family life

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. 😉

my thoughts on the subject · special needs


I’ve read that the principal fault of “mommy blogs” is that we write only things that are happy, warm, fuzzy, and perfect. We make ourselves so ethereal that the “common mom” cannot hope to aspire to be as spiritual/beautiful/organized/spic-n-span/coordinated as ourselves. Those of you who have been following my blog these past few years will, I hope, admit that I’m not perfect. I speak often of projects that may or may not come to fruition. I rarely have a picture of my house in a perfect state. I rarely have my house in a perfect state. There hasn’t been a picture of my family taken in about four years where everyone is facing the camera. And smiling. Ok, make that maybe six years. I just do not choose to write about most of our terrible days. We have them, trust me. I didn’t choose to write about the troubles we were having with a particular child and a particular homeschool curriculum because that is his story and he can tell it later if he wants to, and also because I wanted to make sure the next curriculum was really a better match before I wrote about it (it was, incidentally). I didn’t tell any of you about Baby Posy (and is that how you spell it? I was thinking Posie or Poesy but Merriam-Webster says Posy. Sheesh.) because as with all my girls, the first trimester is one long Hurricane Hormona. It’s bad enough my family and I had to deal with it. Going into hormonal hysterics on the internet was not what I had in mind. We were and are very excited about our new little one, but the thought of what I might have said if someone commented adversely about  my family size was enough for me to keep it under internet wraps until the first trimester–and hormones–subsided.

All this to say, life kicked me in the teeth today. So finally I can keep myself off the ethereal podium by announcing I HAD A BAD DAY.

Ok, so it wasn’t all bad. Actually, some things happened that would have kept me in the Perfect Mommy Blogger Zone. I was able to wash out  most of my refrigerator! Two small condiment shelves had to wait, but they weren’t harmed by the Quart of Chicken Stock that was dropped into the nether recesses of the fridge, or by the splash of milk that ensued when some toddler got her sister’s open milk cup out of said fridge and with the door open, proceeded to baptise the shelves. Also, they weren’t anywhere near the Vegetable Crisper of Doom that was harboring unknown organisms. Anyway, it looks pretty darn good right now in there. AND I made a smashing good pear apple cranberry crisp for our homeschool potluck today. Let me tell you, that’s a divine concoction.

Shortly before arriving at the potluck this afternoon something happened that hurt me greatly, but I’ll save that for last. We do so enjoy our potlucks. We get to visit with the people we see nearly every week at co-op and then some others whom we might not get to see as often. We’ve been increasingly more involved in the group for two or three years, so pretty much everyone knows us, and knows our Trooper. But today he had the chance to interact with some kids in his “peer group” who didn’t know his case that well, and misunderstandings ensued. Sure, he was hogging the swings at one point. It’s a fault of his, and I came out to remind him to share. Later though, when he was highly amused by the game the big kids were playing and wanted to watch, the girl turned to him and just gave him a look. I happened to see it because I was looking outside to check on the whereabouts of Sunshine, and my heart broke. It was the “retard” look.

Almost before I could recover from that, Rascal approaches me with eyes swimming. Apparently another friend, an older boy, had taken the opportunity to make himself look ‘cool’ by belittling and humiliating Rascal to his face. So there I was in the dining room of my friend’s house comforting my big second grader while still smarting from the “retard” look and also from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that I’ll go into next.  I reassured Rascal that his friend probably didn’t mean half of it, and to just smile and go play with someone else. Later when he brought it up again on our way home, I was able to calmly remind him that people will misunderstand us or say things that hurt us, but we must show compassion and understanding in turn. I should have summed it all up in one word:


Yep, that’s a good word. Forgive others when they misunderstand, when they misjudge, when they forget to see beyond the outward appearance of things. After all, how often are we guilty of the very faults we see in others?

And sometimes we have to forgive things that we don’t understand. Like when driving up to a cemetery to pray on this All Souls Day morning, stopping the van next to the side of the hill where your baby son is buried… only to see that someone has removed the brass vase from his gravestone. I stared at the gaping hole in shock, the artificial foliage limp in my hands. That brass vase didn’t blow away in any storm. It didn’t wash away in any flood. It was chained to the stone, for heaven’s sake! I know this because I frequently lifted it out to pour away the icky rain water that would collect there in between visits. I hoped for a second that the maintenance guys had hit it with a lawnmower in a moment of mental abstraction (hey, they hit a solar light my parents had left there), but it would be hard to hit the vase. I couldn’t call the cemetery office today, so I will call first thing tomorrow morning if they are open. I don’t know how long the vase has been missing, and really, in the scheme of things, it’s just a vase. I googled “stolen cemetery vases” to see if this was really going on, and apparently it’s been pretty popular during the recession. Ironically, although these vases retail in the triple digits, they only garner you a whole whopping $13.75 in scrap metal cash.

Someone please tell me that no one disturbed Jacob’s grave for $13.75. Someone please tell me this was an accident and no one disturbed my baby’s grave at all.

Because you see, I have to forgive this, and it would be easier to forgive an errant lawnmower–also because the vase would have dented it but good, leaving me with a mean satisfaction because you see, I’m not a perfect mommy blogger.

I’m me, and I struggle to forgive things too.


Does This Count?

I’m 718 words into Chapter 8, which isn’t as grand a start as I’ve had on some of the others, but then, it’s been a crazy two weeks around here.  Every morning I get an alert on my phone reminding me to write at least 160 words, thinking I should be able to accomplish that. Some days yes, most times the opportunity escapes or my morning quiet is needed for other pursuits. Yesterday, for instance, I was hampered by two of my girlies being up early, and as our computer is also our television, they couldn’t fathom why I’d want to stare at a white screen with black letters on it when I could be watching Thomas the Tank Engine.

Instead I’ve also begun work on a lesser item of importance that begins to occupy my thoughts around this time every year: THE CHRISTMAS LETTER. About four years ago I got sick of writing the usual stuff. I didn’t want to write anything that made my kids seem like the paragons of their age group and since my husband and I are pretty much the same year in and out, it was like “as for the two of us, he’s still with Z Company and I’m still homeschooling and we’re still loving it and each other and our hobbies and etc.” Boring. So I started jazzing it up by one year doing a Christmas Alphabet and the next three something in rhyme. Last year I did a spoof on “The Christmas Song” and this year I’m rewriting “O Christmas Tree” as seen from my point of view: “O Christmas Tree, Our Christmas Tree / We hope you last the season.”

The problem with doing this is that I feel obliged to do it every year. Just when I get fed up and feel like doing what everyone else does and put a card in an envelope and mail it, I hear from someone who liked last year’s offering and they say they can’t wait for this year’s. Drat. My vanity is flattered. So I sit down and try and think up something. Ok, so secretly I do enjoy it and I do enjoy sending Christmas cards. But I attest that it is harder for me to write a little verse for a card than it is to write a novel. I am not a poet, yet somehow my Christmas verses sound better in rhyme. I guess it’s kind of like how most things sound better if you say them with a British accent. 😉

To make a long post short, does a Christmas verse count for my 160 words for the day? I hope so. 😉

And if you’re wondering why I worry about it this early, it is because I do not like mailing my Christmas cards on the 21st of December. At that time, I prefer to be wrapping presents or making the cookies for us to enjoy during Christmas week. So, to avoid spending my Advent writing and addressing cards (pared to a minimum, I am still mailing 125 cards a season. We’re blessed that way), I really do need to begin thinking about it around…now. 😉


Chapter Seven is complete!

I just finished Chapter Seven moments ago. What a relief! Now I only have Chapter Eight and Nine and I should be able to continue rereading and editing. If you had asked me in January if I thought I would be doing this, working to complete a second novel, I would have laughed. Joy wasn’t even finished in January!

Meanwhile the weather here in my adopted state is feeling very much like a proper October, which it isn’t apt to do around this time of year. When my editor was reviewing Joy she amusedly pointed out that I had used the terms “crisp autumn air” three times in two pages. I hardly believed I’d overlooked that, so I went back to amend it. Sure enough, I had indeed overused that term, but I teasingly replied that it was the part of growing up in Indiana that I miss the most. I still feel a pang of jealousy whenever my parents or sister calls with news that they are in sweaters while we are in shorts, and they have a frost warning while my air conditioner is running (something very un-Octoberish about that), but then I get them back in March when my windows are open and my flowers are blooming and they still have dirty snow and slush on the roads. HA.

Random digression. I will now go make a cup of tea to celebrate the conclusion of a chapter.

family life · housekeeping · Writing

When it rains, it pours….

It was warm in the house last night.

Now of course, you’re thinking, “yes, Haus Frau, of course it is warm. It is fall now and most of the states in the union are in sweaters.” But see, we’re not in one of those states. In fact, we still would like our air conditioner working. I thought I had just kept the windows open too long, and that also because the kids suckered me into making chocolate chip cookies, the late in the day oven heat didn’t help either. But no, Haus Meister looks outside and informs me rather disgruntledly that the a/c wasn’t even turning on, although the thermostat was recording valiant yet futile efforts to regain the desired comfort level.

We just had the air conditioner cleaned and refreshed about a month and a half ago.

Tonight after work Haus Meister takes a closer look at the unit and finds that the fuses have blown. So he takes a contingent of children to the hardware store while I take a contingent to the grocery store, and then we rendezvoused home. I had the satisfaction of seeing staple items back in my pantry. He had the ill luck to see the brand new fuses blow immediately. A new compressor? Oh joy…

Meanwhile, before leaving on our expeditions I noticed condensation on the milk cartons in our fridge. Opening the ice box, there was frost on all the frozen goods. And not the usual kind, either, thank you. I just assumed it was due to the fact that Sunshine has a bad habit of coming along and randomly opening both doors. My husband gives me a look–the “yep, you don’t know much about appliances do you,” look 😉 –and indicates a rummy sort of sound coming from the unit. “I don’t like the sound of that,” he says. So we’re still in the process of diagnosing this problem. We’re in luck because after we moved here some friends gave us their old fridge, which is in the garage. It was supposed to be tinkered with and transformed into a lager cave for Haus Meister’s homebrewing purposes, but so far it’s been handy when family and friends visit or when we get that extra bunch of stuff at the farmer’s market–not to mention the extra gallons of milk required to sustain the family because our upstairs fridge cringes at the thought of harboring more than two gallons at a time. So I know if this thing dies we can always haul the old fridge upstairs. Figures that the 30 year old fridge works better than the 10-15 year one.

But gosh, we didn’t really want to contemplate buying a new refrigerator.

And we would really rather it get cold already so we don’t have to call the a/c guy again this summer. Or fall. Or whatever season we’re in.

And did I mention this all hit while I was suffering the annoying effects of getting less than five hours’ sleep last night? So what do I do? I plan projects for myself. I start mentally allocating the stash yarn in my “studio” toward various and sundry projects to beef up the stock in my sadly neglected Etsy store. Never mind that the Etsy store was put on hold because I found myself writing the sequel to Joy in the Ordinary — less than three chapters from the end now (however, I do have some things I did over the summer to put online, but I haven’t gotten sufficiently adequate pictures of them yet). Never mind that I am two sleeves from finishing my niece’s sweater. The more projects the merrier! Ambition makes me feel better! (ok, that might be a stretch, but it’s nice to plan all the same).

Because when it rains, it pours.


Knitting and tweaking

Did you think I’d disappeared? It sure feels like September is going fast. My progress has slowed of late, although I’m still 1900 words farther into Chapter Seven than I was when last I posted. Part of this is due to the fact that two weeks ago I went on a late-night P. G. Wodehouse reading binge. I can’t help it; he’s one of my absolute favorites.  In order to enjoy the books without interruption, I’d stay up late finishing the story and oversleep into my writing time, so that I had to pick up and start my day without it. But back to Wodehouse for a second–if you’ve never read him, start with this gem, and see if you don’t get hooked. Once I start a Wodehouse I can hardly put it down, which becomes a problem if I’m reading during a personal tea time because I can easily gain ten pounds eating while absorbed in his stories. The same thing happens with Mansfield Park and Wives and Daughters. It’s a rummy thing, but I don’t have a huge amount of American literature on my shelves. I sat back one day and took a look at my reading material and figured that about 89% of it comes from British pens. This random insight has absolutely nothing to do with my sequel, incidentally.

Another excuse that kept me from writing is the fact that I’m knitting a sweater for my newest niece, who was born this very morning. Her Baptism is next month and as my husband and I are godparents, we want to come bearing gifts in hand, of course, and as I’ve taught myself to knit more since the birth of my last niece, this one gets the sweater. She won’t give a care, of course, at her age, but since I’ve been promising my sister a little handknit something or other ever since the 20 week ultrasound, I want to do it! 😉

Luckily while I’m knitting I’ve also been thinking of the sequel and how it’s going, and just as with Joy I’m finding I’m not going to end the book exactly where and how I’d planned. It will still end on a positive note, but the time and setting might just be shelved for a future work. The original ending of Joy became the basis for Chapter One of the current work, which was all to my advantage.  Still, the current story threads point in the new direction, so I’m going to go with the flow and see where we do end up. That’s the greatest fun of writing anyway. 🙂



my thoughts on the subject

Random thoughts on sisterhood (with a brief digression)

This morning I awoke to the headlines in the local news and for once the NYC public schools made it into our Deep South paper. Apparently the NYC public school system has decided to begin offering the morning after pill to any student without parental consent (although parents can opt their children out of it) because the promiscuity of students there is so rampant that about 7000 students under 17 have had unwanted pregnancies and/or abortions. In addition to this, they already pass out free rubber “protection aids.” Can we say “vicious circle”? As Doris Day put it in Pillow Talk, “It’s like sending a marshmallow to put out a bonfire!” And just as I had finished banging my head on my desk (figuratively) at the utter nonsense of it all, the next headline was about my own city, where an HIV awareness group decided to turn us into some sort of Olympic Village by passing out free boxes of those rubber protection aids to the tune of 60,000. Which, given the known failure rate of those things to completely prevent any and all forms of illness, also seems like the marshmallow to bonfire routine again.

So all in all the news, which including the recurrent unrest in the Middle East and the fact that Princess’ godfather is serving in Afghanistan at the moment, was about enough to turn the day into a downright Boromir day. I’ve used that term before. Reference to The Fellowship of the Ring, where Boromir is lamenting to Aragorn that “it is long since we had any hope.”

But then came the Great News, the News We have been Waiting For. First in a text message and then in an actual call….

M. C. born today 2:34am.

Our newest niece!! My sister and her husband welcomed their second daughter into this wild and crazy world this morning, and suddenly that world was made that much better for it. Because not everyone is as geeky as my husband and I are, and don’t bring along gadgetry enabling them to wirelessly send out newborn pictures to all and sundry within ten minutes of baby’s first bath, I had to wait until the afternoon to see the ear-to-ear grins on the faces of my sister, brother-in-law, and bigger niece as they gathered round the pink-hatted newcomer. It was well worth the wait, but alas, I’m going to have to wait and let them decide to share pictures first before posting here. 🙂

It’s fun to think that my sister now has two girls of her own, since it was just the two of us growing up together and we have a gazillion sisterly memories shared between us, and can relate to each other more and more as life goes on. It’s fun to think that L. will now have a sister to share life’s experiences with. I remember being elated when I found out that Princess was going to have a sister, for she is definitely of a personality which in God’s inestimable Providence He deigned to keep from being the youngest of the family. To be the youngest and the only girl would have been a nightmare. She would have been so ludicrously spoiled (instead of only moderately, but I digress). When I see my girls run around the house–and Sunshine is literally less than an inch shorter than Princess–it’s like looking at what my sister and I must have been like. One dark, one fair, both running around together, one bossing the other, you know what I mean. But especially when they decide that the next ten minutes’ entertainment is to run around the house with an arm around each other… I just stop and watch with a smile. It’s so cute. Their innocent laughter and the smiles on their faces. Nothing beats it.

And today seeing the pictures of my nieces, one dark, one fair. One definitely going to boss the other around. Hearing that L. wanted nothing more than to hold her sister and love her to bits. Nothing beats it. I’m so glad that L. gets the chance to have a sister.

For looking at my girls and looking at that picture, again it was like seeing my little self in a mirror with my little sister, and realizing all the more what that sisterhood has meant to me over the years. I’m the dark one, she’s the fair one. She’s the one that bossed me. (HA!) It took fourteen years for me to hug her willingly after she persisted as a youngster in tickling me under the arms whenever I’d try and give her a hug–like when I was leaving for preschool or something–that I was honestly in high school before she could convince me that she could hug me good-bye without tickling me before I went to work at a Catholic camp for a few weeks. And then those letters she wrote to me while I was in college that never failed to keep me laughing–I saved a lot of them. The college break where I kept her awake until the wee hours reading aloud the FOTR chapter The Bridge of Khazad-dum and her demoniac cat walked in and went berserk as I was reading (we think he thought he was a Balrog). The wedding planning for the both of us. The Christmas memories, the random family game night memories, the long-drive memories (remember Kiddo when you decided to make goofy faces at EVERY car that passed us on US 52 from St. Boniface to home?!?!), the really random shopping memories (“No, don’t get that skirt. It makes your legs look like Mel Gibson’s in a kilt.”), oh yeah, that’s the fun of sisterhood. But underneath it all is the bond and the love that means so much more than one can really express.

I’m glad I have it with you, Kiddo.

I’m glad my girls will have it with each other.

And I’m very glad you have two girls of your own now to experience it.


family life

Lucky 13

Originally posted on August 21, 2009. I had to update the picture. Lucky 13 this year! 13 years…. Best 13 years ever.

Misselthwaite Matters


Haus Meister and I met on this day in 1999, in the lower level of the building pictured above.  We had just finished our entrance grammar exam, two brand new freshmen embarking on our college careers.

I’m naturally an outgoing person, but I had been feeling too homesick the evening before to mingle at the ice cream social.  I hadn’t met many members of my class yet, at least outside the mandatory orientation talks.  So, coming out of the classroom I looked around for a chance to strike up a friendly conversation with someone.

Only one person in the immediate vicinity was not grouped in a cluster of people but stood on the fringe listening.  I thought it amusing–and rather gentlemanly–that he was already in slacks and a tie.  Myself, I was enjoying the brief days before dress code would be enforced.

“Hi!” I greeted this well-dressed stranger. “That…

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The children got a second round of summer colds as school started so my late nights have recently been spent rocking a sniffly baby and watching highlights of the Olympics. Tonight the baby slept easier, thank Heaven, so I was able to finally pound out a conversation in Chapter Six that had been in my thoughts. 1990 words tonight! Whew! Now I need to sleep…. 😉

However, I just wanted to check in and let you know we’re still making progress. Four chapters to go. I can hardly believe it myself.