{pretty, happy, funny, real}



Silly Miss M.


We’re nuts about those curls!


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

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


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


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


Trooper learns to use the phone’s camera.





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

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


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

And in the postpartum department of mommyhood…

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

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

DINOSAUR: So your belly is getting back to normal!

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

ME: Thanks, son.


Spring just keeps getting closer…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hobbit-hole style coops! Huzzah!


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


So there’s also these herb garden coops.


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

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

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

Sunday Morning Misadventures

We like to attend the early morning Mass at our little church. Because it isn’t the most popular Mass for families with littles (that would be the 10:30, in spades), we get lots of compliments from the elderly folk who congregate at that hour and who are amused by our children even if the behavior isn’t stellar. There will always be someone coming over to us and telling us how nice it is to see the children and begging us to come back to that Mass again. We have no problem with that–we like having our Sunday obligation fulfilled at an early hour and the rest of the day to spend afterward in our various pursuits (and not having to keep the children immaculately tidy…or at least reasonably so).

I guess over the past two years I have come to take the smiling acceptance of our parish family for granted. After we moved we tried this parish out just for a change, and found in it everything we missed at our old parish. You felt at home just driving up the hill to the little church. We had been at our old parish for five years, and I can’t say that I ever felt totally at home there. Here you had a sense of what it meant to be part of a parish family; at the old parish, which of course has about 700 more members, you were just one of the crowd.

And boy did we stand out there this morning!

Firstly, we woke late. But we didn’t want to miss the 8am Mass again because we wanted time to do things today. So the race began! We hurried everyone into the van, after spending about ten minutes to find Princess’ matching shoe (because why oh WHY doesn’t the shoe maven of the family keep her shoes in the place where they are supposed to be?!), and misreading a clock, found as we backed out of the driveway that it was 7:53am and we had a twenty minute drive ahead of us still. What were we to do? Send everyone back in and pray that they stay looking decent for two and a half hours? I looked up the Mass times at our old parish on my phone, and squinting at the tiny mobile bulletin I noticed that the first Mass listed said 8:15. Bingo! Well, back to the old parish.

We made it there by 8:13. We climbed up the steps between parking lot levels and as we entered the narthex an older gentleman who had been following our crew up the stairs stopped me and asked: “Ma’am, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how do you have six kids so close in age?”

My mind was awhirl. Was he asking me how? Biological texts flew through my head, Well, sir, the average gestation of the human female is only nine months, followed by a brief period of natural infertility followed by– But goodness, man, are you really asking me how we managed to do this?!?!

I realized in retrospect he was probably just wondering if any were twins or adopted or maybe gosh, kids of ours from other marriages?–or tagalongs we’d had over for the weekend? Rascal and Dino are very close in age and have identical hair color, and have often been mistaken for twins.  Princess and Sunshine are the same height and wear the same size clothes, so they could be mistaken for friends at a glance.  But at the time I was really taken aback by the question–it’s not the usual one we get (that’s “how do you handle them?”), and I heard myself weakly saying: “Well, they’re really about a year and a half apart…” and that seemed to satisfy him.

But now I was confused again, because as we entered the church the priest and deacon were seated. The congregation was seated. And then the choir began to sing the Alleluia. We were late! How could we be late for an 8:15 Mass at 8:15?!

Then five years of belonging to this parish came back to hit me. The Mass times in the bulletin do not begin with Sunday, but with Saturday, and it is Saturday morning’s Mass that is 8:15. Sunday is 8am. Oh no…

We found a pew and filed in, trying to be inconspicuous. However, it’s hard to be inconspicuous. This parish, unlike our little church, has a cryroom. You get the impression that if your child squeaks, he or she needs to be in the cryroom. That doesn’t always work, however, because I’ve generally found cryrooms to be populated by toddlers running amok OR by people who have come in late and don’t want to go into the main body of the church but will nevertheless shoot you withering glances if your child cries in the cryroom. So I felt (probably needlessly) that the eyes of everyone in the ten pews behind us were on us and our crew as the Mass progressed. I was hardly attentive to the liturgy as most of my time was spent mentally praying for exemplary behavior on the children’s part. Or in attempts to judge whether that sound merited a trip to the narthex where I could pace with the toddler in question (cryroom having been ruled out for reasons above). And then in the Communion line the attempts to go single-file got a little muddled and four of the kids bunched up in front for their blessing from the priest; a minor thing but of course I saw it as a judgment on my ability to keep my children in order.

Yes, I needed to calm down and stop worrying about what everyone else may or may not have been thinking. Yes, I needed to focus on the fact that hey, we were at Mass! Christ was there in the Eucharist regardless of what anyone might or might not have been thinking about my family.

Then, after Mass, a lady calls out to us as she passed our pew–while we were bundling six kids into winter coats–“What a handful! I was counting you as you went by…”

And as we were leaving the church, the man behind us joked: “So is that a gaggle or a goggle of kids?”

I was a little sarcastic by this time, what with going through Mass feeling every eye supposedly on us and now the third comment of the morning; two more than usual. “Oh, it’s a herd, depending on their moods,” I said quickly. He smiled, “Oh, they’re fine. They’re fine.” And then I felt bad for feeling sarcastic.  It really isn’t the way to show we truly enjoy and love our crazy chaotic life.

Next Sunday everyone is going to be up and dressed by 7am.


In other news. Yesterday, on Groundhog Day, we watched the Weather Channel and saw the clip about Punxsuatawny Phil and how he didn’t see his shadow. Rascal watched it with us and then asked for an explanation to try to absorb what he had just heard. Finally, with furrowed brow, he pointed to the groundhog and spluttered: “But that’s silly. That guy can’t control the weather.”


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!

Overheard in Advent

While stuffing Miss M’s stocking with her usual toys…

DINO: I was spoking not a word, but went straight to my work.

(reference: Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement C Moore)


PRINCESS: (sings loudly) Joy to the world, the Lord is done!


DINO: I want to open number four now. (Advent calendar)

ME: Sorry, son, that’s for tomorrow.

DINO: WHAT?!?!? I don’t like that.

ME: Advent’s all about patience, son.

DINO: I don’t LIKE patience.

Of course, if we all liked having to practice patience, what would be the point of Advent as a mini-penitential season? 

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. 😉


One morning last week Rascal came over to me as I dressed Miss M. He had a very somber expression on his face.

RASCAL: I need to tell you something.

He begins most of his speeches this way, or words to that effect. He has a lot to say, this one does.

ME: Hmm?

RASCAL: I think we have enough toys. Let’s sell the ones we have and give them to the poor. And our beds. We can sell those too. We have sleeping bags.

I was not enthused at the idea of sleeping in a sleeping bag for the rest of this pregnancy.

ME: Well, you might miss your bed.

RASCAL: (eyes starting to brim) But Mom, there’s poor people. And they have nothing.

I pulled him close and comforted him, explaining how we give to charities that truly help those less fortunate. I showed him a letter about a special toy drive and promised we’d participate. That made him feel better.

And then I got the e-mail from church. The one asking for baby and children clothes. I thought of Rascal–“those people have nothing.” I thought of the bin of boys’ clothes in the garage–the clothes that haven’t been worn in 1-6 years and likely not again for another 2, even were a nephew to show up. I texted my husband to see if we should give a little away.

HIM: Send ’em all.

I gulped. I went to the garage and pulled out the bins. I began to pile up all the winter clothes. I about cried over every one. I was not a cheerful giver at that moment. I wanted to cling to all of it still for memory’s sake. After all, I had already weeded out the stuff I hadn’t wanted to keep last summer. Going through this bin again was like seeing my big boys as toddlers–a very chaotic time in my life that somehow seems rosy hued at the moment. There was the sweats I bought the night I found the everlasting Pumpkin costume (which costume I still have). There was the wool coat and hat Trooper wore for his first Christmas home. Oh my, the matching sweatshirts that I bought for the boys when Dino was born. The sweater Trooper wore at Jacob’s funeral. The sweaters in Christmas card pictures. The sweater Rascal wore in the 18 month picture that his great-grandma loved. The helicopter jammies. The first John Deere shirt. Do I really need to give this all away?

Then Rascal joined me.

RASCAL: Hey, whatcha doing?

ME: (talking through the lump in my throat) The church asked us to bring clothes. Remember that big storm we heard about on the news? There’s a lot of people who lost homes from it. They need clothes for their kids.

RASCAL: (practically claps his hands and gets down to action) Okay, great! Toys–do they need toys? And look Mom–a Christmas tree (pointing to the Advent tree my father-in-law made)!

ME: Um, no dear, just clothes. That’s all the church asked for at this time. And we are not giving the tree that Granddad made.

RASCAL: Okay, so are we giving this? And this?

And bit by bit he helped me take all the clothes to the laundry room for an out-of-storage freshening. Unblinded by sentiment, he was ready not only to “give your coat, but the shirt from your back as well” as the verse sort of goes. In fact, he was ready to give everyone’s shirt. Princess found us working and also saw the bin of girl clothes that I had moved to get to the baby boy bin.

PRINCESS: Oh! Oh my pink dress! Oh I want to wear it. (Nope–that’s a summer dress). Oh! OH! My swimsuit! I missed it! I want my swimsuit! Can I wear it?

Before I could reply, Mr. Zealous turns to his sister and says very matter-of-factly:

RASCAL: I’m sorry, [Princess], but we’re giving it to the poor.

And then I had to wipe away her tears and remind the boy that the church had only requested that parishioners donate winter clothes. Swimsuits are not required at the East Coast this time of year. That being said, I wish I had been less self-centered.  He was ready to give so much just because others needed it. I was ready to hold onto so much just because he wore it five years ago. Who was being childish there?

I’m grateful for the lessons they teach me.

I have to look this up….

As we drive along the road…

RASCAL: Mom! There was a dead squirrel on the road!

ME: No, dear, that was an opossum.

(And no, we weren’t the ones that hit it)

RASCAL: What do they do?

ME: Mainly get hit by cars.

I hate it when I don’t have the correct answer right away. I need to look up opossums now and figure out their purpose. Besides being a moving speed bump, that is….