Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In the spirit of full disclosure... open letter to my dear, sweet, tolerant husband:

Dear Darren,

As you may or may not be aware, there have been quite a few discussions flying about the blogosphere these past couple of days regarding the myth of the "perfect" wife and mom. I, of course, felt I had absolutely nothing to contribute because as we all well know, I am quite...welllll...perfect. (Ahem.)

So imagine my sheepish surprise when I walked into our bathroom this afternoon and noticed, apparently for the first time in several weeks, the decorative Christmas towels we still had hanging on the towel rack about the toilet. Christmas towels! February begins tomorrow! It just goes to show how much attention this "perfect" housewife pays to the bathroom! I laughed to myself as I thought, "Well, I'll be! Would you look at that! How hilarious would it be to post a picture of those on my blog..."

So, I'm standing there, with camera in hand, trying to find just the right angle and lighting, when in walks Meghan carrying....

....Ummm, here's where it starts to get bad. Really, really bad.

You know that old, well worn Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers you love so much? The one with field notes dating all the way back to 1983 printed fastidiously in the margins? The one you still refer to often? The one that little Miss Meggie has, of late, become quite fond of, too?


I was, as I said, completely engrossed with the task at hand: getting a shot of those towels. As often happens when I've got my camera, I was only marginally aware of the fact that Meghan had even walked into the room, and totally oblivious to what she held in her hand.

Until I heard it splash into the toilet.

At which point, lightning quick but not quick enough, I grabbed it right back out, sopping wet and dripping all over the floor...

...your book. The book.

I'm so, so sorry. I dried it off as best I could, fanned out the pages, and set it tenderly in a small shaft of sunlight on the table in our bay window. I think it can be salvaged. I know it has more character.

And now you does the rest of the world, or at least whoever else reads this...that I am imperfect, after all. I neglect our bathroom. And our daughter, too, apparently.

At least when I've got my camera in hand.


Yesterday my mom, who lives only five minutes away but who had been in Florida for the past ten days, came over to visit. Judging by our exuberance at finally seeing each other again, one might have guessed that it had been ten years since we'd last been together! But we had such a great time. We lingered over a late lunch consisting of cheese, crackers, grapes, and cookies. We watched my kids dance and play and I proudly prompted Meghan to demonstrate her new-found abilities (including running and dancing), and elicited some spoken examples of her ever growing vocabulary (now including, in addition to "Mama" and "Dada", the words "Book", "Milk", and "More". ) And, determined to instruct my archaic (though still totally hip!) mom on the most basic level of computer navigation, I helped her get caught up on my blog reading. :)

Later we hauled out a bunch of my new favorite craft supplies and worked on making some super cute magnets. This was so much fun for all of us, and so easy that even Dylan and Caitlyn were able to help. We started by printing some pictures onto card stock, then simply cut them out, glued them onto a couple squares of other, complimentary colors, and finished them with self adhesive laminating sheets that, after trimming, created really durable cards, to the backs of which we added some self adhesive magnet strips. I think I'm becoming slightly addicted to the process, but they are just so much fun! And I'm thinking we'll make some for family members as gifts for Valentine's fact, I already tried my hand at one for my Aunt Gloria, which is, for now, displayed on my refrigerator with some of the others we made yesterday:

On today's agenda? Absolutely nothing. All my laundry was finished yesterday, I tidied the house before going to bed last night, and we are free to just enjoy today. (But secretly, I'm hoping for a visit from one of my best friends, "Auntie" Erin, in which case we just may have to drag those craft supplies out once again!)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Here I Am To Worship

For years now, my family has gone to the 11:45 Mass on Sunday mornings. As we've had more children, the time is sometimes inconvenient, coinciding with both lunch and nap times, but I love hearing my brother (the choir director for that Mass time) sing, so we make it work. I am sometimes moved to tears by the beauty of his voice and the power of the lyrics, and quite often, I'll have a particular song in my head for the rest of the week. Such is the case with this beautiful song: Here I Am To Worship, by Tim Hughes. I've had it in my mind all morning, and I just had to hear it today! Much to my happy surprise, I found a beautiful version of it on YouTube, which I'm sharing here with you now to brighten your morning, too. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I was so proud when Dylan turned five last September. Such a big boy! But this business of growing up? I don't think I like it. Not one bit.

We spent this morning running errands, going to the bookstore (HA! What timing! Just as I wrote that, Darren came into the room carrying our enormous stack of newly acquired books..."In case you want to blog about books again later"...which I do! But not in this post.)

Anyway, I digress.

So this morning, we stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up a few craft supplies, some things for dinner, and to get our most recent photos developed. ($59 worth of photos! Something tells me I need to stop taking so many pictures!)

Since it was already after noon, (nearing one o'clock, actually) by the time we finished our shopping, I suggested stopping at Quizno's in the adjacent strip mall to pick up a quick lunch. We drove across the parking lot, and since Meghan was asleep in her car seat I offered to stay out in the van with the kids while Darren ran in to get our sandwiches. I thought I'd keep us all amused by reading aloud from "Insectlopedia", an awesome book which I've been wanting ever since Celeste wrote about it back in October, and which I was thrilled to find this morning!

But not three minutes had passed before Dylan was shouting from the back of the van, "I need to go pee! Right now!" Accompanied by a lot of squirming. And tugging at his seat belt. I knew this was urgent, but I didn't want to risk waking Meghan by unbuckling her from her seat. So, I helped Dylan get his shoes back on, hurried him out of the van, and, not wanting to leave the girls but not keen on the idea of Dylan crossing the parking lot by himself, either, I walked a few steps with Dylan, made sure he knew exactly which store to go into, reminded him to look for Darren the second he was in, checked for oncoming traffic, then said, "Okay! Go!"

I watched as Dylan ran into Quizno's, but squinting towards the reflective glass front of the store, I couldn't tell if he actually found Darren. For a few agonizing, indecisive moments, I stood watching, hoping for a sign from Darren, wishing at once that I had just unloaded the girls and gone in with him. Reaching what I deemed a reasonable compromise, I turned off the van, locked the doors with the girls still buckled into their seats, and ran the few steps to the door of the restaurant, which was way more crowded than I imagined...and where I saw no sign of either Dylan or Darren! Assuming that meant they had found each other and were at the moment taking care of business in the bathroom, I went back to the girls, resumed reading, and then thought with a jolt of panic, "Maybe he's not with Darren and all! Maybe someone else snatched him and I just didn't see!" So I got back out of the van where I could keep a close eye on every single person coming out through the door. (In hindsight, I am definitely kicking myself for not just going in to the dang store to begin with, but I figured they'd be right back out and all would be well.)

The minutes dragged on. ("What the heck do they do in there?!" I agonized. "Butcher their own meat?") Finally, after an interminably long time, my guys came ambling out, hand in hand, chatting happily and gesturing animatedly when they saw me standing paralyzed by the side of the van. Darren laughed as he recounted for me his surprise when Dylan came up beside him at the counter, tugging on the hem of his shirt. He said that everybody inside got a big kick out of Dylan's little-boy antics, story-telling, and general good cheer. The looonnnggg delay was caused by the indecisiveness of the patron ahead of him in line.

I had spent those few terrible minutes imagining Darren coming out to the van by himself, at which point, I imagined, I would frantically shout "Where's Dylan?!"...before every parents worst nightmare would go spiraling out of our control. Oh, the tricks my mind plays. Silly, really, how worked up I let myself get! And I realized after, on the ride back home, how all of this is just a part of growing up for Dylan, and will later be for my girls, too. Letting them go, a little at a time. Watching as they spread their wings. And praying we've prepared them well enough to fly.

Friday, January 26, 2007

In Loving Memory of Angel

Born into heaven January 26, 2000
Never cradled in our arms, but held forever in our hearts.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dylan's packed and ready to go!

Albuquerque. March 4th. The Wiggles, live!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Happy Days

It is such a joy to sit with my children on these cold, dark, winter afternoons, snuggling and reading to them from my favorite old childhood classics. Our current read-aloud, Charlotte's Web, is one I read over and over again when I was younger. I am so thrilled to be sharing it now with my own children! Feeling a little silly earlier today, Dylan and Caitlyn helped me make some "Wilbur" masks. For a long while, I couldn't even look at them without bursting into fresh peals of laughter...they were just too cute!

(And they were both highly amused by the "slops" I served them for lunch today: warm milk poured over old fashioned oats, chopped apples, raisins, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar!)

Also: while checking a few of my favorite blogs before breakfast this morning, I noticed that Celeste mentioned some delicious cookies which Michele had posted about back in November. I, of course, can never resist such a tempting chocolate recipe, so we whipped up a batch mid-morning and let them chill for a good part of the day before baking four glorious dozen this afternoon. Divine!

And here is a cute little paper craft the kids and I did together yesterday: a foam and card stock mouse pad (easy, easy, easy!) that is so much fun for them to use while they're playing on the computer:

I remarked to Darren a few days ago, "Do you think I could successfully homeschool by basing every single lesson on a craft project?" :)

(He didn't seem to think so. But I'd sure love to try!)

Monday, January 22, 2007


I know I've mentioned this bookstore at least two other times in the past, but I am just so thrilled with our most recent acquisitions there that I just have to sing it's praises once again! Yesterday we bribed Dylan and Caitlyn by telling them that if they were really, really good during Mass then we would take them to the bookstore later in the day. Luckily (praise God!!!) our kids love books just as much as we do, so yesterday afternoon found us immersed in the children's room of the bookstore, surrounded by books, happily perusing and paging through countless literary treasures.

Since it's a used bookstore, we never know what fabulous finds might be there, just waiting for us to come across them. That's one of the things I love best about it...the anticipation of what we may find each time we visit! I was so pleased with the varied books we came away with yesterday:

an adorably illustrated story book for the girls;

three books from the "Disney's Wonderful World of Reading" series: Finding Nemo, Piglet's Big Movie, and Beauty and the Beast (one for each of the kids);

two kids' craft books;

and, (my two favorites!)...

A Forest Year and Wild Flowers.

All of these, for a grand total of...

...are you ready for this?

A dollar. One dollar!

We completely wiped out the remainder of our trade credit, but not to worry: Darren and I scoured our bookshelves last night and found a number of old neglected books that he'll turn in for more later today. I can hardly wait to go back!

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Good Life

This morning began so beautifully and the day just keeps getting better! We didn't get the snow I had hoped for last night, but it is still in the forecast for today and tomorrow! We've been enjoying a light, steady rain since about 4:30 this morning, and since Margaret is so sweetly collecting views from our kitchen sinks, I just can't resist sharing mine. Have a peek, friends! This is the kind of day I just love!

We were so cozy this morning, tucked safely into the comfort of our warm kitchen while, still clad in pajamas, we enjoyed a tasty breakfast of homemade bread with butter and strawberry jam. Of course, on a morning like this, we just had to have hot cocoa, too!

And just a little while ago, I was happy to discover the fun fact that Dawn shared on her blog this morning: apparantly, today is National Popcorn Day! What better excuse do I need to stay indoors with a nice hot bowl of one of our favorite treats? I'm hoping that later today, Meghan will go down easily for her typically long afternoon nap, so Dylan and Caitlyn and I can snuggle together, snacking on popcorn, and watch The Adventures of Milo and Otis (we've had this movie for a while but I still haven't managed to actually watch the entire length of it!).

This is such a perfect day!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kitchen Angels

Not long before Christmas, I bought a few Tomie dePaola books for my family and I to enjoy together. (And I just have to say: To all of you who ever recommended or even just mentioned these books, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!) We really loved The Night of Las Posadas and The Legend of the Poinsettia, and now we're tremendously enjoying Pascual and the Kitchen Angels. After reading it again a few days ago, I had the idea that it would be fun to base an activity project on this book. I thought about it for a couple of days, and finally it occurred to me that I could accomplish two goals with one task. I absolutely love the whimsical angels in this book, and I thought it would be so much fun to make our own to create a mobile that we could hang in our kitchen. Also: one of my new year's resolutions was to start cooking more from scratch. So, a menu based on the meals in this book was the second part of my plan, including my very first ever attempt at making homemade bread!

We began making the angels a few days ago. Using brightly colored card stock, I cut out multiple gowns, aprons, sleeves...everything, down to the tiny feet! Next, I simply glued them together in layers to form our angels and, as a final touch, embellished the wings with sparkly glitter glue.

These were actually really easy to make. I used the cutouts of my first one as templates for the others, so that saved a lot of work. (The first one definitely took the longest.) Once we had as many as we wanted (we made eight), we fashioned our mobile. With some multi-colored yarn, I tied two long, thin dowels into a large cross, and formed a small Ojo de Dios in the center to help secure it.
Next, with a needle and embroidery floss, I tied each angel to the dowels at varying lengths.
We all loved the finished product, which we suspended from the chandelier above our dining room table. (I had hoped to actually hang it in the kitchen, but couldn't really find a suitable spot. This was close enough for me!)
While these angels were a fun and crafty project, one I really enjoyed, dinner was a much more daunting task! Just as in the book, we decided to cook beans (in the form of a 15 bean soup) and bread. (They're predicting snow tonight, so the cold weather made this a perfect day for the exciting culmination of our three day long effort!) But I felt much like poor Pascual as I attempted to begin our meal:

"All the pots and pans, bowls and dishes made his head spin. How did he boil water? How did he cook the beans? How did he make the bread?"

How, indeed?

(Can you guess who does most of the cooking in this family?)

The bean soup didn't really require any effort. I let it simmer in the crock pot for most of the day and it was delicious! The bread, however, was an entirely different matter. (I had to call Darren at work to ask him how to scald milk. And thank goodness my mom stopped by just when I was about to start kneading the dough, because I completely lacked confidence when it came to determining how much flour to add!) Dylan and Caitlyn were such eager assistants, and were so excited to be helping! They loved the feel of the sticky dough, and were amazed by watching it rise.

Without a doubt, I had more fun today than I have in a long while! This is a day I think we will still fondly recall many years from now. Our dinner was scrumptious, the bread divine, and, after eating, we read the book one more time to review the many similarities between the story and our day.

"The angels mixed up dough, put it in a pan and popped it in the oven. They put water on to boil and poured the beans in the pot. They cut up the cheeses and put them on a board."

I think we'll be keeping those kitchen angels around for a while.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


This has been such an incredible day! It began for us before sunrise, with Darren and I slipping quietly out of bed and getting ready before waking the children to tell them of our surprise. Our community's 15th annual balloon rally is being held this weekend, at a wide open field lying just beyond my mom's backyard wall. She had promised good food and drinks to anyone wishing to view the fun from her house, so that's exactly where we headed with three very excited children at 7:00 this morning! We were greeted by a small gathering of a few of her close friends, including our associate pastor. With plates full of bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, and deviled eggs (my favorite!) we made ourselves comfortable at her patio table just in time to witness the mass ascension.
Our favorite was this big brightly colored balloon, which ended up flying directly over the house......before landing in the street just outside her front door!After a while, Darren and I decided to walk down to the field with the kids, who were eagerly anticipating a tethered ride on one of these two balloons:
The line was long, but they were more than willing to patiently wait their turn. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't as cooperative and they ended up bringing them down before we had a chance to ride. We were all a little disappointed, but the "nature walk" we enjoyed through the field made the effort well worth our while! With just a hint of a breeze, the rich scent of damp earth hung wonderfully in the air, and, much to our delight, we even came upon several coveys of quail! Dylan was also thrilled to find an enormous branch, which he called a "tree" and insisted on toting with him the entire way back to my mom's house.
The day was still young by the time we returned home, and since we're enjoying such gorgeous weather, we spent some time out in the backyard while Darren got started digging out a plot of yard in which we hope to grow our own vegetables this summer. And I was finally able to assemble a patio fire pit we were given for Christmas! This was quite an accomplishment for me, too, since--as anyone who knows me will gladly attest to--I am quite, shall we say..."instructionally challenged". But I am very pleased with the finished product! (And it only took me three tries to get it right!)

We lit an inaugural fire after dinner tonight and, as a special treat, roasted marshmallows to make a few s'mores. We all agreed it was a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Friday, January 12, 2007

No ordinary day

It seems that every single day of this week has rolled seamlessly into the next without a whole lot of fun interspersed to punctuate the mundane. Following the frenzied pace and excitement of the Christmas season, Ordinary time has been feeling just so...ordinary.

Today has been gray and windy, cold and dreary, and I, for one, was feeling in desperate need of some good old fashioned cheering up. Meghan fell asleep right after lunch, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to enjoy some special time with just "the big kids". They watched in wonder as I spread a big old blanket on the living room floor, then set out a plate of cookies and mugs of hot cocoa. We sat together, sipping and munching, as I read to them some of our favorite winter books and poems, including The Snowy Day (much beloved and fondly recalled from my own childhood); Henrietta's First Winter (a gift from my dad this past fall, which was an instant favorite for all of us); and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. This was so much fun, so incredibly simple, and so very sweet. It's something I plan to continue in the months ahead, if not every day at least a few times a week. The smiles on Dylan's and Caitlyn's faces were priceless! And the love and peace I felt in my heart, snuggled down there on the floor with my kids, reminded me of how very extraordinary these "ordinary" days actually are.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cheap Therapy

Sunday, January 07, 2007

An Epiphany Party

Happy Epiphany! Today has been for us a most blessed day of family fun and relaxation, the perfect ending to a perfect Christmas season. This morning, in honor of the adoration of the infant Jesus by the three kings, Dylan and Caitlyn helped me bake a spice cake in the shape of a crown. After frosting it, I let them adorn it with "jewels"--candy sprinkles, spice drops, and candy coated chocolate kisses. Following a late lunch, we enjoyed a sample of it along with some delicious mulled apple cider. Mmmmm!
Dylan and Caitlyn were so excited to finally be able to place the wise men in their appropriate positions alongside the other figures of our nativity set. And since this is the first year we've actually waited until the Epiphany to put them out, it was really special for Darren and I, too. Later this afternoon, we piled onto the sofa in our bedroom and watched The Very First Noel, a delightfully animated movie recounting the journey of the three wise men. It's a movie our entire family absolutely loves, and it was so nice to just sit and snuggle for a while!

We are enjoying the remainder of our day by listening to Christmas songs, coloring pictures (here is just one that we printed off the internet), and making the most of every last moment we have before I go to work tonight. I couldn't have wished for a more perfect day!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I'm Back!

With heartfelt gratitude for all you sweet, generous friends who so lovingly left comments of appreciation and support in response to my last post, I am happy to report that my break from blogging will be much shorter than I had originally anticipated! Words cannot adequately express how touched--and humbled--I am by your thoughts and comments. Thank you so much! You have given me a renewed perspective on the life of this blog, and while I'm still not entirely sure yet where it will lead, I am glad to be back--I have so much to share!

We awoke this morning to an honest-to-goodness winter wonderland, right in our own backyard! Dylan and Caitlyn were beside themselves, hands pressed to the cold glass of the large bay window in our kitchen, looking out at the pristine landscape, watching as fat white flakes made their lazy way to earth. Before I bundled them up to head outside, Dylan and Caitlyn allowed me just a few moments to savor the pure, unblemished snow.

Of course, it wasn't long before they were running around in it, having the time of their young lives!

Later this afternoon, Darren and I worked together reorganizing two of the closets in our home. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be considered a news worthy event. But! This is exciting. Our hall linen closet has been a supreme frustration to me since the day we moved into this house four years ago. It is tall and narrow and not at all practical for storing the multiple sets of towels and sheets, blankets, quilts, and pillows that I try in vain to keep organized. So a couple of days ago, Darren had the brilliant idea to use one very big, very wide, and very deep bookcase we have in our master bedroom walk-in closet to store our linens, thereby clearing out our entire linen closet, which we then converted into what Dylan proudly calls his "homeschooling closet". I love it! What was once so wrong for storing linen is now so perfectly right for storing all of our learning and craft supplies!

Not only have we been reorganizing closets, we have also been reorganizing bookshelves! I love--LOVE--the comfy, cozy reading area we created for Dylan and Caitlyn in our living room. Their shelf of books adds such warmth to the room (as does the Mother Goose lamp which sits atop it!) and their kid sized recliners are just too cute for words.

And finally, I just have to share the adorable picture Dylan drew this afternoon. While the girls "helped" Darren and I with the closets, we could hear Dylan at the dining room table, singing and humming Christmas carols with such joy and enthusiasm that we couldn't help but smile, too! After a while, we went to investigate what else he was up to and were astounded to see what he'd been working on all that time. With love and pride, I present to you:

"The Nativity", by Dylan (age 5)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Blog Break

What began on a whim last summer as a sort of personal online diary has, much to my happy surprise, evolved into a forum in which I have been blessed to meet some really incredible, like minded, faith-filled moms, women who have greatly uplifted and inspired and touched me in ways too numerous to count. But I fear that these past two weeks, surrounded by everyone I love most in this world, may have forever altered the course of this blog.

As I celebrated Christmas with Darren and our I sat with my beloved and watched our beautiful and amazing offspring play together, laugh together, fight I snuggled on piles of quilts with my precious family in front of a crackling fire--I realized just how much I treasure my time with them, unhurried and uncomplicated time spent just being together. That warm, loving feeling has remained with me, enveloped me, and now, every time I think I might try to blog, I feel like an exhibitionist, betraying the private intimacies of my family life. And so I sit and stare at the computer screen, feeling guilty for not blogging, but feeling even more guilty for blogging.

So, as I begin this new year, planning and prioritizing, I'm also re-evaluating the direction I want this blog to take. I see big changes in the year ahead for my family: I will turn 30 this summer. 30!!! And, God willing, we would love to welcome a new little one this year (it is a fervent prayer in all of our hearts, especially Dylan's and Caitlyn's!). Darren is considering a career change, which may or may not involve a move for us. And, one way or another, Dylan will be starting kindergarten this fall. (It's looking more and more like we will be homeschooling.) I'd really love to share all of this--the highs, the lows--here, with you, my online friends. But for now? I think a bit of a blogging break is in order, at least for a while. "Normal" is so hard to get back to, particularly when it follows such a gloriously wonderful time spent with those I hold most dear (Darren started back to work just yesterday. I guess we're all still just a little out of sorts).

I wish you all a very happy New Year, and look forward to "visiting" with you again in the (hopefully!) near future!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A note to remind me...

of my new year's resolution: