Sunday, December 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, John: Double Digits!

Happy tenth birthday to John Francis!

Our son is growing to be a wonderful young man. He is an honest person, a friendly goofball, and a peacemaker soul. John likes serving at the altar (which he does between one and three times weekly), playing sports with his friends, wrestling with his brother, Scottish dancing, and playing Legos, and his favorite subjects are history and science. He is an early bird like his mama, so many a dark mornings we spend talking about some of John's current favorite subjects, such as cars, Airsoft guns, and his ideas for inventions.

Opening gifts in the morning before breakfast

It is a milestone for child and parents to have one's firstborn reach the ten years mark. I am realizing that all these long years, these many days that felt (feel) like they'll never end and for which I don't have the energy to get through, are really just flying by and--poof!--they're gone. It didn't occur to me last year when John turned nine that (theoretically) half our time with him at home was by then gone, but that truth is causing somber meditation for me this year.




Breakfast menu: French toast, sausage, eggs, strawberries
One of the gifts John received was a five booklet instruction course in Spencerian handwriting, so we got out our fountain pens and gave it a try (making photocopies of the practice sheets). It was quite meditative and I was amazed to watch all four children (down to the three year old) silently writing letters for many minutes on end.




Adding the final touches to the homemade rolls

Dinner menu: Italian sausage, fettuccine and homemade Alfredo sauce, sauteed mushrooms, green salad, homemade whole wheat bread rolls

John requested a homemade Oreo cheesecake for dessert, so I read up all about the techniques to make a cheesecake: it's no simple process! I warmed the cream cheese, whipped the batter at length, used my spring-form pan, cooked with a water bath, cooled the cake in the warm oven, and moved it to the refrigerator overnight. The cheesecake was a big success!


Ten years old!


I offer a retrospective of many fond memories covering our first decade of parenting and John's first decade of life!































Friday, December 2, 2016

7 Quick Takes Friday: Advent Begins

1. Advent


This week Advent began, and you can check out my list of goals, which I had hoped were simple enough for even me to achieve this year (click here).

However, the first week reveals that I still over-plan things. My abilities remain much lower than I would think.

We have had all these unusual happenings right after dinner, so I think we've lit our Advent wreath and sang once or twice after dinner, that's it. We did start our at-home retreat using "My Path to Heaven," and I'm really enjoying that. It's possible I'm the only one who is aware that she has given something up for Advent, although in my case it affects everyone else majorly: I am drastically cutting back on using the television as a babysitter, including when I exercise: an entire day might go by without my allowing the TV on once. The kids are all going through withdrawal and I'm telling them to unite their sufferings to our daily Advent prayer intention.

2. Random Cute Moments


Thomas (16 months) has begun waddling around with the Strider
Thomas carries a stool or pushes a chair most everywhere he goes because where he ultimately wants to go is UP. One afternoon, the kids were playing outside and Thomas yearned with all his being to play with his two big brothers on the front porch, so he pushed the stool over and began rattling at the door handle.


I moved the keyboard into the Bonus Room, where it now provides much entertainment to Thomas while I'm teaching Kindergarten a few feet away.


One night, Margaret (5) was throwing a tantrum while I was tucking in the two littlest boys: She quieted and I wondered what had happened. After I emerged from the bedrooms, I sought her out and found her . . . fast asleep on the floor of the dining room!



I love checking in on my almost four-year-old Big Boy when he is sleeping. This night he was clutching his bean bag football in one hand, his flashlight in the other hand, with beloved Raggedy Andy next to him: three symbols of this age when a boy is moving from babyish toddlerhood to the realm of Big Boy.



3. Imagination


The making of this farm and playing with the animals absorbed our eight-year-old for an entire week. It was delightful! Who needs whiz bang, noisy electronic toys?

Barn adjacent to a meadow and lake

Max the dog eating his dog food

Sheep at the lake

Two stalls in the barn, a clock, and an unconventional fireplace in the barn

The straw where the lambs lay down


4. Scholastic Scenes


We got back to the books after a refreshing week off of academic work: we were busy with the school of life, learning how to cook and host Thanksgiving!

Pushing a rolling chair around, then ascending it to pull stuff off high shelves

With the chilled weather comes a lot of drinking tea and eating homemade muffins while we read our many living history books aloud. This month: The American Revolution!




Bonus Reading: "Homeschooling with Toddlers: Tips from a Mom of 15"


5. Family Books of the Week (in progress or completed)


6.  Tour of Government Center

Click here to read about our tour of "City Hall."






7. Meals

I've been taking more care with my coffee ritual lately, using the French press this week instead of the quickie Keurig. It's lovely.
French press coffee by candlelight

Other than that, it seems I used up all my cooking prowess last week during Thanksgiving. This week was a mess!
  • Saturday
    • Thanksgiving leftovers
  • Sunday
    • Hot dogs over the open fire for the kids, random food for me, and Thanksgiving leftovers for Chris.




  • Monday
    • There were numerous meltdowns during the day . . . errors were made . . . so we found ourselves at dinner time with nothing cooked and a Falling-Apart Mama. The kids ended up being served hot dogs (again), while Chris took pity on us adults and got take-out (even though Mama said she'd be happy eating crackers and peanut butter).
  • Tuesday
    • Trader Joe's pollo asado, taco night
  • Wednesday
    • Leftover pollo asado and I totally forget what else
  • Thursday
    • Seriously, more leftover pollo asado, pasta, grilled sandwiches, whatever . . .
  • Friday
    • My meal plan for our Kids Cook Real Food class #4 got pumped at the last minute because it turns out Chris and John will be eating dinner at a father-son dodgeball event, so the rest of us will be eating random things out of the pantry.

For some weeks now, the 16-month-old Thomas will only eat with a fork or spoon. If I cause offense by putting bits of food on his booster chair tray, he screams while pointing at my fork on the table until I acknowledge my error and hand him flatware. He's no uncivilized savage.


One morning, I asked him, "Do you want to eat? Do you want yum?" He answered, "Yum!" and toddled to the table. I lifted him into his booster seat, to which I would then affix the tray, and he kept stiffening his legs and fighting me. I'd relax my hold and he'd climb into his brother's identical booster seat that doesn't take a tray and is located at the kitchen table. I put him back to his seat twice more, and he climbed into his brother's booster twice more before I just let him sit in it to see what he would do.


I put his bowl of cereal on the table with his spoon, and Thomas ate there, just like a Big Boy--so proud!

Proud of himself


For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum. (Read it! She's bringing home orphans this week!!!)