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. ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ

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


{pretty, happy, funny, real)


More from our Thanksgiving trip this week! Meanwhile, anyone else having trouble getting ready for Advent? It seems to me that usually having a day or two of November before the Advent calendars start on Dec. 1 does in fact make a lot of difference–particularly when much of ours is DIY. Of course, my issues are mainly strategic planning related. If I’d had my act together I would have had my Advent box upstairs before we left on our Thanksgiving trip. I would have found four of the Advent calendars the kids needed that I had hidden from eager hands–these sticker calendars from Adoremus Books that I’d bought in October–and would have found them¬†before yesterday. And we would have had both our Advent trees up–the real and the wooden. The wooden one is still on the other side of the boat and the real one is languishing in a Wal-Mart garden center (unless I find another place that sells 4ft trees between now and Saturday)

However, I plead extenuating circumstances. When Advent officially began I was 500 miles from home. Purchasing a real tree for Advent at that time would have entailed it being strapped to the van for said 500 mile trip. Would much of it have been left upon arrival? And the kids aren’t complaining about the delay in calendars much. They’ve been able to open 2-3 doors a day or add 3 stickers or color 4 houses. Starting today it’s 1–just 1–from now until the 24th.

Another new thing I introduced was the idea of choosing a random sibling name on a slip of paper and being that sibling’s Secret Santa. I wanted them to get a better idea of keeping a secret and participate more in the¬†giving of the season besides wrapping Daddy’s present or seeing that our UPS man ¬†and mail-lady get a bag of cookies. The key is to do a good turn for the brother or sister (only the oldest four are participating this year) and then choose a gift to give them on Christmas, wrapped by their very selves. Rascal took to it right away. He’d picked Dino’s name and thought of a good deed to do on the sly for his brother. Later in the day Rascal came over to me and said: “Hey, Mom! I just made [Dino’s) bed. If he thanks you for doing it, just say ‘ok,’ okay?” Then he scampered off, which is good because I was already smiling wryly at the thought of Dino thanking me for making his bed. ¬†It would surprise me if Dino even noticed the bed was made! Rascal also began dreaming of pricey gifts for said brother but I reminded him that Dino would love a plastic dinosaur from the grocery store just as well. ¬†Ironically, Dino has Rascal’s name and when I suggested a good turn would be to take the clothes Rascal had left on the floor and toss them into the laundry hamper about ten steps away, Dino was shocked: “You mean I have to¬†clean?!

Oh boy.



On Saturday we went to the Children’s Museum thanks to my parents’ awesome grandparents membership. The Museum had its Jolly Days exhibit open replete with faux snowball fights, a tiny “iceskating” rink, “ice-fishing”, a huge play kitchen and family room, meeting Santa, and other great fun. Princess sighted a museum volunteer dressed as the Sugar Plum Fairy (I assume), and couldn’t rest until we found the wandering ballerina and Princess exuberantly divulged her life-long ambition to be a ballerina, too. I honestly don’t think the poor volunteer knew what to do with the redheaded ball of enthusiasm that bounced her way, but she took it pretty well.


Pretty Happy

One person in the Museum totally capable of handling excited five year olds is the Jolly Old Elf himself.



exuberant ice fishers


Grandpa and the train-watchers

Grandpa and the train-watchers


Real Fun

The slide behind the water clock!

Princess and her cousin

Princess and her cousin

Rascal and Dino

Rascal and Dino





Grandma and Miss M

Grandma and Miss M



Saving the best for last.

Ah, the quintessential first picture with Santa.


Happy first week of Advent to all, and to all a good day!







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!

Parental Stock Plummets!

On our way home from our usual Wednesday errands today ¬†I noticed a turtle attempting to cross the road. It was in the opposite lane of the little two-lane road (busy but not¬†too busy at this time). ¬†I almost turned the van around at the nearby Christian church, but there was someone behind me and ¬†I hadn’t quite decided whether or not we had turtle transportation accommodation with us. ¬†Then I remembered we did have a cardboard box in the van, and it wouldn’t be hard to take the turtle home to let it loose in our woods, trusting it would instinctively find its way to our lake.

That being mentally decided, it was just a matter of finding an easy place to turn the van around. I pictured a fancy blogpost with images of the children watching the turtle in our backyard. I could hear Rascal excitedly recounting the story to his Daddy over dinner. I just knew this would be an epoch, that from here on out we’d date things from “that day, you remember, when you stopped the van so we could rescue a turtle?!” ¬†It was going to be perfect.

So I told the kids as I turned the van around that we were going on a Turtle Rescue Hunt!

They were so¬†excited! This was exactly the kind of thing Rascal enjoys and hoped we would do someday. He was already wheedling and scheming to keep the turtle as a pet, but ¬†I was adamant that we would be releasing it. The other kids chatted happily and couldn’t wait to see the turtle in our backyard. ¬†Rascal informed me that we were being just like St. Francis of Assisi! It was all going well.

Of course it was inevitable that although conditions were favorable for turtle rescuing, there being no other vehicles on the road that moment, in the time it took me to drive maybe two miles, someone had hit the turtle.

“Um…” I swallowed. “Guys, I’m afraid the turtle has been hit.”

Three of the kids burst into tears. Rascal’s disappointment was palpable. One child hoped that the turtle had “gotten out of its shell in time.” And all the while, listening to the lamentations, I wished I had turned around a mile sooner.

So much for earning Mommy brownie points!


{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!