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.

THE TOP TEN OF 2013

10. Exposure of Media Conspiracies.

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Snicker. Okay, not that one.

10 (for real): Toddler Mischief Squad

Their antics will be the stuff of family legend.

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9. Hardwood Floors.

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

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8. My parents in Rome.

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7. Equestrian Therapy

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

6. Trail Life USA

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

5. Trooper in St. Louis

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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.

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

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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

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

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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.

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1. 10th Anniversary 

Celebrating why this blog is what it is.

Why it’s a family blog.

Why we are a family.

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Advent/Christmas · my thoughts on the subject

No plans for Christmas….

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.

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The kids love it. They ask me 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.

Until next Advent, Gavlebocken!
Until next Advent, Gavlebocken!

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.

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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!)

Advent/Christmas · my thoughts on the subject · The fine art of crafting

Here’s the plan for now…

Thursday found me lamenting the fact that it wasn’t snowing. Nor did it look like snow was going to come at all.  The previous weekend found me grumbling that the temperatures were in the low 70s, mainly because everything seemed humid and damp and knowing another cool spell was coming later in the week made me mistrust the weather. All I could think of was that someone was going to catch some bug from it.  I still wanted a nice cold winter.

So I spent part of this weekend planning for Easter.

I’m a little crazy like that sometimes.

Okay, most of the time.

Part of it came from Elizabeth’s latest Needle and ThREAD post wherein she gave us a peek into her adorable sewing stash. She’s planning to make an Easter dress pattern that I too, happened to have my eye on. Upon deliberation and consultation with Princess, who continues to be our resident arbiter elegantiae and clothes horse,  we decided that this pattern would be The One.

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It has a collar. I’m slightly intimidated by the collar. However, it’s also a challenge for me, and meeting a craft challenge can be fun… or at least interesting. If you are curious, this is the Oliver and S Fairytale dress pattern. I’m smitten with Oliver and S designs, partly because they are just plain cute and partly because of the picture on the pattern cover.

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They always make it look like an old fashioned paper doll. I’m nuts for that!

I hope to see if my sewing machine is back in order soon. I’m appalled that I haven’t touched it in a year. I guess it’s because knitting is easier for me to pick up in a quiet moment, but there’s a limited time one can wear handknitted clothes around here, and somehow I think it would be faster to sew this up than to handknit three summer sweater dresses in cotton/linen yarn. 😉

Once the pattern was established, I had to pick out fabric, of course!  I found this one for Sunshine (pattern is from Ladies’ Stitching Club by Oliver & S):

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and this one for Princess and Miss M, who have the same coloring about them. 🙂 It’s Michael Miller Strawberry Tea Party in Pink. Princess insisted that her dress be pink, naturally!

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The amusing thing is that as soon as I determined upon these very Springy things, I went downstairs and noticed that I still haven’t packed away my Santa corner!  That would be a top corner of a bookcase whereupon resides the Cookies for Santa plate and mug, a Hallmark woodland Santa candleholder I’ve had almost as long as we’ve been married, and a German wooden Santa that burns an incense cone. For that matter, I just today took down all our Christmas cards. They lovingly filled up a goodly portion of our foyer and filled the area with cheer. But it was time. Princess and I took them all down and put them in a basket. I got this idea from my mother-in-law–in their house they take a card out of the basket at every mealtime and say a prayer for the sender. We began ours tonight, and it’s just as fun as receiving the card the first time.

Meanwhile Haus Meister surveys the bare walls. HIM: “It looks so empty in the foyer right now. Wow.”

ME: (gaily) “Oh, don’t worry. The Valentines will be going up soon enough.”

HIM: (sarcastically) “What? Oh…joy. Valentine cards. How about we just put all those Christmas cards back up again?”

No thanks. I need to conserve my Scotch tape. 🙂

And last but not least, happy birthday today to my Mom!

Advent/Christmas · LEGO · The Everyday

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Pretty & Happy

Knowing that the Church is still in the Christmas season and spirit.

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Happy & Funny

My Christmas gift from the children was the LEGO Winter Village Bakery, making the second in my collection when you add what is left of the Winter Village Toy Shoppe. I say “what is left” because in a fit of absolute trust and faith I allowed the boys to play with the Toy Shoppe before I put it away last year. Consequently I am now missing about 50% of the pieces. However, with the addition of the bakery and the limited edition holiday sleigh + bench scene, I have a very respectable display on top of my yarn and fabric cupboard.

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I’m not sure why I thought leaving it there meant it would be safe.

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After all, most of them can climb on chairs.

Funny & Real

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Arrangements by Sunshine. You’ll note all my shepherds and two of the Magi’s animals are missing.

The Magi, misdirected no doubt by faulty GPS locations, made it to Bethlehem but can’t seem to find the stable. At least the elephant never forgets!

Further Sunshine antics.

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No sooner did we get into the van than she kicked off her boots and decided her socks made better mittens.

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And here she is, hamming it up in the bathroom mirror with Miss M, if she could even see herself through the smeared mirror that she herself just smeared by trying to wash it with a toothbrush. She’s wearing the 3D glasses I brought back from The Hobbit for moments such as these, and also decided upon the precaution of wearing rainboots with her sleeper.

Happy birthday this Saturday to our own Sunshine and Dino. I will hopefully be back this weekend with reports of the day (if not sooner with other reports).

Advent/Christmas · LEGO · The Everyday

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Whew! I think I’m finally ready to get back to a reasonable schedule again. I think I needed a few decent nights’ sleep again, which maybe-not-so-surprisingly I haven’t had lately, but feel optimistic this morning nevertheless. 😉

So, let’s try to do some Christmas catch-up.

Pretty

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Silhouettes on the mantel. I’d had a display like this in the Old Haus but hadn’t updated since Princess was the baby. The #2 picture is Jacob and the #8 is Posy Pea’s ultrasound.

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The calm before the storm.

Happy

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Back in September I hinted to Santa that an upgrade on some of the kitchen set food was in order for the little ones. It helped that Magic Cabin had them on sale. The problem was storage. We had the blue kitchen set (my mom found it for $3 at an upscale neighborhood yard sale!) but it didn’t have much more space after the food and dishes were in. My father-in-law is a genius at woodworking (something that Haus Meister luckily inherited), and so I went to him one day this fall and asked if he had any spare wood laying around that he could bang together into a play refrigerator for the grandkids. I was sanguine about this because both he and Haus Meister usually do have spare wood laying around from projects completed/projects planned/projects we’re in the process of completing/projects we know we’re going to plan for/etc. What I wasn’t expecting was an absolute work of ART.

Let me amend that. I knew my father-in-law was definitely capable of producing such a work. I had just specified a box with a door and shelves. He way surpassed anything I’ve seen in any toy catalog.

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For one thing, he built a battery-powered light into it with a switch on the bottom that turns it on when you open the door, just like a real refrigerator. The shelves were perfect for the food (old and new) and everything was rounded, painted, sanded, etc. to look perfectly accurate. On the top of the outer door and inside under the light he added charms from a bracelet shaped like a crown that looks like a brand logo (but perfect for the princesses that use this). He even thoughtfully added the black basket at the bottom shelf for all the fruit and vegetables.

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And now things are organized over here, more or less. In fact, it’s more organized than our real kitchen.

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Until she gets at it, of course. Miss M keeps trying to persuade me that the tea set goes into the refrigerator while the teapot goes into our main bathtub. But she loves the toy refrigerator.

We keep hinting to my father-in-law that he totally needs to open a toy shop. It’s going to be hard to top this gift. Whew.

Funny

Meanwhile, from my sister to me….

A Pride and Prejudice board book. This was the funniest thing. And I just noticed that the Sense and Sensibility version will be released in February. There’s my 2013 gift, Kiddo! 😉

In other humor news…

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LEGO antics and…

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Zita the Spacegirl, books 1 & 2. Zita is now a household name, along with One, Strong-strong, and Mouse.

Real

What happens when you try to pose kids next to the church nativity scene?

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(And I didn’t notice until most of the way through Mass that Rascal and Dino were wearing the wrong tops. Rascal was in Dino’s sweater and vice versa. Augh.)

and this is how we’ve all been feeling this past week.

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But it’s been fun.

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to this literary giant whose writings have added so much to our lives….

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Advent/Christmas · my thoughts on the subject · overheard

Third Day of Christmas Thoughts

Sorry the blog has been so silent of late. We spent the third week of Advent painting, painting, painting. We finished up the semester officially on the 21st with Rascal’s last math worksheet and then I kept the kids out of his hair so Haus Meister could still paint. Wow. The house looks better than when we bought it. Best of all, we can stay here and enjoy it! Unlike the last paint-fest, which ended when we left the Old Haus for the new.

So, here’s some of what’s been happening as we continue to attempt to recover from Paintfest 2012 and the Christmas aftermath.

  • Christmas Day itself was perfect. It was warm and satisfying and the morning, though rainy, was spent all of us together unwrapping presents, getting ready for and going to Mass, and then coming home to unwrap the rest because the kids themselves decided to take their time and enjoy things. I was amazed at that. And pleased. Of course, then the relatives came over and we cooked and feasted and sent things over to my brother-in-law who came down with something and stayed behind at our in-laws. The kids had fun with their cousins and there was bedlam. It was good.
  • I made it my personal mission to finish off the whole-cranberry sauce I’d made for Christmas dinner in order to make room in the refrigerator for the New Years dinner. I found you CAN eat too much cranberry sauce. It is not pleasant.
  • Thanks to Rascal having decided to try to play two dvds at once, our dvd player on the iMac is not cooperating. Thus we didn’t get to enjoy our favorite holiday movies (The Nativity Story, The Bishop’s Wife, The Great Mr. Handel, Miracle on 34th Street–although we did get to see that after Thanksgiving) this year at all. On the plus side, the kids have been so obsessed with The Nutcracker that we keep watching streamed versions of it as often as we can. The Balanchine 1993 version was replaced as our favorite by the 2000/01 Royal Ballet version with Anthony Dowell as Drosselmeyer. That was an incredible show and I was pleased that the kids would sit through it without the need for narration. Yes, The Nutcracker got us through many an hour during the Paintfest, and who can complain to 1hr 47 minutes of classical music? However, the video was taken off YouTube between yesterday afternoon and today. I’m quite disappointed. The dvd is now in my Amazon wishlist for next December. We’ll have fixed the iMac by then….
  • Overheard today as the kids watched a show on the Nativity on EWTN.com: RASCAL says to Dino– “No, it’s MAGI, not JEDI.”
  • Princess finally got the hang of some of the words to Joy to the World. It goes something like this now: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come / Let earth be sing her King! / They’re taking up the joy/ They’re taking up the joy / They’re taking up the joy, they’re taking up the joy, they’re taking, they’re ta-a-aking up the joy.”
  • Miss M wins the Nogger Award 2012. If you have a cup of egg nog (and we’ve only had the unspiked version available here), she will seek you out and demand a sip. And she’ll look so cute that you give in. And then she won’t give it back until she drains it.
  • Because Paintfest was going on during what I planned to be Bakefest, Bakefest happened in limited quantities. Most of those limited quantities were consumed by our children faster than I could bake them, including the cranberry-orange bread which Sunshine was especially drawn to as it cooled on the counter.  And then I blew an entire batch of my cranberry cider jelly by stupidly substituting liquid pectin for powdered. Sheesh. So if you usually get a goodie box from us…um…it’s still coming.
  • I’m uber proud of Haus Meister for all the painting he did. We’re talking living room, my “sewing nook”, the kitchen, hallway, both kids’ bedrooms, and the stairwell. In a week. And that’s after making sure the van had new tires, helping run the Cub Scout Christmas party, taking his wife to see The Hobbit, and running out on December 23rd to get a massively beautiful tree for our downstairs family room. Whew. And then cooking up an amazing Beef Wellington on Christmas Day. We pretty much need a vacation to make up for the vacation! 😉
  • I’ve been absorbed in my spare moments since Tuesday rearranging my Ravelry queue, planning projects and rearranging my yarn stash. My in-laws gave me Jane Austen knits Fall 2012 and I am pretty well convinced that eventually over the next 1o years I will have made myself a wardrobe of tops from those catalogs. I have all three that have been printed as of now, and my Ravelry queue is probably about 40% from them. Meanwhile, I am so close to the decrease on Haus Meister’s hat, and am resolved to finish it before the New Year.
  • Which is why I’m sitting here blogging, right? Actually, that has to do with the cranberry sauce. See above. I feel like my fat hobbit dog Merry, who hasn’t been quite up to speed since the Christmas dinner scraps. No wonder he’s my buddy.

Merry Christmas!

Advent/Christmas · overheard

Got Nog?

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I’ll never forget the look on Haus Meister’s face when he opened the refrigerator in the beginning of December, 2003. We had yet to celebrate our first married Christmas, and I blithely picked up some egg nog at the grocery store, not realizing that in his family they made a nice ritual of enjoying eggnog for the first time on Christmas Eve. However, Haus Meister had always wanted to enjoy eggnog a little more often so when I asked if it was okay that I had bought some, he grinned and said, “Of course!”  I think we scandalized his family at first, but we’ve done a good job over the last nine years incorporating family traditions and creating some of our own that our dropping the eggnog one is merely winked at by the other relatives. 😉

Fast forward to yesterday. I picked up some eggnog at the store mainly because I was getting a dinner ready for a family from church who had recently welcomed a new son to their family, a son with a name rather associated with Christmas and starts with N. 😉 I thought I’d add some yuletide cheer to their basket, and I also knew it would be futile to get nog and not have some for my crew. I put our bottle in the upstairs fridge and the other one in the downstairs’ one. I had to go down into the garage and secure some boxes that had arrived while I was out lest the kiddos sneak into them, and as I climbed back upstairs I was met at the top by Rascal, who was just finishing a large cup of a rather thick milk-like drink.

“What was THAT?!” He grinned. “It’s GOOD!

I gaped like a fish. I had expected to bring it out for Haus Meister after dinner and then give some to the kids. I hadn’t expected the Refrigerator Raiders to begin work quite so soon.

But now it has begun, and now I pretty much have to lock up the eggnog. “I’m thirsty; can I have some eggnog?” is one of the first things I heard this morning.

“No, it’s a special drink. We have it after dinner.”

Pout.

Good thing it wasn’t the Christian Brothers variety. 😉