a children's halloween

decorating done by my children

decorating done by my children

costumes sewn by elisabeth!

costumes sewn by elisabeth!

elisabeth's pumpkin

elisabeth's pumpkin

As you can gather by the captions, my children really took charge of Halloween this year. I had a lot going on with work deadlines and bronchitis-that-may-or-may-not-have-been-pneumonia (according to my doctor, so we treated it like pneumonia just in case, I never got a chest x-ray to confirm), so we decided early in October that Elisabeth would sew the costumes (she wanted to, anyway). She is awesome at sewing and did an incredible job! My sewing machine broke on her mid-way through and needed to go into the shop (it was overdue for a service, anyway), so we had to borrow my sister-in-law's VERY different machine to finish up, and she did a great job adjusting to the unfamiliar equipment!

I was excited that my crew agreed on theme costumes again this year (last year was a Halloween-Christmas mashup that I never posted about here), and Peter Pan is an especially fun theme. Of course people are always confused about one member of the group, so this year, no one seemed to realize that Elisabeth was Wendy Darling. 

I took more photos but this is all I had the patience to edit online (still waiting to repair our iMac with all my actual photo software on it). I am so proud of Elisabeth's work on these costumes, and her patience both with the process and with hovering (and occasionally nagging) younger siblings. 

I was also excited that these costumes turned out to be very affordable! We used lots of coupons and sale fabrics, and we already had all the notions, thread, elastic, etc., that we needed on hand. 

Patterns used were McCall's 3051 for Wendy, Simplicity 7784 for Peter Pan, Simplicity 2872 for Tinker Bell (I really liked this pattern's take on the fairy costumes—rather than a literal translation of the Tinker Bell look, it loosely applies it to cute dresses, which really expresses my costuming "philosophy", if I have one, that costumes should give the impression of something more than look like a literal copy of it), and Simplicity 9844 for Captain Hook, which you can see looks about 1,000 times better when made than it does on the pattern envelope. It is so cute and John is my only extroverted child, so he was quite into the entire process of dressing up and parading around the neighborhood. He got tons of attention and soaked it up! We couldn't find the old pirate hook we had from Nova Natural many years ago, so we ended up having to pick up a plastic one at the last minute. 

Anyway, altogether we had a great Halloween with much merriment, and I was so happy that my children took a lead role in decorating, costuming, and pumpkin carving this year. As bittersweet as the whole growing up thing is, it is a joy to see the traditions we have set up really being owned by them as they get older. 

Happy Halloween!

Winner of Mornings with Saint Thérèse

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Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I also wanted to wish my Catholic readers a blessed feast of Our Lady of the Rosary today! Our Lady fights our battles for us! This feast day is like a huge BAM! 💥👊🏼

The winner is first commenter, Katie Andrews. Please contact me via my contact page, Katie, and I will send your book out early next week. 

My goal is to start posting to the ol' blog here with more frequency, maybe once a week to begin with. Wouldn't that be fun? Let's hope I can stick with this goal! It's hard to think of things to post after such a long break, but I intend to give it a try. See you soon!

Mornings with Saint Thérèse

St. Thérèse is very dear to me. Over the last several years in particular, she has become a very real friend to me during both turbulent times and ordinary days. I think that many Catholics have a favorite Thérèse story. Mine was last year, during a time that I was faced with a fairly scary situation, I told Thérèse that if she were to send me a rose, she needed to make it obvious because I'm too dense to catch it otherwise. The next morning, we accepted a spontaneous invitation to the zoo with some friends. We turned a corner at the zoo, and there was an enormous (like 16 feet high) rose made of Legos! I had to laugh because in that moment, I really knew Thérèse had my back. She was by my side. The communion of saints felt very concrete to me that day.

By a happy turn of events, I recently found myself in possession of an extra copy of this beautiful book, Mornings with Saint Thérèse, and I would like to give one away. Please leave a comment below and I will select a winner on Friday, October 7. And thank you for popping in to my much-neglected little space here! ♥

hello? is this thing on?

Not quite six months since I last logged in here.  I wasn't sure if I would come back, or what. I won't make apologies or explanations, or excuses. As has been said in countless places, blogging is kind of a dying phenomenon, although I still think there is so much that is valuable to be found and said in this medium. I was scrolling through my archives today and found I missed it, at least a little. At least enough to pop back in. I am pretty sure no one is reading at this point, and that's ok. 

My husband is working again, full-time, as a teacher. It was a rather circuitous route for him to find his way back into teaching after two years, but he is teaching general music and choir in a Catholic grade school and it's really wonderful in so many ways. Finances are still quite rough as he makes approximately half of what he would in a public school (which would still not be a lot of money by today's standards). As I'm typing this, I'm remembering the first time I ever wrote about his job woes on my blog; it was my blog's previous incarnation and it was in April of 2007. It seems that job stability is just not part of the game for this guy of mine. But I love him and we work it out somehow. 

These two years have been so very hard. I'm not sure I have the words to describe what it's been like. There has been so much ordinary goodness and just living life in there, that it's very hard to explain the feeling of loss and grief and dread that was always in the back of my mind, just all the time. And how even now, it's hard to recover. It feels like trying to jump onto something that's already moving. Disorienting and weird and scary. Closing the door on two years of unemployment, fear, and depression is very hard. One year ago was probably the lowest time for me; I really thought we were about to be homeless. And it's hard to process the fact that now we're not, and it's only a year on, and will the rug be yanked out from under us again? And do we deserve this period of relative peace? Hard stuff, even harder to find the words.

I'm trying to put some of this down, though, because it explains a little of where my head has been. Having four children has been a great gift during this time, because I was able to focus on them and their world. Keeping things stable for them was my full-time existence. I did not feel like making or doing other things. I have yarn here for sweaters for all four of my children, for a sweater for me, a granny square blanket barely begun. When I was in the hospital with baby John after my c-section and during his unexpected long NICU stay, my sister told my mom to find my knitting and bring it to me. But I found I couldn't knit. I couldn't make myself pick it up. It might have been good for me to do it. I know it's meditative and calming and overall a healthy thing to do. But that time in the hospital when I couldn't knit was the beginning of two years of not wanting to pick up any projects. I did knit a few stitches here and there; I completed one baby sweater for John, a couple of gifts for a new nephew and one or two friends' babies. But mostly, I had too much to process for even knitting to help. 

Today I wound a skein of the yarn I have had set aside for a sweater for myself. John, who at nearly two-and-a-half is not really "BabyJohn" anymore, but instead a delightful curly-haired imp of a toddler, squealed with glee as the swift spun jauntily on the table. I realized that he has never seen me wind yarn before. In his two short years of life, he has had a very different mama than the one his older siblings have known. It was surprising to me. Not sad, just surprising. 

Anyway, I don't know if I will get this sweater knit with any speed. I am not sure I'll even cast it on for another month or two. But I'm reminded of things that have mattered to me in the past, and things that matter to me still, if I listen quietly to my heart. Creating beautiful things is an important part of me. Maybe a part that's been resting quietly while the rest of me has been doing battle. But it's in there still. 

 

Two years old!

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Newborn

Newborn

First birthday

First birthday

Sun suit that deserves its own post

Sun suit that deserves its own post

Out for ice cream last night

Out for ice cream last night

Birthday traditions first thing this morning: birthday ring and presents!

Birthday traditions first thing this morning: birthday ring and presents!

This afternoon, pre-cake.  

This afternoon, pre-cake.  

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Dairy Queen ice cream cake because he has a summer birthday! 

Dairy Queen ice cream cake because he has a summer birthday! 

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Today this adorably funny toddler is two years old! How can that even be?! He is the happiest, most expressive (oh, the faces he makes!), silliest, toddleriest  toddler we've ever had. I'm in love with his curly hair and rosy round cheeks and the mischievous glint in his eyes. He has our hearts, this "Big Buddy" of ours, so beloved by all of us.

He loves to give kisses, and then applaud right after. He loves to makes hilarious growling and roaring sounds. He loves vehicles of every kind, so very much. He loves to put on and take off shoes, especially shoes that are several (many) sizes too big. He loves to eat good food—lots of it. He loves to play vacuum (really loves it). He loves animals and delights in holding Alice (our kitten).

He often shows me what he would like me to do by moving my hands the way he wants them to go. He is playful and busy and so very good-natured. Although he can still cry louder than any baby I've had, he is almost always happy, which is a gift. (Until he isn't, and then watch out!) He is often singing to himself and he's a delighted side-kick to his older siblings, most especially that teenage sister of his (who sometimes uses him as an ice breaker with other girls her age who like to coo and fawn over him and his smiling eyes and curly hair).

His world is one of delight, and he has brought so much of it to our world, too. I praise God for him every day! 

We still call him "Babyjohn" although he's really more and more  "BIG John"  every day. 

Happy birthday, beautiful John Peter. We love you so—and more each day.  

xoxo, Mama 

Goings on

It has been such a long time since I've checked in here—I never mean for it to be, but there it is.

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Long course swim season is underway, and with it lots of extra practices each week for my girl who now swims with her team's senior group. 

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We have a new kitten in the house. Her name is Alice and she was a craigslist find in response to some very persistent pleading on the part of a certain 6-year-old little lady who felt left out on the pet front, as the dog is sort of Elisabeth's pet and our other kitty prefers to snuggle with James. At a certain point, it's impossible to remain unmoved by such earnest pleas, so we ultimately relented. Cats are pretty low maintenance... Fiona chose her name and I must say I was quite impressed. Although my children tend to be pretty good namers—whether of animals or dolls. Our dog was named Daisy by Elisabeth, and our family's most beloved dolls are named Claire, Peter, Charlotte, Josephine, Janie, and Anna. So I'd say we are pretty good namers around here!

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Not too much else is going on...about three weeks ago, a gust of wind caused a door handle to hit the back of my hand and hurt it terribly. It is still bothering me quite a bit so I may end up having to give in and have it checked out. As such, any type of handwork has not really been happening—I haven't picked up my cross stitch since it happened. Fortunately I'd finished a good amount of it before that . On the other "hand", I have been sewing a little bit, mainly cloth diapers to replenish our stash of worn-out diapers from the older children.  

I hope you are all doing well! Leave a comment to let me know if anything new or exciting is going on with you!  I would love to be able to keep you in my prayers.