family life · The fine art of crafting

February Wrap-up (YA & PHFR included)



When I sat down to blog this morning I couldn’t believe the last date on my post was February 13th. I felt sure there were about five posts missing. Then I realized that those were the times I meant to sit down and blog, and it never happened. February was one busy month, with an event for someone every weekend and two trips for some of us. Rascal and Haus Meister went to Virginia for the Baptism of our newest goddaughter, and I would dearly have loved to attend myself but we had to take Trooper to St. Louis for a follow-up the very next weekend, and two trips for the whole family in as many weeks is more than I think all of us could take. I know I was literally sick of take-out food by the end of the St. Louis weekend! Then there were the snow days that were fun to have but seemed to add more laundry to the mix as coats and hats and gloves and wet slushy towels piled up, and schedules to be rearranged. All this to say when the snow melted and the temperatures became Southern and balmy again, it was quite revitalizing and I stopped being grumpy. I am glad the kids had a bit of snow fun but I for one am so ready for our early Southern spring.

So now I shall try to wrap up the last few weeks of February.



My early flowers are coming up! Undeterred by the snows, they arrived right on schedule. We’re about to put the Old Haus back on the market after some freshening up so I hope the yard looks just as good over there. In any case, this was my knitting two weeks ago, when I last meant to link up to Yarn Along. I am currently on Row 9 Clue 4B so I have gotten quite a bit further on the Follow Your Arrow shawl, and I might be taking a quick break after this weekend to work on a special little project for a very special someone. I have to wait for one extra skein of yarn to arrive–why is it I always underestimate the amount of yarn I need? That makes me nervous about starting Haus Meister’s Icelandic wool sweater. ūüėȬ†Arabella was my latest Georgette Heyer read and I thought it was my last for a while, having reached Regency saturation point. However, my sister wanted me to read¬†Regency Buck¬†while I was in Indiana because it’s her new favorite, and although I thought the title sounded dumb I obliged her and I’m glad I did.¬†Regency Buck¬†was pretty funny, even if I think it could use a better title.

Mom’s Shalom is officially done because she had all the buttons required to finish it. The pattern calls for one button–and that I had–but I added three more button holes just in case Mom wanted more. I was aghast upon going through my button bag (no mean amount) to see I totally lacked three necessary buttons. So in a sense she finished her own sweater, and did me the honor of wearing it the weekend we visited.


Posey Pie liked her taste in color.

While at my parents’ house (where some of our kids stay while the rest of us go with Trooper to St. Louis), we picked up a quilt my grandmother had left out for me before she went to winter in the warmer climes. With visits to a daughter in Florida and a son in California, my grandma luckily managed to miss out on the Polar Vortex event! The quilt in question once belonged to my great-grandmother, and I like how it brightens the room. My usual white counterpane is in the dryer and when it is back I will probably keep this folded at the bottom of the bed, just because it is vintage. Not sure, though. It is cheerful.


I folded down the top a bit so you could see the rounded edges and the points. I always wanted to quilt, even when I was little. If Laura Ingalls could be piecing a nine-patch at three and four years old, why couldn’t I at 9? But somehow I haven’t tried quilting much yet. I won’t say I never will, because after all I didn’t expect to jump into knitting as much as I did. But probably not right now….



While in Indiana, Princess went sledding with Grandpa and her cousin. Rascal and Dino are there, too, somewhere. Probably exiting stage left. Rascal tried to use our old wooden sled–my childhood sled–as a bobsled. Dino proved his Southern roots by wanting to go back to the van where it was warm. I suspected as much so I sat there with him and knit a few rows.


Someone turned 11 months old on St. Valentine’s Day! She is such a big girl these days. She drinks regular milk from a cup (and doesn’t want a sippy lid!), eats all the solid food she can get her hands on, speed crawls, tries to climb on low surfaces, and has “conversations” with you.


Ironically back at the end of January I thought to myself that she and the new baby would be such twins because Posey didn’t seem to be in a big rush to become a toddler. She must have read my mind and set out to prove me wrong. She’d walk now if she were steadier.

She also is in the habit of yelling for things she wants. On a warmer day I was rummaging through the girls’ clothes to find a short sleeved shirt for Miss M and I pulled out a pink shoe that is waiting for Posey to grow into a little. Posey saw it and immediately began the “I WANT THAT” holler. Instantly my thoughts flashed back to 15 month old Princess, the day I bought her pink shoes and she hardly wore anything else while she fit into them.


Not sure that’s the case here. I think Posey thought they were edible.



Sunshine orders room service at the hotel in St. Louis. (We disconnected the phone prior to this)


Miss M gets ready for the warm weather days. No, I still haven’t painted the girls’ room. That is next week. ūüėČ


Appalachian girls refusing to wear shoes. Yes, that is Miss M’s preferred method of swinging.



A year ago yesterday Pope Emeritus Benedict retired. I know somewhere I have pictures of us watching his helicopter depart and his arrival at the residence at Castel Gandolfo, but I couldn’t find them this morning. So here’s one I took of the doors of the Sistine Chapel closing for the conclave last March. Only a year ago. What a year!

family life · LEGO

{pretty, happy, funny, real)


Ah, the post wherein I play catch-up for the week and hopefully get through it without mentioning yarn anymore than I’ve already had to, lest the family readers looking for amusing anecdotes about our wonderful crazy life think that they’ve wandered into a crafty knitting blog.

Although, that is part of my wonderful crazy life….

But moving on.


When I took down our wooden Christmas countdown tree, which is hung every year in the foyer because my father-in-law (who made the tree in his workshop) found the perfect place to hang the nail for it there, I had already decided to put a new picture in its place. The question was: what? I’d never had a permanent home for anything there but it is very near to the wall on which we placed our Sacred Heart picture that we had enthroned in our home some years before. I wondered and waited for some inspiration, and within a week or two a catalog from Monastery Icons arrived with this on the cover:


It arrived two days ago and as soon as I get a picture with good lighting (sunshine again please?) I’ll post it!

Happy, Funny, Real….

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Because clearly we need binoculars to see the Kipper cartoon on the computer screen directly in front of us.

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From what I gather, Rascal’s cargo ship was being attacked by Dino’s Pirate Yeti Spaceman with a dwarvish battle axe. Or something like that. I don’t think the Yeti won, but he gets full marks for bravery.

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Nothing is safe from her these days.

family life · my thoughts on the subject

Top Ten at Year’s End

2014 is now four and a half hours away, so as I have family over I’m going to quickly end this year-in-blogging with some high notes.


10. Exposure of Media Conspiracies.


Snicker. Okay, not that one.

10 (for real): Toddler Mischief Squad

Their antics will be the stuff of family legend.


9. Hardwood Floors.

Never thought we’d have these while the Old Haus was still on the market.¬†What¬†a blessing!


8. My parents in Rome.


7. Equestrian Therapy


The thrill of having his own sport, all the while helping his health in mind and body.

6. Trail Life USA


Our boys are part of one of the first chartered troops. What a blessing for all of them.

5. Trooper in St. Louis


The trip to the Cerebral Palsy Center in St. Louis that would open so many doors and ultimately change Trooper’s life for the better.

(Picture in a basilica where we stopped to pray before the appointment)

4. Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict

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The weeks of amazing church history unfolding before our eyes.

Pope Francis

The year that our lesson plans included CONCLAVE and WHITE SMOKE WATCH.


The year our Church was blessed with the leadership of two such men.

3. Super Sacrament Weekend

In the Year of Faith, celebrating two amazing sacraments in one weekend. Posey’s Baptism and Rascal’s First Communion.

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2. Baby Blessings


Our sweet Posey Pie, such a fun little addition. She brings such joy to our lives.


We call her our Baby Happiness. I can hardly believe she’s almost 10 months old.

And now there’s another bonny wee lassie to knit pink for, coming next May. Our cup of joy overflows.


1. 10th Anniversary 

Celebrating why this blog is what it is.

Why it’s a family blog.

Why we are a family.


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. ūüėČ

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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.

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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




my thoughts on the subject

Day of Prayer for Peace


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. 

my thoughts on the subject

“Each of us is necessary”

¬†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, ‚Äúthe 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.‚ÄĚ

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:

A candle for Hanson

my thoughts on the subject

A confession

This wasn’t the post I intended to write tonight, but here you go. Tonight’s post is brought to you by Natural Family Planning.

Yes, that.

Now there’s a topic I don’t write about much here. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago I mentioned to Haus Meister that I do seem to be mum on the subject in my blog and in conversations with others. It wasn’t until NFP came up in a discussion with a friend from Church that I found myself admitting out loud that we do in fact practice Natural Family Planning. She had asked me what method we used, since she had just started Creighton. I actually stuttered as I managed to say “Marquette.”

I was afraid, you see. Afraid of admitting we do this because we have had eight children. Afraid that someone wavering in their decision to follow the Church’s teaching would run screaming back to the condoms and contraception once they knew that “the stair-step family,” “that one with all the kids,” does in fact keep a chart. I could never see myself presenting at an NFP talk because of that same fear (and the fact that I don’t like public speaking, but back to topic now).¬†They–that nebulous “they,” the ones we fear out of human respect–will think it doesn’t “work.” “I’m endangering the mission; I should never have come.” (movie quote alert, sorry)

Well, no more. ¬†I agree with the writer of this post, who puts things so well, it’s time we stopped being ashamed. Dwija says in “NFP doesn’t work. You have so many kids!“:

You guys, we have fallen into a hole. ¬†We’ve fallen into the hole of defining life the way corporations want us to define it. ¬†“Family planning” has come to mean “child prevention” and we simply accept that, “natural” has come to mean “non-chemical” and we simply accept that and I, for one, am tired. ¬†I’m tired of feeling obligated to feel¬†embarrassed¬†that our family contains children. ¬†I’m tired of my friends having to tell the world that they “suck” at NFP because their families contain children. ¬†I’m tired of everyone I know who knows about NFP having to constantly justify marriages resulting in children.

Please read the rest here.

Oh, and for the record, although NFP is much more than “non-chemical birth control,” my snarky¬†mischievous¬†side would dearly love to pull into the beastly tiny Whole Foods parking lot in my town with THIS slogan plastered on the back of my van:

grungy_faded_retro_pattern_3 NFP


family life · The Everyday

{pretty, happy, funny, real}


Posey Pie–1 month old!


Waiting to leave for Posey’s baptism.

She did wear shoes at some part of the proceedings.

Sisters and their babies (godmothers and goddaughters as well)

Sisters and nie


Our first First Communicant!



A new book arrived at the Haus. This is how Dino refers to it:


(Ominous:) “Mother, this is a DANGEROUS book…”
(Suddenly gleeful:) “…for BOYS!!”

Our M&D princess castle recently broke into two pieces. This is not a judgment call on the quality; it is still a nice piece and favored toy. I defy any toy like that to survive being knocked off a table height repeatedly (Miss M and Sunshine both accidentally did this a few times trying to readjust the castle on the play table). The kids asked us NOT to glue it back because now the castle fit better on the table and they now could have two separate castles, in their opinion.

Yesterday Rascal took a clay St. Dominic that had been made for him by a friend at the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word, and made a “monastery” out of the smaller piece of the castle.


There St. Dominic was able to park his Mini Cooper (!) and offer Mass for LEGOs.


Pink roof notwithstanding, I was impressed with the mini monastery!

family life · my thoughts on the subject

Snapshot of a huge weekend

We just had an amazingly super weekend here at the Haus. Unfortunately, I’m a little tired tonight, otherwise I’d try and string some coherent thought together to describe it. Seriously, there’s much that I am pondering over these events. Suffice tonight to say that Event #1 happened on Saturday, Event #2 on Sunday, and a lot of fun family visiting and all of us making merry in between. To sum up some of my thoughts, I’ll use one of my favorite lines from the baptismal rite, one that I have loved to hear ever since Trooper’s reception into the Church….

This is our faith.

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This is the faith of the Church.

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We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

family 2