"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

{This moment}

(photo credit: Arwen)

(Outside of the boys' room window.)  Another sign of Spring during a week of "April Showers".

Last Day of April Daybook

Outside my window: Our gorgeous spring--the one that blessed us so graciously on Bilbo's birthday at the park--fled.  "Old Man Winter" pulled us back into a week of cold and grey and drizzle...with wind. 

     My poor daffodils have not a bud, and these happy little tulips bravely attempted a bloom, only to be stalled out by the lack of sun and chill.  My yard receives almost no direct sunlight, due to lots of tree-shade and the placement of the house.  Every single bloom is a great victory to me.  I took a picture of these tulips on a particularly dreary day--it was my defiant act against the nasty weather: I believe that Spring will come!


True Confessions: Many have heard me joke that I am "solar powered".   Some might suggest I have "SAD" (seasonal affective disorder).  Entirely possible!  My spirit holds steady for a day or so, and then I start to fail.  When the skies are universally grey, matching the concrete, I truly struggle to be cheerful.  I think that might be why God sent me children!  

"Special days":
Have you ever heard of a "special day"?  My dad began this tradition with us.  I may have only gone on one or two in my life, but I remember them with great joy.  Well, for better or for worse, as we began to have more children I thought that in order to let each child have moments where they feel singled out and cherished, I would introduce "special days".  

For better or for worse again, because I'm really not the organized type, this tradition has sort of devolved into an on-request basis.  Occasionally, one child or another will have a special request.  This time it was Bilbo: he LOVES to go out for lunch, alone, with his mom or dad.  It actually became a little birthday tradition.  Except his birthday came and went and we didn't get a chance to make it happen.

I personally have a hard time dragging myself away from the family at midday.  I don't really eat lunch.  And I really don't prefer the mall!  But Bilbo LOVES Panera!  And somehow Rosie managed to get an invitation to join in.

 After sharing a sandwich, I took the two to the Lego store to gaze at some of the amazing sets.  (I got a nice idea for Rosie's birthday next month!;))  Then over to Barnes and Noble because Galadriel has finally taken off in reading and I wanted to find some new books to keep her on her reading kick.  I got some American Girl books from a series we don't have and some Magic Tree House.  Bilbo and Rosie added to their "Beanie Boo" collections.  I could write a whole post on Beanie Boos.  Bilbo only has one other.  Rosie? I think she told me her collection numbers in the teens (but most are of the mini or small sizes)--and they're ALL on her bed!  If anyone knows about me and my issues with stuffed animals...you will know that this is an exception in our home!  But, Rosie is so cute, and she loves them so much...I'm opting to just ignore the mounding clutter in an effort to see her collection as a sweet hobby for a 5-year-old.

On the way home Bilbo said, "Wow, Mom, you really spoiled us".  Yes.  Yes I did!:)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wanna See the Sibs?

I've been having SO much fun watching Reina's siblings' pictures come in!  The breeder asked that we all write in and share a little about our first year.

Reina was one of only three black puppies in the litter of 8.  The rest were golden.  I personally would have chosen a golden puppy, but my kids insisted they wanted black.

After seeing all of the pictures come in, and loving how cute each of the dogs turned out to be at a year old, I have to say that I think my kids were right! I love Reina the best! (But of course, I'm prejudiced).

On to the photos!

This was the first picture to come in--definitely more curly than Reina.


This one was more "red golden" and...maybe curlier still?


The golden one is Reina's brother, the black one is her BIG SISTER (from the first litter!)
This family loved their first dog so much, they got a second with the last litter.  I think both look a lot like Reina.  More wavy/fluffy coats than tight poodle curls.


This one cracks me up, but reminds me of how much Reina loved the snow this winter!


Again, one of the curlier puppies--just a bit more of that poodle coat:


And here's Reina hanging out with us last night:

A couple more with her brother and BFF Casey:

You can see how curly his coat is--he just got shaved down, too.  (Reina's sitting)

This has been an awesome year!

(That's only 6 of the 8 puppies, so I'll upload if the other owners share more).
**We're up to 7 of the 8.  Just the final black puppy is left to update:)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Happy Birthday Reina (and Casey)!!

Reina is One-Year-Old today!

I took my phone cam out for the afternoon play session with her litter-mate (brother) Casey.  Reina has the pink leash on.  Can you see how much curlier Casey is?

(Reina with the tongue out:))


 Sweetest dog ever!

 Remember when?

 This was the day we picked her out--one week old!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Farewell to the "Beast"

We called her the "Golden Beast."

The first thing my husband said when I told him I was expecting #3, Gimli, was "we'll need a new car".  At the time, we had a four-door Toyota and fitting three car seats across the back row wasn't going to be easy.  

Unwilling to become a "mini-van dad", my husband bought us a Suburban.  I thought it was the biggest machine on the road.  I could hardly believe I had to wield such a vehicle.  But, second oldest of 8 children myself, having learned to drive in a 9-passenger Oldsmobile wood-paneled station wagon, I rose to the occasion.  I grew to love our little Suburban.

As we added children to our family, we filled that Suburban right up.  By the time Rosie (#6) was born, we no longer had room for extra passengers.  I wanted to be able to give my nieces a ride occasionally.  I started asking--yes, I asked--for a "big van".  

My husband was unwilling to go for the big family, ugly, van.  (Am I making my husband sound really vain here? He's not.  Technically, our family did still fit the Suburban, and I'm guessing most people don't buy new vehicles just so they can bring along friends!)

 With Legolas (#7), came "Ugly".  Well, that was my name for her.  The kids called her the "Golden Beast".   Over the past 4 1/2 years, I have grown to completely LOVE my van!  She was surprisingly easy to drive.  She was totally reliable (mechanically).  And last month, she dutifully took our family across this entire country (North to South) as we drove to the Southwest to visit our family there.

 So, why is she now a part of our family history?  (She's gone!)  We currently have 10 members of the family in need of seat belts and "baby due in June" will make 11.  It was a 12-passenger, so we should fit, right?

Well...technically.  But, have you ever tried to sit between two car seats?  Poor Galadriel spent a good amount of time doing just that on our trip to the Southwest.  The sides of Eowyn and Legolas' seats actually spread in front of her body, which she wedged into the spot.  We have two in boosters and soon will have three car seats in addition to that.  My older children are not getting any smaller and "sardines" is really not an unapt description of the situation in back.

My children are generally good to one another, but super-tight conditions are not always conducive to peace among the siblings.  So, in the interest of general good-will, comfort, and yes, safety (because my husband won't budge on those boosters!), we up-sized.

My next post is going to be on "the Timberwolf"!  (Yes, we are hopeless, car-naming super nerds around here) Just wait till you hear how the neighborhood children came sprinting into our yard along with our own children to check out our new 15-passenger van!  The exclamations were truly laugh-worthy!  ("It's the biggest vehicle ever!!")

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Livin' Large (A Quick Pregnancy Update)

So you know I am the Mom of 8 children with #9 due in...9 weeks.  I'm 31 weeks pregnant today.

I am hugeormous.  I really really wish I could compare myself to where I was at with the last couple of pregnancies at 31 weeks, but if I had to guess, I'd say this baby is going to be somewhere between nine and forty-five pounds at birth!  Death by explosion doesn't sound unrealistic to me at this point.

Yesterday I was letting Reina (our labradoodle) play with her brother (who our neighbors bought) in the yard kitty-corner from ours, and the two swooping beasts managed to trip me.  Now, I'm none-too-athletic these days, but I have always had fairly good balance.  Well, pride fell hard yesterday and I did too: I totally wiped out in front of my neighbor.  Can you imagine the scene?  Remember how BIG I am.  It's funny, unless you are the big prego who is flailed on the grass!  Anyway, I'm "fine"...my hip is sore.  Sheesh.

Flash forward to scene #2: my husband and I at a car wash.  We had to detail the inside of our car before trading it in.  Yes: another UP-grade.  This time from a 12- to a 15-passenger van.  And you know that's going to be fun! lol  (Actually, my kids view this event with nearly the anticipation they have for Christmas!)

Well, I was manning the industrial vacuum provided but rather quickly ran out of strength.  I traded with my husband and went for window cleaner and towels instead.  Then I got out the floor mats and had them on the ground so I could spray and scrub those.  Right--have you seen a pregnant woman squatting beside a van scrubbing mats lately?  Ok, so I'm also the laugh of the town...and I got a round ligament pull to boot!

I'm hoping to make it through the rest of this pregnancy without making any more public spectacles of myself.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bilbo's 8th Birthday!

I went through my blog photos and pulled the ones I could find of Bilbo from the past two or so years.

When you are the fifth child in a family of nine children, you are a "middle child".

I'm not sure what they say about middle children, but mine seem to be determined to stand out, to insist upon their prominent place at the heart and center of the group of siblings.

Now if you happen to have big blue eyes and freckles and chubby cheeks.

And if your hair tends to get a little bit fuzzy when your hair starts to grow out...

And if you have a cheerful disposition,

And nothing holds you back from doing whatever the big kids are doing,

And if you like bugs, and puppies, and fishing...and Legos,


And if you give your Mama lots of hugs, and happen to have an outrageously contagious giggle,

Then you might just be the most perfect 8-year-old boy ever!

And your mom might cry on your birthday.  And you might get spoiled.  But then again, as a middle child, that's probably how it should be!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Bilbo!  We love you!!!