Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The House, the Kids

Things have been busy around here.  Taking care of the kids is taking up a lot of my time...we still haven't quite hit our groove after the newest addition.  And any spare moment I get is spent working on some sort of "project" in our new house, or running out for yet another trip to a "home improvement store" for supplies.  Tom's been pointing out that we keep starting new projects without actually finishing all the "open" ones.  I realized that he's right, because lo and behold, I don't have any completed project pictures to show on here yet!  Soon, hopefully :-)

Here's one sneak peek, though.

 The off-white/green combo is the "before" and the white/teal is the "after"...


I set up a sandbox in the backyard for the kids.  Well technically, I set up the empty box, and my husband handled the sand.  I could not lift those 50 pound bags!  We've been lugging this dang thing from house to house since Sly was a baby - my mom gave it to him as a gift when he was much too young for it.  And then we didn't have a yard for a long time.  It's good to finally get some use out of it. 

The first time the kids played in it was while Tom was watching them on his own.  I went out with friends one evening, and suggested playing in the sandbox as a fun activity for them while I was away.  I got a text from Tom a little later saying, "this sandbox sucks.  There's sand everywhere!!".  Teehee. 

The kids enjoy it, but I'm not sure how long it will last.  We already forgot to put the lid on one day, and now it's filled with pine needles and rain water...


We attended a friend's wedding last weekend.  It was a Ukrainian Catholic wedding, and by far the most beautiful wedding I've ever attended.  And that's including my own, which was the traditional Mass, and also quite beautiful!  The prayers, rituals, and symbolism were so edifying.  During the ceremony, the bride and groom are each crowned by the priest.  As my friend's program explained:

The bride and groom are crowned as "king and queen" of their own home, a new Christian kingdom, which they will guide with wisdom and love as an extension of the Kingdom of God.
The crowns also recall the victorious crown of martyrdom, since every true marriage involves self-sacrifice from each spouse.  The word martyr means 'witness,' and the couple will bear witness to Christ's presence in their lives, which requires both to die to themselves and to give their own lives for the other.

What a powerful symbol!  It definitely inspired me to commit myself more strongly to my own wedding vows.


This little man has been growing like crazy.  He's my biggest baby by far, hitting the 97th percentile for length, and almost as high for weight!  At seven weeks old, he started wearing six-month clothes, and I would not be surprised if he's up to the next size soon. 

It's actually kind of nice, because it means Sly's hand-me-downs might actually be the right sizes for the right seasons now.


And my Stella is turning into quite a troublesome toddler.  Her obsession with toothbrushes (which is really gross, because she carries and uses everyone's toothbrushes all over the house) is finally being re-directed.  But now she's become interested in my makeup.

First she found my eye liner, and decided to put some on herself.  She watches me very intently every time I'm applying makeup - and actually hands me the next item, in the proper order.  I don't usually wear eye liner, but when I was dressing up a bit for the aforementioned evening out, she was watching in fascination as I applied it.  So a little later when she sneaked into my makeup and grabbed my eye liner, she knew exactly what to do with it.  Kind of.

Then I caught her applying some very expensive concealer to one of her dolls.

  I think it's time to move my makeup to a safer place!


By the way, if you're wondering why I'm willing to spend a lot of money on concealer, let me show you this.

This is me at age four (with a terrible haircut, so try not to linger on that).  My eyes already had noticeable dark circles then.  Age and motherhood have not made that problem any better, I assure you.


Yesterday, I was reading through some old e-mails from my mom's sister.  She's the person in the family who is interested in our genealogy, and keeps all the photos and records (every family has one of those, right?).  She had sent a photo of my grandmother as a young woman along with her siblings and parents.  This picture was taken right after they'd received the news that her brother had been killed in the war (WWII).

my grandmother is on the far left

Look how stricken everyone is.  I thought it was fitting that I found this on Memorial Day.  It's so easy to think of it as just a fun day to have a cookout, but sometimes it's good to be reminded of what it's really about.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Lover-ly Motherly Day // Answer Me This

My husband and the kids all worked hard to make yesterday a very special Mothers Day, and I enjoyed many little luxuries.  I would have been happy with just a handmade card by the kids, but I think I got spoiled this year.

In the morning, Tom let me sleep in, and took the older two kids down to the kitchen make me breakfast in bed (I'd said just toast and coffee would be fine).  It was nice to get a little more sleep, though it was interrupted several times by tantrums happening in the kitchen.  First, Sly started bawling because Daddy make the unforgivable mistake of putting the bread into the toaster himself.  Then Stella had a fit because she didn't want to leave her own breakfast for a minute to help bring my food upstairs.

I enjoyed a peaceful - but somewhat lonely, I have to say - breakfast on my own.  Then I was able to get a shower with no kids in the bathroom the whole time!  As I was heading to get dressed, Tom had a present for me: a weather forecast station.  Every morning, I ask him to check his phone's weather app to tell me what the temperature is, so I know how to dress for the day, and I've often said that one feature was the only reason I kinda want a smartphone.  But now I have this little gadget instead, and I think it will be useful.

And then what was perhaps the best gift of all:  As Stella brought me my toothbrush (which she'd just finished brushing her own teeth with.  Ugh.  She has an obsession with toothbrushes right now), I'm pretty sure she said "Mama" for the first time!  Yep, at the ripe old age of 21 months.  She already graduated from the babyish "Dada" to calling Tom "Daddy" months and months ago.  She also says the names of both her brothers, three of her grandparents, at least one uncle, and various animals.  But not "Mommy"!!  Perhaps I was just hearing what I wanted to hear at that moment...but it still made my day.

At Mass, there were carnations for mothers.  As we were leaving, I saw there were a lot left, so I grabbed two more.  I figure I'm entitled to one for each child, right? :-)

We had been toying with the idea of going on a picnic for lunch, as we've done in past years.  But by the time we got home from Mass, it was just too late to throw that together.  We needed to take our family photo and put people down for naps instead.

squinting from the sun
I ended up with a rare opportunity to go alone - well, Linus came too, but he's still no trouble, so he barely counts - to JoAnn Fabrics to hunt for the perfect fabric for Sly's future curtains...unfortunately, with no luck.  It was still so nice to be able to leisurely browse the store without all the kids along.

Wanting to give me the day off cooking, Tom decided we should walk down to a little local restaurant in our new neighborhood for dinner.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a tasty burger-and-beer joint, which is probably my favorite sort of restaurant anyways.

Stella's is the grease-stained card....she was eating buttered toast!

And when we got home, there were more presents.  First two sweet homemade cards from the kids.  In Sly's, he wrote out all the letters of "Mommy" and "Sly" by himself.  Not exactly in the right order, but by himself, which was pretty exciting.  I also got some very pretty jewelry (which Tom swears he bought on clearance right after Christmas, and says not to worry about the cost) and a handy stay-cool towel thingy.  I suppose to help me get through another non-air-conditioned summer.  We'd seen one of these years ago, and been impressed with how cold it stays.  Now I'm just wishing I'd had it during my latest birth - it would have been soooo nice.  So take note, any women who are expecting babies!

It strikes me as a little funny that some of the ways my family celebrated "mothers day" were by letting me take a break from my usual motherhood duties (such as cooking meals or...putting up with kids breaking into the peace of my morning shower!).  But sometimes those little breaks can be so nice, and - more quickly than you'd ever expect - make you miss being surrounded by your demanding yet sweet little people.


Joining this week's Answer Me This

What's for dinner?
Chicken pot pie, kindly brought to me by one of my friends in my Catholic moms group.

What's the last thing you borrowed from someone?
The Story of a Family about the childhood home of St. Therese.  I enjoyed it, because I always love to learn more about this wonderful Saint.  But I feel that it could be improved by a better translation from the French.  Some parts read a little awkwardly.  And the author assumes a Frenchman's knowledge of the country and customs, which I do not have.

What is your favorite prayer?
The Divine Praises are an awesome prayer for reparation of blasphemy.  I especially love the last line: "May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time."

What is the oldest thing in your house?
I had to consult with Tom on this, but didn't get a very satisfying answer.  We have a handful of books from the 1800s...but I'm not sure of the exact dates.

What's the best concert you ever attended?
This is a tough one!  I haven't been to a concert in a while, but P.C. (pre-children), I went to some good ones.

Andrew Bird is one of the greatest live performers ever.  I've seen him four times.  He's almost a one-man show.  He plays guitar and violin, sings and whistles.  He uses a loop station to accompany himself and create these incredible layers of sound.  The first time I went to one of his shows, he was just in a tiny venue (actually, the very lecture hall in which I was taking an architecture course at my college), and was up on the stage packing up his stuff afterwards.  I wanted to go talk to him, but chickened out.  When he came back to Pittsburgh that summer, I went to the show, and swore to myself that I would talk to him afterwards.  And I did!
I'm making him uncomfortable

Other close contenders are The Decemberists (the Hazards of Love tour) and The Moody Blues (who I never expected to get to see live, since they haven't really been popular since about 1969).

Do you have a nickname?
My immediate family calls me Chris (which I hate when anyone else says it, but they get a pass), and my extended family calls me Chrissy.  Everyone else calls me Christine (or Mommy).

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our Mothers Day Tradition

Mothers Day (or is it Mothers' Day?) is coming up this Sunday, so I thought I'd share one of the ways our family observes it each year.

When Sly was a baby, Tom told me about a nice tradition from his family.  His paternal grandparents had fourteen children (!).  Every year, the family all gathered out on the front porch, and had a photo taken.  Tom remembers visiting his grandparents' home as a young child, and seeing years' worth of those yearly family photos, all framed and lined up on the wall chronologically.  He talked about how neat it was to see the family grow and change each year.  We immediately decided that we should start up the same tradition ourselves.

We put our camera on the tripod, set the timer, and snapped our first photo right then.


We realized that we'd have a better chance of remembering to take the picture each year if we associated it with a specific date.  Since Mother's Day had occurred a few days earlier, that became our official family photo day.


(These might look familiar to the five or so people who have been following this little blog since its inception, since these are all my past header images.)

I love that we're taking these pictures each year.  And I think there's something appealing to the "homemade" aspect of them - we don't have to worry about dressing up or hiring a professional photographer each year.  We just set up the tripod and go - come-as-you-are.  And having my family indulge me once a year and sit down for this photo (okay, I won't lie, we take about ten shots, and I choose the one I like best!) is truly one of the greatest Mothers Day gifts I can think of.

My only wish is that we had thought to start it our first year together, when it was just Tom and I.  That would really kick off the photo series well.  I may just print out a wedding photo in the same size, and add it at the beginning of the line. 

I'm so excited to see how this year's picture turns out.  We'll have a new front porch and a new addition to the family!  If anyone likes this idea, feel free to steal it and start the tradition in your own families.  It's never too late!  And I'd love to see how your picture turns out :-)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Answer Me This #1

I can't believe I haven't participated in any of Kendra's "Answer me This" posts yet!  Check them out at her blog.

Are you becoming your mother?
I don't think so really.  I was probably more like her when I still lived at home, because we shared various interests and past-times.  The one area I've definitely noticed myself becoming like her, though, isn't a good one: I totally hear my mom in my voice every time I get overwhelmed and yell at the kids.  But I still love my mom, so hopefully my own kids won't hold it against me too much!

Coffee or tea?
Definitely coffee.  It took until I was  eighteen to develop a taste for it, but it's just so much richer and more powerful (caffeine-wise) than tea. And I need that most days!  I do have to put cream and sugar in it, though.

While we're on the subject, though, I need to point out a pet peeve of mine.  I do drink the occasional cup of tea, but I like *real tea*.  You know, black tea.  Made with tea leaves.  And caffeine.  In the past few years, anytime a friend offers me a cup of tea and pulls out their extensive collection of tea choices, I almost never find black tea.  It's all green or other herbal varieties.  And most friends who come to my house are very disappointed when all I have to offer are various flavors and varieties of black tea.  I guess I should go pick up some herbal teas for guests, but I keep forgetting to do it.

What foreign country would you like to visit?
France, because I took French in high school and sorta remember some of the language, so I'd be able to get by a little better than in other non-English-speaking countries.  Also, in my study of the language, we learned a lot about the culture and history of the country, and I'd love to experience some of it in person.

Do you cry easily?
Umm...it depends on the time of the month ;-)

At times when I'm already stressed, I sometimes cry fairly easily when something else doesn't go my way.  I don't tend to be a sappy person - sad movies or stories don't usually produce tears.  But if I'm pregnant, I start crying over all sorts of ridiculous - not even sad at all - things.

Or anytime my kids ask me to read one of these books.

How often do you wear heels?
Pretty much never, to my husband's great disappointment. 

Since about eighth grade, I've had a hate-hate relationship with shoes.  Because that's the age when my feet reached their current size: 11.  It is very difficult to find shoes that big.  And when you do, they're either way too expensive, or look like clown shoes.  So I don't really have pretty shoes, just practical ones - ones purchased out of desperation, because they were the only pair at the store that fit me and were the right color.

Also, high heels just hurt so bad.  I'm tall enough already.  It's not worth it.

Do you play an instrument?
Not really.  I took lessons in piano and flute for four years each when I was younger.  But I'm no good at either of them.  Hopefully, our kids will go further in music than I did.