"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, June 30, 2017

When you are the littlest brother,

the fifth brother, and the ninth child in a crazy big family,

Are you overshadowed by those big brothers?  The 5-year-old who thinks he is Batman?

 Or totally silly big sisters?

Does your Mama just hand you a PBJ for lunch with the rest of the kids and plunk you on your big sister's special pink chair?

Do you mind?  What is it like being number nine?

 If your bigger big brother is a chef and bakes you cookies?  Will your Mama just let you eat them?

Why? Do you like food or something?

I'm pretty sure whatever you want, you will probably get.  I'm pretty sure you have a good chance of being incurably spoiled.  Can we help ourselves?

We'll plop you right down with the little kids so you feel like you're part of the gang.

And when Mama takes crazy selfies with the kids,


She's sure to make sure she gets one with just you, too!

 And you'll learn to stand by pulling up on the dog cage that is bigger than you, and you'll love a fluffy labradoodle that is bigger than you, too!

And your 14-year-old biggest brother who hates having his picture taken, will work to get you to smile and wave for the camera.

 And you will laugh and you will smile and you will wave...just for him.  Just because you love him.

 And big high-school-aged sisters get to take selfies with you too.  You are happy that she's taking them with you and not any other boy!  Good job, Sam!

Is Mama getting nostalgic as you draw near to your first birthday?  Has Mama tried to write the "birthday post" over and over again?  Maybe.

Maybe there won't be a birthday post.  Maybe this is all she can do.

Maybe she will take pictures of you sleeping when she is pretty sure there aren't too many more days that you will fall asleep on her shoulder.

Is your Mom pretty sure there has never been such a cute, sweet baby ever before?!  How can your Mom have had NINE children and still be so overwhelmed by your wonderfulness?

 How can I keep you from growing up so fast?!  

I can't.  So, I write sappy posts that your biggest sister will make fun of me for.  But I might look back and see these pictures, and smile or laugh.  Loving every sweet moment of your first year of life.

And wondering, what God has in store for you in the years to come!

There will definitely be a birthday post.  But since it's not actually your birthday yet, this is just a catch-up baby-gush post.  I know everyone will excuse me.  How in the world could I help myself?!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Days

Last night we had a bonfire.  

It was the feast of the nativity of St. John the Baptist.  Following the summer solstice, the days grow shorter.  After Christmas, and the close-by winter solstice, the days grow longer.  

"He must increase and I must decrease."

Apparently, bonfires are a tradition for this feast.  

I bought the world's worst fire pit for my husband last Father's Day.   I was too cheap to spring for one that cost over $200.  However, I would recommend investing in something large and sturdy if I were to recommend.  As of now, we're making do with something small and flimsy...but, you get what you pay for.  In any case, it does hold fire, so we enjoy.

When you have 9 children, roasting marshmallows is a little risky.

There is fire, hot gooey marshmallows that occasionally go up in flame.

The attendant fire-hot sticks.

 And then, the s'mores!

There might be an uncalled for marshmallow fight.

 And lots and lots of smoke.

Of course, it is totally worth it!

Especially if you end up with a little prayer and song, and a surprise rain shower, followed by...

 Look carefully: it's a double rainbow! (you can't see it below)

And then this sunset!

I am really really loving June!  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Dad

(I know I've done a bunch of "tribute" posts lately...just one more?! Promise!)

When I think back to my earliest memories of my dad, I remember his heavy-as-lead gold Schwinn stationary exercise bike, which was kept, at the time, in my parent's bedroom.

My Dad was a bike racer in his prime, and his Dad owned a bicycle (sporting goods) store.  My Dad repaired bicycles for a job when he and my Mom were first married.  I think he earned $2.25/hour..., my mom could tell you.

At another baseball game of my sons, and my dad doesn't even like baseball!  But he does like his grandsons!

My Dad had weights in the basement.  I don't remember him lifting them often, but I remember how big and heavy they seemed to me.

As a young girl, under age 5, my Dad was pretty much a superhero.

He had thick dark hair, and equally thick dark-rimmed glasses.  My Dad went to work in a suit and tie, selling exotic things like copy machines.   At night my dad would write poetry in a thick, leather-bound, lined journal.  I remember watching him write in cursive and being amazed at how fast he wrote and fascinated that he would dot his i's and cross his t's after he finished writing the word.

My Dad also was a great typist.  He had high-tech typewriters, and he sold those too.  He taught me how to change out the ribbon and the correction tape.

My Dad was totally cutting-edge and talented, as far as I was concerned.

One more memory...the accordion!  Do you know how magical it is to open a LARGE, clasped box of leather, pull back a red silk fabric, and reveal a gleaming black and ivory accordion?! With buttons and keys and all of those folds!  We would jump around the living room "dancing" to polka music and indian dance music.

My dad would tell stories about foxes and rabbits and, like "Peter and the Wolf", play music to illustrate the action.

If I continued at this rate I would never make it through the next three decades of my life!

There were moves, new business ventures that would fail, many new siblings for me along the way...and it wasn't always easy (ever easy?) for my parents, but you know what?  It was a glorious and exciting adventure for me!

I loved growing up in my family.

It's only now that I can appreciate what my Dad did for us.

And you know, now that I am beyond that 5-year-old girl who idolized her father, I can assure you that my father is absolutely a superhero!

There are other images that stand out.  I can't really separate my Dad from his rosary, or his devotion to the Perpetual Adoration Chapel.  My Dad praying outside of the abortion clinics.  My Dad reading his spiritual reading at the breakfast table.

And now, my Dad as a grandfather to my own children.  I do have nine of them.  My sisters have thirteen more.

My Dad teaching his grandchildren to keep their bikes out of the rain.  To keep their bike tires at proper air pressure.  My Dad reading them the classics.  Many classics.  Years and years of reading to his grandchildren (not only mine).  He had read to us, too.  Or teaching them French.  Did I mention how much my Dad loves France?

Anyway, this little tribute is such a small snippet of all the things my Dad is, but I'm happy to have a tiny amount recorded here.  He deserves to be reminded of just a bit of who he is to me, and to all of us.

I love you, Dad!

Your Weez

Father's Day

Pictures make everything look so glamorous.  It's a complaint about blogs that you can photo-edit your life to make it look so pretty and perfect.

Truth: this was a sketchy Father's Day at best, but sketchy works when there's enough love to fill in the gaps.  The fruit tart (above) was made from cookie dough leftover from a neighborhood bake-off that Bilbo and Galadriel took part in on Friday.  My husband picked up some cream cheese and berries tonight. I whipped up the frosting and threw on the berries as everyone waited for dinner.

My kids made cards and cleaned while my husband was out for a little bit this afternoon.  The posters were made this morning while he worked out (not ahead of time).

But when 9 children start singing "Happy Father's Day to You" and follow it up with a "Two Four Six Eight, who do we appreciate? Dad! Dad! Yea Dad!" cheer, you can't feel too bad.  That's a big chorus of voices.  And they do, all nine of them, love their wonderful, good, fun, loving father!

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Thinking Aloud

I haven't really "done" Facebook.  I need to limit my time on the internet, and staying off of Facebook is a good way to simply cut out that particular temptation.  However, as I used Facebook to promote the talk given by Leila Lawler last week, I spent more time on Facebook than ever before, and something became clear to me: I use my blog like others use Facebook.  Pictures, quippy captions.  It's a sort of on-line journal, except with Facebook you get your friends commenting and clicking little like and love icons as you go.

So, I wondered whether this blog was really serving me any decent purpose and whether or not I should just move over to Facebook with the rest of the world.

But there is one little thing I prefer about my blog space: I can write.  I can ramble and muse a bit.  And if people don't want to read it all, they by no means are prevented from clicking away!

Writing, for me, is therapeutic.  It is an artistic outlet.  It's pretty obvious that I have precious little time to write and create, thus the Facebook-like posts with pictures and captions.  But, in theory at least, there is room here for just a bit more.

So, as for those deep and probing posts that are full of wisdom?  Well, right now I'm out of time.  But, perhaps, from time to time, there might be a post or two.  And so, in my optimism, I hang on to this space.

Auntie Leila Comes to Town!

We were completely honored and privileged to have Leila Marie Lawler speak at our local parish last week!  She spoke on this topic, by request, and if I might humbly give my review, I'd say she totally rocked it!  (Of course she did).

I loved the series, Developing the Moral life of your Child, on her blog so much that I asked her to give a talk on that.  However, on her blog, the topic spans into a five part series.  Leave it to me to pick and easy one for Leila to talk about.

But she worked hard, cut out as much as she could, and ended up with a very meaty, very encouraging talk!

Meaty because it began with philosophical definitions and propositions.  Defining beauty, defining "imagination" as the property of the intellect that allows us to believe in things unseen, and therefore the faculty of reason that is necessary for faith.  My ex-PhD-student husband was tickled.  I saw him smiling to himself and nodding.  I was getting very nervous that this talk would get painful and I wouldn't understand it.

But no!  Then came the encouraging part.  The beautiful part.  The part where she said that children learn about morality by simply living with their family.  From the mother's womb, to her breast, to her lap.  From his father's shoulder to running alongside him.  Being told to obey, speak kindly, be nice.  These daily activities teach this child to be a moral human.  After the age of reason, we teach the ten commandments and the Catechism.  But before the age of reason, all of those daily repeated pleadings that exhaust us and threaten to make us crazy, are a sort of "catechesis".  Later, they will be taught of God and His law, the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Church. But first, this work of ours lays a foundation that will make it easy for them to learn and understand the moral law after the age of reason.

I so needed that encouragement.  "No no, that's naughty".  It's high education!  A noble task!  Forming a soul!  I guess we knew that, or we wouldn't do it, but it sure makes me feel a bit more special about what I do alldayeveryday!

So much more was said, but that will be my little recounting.  You can read the series on her blog.  She says it best of course!

And a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this happen!

Monday, June 12, 2017


Happy Birthday, Aragorn!

What do you do when you turn 14, and your birthday falls on the hottest day of the summer yet?

Well, you start with this.  And add these:

Then you create barricades out of everything you can find in the garage...


(don't ask why Gimli is wearing a life preserver...)

 Then, you finish with this:

And you are officially Fourteen!!!

Happy Birthday, Aragorn!!!   We love you!!!