybe six years. I just do not choose to write about most of our terrible days. We have them, trust me. I didn’t choose to write about the troubles we were having with a particular child and a particular homeschool curriculum because that is his story and he can tell it later if he wants to, and also because I wanted to make sure the next curriculum was really a better match before I wrote about it (it was, incidentally). I didn’t tell any of you about Baby Posy (and is that how you spell it? I was thinking Posie or Poesy but Merriam-Webster says Posy. Sheesh.) because as with all my girls, the first trimester is one long Hurricane Hormona. It’s bad enough my family and I had to deal with it. Going into hormonal hysterics on the internet was not what I had in mind. We were and are very excited about our new little one, but the thought of what I might have said if someone commented adversely about  my family size was enough for me to keep it under internet wraps until the first trimester–and hormones–subsided.

All this to say, life kicked me in the teeth today. So finally I can keep myself off the ethereal podium by announcing I HAD A BAD DAY.

Ok, so it wasn’t all bad. Actually, some things happened that would have kept me in the Perfect Mommy Blogger Zone. I was able to wash out  most of my refrigerator! Two small condiment shelves had to wait, but they weren’t harmed by the Quart of Chicken Stock that was dropped into the nether recesses of the fridge, or by the splash of milk that ensued when some toddler got her sister’s open milk cup out of said fridge and with the door open, proceeded to baptise the shelves. Also, they weren’t anywhere near the Vegetable Crisper of Doom that was harboring unknown organisms. Anyway, it looks pretty darn good right now in there. AND I made a smashing good pear apple cranberry crisp for our homeschool potluck today. Let me tell you, that’s a divine concoction.

Shortly before arriving at the potluck this afternoon something happened that hurt me greatly, but I’ll save that for last. We do so enjoy our potlucks. We get to visit with the people we see nearly every week at co-op and then some others whom we might not get to see as often. We’ve been increasingly more involved in the group for two or three years, so pretty much everyone knows us, and knows our Trooper. But today he had the chance to interact with some kids in his “peer group” who didn’t know his case that well, and misunderstandings ensued. Sure, he was hogging the swings at one point. It’s a fault of his, and I came out to remind him to share. Later though, when he was highly amused by the game the big kids were playing and wanted to watch, the girl turned to him and just gave him a look. I happened to see it because I was looking outside to check on the whereabouts of Sunshine, and my heart broke. It was the “retard” look.

Almost before I could recover from that, Rascal approaches me with eyes swimming. Apparently another friend, an older boy, had taken the opportunity to make himself look ‘cool’ by belittling and humiliating Rascal to his face. So there I was in the dining room of my friend’s house comforting my big second grader while still smarting from the “retard” look and also from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that I’ll go into next.  I reassured Rascal that his friend probably didn’t mean half of it, and to just smile and go play with someone else. Later when he brought it up again on our way home, I was able to calmly remind him that people will misunderstand us or say things that hurt us, but we must show compassion and understanding in turn. I should have summed it all up in one word:


Yep, that’s a good word. Forgive others when they misunderstand, when they misjudge, when they forget to see beyond the outward appearance of things. After all, how often are we guilty of the very faults we see in others?

And sometimes we have to forgive things that we don’t understand. Like when driving up to a cemetery to pray on this All Souls Day morning, stopping the van next to the side of the hill where your baby son is buried… only to see that someone has removed the brass vase from his gravestone. I stared at the gaping hole in shock, the artificial foliage limp in my hands. That brass vase didn’t blow away in any storm. It didn’t wash away in any flood. It was chained to the stone, for heaven’s sake! I know this because I frequently lifted it out to pour away the icky rain water that would collect there in between visits. I hoped for a second that the maintenance guys had hit it with a lawnmower in a moment of mental abstraction (hey, they hit a solar light my parents had left there), but it would be hard to hit the vase. I couldn’t call the cemetery office today, so I will call first thing tomorrow morning if they are open. I don’t know how long the vase has been missing, and really, in the scheme of things, it’s just a vase. I googled “stolen cemetery vases” to see if this was really going on, and apparently it’s been pretty popular during the recession. Ironically, although these vases retail in the triple digits, they only garner you a whole whopping $13.75 in scrap metal cash.

Someone please tell me that no one disturbed Jacob’s grave for $13.75. Someone please tell me this was an accident and no one disturbed my baby’s grave at all.

Because you see, I have to forgive this, and it would be easier to forgive an errant lawnmower–also because the vase would have dented it but good, leaving me with a mean satisfaction because you see, I’m not a perfect mommy blogger.

I’m me, and I struggle to forgive things too.

The Everyday

{pretty, happy, funny, real}


I took this picture from out of my van window heading out of our subdivision. I love living here.

Pretty Happy

I’m glad I already put pictures of our other trick-or-treaters up on previous {p,f,h,r} posts as last night they left in shifts and I didn’t get a picture of all of them at once! Haus Meister had to work late so my father-and-sister-in-law, who live about two blocks away, came over and took the middle set out. They had made it to the first house just as Haus Meister pulled in. Fortunately there was still someone at home waiting for Daddy’s help.

raiding our candy bowl

The red dress had been made for Princess’ 3rd birthday by my mother-in-law. I think it suits Sunshine just fine.

Off they went, a wee princess escorted by her king.

And when I turned back to the door….


….this face greeted me.

This pumpkin costume has been worn by every child from Trooper to Miss M except, come to think of it, Princess. I first saw it in Gymboree at a mall in 2003 when I was barely 20 weeks pregnant with Trooper. I didn’t even know he was a boy yet. All I knew was that I loved that costume and I wanted it as bad as any pregnancy craving. I rationalized that there wouldn’t be anything so cute available next year (a prediction luckily that came to pass) and so one night I found myself with time on my hands and went to the mall and nabbed it. Fortunately it is size 6-18mos so I knew our baby would fit in it. If Trooper had arrived in March, his due date, he would be about 7 mos so I figured we’d be good (as it was, he was born in December but still wore the costume just fine). Unluckily, the store clerk noticed that I had “SUCKER” all over my forehead and as I was the only customer in the shop, she gleefully persuaded me to purchase not only the costume (including hat) but pumpkin socks and an outfit to wear UNDER the costume. I chose a set of black sweats. Then I went home, gulping. I had spent $60! And that was not the most affluent time in our life, either. Haus Meister indulged his wife, though, and did not insist on my returning anything (although he hasn’t really let me go into one of those shops alone again). The sweats were worn by all the boys and worn often. They lasted better than anything bought at the Big Box stores, and I think they are even now in the box saved for a future son or nephew. And the pumpkin costume as I said was worn by 5/6 children. I doubt any other Halloween costume has had it’s money’s worth like that. 🙂


I’m a little hypocritical this time of year. I have begun my Christmas gift shopping, and am making lists and checking them twice. All the same, I do wish that the retail world would allow us Thanksgiving, at least!!!! Couldn’t it be like the 1947Miracle on 34th Street when everything Christmasey begins on Thanksgiving or the day after?

Not BEFORE Halloween???

(click link for photo; it’s not one of mine)