Friday, February 27, 2009

Gratitude: Welcome, Baby!

Praise God! After a loooooong labor, another beautiful baby joined us in the outside world tonight.

It was my turn as labor coach, but as I waited for the final delivery, I reflected on all the others who helped with this accomplishment in just the past two days:
  • the 16 year old who supervised four siblings ALL DAY LONG (from 4 a.m.), plus some cousins later
  • the children who cooperated with each other
  • the sister-in-law who volunteered to supervise a household cleanup AND made dinner, partly for my sake, and partly to give David a break
  • the friends who took up the slack, driving children to dance class, Mass, and violin rehearsal, all in response to last minute requests.
This is the body of Christ, working together for good. Thank you!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Small Successes Volume 6


"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we’ll do exactly that."

This has been going on at Faith and Family Live for 6 weeks now. The idea is to encourage each other (and ourselves) by listing 3 things we've gotten right, no matter how small they may look. This has been a good exercise for me. When I first started seeing these small successes on other blogs, I thought I'd never be able to participate. It was too hard to do it on time, and too hard to think of 3 things. I'm still struggling to find the 3rd item to list, but I'm getting better at noticing some of these victories.

Go to today's post for links to more encouraging words. Meanwhile, here are mine:

  1. I finally cooked the duck I bought (on sale, of course!) in December...2006! There's not a lot of meat on a 5 pound duck, but it was tasty.
  2. On Sunday night I filled out the homeschool planner/checklists for the whole week. We haven't followed it exactly, but everything goes so much more smoothly when we're not winging it every day.
  3. I moved the van out of the garage before Tuesday's planned power outage. I know there is some sort of manual release, but it was nice to not have to deal with figuring it out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

From today's first reading: "Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God." (Joel 2:12-13a)

Giving things up for Lent is a good thing, but the point is to offer our attachments to God, to turn to Him. He wants the love that motivates the sacrifice. I'm not saying anything new, but it's a good reminder for ME!

Have a blessed Lent.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Small Successes Volume 5


This isn't really my 5th Small Successes post--you haven't missed anything here! Over at Faith and Family Live, this has been happening for awhile, and I'm finally jumping in today.

"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we’ll do exactly that." The idea is to encourage each other (and ourselves) by listing 3 things we've gotten right, no matter how small they may look.

Go to today's post for links to more encouraging words. Meanwhile, here are mine:

  1. I cleaned my bathroom sink and mirror for the second time in two weeks rather than waiting until I just couldn't stand it anymore. Usually I have a much longer interval between cleanings; the contrast between before and after pictures would be stunning.
  2. I asked God to free me from a disordered attachment to food (I've never really wanted to be detached before), and was able to allow myself to be hungry multiple times this week.
  3. I turned my whole body away from the computer this morning to listen to one of my children. Yes, I admit that's noteworthy.
How about you?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What is Materialism?

I tend to congratulate myself for not being materialistic because Len and I don't buy as much "stuff" as many of the people around us--you know, here in one of the richest counties in one of the richest countries in the world. Maybe I'm setting that bar a bit low.

Read Rebecca Teti's words from the latest issue of Faith and Family magazine:

"It's the use to which we put what we have--and how attached our hearts are to it--that makes a thing good or believing or behaving as if the material world is all there is."

(Paraphrasing and reflecting now) What is more important to me: a tidy house, full belly, and efficient schedule, or prayer, mass, and my relationship with God? If the world that lasts longest is the REAL one, then the spiritual realm has this easy-to-see-and-touch one beat, hands down. This material world is full of good and beautiful things, but it's not meant to be my first priority.

Lesson learned? Maybe. At least I've got Lent to work on it...

So Glad I Could Be of Service

Becca (on why she is joining us AGAIN in the middle of the night): "I don't have bad dreams in your bed."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coming Soon: Lent

Ash Wednesday is on Daniel's birthday again this year, which means my mom "celebrates" hers on Good Friday. Aren't they a fun pair?

Anyway, I'm hoping to get our Lent off to a good start. We'll continue many of our long-standing traditions: purple ribbons, wreath, crown of thorns, etc. You can read about these here.

If you haven't tried one yet, consider having a seder dinner for Passover this year. We usually have ours close to Holy Week, but not on Holy Thursday, because it's too hard to fit mass in otherwise. Read about our seders here and here.

This year I'm hoping to incorporate two new (for us) activities. I'm ordering a kit to make a Jesus tree (like a Jesse tree) banner that we can use and add to all season. The homeschoolers and I will also make an Easter Vigil notebook.

I love the Easter Vigil, but it can be too long for children. Last year I only took volunteers: Daniel served, and Joseph and Marianna joined me in the pews. We had a wonderful time (and went with the whole family again Easter morning), but I'd like us all to be more prepared. There's SO MUCH going on. I didn't see the notebook post (above) until just a few days before, so I made a note to myself to try it "next year". Now next year is here, and it's time for follow-through. We'll see!

What are you doing for Lent?

Monday, February 16, 2009


Marianna's week of summer camp set her on fire for Irish dancing. We were able to get her registered with a school just 3 minutes from home (yay!), and she's been enjoying it since the fall.

Yesterday Marianna participated in her school's feis (pronounced "fesh" I think), a sort of dance tournament. Even with over 200 participants, it was run efficiently and on time (yay again!).

Surprisingly, my outgoing girl became a bundle of nerves. She was, though, able to calm down, dance, and have fun. I'm so proud of her!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Earth's Orbit

As Earth orbits the sun, its position in the sky changes because our planet's axis is tilted.

Ho-hum, you say? Jennifer at Conversion Diary has some pictures on her blog of sunrise at an airport. They're taken at the summer and winter solstices (longest day, longest night), and the autumnal equinox (equal day and night). Scroll down to #6 on her "Quick Takes" list.

Is that not TOO COOL?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two-Week Checkup

Can it be two weeks already?

Becca had her orthopedic recheck today. I'm told the x-ray looked good. In fact, the cast is scheduled to be removed in two more weeks instead of three. Hurrah!

Meanwhile, here's a bit of the hobbler doing her thing. She started walking on day 8 and just keeps getting more active.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Thought

Think often of the Lord for He will enable you to bear your troubles patiently.

St. Francis de Sales

Thanks to Margaret for mentioning this website, although I'm going to the quote-of-the-day page rather than the daily piece-of-a-spiritual-retreat page (meatier, but probably harder to remember while life is underway).

Who Would Have Guessed?

He's blogging now!

I Lift Up My Eyes
Veterinary Tails

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Art co-op: fun, done
Soup night: fun, done
Homeschooling: some fun, some just done


A Perfect Storm

From Wikipedia: The phrase perfect storm . . . refers to the simultaneous occurrence of weather events which, taken individually, would be far less powerful than the storm resulting [from] their chance combination . . . the phrase has . . . grown to mean any event where a combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically.

Today's version? I'm teaching the art co-op (not ready), hosting soup night (not even started), and homeschooling (hahaha...).

The good news? I have not yet started to panic. Maybe around noon...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Life in the Little Wheeled Chair

Rebecca's had much more screen time than usual lately! We recently discovered JigZone, which at least keeps her brain from turning to mush.

JigZone has galleries of pictures that can be cut into 6-247 pieces. The pieces come in all kinds of shapes, too: classic, wavy, polygons, etc. Becca usually works the 20-22 variations. It takes a lot of skill because the pieces must be dragged very close to each other before they'll join.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Challenge

"We can do no great things; only small things with great love."
--Mother Teresa

Not loving so well these days...

Art Co-op

The art co-op for the older children meets at my house. I'm usually either staying out of the way or helping out, and so don't get around to taking pictures. I couldn't resist these fish stabiles, though.Another mom taught the day's lesson on Alexander Calder. I sat on the fringes and learned a bit myself.

We saw some of Calder's work during our December tour of the National Gallery of Art. His huge mobile ("Untitled") was designed for the building, and can be seen drifting from several levels.Calder made many mobiles (he originated them!) and "stabiles"--sculptures that move but are grounded.Most of his work is playful. Animals are frequent subjects.The goldfish bowl is made of wire.The project of the day showcased much of Calder's style. The students cut and painted animals (mostly fish), then shaped and attached the wire. It's not always easy to keep ten homeschoolers on task (especially if they enjoy each others company!), but it happened this week. One of the best things about the day? I didn't have to do much more than clear the table and pour some water. Co-ops are grand!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Will You Please Just Listen to Yourself?

"But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Barack Obama
February 5, 2009
National Prayer Breakfast

Life in the Big Chair

How to occupy an hour?
Try two dolls, a stuffed dog, and bins of handmade doll clothes. Notice the sleeping cat sharing her space?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bat Moms

Infant bats in colonies stay in the nursery--hundreds and sometimes millions! Their moms visit several times a day to nurse, coo, groom, etc. They don't care for random babies; they find their own by smell and sound.

Our science book suggested a project to demonstrate how amazing this is. I don't do nearly enough projects, but managed to pull it together today. I gathered multiple scents, and deposited them on cotton balls.
We took turns getting blindfolded and taking a whiff of our own "babies". That scented ball was put back on the plate, and the "mom" had to try to find the particular scent in the crowd.I thought it would be too easy because the scents were so strong and distinctive (maple flavoring, nail polish remover, fabric softener, etc.). As it turned out, the cacophany of strong scents overwhelmed us--no one was able to find the right one. Score one more for the instincts of God's creatures!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Welcome, Baby!

I'm an aunt again! My little sister (and goddaughter) had a baby boy this evening. Seven pounds, one ounce, and doing well. A wonderful answer to many prayers...

Physical Therapy

Becca's getting more and more active. She throws the ball, stands occasionally, scoots herself on and off the chair, and can pull herself around on the floor or bed. She's not doing much of any of these things yet, but it's heartening to know she CAN.

There's also a video of her doing leg lifts (!), but her skirt goes too high for publication. :-)

I'm sorry this is so dark.

A Big Cast for a Little Girl

In case you're wondering:
  • No, I didn't get to sleep before mass yesterday, but I wholeheartedly enjoyed my post-breakfast nap, thank you very much.
  • Our family is usually so healthy that we don't finish up medicines. Becca's original dose of Benadryl didn't touch her itchiness, perhaps because it expired 15 months ago. (Yes, Lauren, I hear you laughing as you shake your head.) Our new bottle seems to be more effective (duh)...
  • Len fashioned a rounded scratcher (for adult use only) that Rebecca considers helpful at times, even though it barely goes to her knee. It's so non-damaging/scratcy (to skin and cast) that I think it is just a placebo, but hey, if it works...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Itchy, Itchy, Itchy!

This is more and more frequently becoming Becca's frenzied cry. The doctors' office suggested blowing on (in?) the cast with a cool hair dryer. This has provided some short-term (mostly placebo, I think) relief, but the itchy episodes are getting more frequent and less fixable.

I feel sorry for the poor girl, but dealing with the frenzy is trying for us (okay, me), too. After a lot of fussing tonight (2 a.m.), Len suggested Benadryl. Becca fell back to sleep while I was pouring a dose, so I spent half an hour online looking for solutions.

Apparently the itching is caused mostly by dirt and moisture in the cast, and/or by dead skin. We grow new skin all the time, and the old cells are rubbed off by our clothing, sheets, etc. during daily living. A cast prevents this, leading to itching as the dead cells build up. Or something like that.

So far I've seen four ideas:
  1. medication (like Benadryl), which I'd rather not use long-term
  2. "safe" devices to insert into the cast for scratching
  3. an aerosol spray, which dries the inside (with alcohol) and soothes (with talc)
  4. a device that wraps around the cast and is attached to a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum pulls air out of the breathable cast, bringing fresh air in to dry out (and cool) the inside
Hopefully there will be a "help line" available at the ortho's office to offer advice in the morning. We've got to try something new. I know we can't live with 5 weeks like these past three days...

In related news, Becca still doesn't want to bear weight on her cast, which is fine. She started doing leg lifts yesterday afternoon, and in the evening was pulling herself along the floor and throwing a toy for Dusty. The itching is awful, but the stability of the cast has relieved all her fracture pain. Yay!

The cast is from her ankle to most of the way up her thigh. I'll post a picture soon.

Related whining: After seemingly endless fussing followed by Rebecca falling asleep, I spent half an hour online, then 50 minutes lying awake in bed. Now I'm out of bed again wondering when I'll be relaxed enough to sleep myself (it's 4:38 now). And the boys are serving at 7:30 a.m. mass...