family life · my thoughts on the subject

A date!

Today I try to become a food blogger. Or rather not.

I’m a creature of habit and could go to the same restaurant for almost the same thing ad infinitem. Haus Meister is different; he always likes to try new places or new foods. Whenever he’s away on business and calls me at night I always ask where he ate because it’s bound to be interesting. So when we go out, it is usually to the same place–a little family owned Italian restaurant in an old house converted into an eatery–because their food is amazing and the menu always has something new on it. This satisfies both our styles of eating out. The food is amazing and the servings so plentiful that we always end up taking some home, thus getting two meals for the price of one! And did I mention the food is amazing? Like Anatole’s cooking in P.G. Wodehouse novels, the names and memories thus evoked by some of the dishes can sustain you through life’s trials, even if all you can remember is “That pumpkin soup we had there that time we went in the Fall…”

Saturday night found us driving out to said restaurant to celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary.bwbestcarriageshot

Yep. Only 11 years into our great life’s adventure together. Amazing how that day simultaneously feels both as if it were forever ago and yet still only yesterday.

But I digress.


Sallying forth at 5:31 on 5/31.

Anyway, as we approached the entrance to our favorite place we saw a sign reading: Gone on Vacation until July. They’d gone back to the Old Country, so we made a note to go back in July and then had to decide where to go next. We opted for a restaurant downtown that inhabits 1/4th of an old knitting mill (the other 3/4ths being an antique store). I affectionately refer to the place as Marlborough Mills, in homage to North and South.



This is one of the interesting objets d’art on the walls (original brick). I took this picture two years ago, apparently, thus giving credence to my belief that we have actually made this particular place our anniversary spot now for a third consecutive anniversary. 🙂 We save this restaurant for such occasions because, quite frankly, it is worth it!

Haus Meister has come here for business dinners so he recommended our appetizer of Breads n Spreads, a mix of toasted french bread and pita triangles with three dipping options: garlic hummus, olives, and some other spicy something that I really liked and am of course such a pro food blogger that I forgot what the name was and omitted to take a picture. Fortunately I just found the menu online so I can say with more authority and elegance that the appetizer consists of: “Hummus, Muhammara & Three Olive Relish, Served with Pita Wedges & Sliced French Baguette.” We also shared a bottle of wine, and to the wry amusement of our waiter we selected an elite bottle of Beringer White Zinfadel (California 2013) mainly because I really like it and haven’t had a taste in years. Literally. Haus Meister would have been content with something a little older, but he humored me, just as the waiter humorously went through the motions of pouring a small amount into a glass for Haus Meister to test the vintage. You could tell all the while the waiter was thinking: “Sir, you can get that at any store around here. Don’t you want something better?”  And all the while I’m thinking, “Hey, pal, when he married me, my idea of fine wines was Strawberry Arbor Mist, so just think of how far I’ve come!” 😉

For the main course Haus Meister selected for himself the Crab Stuffed Flounder (Lump Crab Stuffed Flounder Fillets, Smoked Corn Succotash & Citrus Hollandaise), while I opted for the Stuffed Quail (Two Quail with Cornbread Stuffing, Sweet Pepper Grits, Wilted Spinach & a Bacon and Molasses Sauce). I confess the news that for last Saturday’s dinner the quail would also be wrapped in bacon tipped the scale for me.


That sauce was wonderful; I need the recipe.

I don’t have a picture of Haus Meister’s dinner. I was too mesmerized by the bacon and grit goodness in front of me.

I do have a picture of the dessert: ButterscotchCrème Brûlée (House Made Butterscotch Crème Brûlée Served with a Fresh Dutch Chocolate Biscotti)!


Paired with coffee, it was a satisfying end to a wonderful anniversary dinner out.

(For the record, Littlest came along for the ride and slept through the whole date.)


family life · my thoughts on the subject

We tell a tale of preschool hair

Once upon a time, a leetle over four years ago, a daughter was born with a head full of hair.



Contrary to all expectation, none of it ever fell out, though some got rubbed off from sleeping on her back.

It took forever for it to grow. I once fretted about that.


But time passed and she grew, and so did her hair.

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Finally I was able to put her in braids…when she held still long enough…so not often. In fact, she’d prefer to run wild and free with no hairbrush ever touching her hair.

But one dark day, she discovered her skill with scissors.

At first the offenses were minor. She’d take a snip here and a snip there, but always when her hair was in a ponytail. I wouldn’t notice until I took her hairband out and a clump of hair would come off in my hand (let me tell you, rather unnerving). However, for a while we could cover it up and eventually I had to trim her longish hair nearly to her shoulders. It worked.

Then, two weeks after we had our family picture taken (mercifully, she waited for this), she took a huge snip out of the ponytail holder on top of her head, effectively giving herself what we affectionately termed, “The Beorn Mullet”

"I resemble that comment"
“I resemble that comment” (picture courtesy of GoogleImages)

Seriously, our sweet precious little girl managed to chop 1/4th of the hair on top of her head into bang-like layers. Rather than buzz her head, we opted to just try to comb-over the other side of her hair when we styled it and lived with it for the recent two months. Until everything started to grow out shaggy, and bits of hair we thought we’d hidden began to show up rather glaringly.

Have I mentioned she doesn’t like to hold still? Salons are not an option. And I also mentioned she doesn’t like hairbrushes. Total opposite of Princess!

So tonight we resigned ourselves that she’ll not be wearing braids anytime soon.

Sunshine doesn’t seem to mind.

photo 1 (8) photo 2 (8) photo 3 (4)

That’s my pixie girl.











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.”

my thoughts on the subject

Birthday Girls

Egad–what a horribly fuzzy phone picture!

Posey and I share a special day today. She is officially 10 months old, and I’ve now come of age as per Shire reckoning. I suppose this means I must settle down now and live like a very respectable hobbit, not doing anything unexpected or going off on crazy adventures, but I confess I haven’t much hope of that. In fact, when I’m 63 or even 93 if I make it that far, I fully anticipate I will still be trying to garden something every warm season and rack up a whole slew of overly ambitious knitting goals in the cold seasons, when I’m not traveling the world with Haus Meister. It’s a simple life, but it’s fun.

Not that most people would think it simple if they had caught a glimpse of me this afternoon, trying to pull the boys through their respective math lessons while they were still on a party-high from the previous birthdays this weekend (more in my next) and not wanting to do school at all, and at the same time Trooper was frustrated because his iPad battery is on the fritz, Princess was hollering for a sharpened pencil so she could draw and the toddlers were breaking into the ice cream in the freezer and the baby wanted to be walked around. That was a tough hour. But eventually everything smoothed out and by dinnertime life was good again. 😉

And overall it is a great life, and it is fun, and being in my 30s isn’t nearly as dreadful as it is sometimes made out to be when you’re not there yet.

So thanks, Mom and Dad, for putting up with me for 33 years. I’d thank my sister for putting up with me but she really didn’t have a choice in the matter. 😉  Thanks Haus Meister for putting up with me for 14 of those if you add in the dating years. Thanks, kids of mine, for ensuring that our lives will never in the slightest be dull.

Advent/Christmas · my thoughts on the subject

“Snow, snow, snow….” no snow!


One last week of Christmas until the liturgical season definitely officially launches us into Ordinary Time this Sunday with the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. I thought I’d finally document the kids’ Advent calendars to eek out a little more cheer as we slowly begin to put things away. The above magnetic calendar was Princess’ charge this year. St. Joseph was temporarily misplaced as we stored the bag of figures in my metal file cabinet and when she shook out the bag he stuck somewhere in the depths and I only just found him today. Oh well. This calendar is on a rotation basis–I’ll draw someone’s name for it out of a cup next Advent while the others will enjoy their own personal sticker calendar.

Like Trooper’s:


Or Rascal’s:


Or Dino’s:

"Sorry Mom, I gotta put Baby Jesus up here." "Why is that, son?" "There's no room for Him on the floor."
“Sorry Mom, I gotta put Baby Jesus up here.” “Why is that, son?” “There’s no room for Him on the floor.”

And Sunshine’s:  (Ah, preschoolers. At least the stickers stayed on the page!)


So as this past weekend progressed we kept an eye on the news watching out for the folks in Indiana as well as wondering what our share of this latest winter storm would be. Things still looked promising for some white stuff as we tucked the children into bed. It was so promising that we indulged in the hope that Haus Meister would have one more day off work (the city shuts down if there’s about 1.5″ on the ground) and if he was to stay home, then we would delay going back to school for a day. When we woke up, only a frost lay on the ground. Any dangerous sheets of ice had been sanded over, because amazingly we actually have sanding machines in the city now, and so it came to pass that we returned to school today half begrudgingly while Haus Meister sallied forth to work wearing the heavy wool coat he usually reserves for winter trips to Indiana. We did get the cold blast of Arctic air, at least so it seems for us Southerners. When I say that our record low may be broken tonight if it dips below 7F, you’ll see what I mean.

My parents and my sister’s family, meanwhile, are dealing with 14+ inches of snow and -41 degree windchills.

IMAG0189 (1)

When my mom sent this picture of my dad this morning, the kids went wild. When my sister skyped to show us the snowdrifts against their house, the kids were jealous. They didn’t understand that you couldn’t go out in the snow lest you court hypothermia and frostbite thanks to the bitter winds. All they saw was that some of their favorite people had the snow we’d been denied, and I couldn’t blame them for feeling a little bummed hitting the books even though I was secretly glad to be going back to the old routine. After all, there’s a sled in the garage that they have only been able to use once in two years!

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.

family 5 family 3

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.


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.


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.


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!)

my thoughts on the subject

Here there be spoilers….

Now having written a very serious post not too long ago, I am now switching gears and going to write my 2cents about The Desolation of Smaug….

So, if you haven’t seen the movie yet and are planning to, you might not want to read ahead.

On the other hand, in this age of social media, nothing I am going to say is anything you probably haven’t already heard.

Except for my opinions, that is. 😉

So, without further eloquence….


UPDATE January 2015.  I gave a glowing review of this movie in December 2013.  I can only say in all honesty that I liked the movie because I wanted to like it.  I wanted it to be a good movie and wanted to watch it in conjunction with the LOTR movies later on with my teenage boys.  I dismissed the feeling that it was just a bad interpretation of the book in the hopes that all the things I had issues with (elf-dwarf romance? Please. Save it for the MMORPGS.) would somehow be solved/fixed/edited with a stunning third movie.  Rather like “The Two Towers” was with “Return of the King.” We bought this movie in May when it was released.  I wasn’t halfway through before regretting our misspent money.

Suffice to say, this time I believed the reviews and didn’t even see the third film.  A FB promotion of Kili and Tauriel from the Hobbit page itself with “hashtag ‘It was Real'” was gag worthy, and I didn’t need to see her sobbing about him onscreen.  I’m not a fan of over the top CGI battle sequences, so sitting through an hour of it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea.  I guess I am a Tolkien purist more than I realized.  But frankly, Haus Meister and I are lucky to have a date twice a year. I’m not going to waste our rare date nights on something that we’re going to regret having spent the money to see.  And it’s a shame.  There could have been one very good long movie made from this book.  Possibly two.  It’s just a shame that the screenwriters kind of forgot the book was actually about a Hobbit.

family life

I said that on Monday….

…I would be a happy camper. My floor would be down and my not-so-white carpet would be a thing of the past.

It is well, now Tuesday, and the flooring project is about 45-50% complete. I’m writing in my sewing nook but I can see right into the living room and sigh happily at the beautiful flooring that covers almost half the room. I know it is going to be finished soon. I’m content.

The kids all love it. They slide around in sock feet and even Trooper took time out to walk over it. He was also highly amused by watching Haus Meister use the noisy nailer and also the fact that Haus Meister willingly wore ear protection. His toddlerhood history of terrible ear infections means that Trooper lets no one touch his ears without warning. The fact that Daddy voluntarily uses these things caused a quizzical look worthy of Mr. Spock.

So what happened to our plans? The plague, of course!

Well, that’s  melodramatic. Basically everyone in the house except, miraculously, myself, has a terrible cold/flu bug of varying proportions. For example, today Miss M has just the sniffles and can still run around at full tilt eating and scattering frozen blueberries along the way. Haus Meister is flat on his back, utterly wiped out. On the plus side, Miss M was like that on Sunday night so maybe he’s on the mend.

In the meantime I’m drinking my tea and praying to dodge the bullet, caring for the ones who need me most, and taking a moment out of about every fifteen to peek into the family room and smile at the sign of things to come.



And a hip-hap-happy birthday to my sister!