Saturday, December 31, 2011

7 Alternate Takes


Don't you hate it when you forget to give your post a title and you end up with the first sentence of your post memorialized forever?  What?  You've never done that?


Have you ever given one of your children "the best thing they've ever owned" for Christmas?  Or birthday?  Brendan is 20 and here he is:

He was just surprised there.  It's the 6th day of Christmas now, and I think he's told me every. single. day. what a great thing it is.  Today he said it's his favorite thing ever!  And that's just the $99 Kindle Touch, not a Kindle Fire.

It's kind of making me want one.


The kids have just gone out to play for a few minutes riding their scooters and bikes around the neighborhood.  It's my chance to get in a few more stitches on the challenging Tardis hat for Pip's birthday.  Yet, here I am....still on the computer.


I went to weigh myself yesterday to see what the holiday damage was so far.  The scale read "LO".

So, that's good, right?


When you're knitting a secret project that's stuffed in a bag, which is stuffed into a discreet spot where it won't be noticed, it totally Does Not Help that you have a dog who is a yarn thief and pulls the project out of the bag to go chew it.

It also doesn't help that the only person who saw him is the recipient of the gift.


Pippo either wasn't interested in my new knitting project, or he already knows and was just pretending.


It's New Year's Eve.   And I know that because I just read it on someone's blog.  Seems it's time for the year-end wrap up and thoughts on resolutions.   I'm sure if you peruse the internet for 30 more seconds you'll find that somewhere!

I'll just pray that God will bless you in the coming year and that we'll all grow closer to Him each day.

Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011


I was given a CD of Gregorian chant to review before Christmas, but, Advent being the busy time that it is, I hardly had time to listen to it.  I played it a couple of times, but it was drowned out by the mayhem.

It's A Blessed Day Has Dawned by the St. Vincent Camarata Scholars, and directed by Fr. Stephen Concordia.

It's a really beautiful CD that centers around Palestrina's Missa: Dies Sanctificatus.  As we near Epiphany and the end of the Christmas season, I'm finding this music a great way to maintain the peace and calm that comes with Christmas.  The music is amazing; I've never heard a Palestrina Mass that I didn't like!  The voices alternately soar and blend beautifully creating a sound that at the same time calms and lifts the soul to God. 

If you like Gregorian Chant, or know someone who does, I highly recommend this CD.  This is their first recording and we want them to continue making them if all their efforts are this good!


You can read more about the St. Vincent Camarata here.  The CD is available on itunes or in stores.


On a mellow Christmas Day (or was it Christmas Eve?) we sat around the table and painted our new Jesse Tree ornaments.  I'm very pleased with how they turned out.  We didn't get the whole set made, so we'll have to buy some more sculpting clay to make the rest---probably next Advent.  

In case you're wondering, we used the Crayola Modeling clay for our ornaments.  It was nice to skip the step of making salt dough and not having to bake it.  It was very easy to work with.



I ran into a friend yesterday and we were talking about how hard it is to enjoy the Christmas season with the rest of the Catholic Church when the whole world has packed it up and put it away.  

We decided that we should save all cookie baking for Christmas.  Now, I generally make lots of cookies and make the kids wait for Christmas to eat them, but they're definitely gone within a day or two or Christmas!  Next year, we're thinking we'll make a new batch of cookies or treats each day of the 12 days of Christmas.  That way we can keep celebrating and eating too much, but it's spread out over the whole Christmas season.


Speaking of packing up Christmas on the 26th...doesn't that just make you sad?  It makes me sad, but it's so much worse than that....think about spending a month or more in a frenzy of activity...parties, shopping, baking, fighting crowds, and generally being cranky...only to find that the holiday is over already!  Kind of like spending all day in the kitchen, exhausting yourself, to prepare a sumptuous feast that is eaten in 15 minutes and not suitably appreciated by the diners.

I much prefer "preparing" for Christmas and the coming of our Savior as slowly, and peacefully as I can, and enjoying it as long as possible.


So, in that vein, I'm trying really, really hard not to get caught up in the "clean it up and get organized" mayhem that is the week after Christmas.  Maybe it's not that bad the first week of Christmas, but it really builds in intensity once we get to the first of the year!

That said, it's time to go watch a(nother) Christmas movie with the kids and crochet on my homeless mat.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Season Daybook


Outside my window...
It's cloudy, cold, and windy.  We awoke to heavy rains this morning, and the pup was not happy to go out and get soaked and chilled.

I am thinking...
About new projects to attempt this spring.  I can hardly sit still without wishing I had another project to work on, and I do still have projects to work on!

I am thankful...
For all my blessings.  It has been a good year.  There have been lots of stresses this year, and it seems like one of the busiest years I can ever remember, but it has been full of blessings as well.

I'm thankful for having all my kids home for Christmas.  I know that the time will come, sooner than I think, that they won't all be here.

From the learning rooms...
Christmas vacation!  But Tom is spending a lot of time on Khan Academy still.  He's alternating now with his book that he got for Christmas:  The Book of Great Books.  It's sort of the SparkNotes version of lots of books.  A great resource for the academic team.

In the kitchen...
Too many cookies in the kitchen, but we are coming to the end of them.

I am wearing...
Jeans and a sweater topped with the pink/maroon fringed poncho that my grandmother knitted for my mother back in the 1970's.  Yucky acrylic and slightly scratchy, but weirdly comforting.

I am knitting...
I'm crocheting another sleeping mat for the homeless.  I still have one sleeve left to do on the grey pullover, but I'm kind of over it since I bound off the other sleeve and I'm pretty sure it's too short.  So, I'm just not very motivated to work on it knowing that I'll have to take that bind-off out and knit some more.

I am going...
To stay home tomorrow and have time to myself while all the kids go to the movies together.  What will I do?  Clean house?  Declutter? Play loud music and sing?  Or just watch the dog?

I am reading...
My favorite Christmas present:  Lisa Hendey's A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.
I was so excited to get this for Christmas.  I can't decide whether to read through it or just take it day by day for the year.  Do you have it?  What would you do?

I am hearing on my ipod...
The music from our midnight Mass on Christmas since Capt. Jeff recorded it for the choir.  I really enjoyed the music selections, so it's nice to be able to hear them again and sing along!

Around the house...
Christmas lights are on 24/7, and there are still presents lying around in small piles.  I'm trying to relax about housework this week, though the laundry is tough to keep up with with all 8 of us home!  We'll get it cleaned up Saturday for Our Lady's celebration on Sunday.

One of my favorite things...
Sitting around the dinner table with my family having conversations that are sometimes intelligent and sometimes much less so.  I love hearing my husband request a "higher level" but sometimes we really struggle with keeping discussions at a barely tolerable level.  It's fun.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Very few plans except for calling Mr. Transmission and getting him to look at my car again.  :-(

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
Gus really needed his little sweater today in the cold rain!  I wrestled it onto him after our wet walk this morning.  He whirled around faster than I've ever seen him, trying to catch it and take it off!  He had no luck and has worn it peacefully all day.

BTW, it's made from the sleeve of a very nice, thrifted, lambswool, JCrew sweater!

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas!

It's a happy Christmas here, and I hope it is at your home, as well!

We went to Midnight Mass last night which began with a choral concert at 11:15.  The pastor was brief, so Mass was not overlong and we were able to go home and open our presents at a decent hour of the morning.  Ha!  Most of us were ready to go to bed by 3:00, but I stayed up a little longer to help My Daughter, The Great Procrastinator, finish sewing a stuffed robot for a friend.

Another beautiful Mass for me this morning.  I sang while most of the family continued to slumber, or at least lie around sluggishly eating scones.

It has been a lovely, though rainy, relaxing day here, just spending time together.  I'm drinking eggnog (with actual bourbon!) while finishing up details for our late Christmas dinner.  (As soon as I finish blogging!)

I hope your family has a blessed Christmas Season!

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Can't Believe it's Friday Quick Takes!


I can't believe it's Friday and not Saturday!  I guess I'm pretty prepared for Christmas (because I decided to bag the whole idea of trying to educate my children on Monday and Tuesday!), so I've been off by a day or two all week.


The boys need haircuts for Christmas, so I'm giving Katie tonsorial lessons.  The boys are definitely not thrilled with that.  And one of them is not especially thrilled with the tablespoonful of coconut oil that I massaged in to get rid of dandruff!  So, he looks all gelled up for a couple of hours; it will be worth it once we comb out all the crud.  And for all you slack-jawed, grossed out readers out there----it really does work, and keeps it at bay for months!


Presents are mostly wrapped since I started wrapping last weekend (or was it the one before?) and have been wrapping as they come in the house.  The first weekend, I took an idea I saw on Pinterest and whipped up some fabric bags for ease of wrapping and reusability.  I just used all the Christmas-y fabric I had in my stash and tied the bags shut with ribbons.  I've been thinking about how much more I would enjoy present opening if we were not surrounded by noisy, crinkly, paper trash.  I'll have to get some Christmas remnants to make some more bags for next year.


I think I've been to Costco too many times.  That place is C.R.A.Z.Y at Christmas!  Yesterday, I had to get my turkey there because Trader Joe's doesn't sell turkeys at Christmas, only Thanksgiving.  Did you know that???  I had to go again today to pick up some photographs and traffic was ridiculous.  But I guess that goes without saying.  Anywhere there is shopping to be had is going to be a place with bad traffic!


I think I have the cleanest Christmas tree skirt in town.  Gus has decided that the Christmas tree is the tree to use when he has to go!  I think I've washed the skirt 5 or 6 times.  I wanted to put the presents under the tree thinking that he might think twice about going under there since it's so crowded.  But the kids discouraged me.  They're probably right:  he would either pee on the gifts or eat them.


We're psyched for some holiday-themed trivia tonight at Starbucks.  It'll be fun with Katie and Brendan along, though Pete has better things to do.  The younger kids get a special treat at Subway since their team won the kid's trivia last week.  We're kind of geeky here anyway, but it's fun to just hang out with the kids and our friends having coffee and testing our knowledge.


Speaking of geeky....have you heard of Khan Academy?  It's been around for a few years, and I've used it a little when older kids have had difficult math or science questions, but I recently saw a TED talk with the founder, and he was explaining how they've got new people on board and many more subjects.  There's even a flow chart that keeps track of your progress and recommends which videos or exercises to do next!  Tom is spending his entire Christmas break studying on Khan Academy and becoming "proficient" in quite a few categories!!

I think anyone with a computer and internet can get an excellent high school education just by using Khan Academy.  They're even working  on getting all the problems from Singapore math online.  They're not quite up to 4th grade, where we are, but I'm hoping!  There are lots of other lessons I can have Meg work on to improve her skills while we wait.  

I told you we're geeky here---playing on Khan Academy over Christmas break and thinking about what we're doing for school in two weeks!  

Counting down to Christmas!  We're so excited to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Caroling

One of the service projects our American Heritage Girls troop does every year is to go Christmas caroling at a local nursing home.  This is not one of the upscale places.  It's a place for medicaid patients where they have 3 to a room, their spaces divided only by a curtain.  3 little tv's on the counter across the room, all tuned to different stations for the residents.

This year there was a mixup and another group was doing the same thing (caroling and providing refreshments) in the main community room.  It was very stressful for our coordinator, but we were eventually taken down to the basement to a smaller community room and patients were brought in to us.  These were the much less mobile residents who were very frail and many were unable even to speak.

I think we were sent down there because these residents are the ones who don't usually get to go to the Christmas parties!  It was the kind of mixup that the Holy Spirit causes and it was a blessing to all of us.  It's very touching to hear the non-verbal residents sing along to the Christmas carols.  That is something they remember and can still do!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Getting Ready

Finally, everyone is home.  I like having my big boys home, even if they do spend most of their time in their room sleeping, or whatever.  It's amazing to me how much joy I get from simply seeing their faces during the day!

I'm still busy, as usual, but it's a slower kind of busy.  Not so many appointed places to be these week, though there are a few of those.  There is a lot of laundry to be done, and I've started cooking for Christmas dinner.  I made the sausage, mushroom, and onion dressing that the family LOVES, yesterday.  Today, I might work on cranberry sauce and potatoes after I make a trip to the store.

It's definitely peaceful here.  I'd like to say that it's in quiet anticipation of our Savior's coming, but it's just sleep.  Everyone who doesn't have to go to work or school is catching up on their sleep!

I'm sitting here in the dimness (quietly thanking God that the ban on incandescent lightbulbs has been revoked, or soon will be) reading blogs and knitting.

What are you doing this week in preparation?  Finishing up knitting projects?  Baking cookies?  Wrapping?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our AHG Service Project

The big service project our troop is working on this year has attracted a lot of attention around the parish---mainly because it's so unusual.  One of our parishioners who is a news reporter saw me working on my sleeping mat for a homeless person and offered to do a little piece on it.  It's the kind of feel-good news they show during Christmastime to fill airspace.

I thought you might like to see it; it hasn't even aired on television yet.  We're extremely excited about it!  I'm in it; you can see bits of Meg, and Pip was even there helping out. (He's the lone boy in the video.)  Meg was doing the rolling and unrolling and tying demonstrations.

HOMELESS MATS from Josh Wade on Vimeo.

We spent almost 2 hours working, filming, and interviewing for this 90 second spot!  It was a great opportunity to get some more work done on the project.  The kids had a lot of fun and it was interesting seeing a glimpse of what goes into the news.  I enjoyed it, too.  But frankly, I'm just glad they cut out all the um's and made us look good!

Here's a link to my friend Eren's followup blog post with a tutorial.  She's the one in the video talking about how the girls like to compete to see who can make a bigger ball of plarn.

You may now return to your regular Christmas preparations!  :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

7 Quick Takes


It's Friday!  It's Friday!  It's Friday!  I don't know what that means because I still have to cook, do laundry, teach school, carpool, and go to dress rehearsal this evening, but at least the possibility of a bad week is limited by the lack of week left!


The highlight of the week was Tom's slip and fall on Monday night----fighting with a bear who disrespected his family coming around the corner too fast in his socks.  He hurt his elbow and was trembling all over (which I thought must be a bad sign), though there was no apparent damage.

That led to picking him up from school Wednesday to hear that his arm was just not right and he needed to go to the dr.  So, we swung by the urgent care on the way home where we found out, after a looong wait due to computer problems, that his elbow was broken.

That led to a miserable Wednesday trying to get an appointment with the orthopedist and a referral from the PCP.  And after much agony arriving at the ortho to discover that a. the referral hadn't arrived (though they told me it had been faxed!), and b.  Oh, hey!  You don't need one anyway!

On the bright side, we scored an awesome tech who evidently provides comic relief for the office and does very artistic casts:


One of our Christmas miracles occurred on Saturday when the long-awaited, and much-needed, Dog Trainer came to the house.  It seems as if he didn't do much.  He just taught us how to restrain Gus and hold his snout closed until he completely relaxes.  We're to do that any time he uses his mouth inappropriately---on us, the furniture, the leash, my yarn basket (gasp!).  

He's still not perfect, but the difference is astonishing!  He has stopped "talking back" as in barking and snapping when we tell him No.  Well, that's because we're not allowed to tell him NO!  We're just supposed to grab him and administer the correction!  He follows all the other commands much better.  We knew that he knew them (sit, down, stay, wait, out (or drop it), come), but he only obeyed if he felt like it or knew there was a good probability of a treat!  He's always picking up stuff to eat on walks, and now he'll usually drop it if I just say Out!  Although, if it's particularly tasty and doesn't want to give it up, he won't bite me if I take it from him.

Another thing that shocked me yesterday when we were out on our walk was that he treats other dogs differently now.  I've always tried to let him visit with the other dogs when the owners are amenable, and he would ALWAYS put his paws on top of the other dog to express his dominance.  I've never seen him NOT do that---until yesterday when we met 2 dogs at different times.  He greeted them and sniffed them, and then lay down at my feet while I chatted!
Okay, I'll stop now.  That wasn't a very Quick Take.  It probably deserved a post of it's own, but blogging time has been a bit scarce.


One of the reasons blogging time has been scarce is that the Dog Trainer said so.  He said Dh is to walk and then feed the dog in his crate at whatever time he (dh) gets up and leave him there for an hour, and then I'm to get up and walk him again.  When we come back, I have to play with him and provide lots of opportunities for corrections.  So, we play and train and correct for an hour and a half, or so, until he's ready for his morning nap.  By then, it's time for the day to start in earnest:  wake the kids, take a shower, start school.


Gus is a Pug/West Highland Terrier (Westie), and these dogs need a firm hand.  Literally.  We were taught to pet him very firmly with long, slow strokes.  It's a lot of work for Meg to pet him!


One of my college students is home, I think.  I still haven't seen him.  He got home after I left for AHG last night, and then he had to go out to a friend's house.  Naturally, he got home after I was sound asleep!  Maybe I'll see him today, but there's a possiblity that it will be very late in the day!


Tonight is the 2nd dress rehearsal for A Christmas Carol which takes place on Jan. 1.  Last night was quite the challenge, from what I heard.  I hope it's better tonight.  These productions always look a bit like train wrecks in progress, but by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit, it comes off pretty well.  Our director is a very lovely, prayerful woman who makes praying at the rehearsals as big a deal as the rehearsal itself.  I can't wait to see the final performance!


Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Daybook


Outside my window...
The sky is clear and it's rather balmy for a December day.  Feels like it's in the 40's already, and it promises to be a very pleasant day, probably in the 50's or low 60's.  I love these nice days when I have to spend a lot of time walking the dog!

I am thinking...
About all the books I wish we were reading for school and Advent.  And all the ways I want to celebrate  prepare for Advent.

I am thankful...
For the dog trainer, Dennis, who came to the house on Saturday to help with Gus.  He was awesome, and has made a world of difference in our family!  It was a good decision to have him come; it might have been the best $80 I ever spent if we have a dog we can live with.  Not only a dog we can live with, but one that we actually enjoy!  He said it was good that we called him while Gus is still so young (5 mos.) because his biting problem would be much more difficult to eradicate later.  Already, we are enjoying him sooooo much more!  I think he is enjoying us more, too, since he seems to be a bit more eager to please us and obeys better.

From the learning rooms...
We still have school until the 20th, but we'll see how that goes!  We may end up quitting Friday if the public schools are out.  We're all in need of a vacation and I would love to spend the next week doing Christmas crafts and reading books with the kids.  But, hey, that can be called "school," can't it?  I hear enough about how the away-school kids watch movies and do crafts to fill time, so we can, too.

In the kitchen...
My 7 weeks of menus and shopping lists is a real life-saver these days!  I don't end up going to the store every Saturday because, although I only did 6 meals per week, we don't necessarily finish all the meals in 7 days.  So, suddenly, Monday comes and we desperately need to shop, but I have 2 appointments out of the house, homeschooling to do, carpooling to do, and I'm able to squeeze in the shopping since the list is already made and I don't have to spend an hour thinking about meals and making the list!  Whew!

Yesterday, thanks to the Holy Spirit, I already had Mexican scheduled so we were able to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe!

I am wearing...
My cozy alpaca sweater that I knitted last year over a pretty purple sweater, blue jeans, and my fun leopard print flats.

I am knitting...
The sleeves on my grey, cotton pullover which I can't wait to finish!

I am going...
Nowhere.  I'm staying here, and I'm missing my brother's speech in Joplin, MO.  When the F5 tornado roared through town in May, Missouri Southern State University cancelled commencement and set up a shelter for displaced residents.  The long-awaited commencement is scheduled for this weekend, and my brother, a graduate of the university, is the graduation speaker.  I'm sure he'll be including some of his experiences of dealing with adversity in his talk.  

I am wondering...
What the final results of our St. Andrew novena will be.  Already, prayers have been answered, even the unasked ones!  I wonder if the rest will be, and how.

I am reading...
Advent and Chrismtas with Padre PioWhisky, Kilts, and the Loch Ness MonsterWheat Belly (still).  And we have a huuuuge stack of Christmas books of our own and from the library!

I am hoping...
That my brother's radiation treatments which start in January eradicate his brain tumor! 

I am looking forward to...
the end of the semester!  Christmas, and several days off!

I am hearing on my ipod...
Lots of podcasts!  I seem to spend all my time "catching up" on podcasts rather than "keeping up."  I listen weekly to SQPN Catholic Weekend.  My other favorites are:  Just a Catholic Dad, Catholic Laboratory, and Latest in Paleo which is very informative and professionally done.

Around the house...
We decorated the Christmas tree on Sunday.  It was already up with lights and Jesse Tree ornaments, but we added Christmas to it after dinner.  Amazingly enough, we only got out one box of the most glittery, breakable ornaments and it was done very quickly.  I've given up trying to create the perfectly decorated tree; I just hand the ornaments to the kids and let them go.  Although they're old enough now that they're getting the whole idea of spacing them evenly.  Mostly.

The house is mostly clean.  Mostly decorated.  But I really have the urge to go through it from top to bottom and deep clean.  Unfortunately, real life doesn't really allow for that right now---and is it something I want to embark on next week, just days before Christmas?

One of my favorite things...
Christmas tree lights early in the morning.  

A few plans for the rest of the week...
We have an off-schedule AHG meeting this week because last week was the Immaculate Conception.  Choir rehearsal. 2 dress rehearsals for A Christmas Carol.  Kids Trivia on Friday.  Piano recital Saturday.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Friday, December 9, 2011

7 Quick Takes

Pay no attention to the wrapping paper on the floor, or the  sewing stuff in the corner!
 This picture of a gorgeous new duvet, that makes me very {happy} was supposed to be my {happy} photo from yesterday.  But I forgot because I hardly ever go into my room during the day.  Every time I do, though, I'm thrilled anew with my bed.  Love, love, love it.  Got it on clearance from Lands End plus an extra 40% off that!  It was still a bit of a splurge, even before we found out we needed a new transmission, so, I guess it's a Christmas present!  Eventually, I'll have to update those pillows to go with the new look.

It looks like the new transmission for my Honda Odyssey is our big Christmas present.  Such a bummer, and definitely an extra stress that we didn't need.  It makes me miss my Swagger Wagon.  :-(  Remember what happened to that?

I'm so excited for the Dog Whisperer  Trainer to come to our house tomorrow to help us with the dog from hell  Gus.  Okay, maybe he's not that bad.  I've probably said, he's a great dog when he's good; I just hope the trainer can train us to be good pack leaders because it's like living with Jekyll, Jekyll, Hyde! (You have to watch that if you haven't seen it before, or even if you have!)


Went to Mass last night for the Immaculate Conception.  We went to our own parish.  Originally, we planned that because I was asked to sing the Psalm, but that changed and we went anyway because it's the best place to meet on dh's way home from work.  Well, I don't know who was singing, but I was appalled.  He was reverent enough, but with his strong southern accent he sounded like a country singer.  Even though most of the songs were okay (there are better ones he could have chosen for the day!), he didn't follow the rhythm as they were written, so it was very hard to sing along.  He also threw in some dramatic pauses and "yeahs" here and there for effect.  It was like a country lounge singer.  Give the me the other guy with the guitar any day.

I think he's from our parish, but he didn't sing the new Mass that we've learned with the new translation, even though that was the directive from the pastor:  that all Masses would use the same setting.  He used the Mass of Creation (with the exception of the Holy, Holy) which we don't know with the new words.  That's one of the old Masses that was simply rewritten to accommodate the new translations, but we haven't learned how they fit in, so that was a bit awkward.


OTOH, I was thrilled to see one of our old parochial vicars as the celebrant.  I don't think I fully appreciated him when he was assigned to our parish, but maybe he's matured now that he's a pastor.  He celebrated a beautiful, reverent Mass, and even sang most of it.  He also gave an excellent homily.  Don't you find it jarring when what the priest is doing is so different from the musician(s)?

Meg made these cupcakes yesterday for dessert.  They were really yummy from what I heard.  I only tasted a little of the frosting.  I'm not a fan of marshmallows, and I'll only eat s'mores on occasion, not even at every campout, but if they tasted this good, I might eat them all the time.  Except that then I would be sick, so maybe not.  


I'm looking forward to finishing the Christmas decorating this Sunday.  I will enjoy leaving it up through most of January, too!  I especially love turning on the tree lights and the lights on the banister on those dark, January mornings.  They remind me that Christmas continues well past December 25th, and make me happy.


Thursday, December 8, 2011


I've actually been snapping a few photos this week, so I'm joining Like Mother Like Daughter in their {pretty, happy, funny, real} party.

round button chicken

My favorite Christmas tablescape this year!

 Making new Jesse Tree ornaments this year out of Crayola Modeling Clay
with the help of Meg and Pippo.  They need to air-dry, after which we will paint them with acrylics and seal.  I think we'll try sealing them with something other than Mod Podge this year.  The old ones are a little sticky after all these years and the tissue paper we wrap them in sticks and makes them look horrible.

Gus, half-asleep on his back, between Pippo's legs, while Pippo plays with clay and avoids doing his schoolwork.  When he's good, he's very good, and when he's bad, he's horrid!  But when he's good, we just can't help cuddling him while he sleeps.

Lots of detritus still on the dining room table.  Stuff for decorating.  Stuff for putting away.  Stuff for giving away.  Just too. much. stuff.  Everywhere.

Tree Excitement

We had some excitement here before Thanksgiving when we had this big Leyland Cypress cut down.  We had a smaller, dead oak in the backyard cut down, and then the large Water Oak in the center of the back pruned significantly.

 The Cypress came down very quickly, and was eaten in seconds by the chipper!

Now we have a teeny, tiny, holly bush growing in that spot.  It has a lot of catching up to do!  No, it's not that small, and you're not blind.  They planted it the next day!

It's weird that now we can see the neighbor's house.  But it's nice that we can talk to each other more easily when the kids are playing.  Until the holly catches up.

You can't tell from this picture, but they raised the canopy on that tree about 15 feet, meaning they cut off all the lower branches.  They also pruned out lots of little branches all the way up to allow more light to reach the backyard.  We have nothing but dirt and moss back there because of the shade!  It's already so much more pleasant and less claustrophobic in the yard; I can't wait to see what it's like in the summer.  Will grass grow????

I was very happy with the work they did, but I was NOT happy to see this.  I had Pip take a couple of pictures in case there was an accident.  Can you tell I'm married to a lawyer who used to do Personal Injury?


Do all kids get excited about this sort of thing?  Or is it just the unsocialized (wink, wink) home schoolers?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Missing Mom

It's funny how it strikes out of the blue.  I think of my mother often and speak of her without difficulty, but sometimes I just miss her so much it hurts.  For some reason, I was really feeling her absence during Thanksgiving and the week after.

For the most part, I struggled to put my finger on what was wrong with me during that time period, but when I found myself crying, it always seemed to be for my mom.  Yes, other things were getting me down, too, but I missed her dreadfully.  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Did I want her to comfort me, or was the other stuff a symptom of the sorrow?

Maybe because today is her birthday, the 5th birthday without her, and I've heard that we often mourn anew just before a significant date rather than on the date itself.  I miss her presence around Christmas because she loved decorating for Christmas.  I remember we always had our decor up by Dec. 1, if not actually Thanksgiving weekend.

Happy Birthday, Mom!  I hope you're having a good time in Heaven.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day!

 St. Nick arrived early and brought Barbara's doughnuts!  I love these doughnuts---they're so easy to make.  I whipped up the dough last night (no yeast!  no rising!) and fried them this morning.  

Has your oil ever foamed up on you?  Something tells me that the children on kitchen duty need a lesson in rinsing dishes!

 6 a.m. is too early for an almost 16 year-old to be excited about his stocking.

 Also sleepy.

 Wide awake and bolted out of bed when I turned on the light.

 The Schoolteacher---not quite photo ready!

 Our Jesse/Christmas tree.  It has a few purple ornaments to dress it up as we add the Jesse Tree ornaments, plus the new ones that St. Nick just brought for the kids.

Sadly, we're missing our big boys---Can't wait for them to come home next week!

Have a blessed feast day!


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