"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.

Friday, December 23, 2016


My neighbor is a cantor at our church and has a beautiful voice.  Our daughters are in choir together.  This year she invited our family to join hers in a night of caroling in our neighborhood.

I didn't give my boys or my husband the option of staying home.  A-caroling we would go!

There was a group of about 20 of us, just three families; as usual, we made up more than half of the group.  It was dark, which helped with those of us who might have been a little timid to show our faces as we sang for neighbors.  Eowyn had a jingle bell shaker.  Sam fell asleep in our jogger stroller, all bundled up in his fuzzy bear bunting.

"Angels we have heard on high!"  We sang out.   I tried to follow the key set by my lovely-voiced friend.  "Tell what may the tidings be, which inspire this heavenly song?"

Suddenly I found myself caught up in the words that I was singing, verse after verse of each song.

"Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing; Come adore on bended knee, Christ the Lord the newborn King."

I was loudly shouting, singing, to help lead my children in doing the same, to make our group's efforts sound robust...but also, finding myself very moved indeed by this strange evangelization.  I was belting out into the cold night air, to my neighbors and to anyone who might hear, to "adore on bended knee, Christ the Lord!"  Commanding, really, but more inviting to join "all ye faithful."

"O Come let us adore Him"

The gospel was preached over and again as we made our way through the ice and snow, singing for our neighbors.

"Noel, noel, Born is the King of Israel"

We came home freezing and hungry, but my heart was full and warm.  I felt a little like those angels, I think, announcing "Christmas" to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born.  I hadn't expected the night to turn out that way.  I was moved by the kindness and warmth with which we were received--with cookies and requests to sing another song for the 95-year-old grandmother who made her way slowly to the door.  I hope and pray that those warm hearts receiving us with joy and gratitude is a reflection of how our  Lord is received in their hearts on Christmas day.

"Gloria in excess Deo".

Dear Santa,

My three year old just informed me that she wants a castle for Christmas.

A castle "with bells on it."

"And lights."


Thursday, December 22, 2016

late Advent musings

We are in the final countdown to Christmas.  Now, for some people, Christmas is a whirlwind of parties and presents.  Some people have glamorous office parties to attend (I see my sisters and they are amazingly glamorous, even on the years they are pregnant with twins or toting a nursling).  Not me.  I just have to have something good enough to qualify as a decent outfit for church, and it can be just good enough to pass if covered with my nicest "church coat".   

 Nope, no big social events.  Except that my family is eleven people strong, so my life is sort of "big", and this year, my in-laws are joining us.  That actually makes things smaller for me because I'm giving my in-laws 100% of the holiday and skipping my side of the family's parties this year.  My side of the family is significantly bigger than my husbands'.  This is the only year my in-laws have ever come for Christmas, so it's important and I want to make it special.   But they are also quite elderly at this point, and it is quite cold and snowy here.  We won't be going out much or doing much.  The point is that while others may be making plans for a lot of celebrating in the wider circles of their lives, I'm turning inward and looking to make my home a warm place of hospitality...starting Friday!  Yikes!!

I mean, it's kindof always a place of hospitality in the sense that I have a whole bunch of kiddos to feed and keep happy.  There's a lot of cooking and cleaning that goes into "what I do" every day.  But Christmas hosting of older in-laws from far away (warmer) lands does require a bit of creative thinking.  I would like things to be pretty clean and tidy.  I can't have them tripping over two dozen boots at the front door.  We may have to keep our heat up a bit higher.  I will make sure the New Mexican patterned throws that my mother-in-law gave us last year are displayed and available on the couches.  We'll need a couple of decks of cards handy, because "rummy" is always a good past-time during winter holidays.

We will have to build in a lot of extra time into getting to Christmas Eve Mass (where Galadriel sings in the choir) and Christmas Day Mass (which my boys serve for) given a) the fact that we're caravanning b) the speed at which my in-laws walk (and factor in the snow) and c) the general crowds due to the holiday.  My days will probably be made up of little more than meals and trying to calmly move this group to and from a single event outside of the home each day.  And dressing my family for those events.  Just think "hair" for my four girls and myself.

That being the case, I went to Target (because I cannot let a single momentous event pass without going to the place that has everything I need for any occasion) and stocked up on socks and tights and nylons.  I will not survive a Christmas morning with no tights for some girl or socks for some boy and then discover that I have a run in the only nylons that match.  No, I will then die.  So to avoid such end, I bought several.  Of all of the aforementioned necessities.  And a hair bow, some cardigans for over my girls' dresses...and cookie cutters.  Where else can you buy all of these things in one place?!

We baked cookies yesterday and made frosting tonight.   Tomorrow I will let the kids frost our cookies.  Today I wrapped presents in the basement with my husband.  Actually, he ended up doing most of the wrapping because Sam was fussy and the kids couldn't make him happy anymore.  While we wrapped I let my kids watch "When Calls the Heart", which is essentially the Hallmark Channel's version of a soap opera.  At least it is by the time you've reached the end of the second season and see that many more episodes stretch before you.  Will it ever reach an end?  We may not find out.  My husband issued a ban on any more seasons.  The kids and I are addicted.  I'm so embarrassed.


Arwen: I could never be a nun.

Me: (silently consider how to respond to this.)

Arwen: I could never live with a bunch of other women and wear unfashionable clothing.

Me: "It's not unfashionable, it's outside of the realm of fashion, it's like symbolic garb." (Amongst other considerations...I was just reacting in the moment as best I could).

Arwen: "Well, I don't want to wear symbolic garb."

I suggest that if the Lord would call her to that vocation He would also provide her the graces to want to be a nun.  I suggest a few other considerations as well.

Arwen:  "I would be a consecrated virgin.  And a basketball coach.  I would be a consecrated virgin; then I could wear normal clothes!"

And so, our vocational discernment continues.

(Arwen did admit to be half joking for this above conversation which I did get permission to record here.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Third Week of Advent

It is cold cold cold outside!  And white.  And bright.  We're definitely looking at a "white Christmas" this year, which I think is important. ;)  I am not sure my in-laws will agree.  My in-laws from the Southwest who are due to arrive the day before Christmas Eve!  16 years ago they came for Christmas--two days before our wedding!  It was very cold and very snowy then, too.  My brother-and-sister-in-law's family cancelled their return flight home and flew directly to California for a week.

They were that cold.

We've started baking cookies!

We had to make "St. Lucy's Eyeballs" (aka Mexican Wedding Cakes) for St. Lucy's feast day:

 It sort of derailed our home schooling day so I think I'm going to have to be patient and wait until our official break from school before I tackle more baking in the kitchen.

How serious am I about combating the winter blues?  I gotta have light.  So, sometime before Thanksgiving I called someone and ended up living like this for a few days:

Resulting in this:

that's 25 can lights in my ceiling.  Let there be light!

The lights are LED, which have their plusses and minuses.  I hit the lights during school hours or dim afternoons, but the truth is I turn them off in the early mornings and evening hours and opt for the warm glow of lamps and Christmas lights.  

Sam is starting to grab for toys and get very interactive.  He is full of smiles and laughter.  I know he's trying to say "Mama".  My husband isn't convinced yet, but he'll see.  It's on the tip of Sam's tongue!  He is at such a perfect age for his first Christmas, and I am in love with his Christmas pajamas!  Actually, all three of my little ones are darling in them.  I am kindof a sucker for Christmas pajamas, or actually any pajamas on little kids!  The funny thing is, so is my husband.  He always grabs new pairs for Legolas (usually Spiderman or Batman ones--how sad are we?).  I'm not sure what we've come to when buying pajamas for our toddlers is our splurge.  But really, cute, right?

Off to my exercise bike!  I'm delaying.  Did I mention that I miss my outdoor runs?  Highly prefer the outdoors.  Oh well.  Must get cardio!

Have an awesome day!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

You know...

You know you have a Catholic teen when:

you see an "OMG(osh)" on her text to a friend

Friday, December 9, 2016

December Daybook

 Outside my window:  cold and sunny.  Very cold, but sunny.  After a stretch of grey skies and wet snows, mud and slush, I'll take the change up for dry and freezing cold and (did I mention?) sunny.
You all know I'm solar powered, right?  I'm totally energy efficient, when the sun shines.  Ok, I'll stop.

It is officially too cold for me to keep up my jogging routine.  I have wanted to post about my morning jogs, and how much I have loved them.  I have met neighbors and made friends (well, we wave and say something about the weather, so it's friendly and a nice way to start my day).

I watched the pond steam in the early mornings of late November.  I watched geese and ducks swim and bob for fish (or whatever they eat).  One morning I heard splashing as I ran across a bridge over a stream and I saw a deer leaping through the stream as I ran past.  It has made my heart leap so many times, all of the morning beauty.  (And you all know I'm a morning person).  It front loads my day in a very good way.  Well, it did.

Yesterday we headed over to the local gym and got a family pass for the winter months.  This morning Arwen and I tried it out.  We were total newbies and couldn't find the lockers and then couldn't figure out how to lock them.  But I did get on a treadmill in the end and jogged for 20 minutes.  I watched the news (well, I read it, because the sound is off).  A little depressing.  It was fun to teach my daughter how to use one of the weight machines.  I told her I'd show her how to use a new machine each morning until she could go solo and customize her workout.

It's apparent to me that I'm going to have to bundle up and get my dog out on a walk if I want sunshine, fresh air, and a look at something beautiful.  I'll run inside this winter, but I miss the beauty.

Around the house this week:

So, it was my birthday.:)  Galadriel made this banner for me.  It's so darn cheerful and cute--it will probably be displayed forever.  I might move it from the dining room where it is right now, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep it.

It was also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is Gimli's birthday.  He turned 12, which always seems weird because Aragorn turned 13 in June, so as of 7 months ago Aragorn was my 12-year-old.  They are 18 months apart, but somehow it always throws me when Gimli "catches up" to Aragorn after just 6 months.  I might blog some pictures from his birthday, but the cake was a bit of a disaster.  If I overcome my pride, I might let you see it.  Later.

I'm pretty much in love with Christmas lights.  They are across my mantle, on the tree, on our Jesse Tree, and over the kitchen window.  We also decorated outside this year and got a new nativity scene that I'll try to get a picture of for you.  The warm glow at night is so calming and beautiful, and on dreary days, the added lights are cheerful.  I'm so about light.  Wait? Did I allude to that before?

Milestones:  Who is 5 months old?!!  Mr. Cuteness?!  Ohmygoodness I looooove him!!!!  So does Eowyn, which is why he has a marker smudge on his forehead (that's not an owie if you see a pink mark on his forehead in the picture).

I'm out of time!  Hope to catch ya soon!

Friday, December 2, 2016


It happens every winter.  The weather turns nasty at some point and my kids (re)discover the wonders of our basement.  In it lays our ping-pong table and foosball table.  In a family our size, tournaments are possible and very much encouraged by me.  I am selfish.  Yes.  And on account of the fact that right now my kids are in the basement trying to take on their father in table tennis skills, I am going to post pictures from this fall.  Win win.

Galadriel and Rosie on halloween.  Galadriel went as a rainbow and Rosie as ketchup.  Their friends also had homemade costumes and coordinated as a "star" and "mustard".  Very sweet, very cute. Very funny.  But nothing beat Gimli's costume this year.  Clever? Or just totally desperate for something to wear?  You decide.  Yes, our family does reach record lows in terms of public humiliation.  He went as "trash" (in case you missed the label.)

This has not been a season in my life where I'm on top of anything, much less our traditional fall craft of wax-paper, leaves and crayons shaved and melted with an iron.  But...on a walk one day I had the kids grab some leaves.  I set them to work and finished the job with the iron.  I felt like a good mom again.

Sometimes it really is the little things (and no, I realize this does not actually count as something that makes you a good mom; I just felt like one.)

Along those lines, for the past few years I have also dipped leaves in beeswax and strung them in a garland. Long after the colors faded and the majority of the leaves fell, I sent the kids out for some oak leaves (that never ever decompose) and plugged in my little melting pot full of wax.  It took me until Thanksgiving to string these and hang them, but I did it in the end, and once again, I felt like I had managed to cling to a sweet little tradition.  I think more than that I was desperately reaching out to cling to something from this season before it was gone.  Just something to slow down my life as it flies by in a blur of postpartum-ness.  Words escape me.


And then it was Advent, and so I marked that too, with the tangible, the physical reminders of season.       It's funny, you just put out your wreath and your nativity sets and they stand there, pretty, in your home.  As the days whirl by, they sit in the corners of the home and wait to be noticed.

I see that my kids have added another figure to the advent calendar, even if I no longer orchestrate that.  I used to have to keep track of who did it last or whose turn was next.  This year, I'm just watching it all sort of happen for me.

This picture of our Jesse Tree ornaments looks nice.  We've lost about a third of them.  Blogs sure look pretty, don't they.  I wish I could say we were faithfully reading out the bible stories for each day.  But once again, where I'm unable to keep up, grace is providing.  My husband randomly grabbed "Read-alound Bible Stories" (an awesome book) and has been reading it most nights at the dinner table.  I did buy the book years ago for home schooling and read through some of it at one point...probably not all.

But I'm seeing that the efforts I put in as a younger, more energetic mom are rebounding to my favor during this season of my life.  Bilbo pulled out a book of Greek Myths the other night and had my husband read it to him.  Back in the day, I would have had that all laid out as part of our history plan. I would have been the one reading that to the kids during school hours.  Now it's just for fun.  Now it's not me reading it.  But the good stuff is in the house, and they are pulling from it.  I'm just sharing this as encouragement to young moms.  Homeschooling kickbacks, right?:)

Guess that's it for now--Arwen's arriving home from pro-life club and I want to go hear how it went!