Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Birthday girl

We had so much fun celebrating little Meggie's birthday yesterday. And thank you all so much for the kind comments you left for her! I pretty much followed her around with the camera all day long, but wouldn't you know that I didn't even think to get pictures of the activities in which I was a participant? As such, I have no photographic evidence of the cuteness of her helping to make chocolate candy teddy bears, or of her "helping" to frost her cake. (This entailed large amounts of icing being consumed by all of my children, sometimes squirt directly into their mouths from the bag I was using to decorate the cake. Too, too cute!)

At any rate, here are some of my favorites:

Sweet Sisters

Dylan reading Baby Bear's Surprise, a tradition for every birthday child.

Taking baby shopping with a brand new grocery cart


Playing with Charlie, my brother's new puppy. Isn't he just the cutest?!

And in other wonderful and exciting news, my mom is home! We hadn't seen her since June, so we are all just thrilled that she'll be in town until after Christmas. She spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening at our house, and she offered to babysit for us tomorrow so that Darren and I can celebrate our anniversary! We'll probably use the opportunity to finish up our Christmas shopping, but I think that even that can be wonderfully romantic. Time alone with my hubby, no matter how we choose to spend it, is always a perfect gift!

AND, perhaps the most thrilling thing about yesterday! I had been feeling for the past week or so some vague fluttery sensations that I knew must be the baby moving, but nothing very distinct. Last night, though, after I got into bed, I spread my open hands against the growing swell of my lower belly and immediately felt several definite thumps...little punches or kicks! The absolute wonder of it nearly took my breath away. I couldn't stop grinning! I almost can't wait to go to bed tonight to see if it happens again. :)

Mr. Humbug

I've been noticing over the past few weeks a hysterical number of elves emerging throughout the blogosphere. (I think Michelle's gang was the first, but I could be wrong.) They crack me up, and I kept meaning to "elf" my own kids because I knew they'd find it hilarious, too. This morning I finally had the opportunity to try it out (largely because I was caught in the act of viewing another new set, and there was no way we weren't going to do it once my kids saw the supreme silliness of it all!), but Dylan, my ever investigative thinker, soon realized that we could not only elf ourselves, but we could also Scrooge ourselves, too! And enchanted as he's been lately with Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale, he just had to try this one, too. I cannot stop laughing! This is just too indescribably funny. Funnier, even, than my little elves!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Happy birthday, baby girl. We love you so much!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Thanks, Aunt Martha!

This is so cute!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Don't worry! We really did celebrate her feast day yesterday...no mixed up dates for us this year! :) We had fun. I spent most of the morning in the kitchen, making a large pot of posole and, for the first time ever in my life, an enormous batch of biscochitos! I used a recipe I found online, and while they could never compete with my Nana's, I was quite pleased with the results of my efforts! And my girls couldn't get enough of them; every time I turned around they were climbing back up onto the counter to sneak a few more! (Dylan tried a few, but wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as his sisters.)

We read The Lady of Guadalupe, and while Meghan was napping, Dylan and Caitlyn made these super cute paper bag tilmas. What a fun and easy project! I'm so glad I came across it a few nights ago while looking for craft ideas. What I loved most about it was that they were able to do almost everything themselves. (All I did was cut out the sides and holes from the sacks.) I know that they were very proud of their tilmas, and I was, too. I especially love the painted on roses they decided to add. :)

Today is going to be a lazy day. Yesterday was pretty exhausting, so, although I am inspired every year by the loveliness of Saint Lucy's Day, I'm just not feeling quite up to the task of such creativity today! Which, of course, plagues me with guilt, so I have to realllly remind myself that it's not how much we do, but how much we love what we do that counts. There are so many beautiful occasions to celebrate at this time of year, but I know that if I were to try to do it all, I would only end up over tired and cranky! And that is so not what I want for myself or my family. So I think what's in order for today is a break from the housework, plenty of snuggling, lots of reading, and a nice, long, after lunch nap for all of us. I have to work tonight...all night. I really need the rest!
A happy feast day to you, friends!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

18 weeks

I find it rather incredible that I've already progressed to nearly the halfway point of this pregnancy. Time is just flying by! Jill recently asked if we planned to find out the baby's gender, but the truth is that I honestly don't know yet! When we were expecting Dylan, we absolutely did not want to know the sex ahead of time. We couldn't wait for the big surprise at the moment of delivery and I will never forget my jubilant exclamation of "It's a BOY!" as the midwife lifted him onto my chest. So when the time came to have a twenty week ultrasound with Caitlyn, we again opted not to find out in favor of the "wait and see" approach. However, an abnormal MSAFP result necessitated serial ultrasounds as my pregnancy progressed and finally, the temptation to find out was just too much. We were thrilled to learn we were having a girl and it was so fun to buy "girly" things as we awaited Caitlyn's birth. With Meghan, we figured that either way, boy or girl, we already had everything we needed in the way of clothes, blankets, and accessories. She would be our "tie breaker", so to speak, so again, we didn't find out. But I was absolutely convinced that she was going to be a boy! I was so shocked when, right after she was born, my midwife announced that we had a girl! Early on in this pregnancy, I felt pretty sure that I would want to find out the baby's sex this time around, if only to avoid that same sense of disorientation that I experienced briefly when Meghan was born. ("What?! A girl?! No, no, that can't be right!") However, as the potential moment of truth draws nearer, my resolve is wavering. I kind of like not knowing. And Darren has remained steadfast in his desire not to know ahead of time. So will we find out? I guess I'd have to say maybe. Eventually, I suppose. But it might not be until the birth!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas

I fell asleep last night before I could write about the beautiful family day we enjoyed yesterday! Our morning began with a yummy breakfast of waffles and coffee and, of course, gold chocolate coins! We read about St. Nicholas from our book of saints and I also read to the children a cute story found at St. Nicholas Center for kids. While Darren and I got ready, Dylan and Caitlyn took turns playing clever little online games at that same website and then, after Daddy made a quick run to the store for a few key ingredients (how could I have run out of flour?!), we made--for the very first time!--a batch of salt dough ornaments. What fun! My mom still has some that we made when I was little but for some reason, I had never thought to make any with my own kids. Yesterday, though, it seemed the perfect activity, and while I thought at first that we would focus on an actual Saint Nicholas theme, we decided it would be more fun to just get creative. Dylan and Caitlyn discovered quickly that our bell shaped cookie cutter, for instance, created perfect ogre faces. :) Can you spot Shrek and Princess Fiona on our tray of finished products?

I put Meghan down for a nice long nap while our ornaments were baking, and the rest of us took the opportunity to play a game that's been up in our closet for the longest time but which we had never actually played since the kids were so little. Dylan rediscovered it a couple of days ago and just had to try it. And oh my gosh! What a blast!
Later we got started with our outdoor lights and decorations, but discovered (of course!) that we are in need of several replacement light bulbs. And by the time we finally located and sorted through the house lights, it was too dark and windy to actually climb up onto the roof, so those will just have to wait until this weekend. But we've made progress, and we're happy! The kids were just thrilled to be outside "helping", and really, that's what it's all about. It was, to me, the perfect conclusion to a perfect day, and a crackling fire in the fireplace as we readied the children for bed finished it all off beautifully. We are so very blessed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

More Advent preparations

I has been such a pleasure to witness the ways that other families in the blogosphere have been readying their homes for Advent, so I thought it would be fun to share here a little of what we ourselves have been doing to celebrate this special season.

Pictured first is our Advent wreath, which received an impromptu makeover this year and a new place of honor in our dining area. In years past we've displayed it in the center of our dining room table, but this year I decided to decorate the cabinet at the end of our table and make it a place of honor for our wreath. Displayed along side it are our bible, a gem of a book that I was recently reminded of by a dear friend, and a pretty basket in which all of the necessary supplies for our Jesse tree ornaments are being stored.

Next is this year's Jesse tree. Last year I always had the feeling that I was just sort of improvising as we went along and as such, we were not very consistent in making our ornaments. This year we're using the suggested symbols and bible passages from the above mentioned book to make our own ornaments with card stock and colored pencils. Our ornaments are in duplicate, however, because Caitlyn and Dylan are each making their own to decorate the tree. So although there are four ornaments pictured here, they actually represent only two days of Advent. :) Our plan is to leave the Advent wreath burning after dinner each night while we work on our Jesse tree, first reading from the bible and then coloring our ornaments, and so far, I'm very pleased with how well this is working for us.

We've created a beautiful Christmas corner in the school room and I think that it just might be my favorite spot in our house right now. The Christmas tree is the one so generously given to us by our neighbors last year, and I think it's perfect in the school room! On the bookshelf is the nativity set crafted lovingly by my sweet boys last year, and I'm so happy to have it out once again. On the first shelf below it are all of our Tomie DePaola Christmas books. They had been interspersed with all of our other Tomie DePaola's, rather than being kept with all of our Christmas books (which are still on a separate bookshelf), but I love having these out for easy reading. Below them are our chunky Christmas board books which I like to have available for Meghan to look at whenever she wants (or either of the older kids, too, of course!). There are also a couple of musical Christmas toys on that shelf that my kids just love. On the bottom shelf is our Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set, which all of my kids have been enjoying. In the window is a craft project I did with my kids yesterday, made to resemble stained glass panels. I cut each letter from a square of card stock, and then gave them a pile of tissue paper scraps to decorate the sticky side of self-adhesive laminating sheet. When they were done, we smoothed another sheet over the top of their tissue paper, trimmed them to the same size as our squares, and glued them behind our letter cutouts. Easy, and beautiful! They had so much fun working on them.

I really am trying to keep JOY truly present in our home this Advent. But...why does it feel like such work some days? ;)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happy first Sunday of Advent!

I discovered this morning a lovely Advent calendar at AmericanCatholic.org, containing meditations, activities, and peace making ideas for every day of the Christmas season. Our Advent wreath and Jesse tree stand ready and waiting, and now, too, I think I may include their paper chain idea in our family's Christmas preparations!

A blessed day to you, friends! Peace be with you all!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Happy December!

I woke up this morning full of so many ideas of things I wanted to get done today. I thought we could do our Christmas pictures and order cards, finish decorating the house, hang the lights outside, tackle the laundry, get the grocery shopping done...

Well, about two hours and 94 pictures later, we did have some winners for the Christmas cards! And boy, let me tell you: this was no small task! I had mentioned to Jen this morning that I was a little stressed about getting a good group shot, and this was, by far, the hardest part! But I'm really happy now with the one we got, and I can't wait to order cards online tonight!

About the only other thing that gone done today was the shopping (oh, and one tiny load of laundry), but I'm okay with that! I restocked my supply of coffee creamer, feeling almost guilty as I greedily grabbed not one but two large containers of Chocolate Mint Truffle! ;) My sweet husband also surprised me by buying the new Josh Groban CD he knew I just had to have. I'm listening to it right now and it is beautiful. And speaking of beautiful, would you believe these gorgeous roses our neighbor offered us when we got home? In December! Now, if we can just keep the kitty away from them...

Darren's telling me the hamburgers and hot dogs are off the grill, so I guess that's my cue to get off the computer. Happy first of December!