Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My little captives

There was a nice breeze blowing this morning and I decided to open several windows to allow the fragrant freshness into our home. After a while, I asked Dylan, "Honey, have you seen Caitlyn?".

"Oh", he replied. "Yeah! She's sitting on her dresser looking out her window. I raised the blinds all the way for her so she could see out even better!"

While I don't normally condone climbing onto furniture, this just sounded too cute to resist. I had to take a peek! There she sat, sure enough, feet hanging down behind her dresser onto the windowsill, smiling at looking out her bedroom window at the rose bushes just beyond the screen. When Dylan saw that I wasn't mad, he quickly scampered up, too. I grinned as I walked away, endeared by their adorable sweetness.

A moment later, I rushed back in at the sound of their shouts.

"HELLO!", they were calling in unison. "IS ANYONE THERE? ARE THERE ANY NEIGHBORS OUT THERE?".

"GUYS!", I shushed them in a loud whisper, with a furtive glance at the walk outside. "What on earth....? Get down from there! Sheesh".

For the rest of the morning, I kept expecting to hear a knock at my door, an inquiry into the shouts from my poor imprisoned children!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


As a dear friend so aptly asserted in a comment here a little while ago, "Spring and wellness just go hand in hand"...which is precisely why this morning found us all outside, enjoying some fresh air and sunshine! It's such a gorgeous day, and we were all getting a little stir crazy after having spent most of our weekend indoors. Dylan and Caitlyn dug holes in their play area while Meghan watched from her high chair on the back porch, munching on fruit puffs and laughing at their antics. While they were so happily engaged in their own endeavors, I spent a while photographing some more of our beautiful backyard blooms. Every day brings something new to find and delight in!

I just couldn't be more pleased with how well our vegetable garden is coming along! Everything we planted seems to be thriving, and I'm astonished at how much growth we've seen in just two short weeks. The kohlrabi, sunflower, and carrot seeds we planted have become the cutest little sprouts...I feel so proud!

The onion and lettuce plants have perked up considerably and are, to me, beautiful.

And, I just have to say: I am completely astounded by the tiny heads of broccoli that are already beginning to form! I mean, how cool is this?!

This entire process has been just amazing to me. I wish we had started gardening years ago!

Our flower bed holds a vast amount of untold treasures at this time, too. So much has been planted in there since we moved in that we're never quite sure what will pop up where. It's always so exciting to see what else is blooming when we go out!

The Navajo Sage at the far edge of the bed is currently displaying a brilliant explosion of red.

There is plenty of Dianthus, a popular favorite of mine, scattered within...but I forget from year to year just how beautiful their hues can be!

And here is another of my sweet little "mystery flowers". I loved the white one I posted about a while back, and we've since discovered this lovely purple and a vibrant pink of the same variety.

Darren's native garden is home to some particularly lovely flowers right now, too. This pink Globemallow is actually one that we fought over on numerous occasions in the past, with my position being that since we didn't plant it and it obstructed so much of the actual garden, it should be pulled up and discarded. Darren insisted that it was just fine where it was (right smack dab in the center of the walking path) and that we should leave it alone. We reached a happy compromise a few weeks ago (after several seasons during which the thing more than tripled in size!) by simply modifying the walking path to include it as the foremost shrub in our desert garden--and I am so happy that this was one fight I never could win! Its delicate cupped flowers are so gorgeous; I would be truly remorseful to have been the cause of its demise.
And here are just a few more beautiful blooms adorning "the cactus patch", as we affectionately refer to our expanse of native southwestern cacti, shrubs, flowers, and trees:
Our morning concluded when Dylan decided, entirely on his own, to come inside and take his shoes off. He wanted to rest. The fever was back. And this time, he had company: Caitlyn, it seems, has decided to join him. Time to put into effect, I think, the sweet idea Celeste shared on her blog this past Saturday. (Thanks again, Celeste!)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tea and Fevers

That "shore of health and well being" I mentioned in my last post? The one I thought I could see beckoning welcomingly in the near distance?

It was a total illusion.

After baths on Sunday morning, all three of my children were playing and watching cartoons as I readied myself for Mass, and I was so happy that they were all in such good spirits. In fact, I had to keep reminding them to "settle down and practice being still...we're on our way to church!"

As we took our place in the pew, however, Dylan seemed very clingy, slumping against me and complaining that he was tired. "Mommy, will you please hold me?" he kept asking. His behavior was completely out of character, and I was instantly suspicious. As the Mass progressed, I noticed he felt warmer and warmer, and by the time we got home about an hour later, his cheeks were flushed and his eyes had that glassy, feverish look I've come to recognize all too well. I checked his temperature, and sure enough: 102.7!

He wanted to sleep, and went straight to bed after taking some children's Tylenol. He felt a little better that afternoon, but after dinner his temperature was back up to 102.2. This morning he woke up coughing and complaining of a sore throat, and his temperature was again elevated. (Luckily, though, my girls still seem to be doing better!)

I was feeling really bad for him--for all my kids--and a little sorry for myself this morning, so I decided to try and make today the best it could be under the circumstances. Rather than rushing through our usual morning routine, we played a little longer, ate breakfast a little later, and didn't change out of pajamas until 10:00. We were in the kitchen when I had the idea to prepare a special little Spring tea party for us to enjoy together. My kids were so excited--we love tea parties! Dylan quickly began searching the bookshelves for all his books on Spring, and Caitlyn and I got to work making some sugar cookie dough. My intention was to let the dough chill while we had lunch and cleaned up the kitchen, by which time we'd be able to bake and decorate our cookies. Sweet little Meghan, however, fell asleep in her high chair just as Dylan and Caitlyn were finishing their lunch, so, after gently transferring her to her crib, I seized the opportunity to have a nice long nap with the older kids in my room. We all really needed the rest, but it was so late when we finally woke up that we decided to postpone our little party until after dinner--even better, in our estimation, because then Daddy would be able to participate, too! We went ahead and made our cookies and strawberry Kool-Aid, and read from the pile of Dylan's book selections.

It was so precious tonight to see how excited Dylan and Caitlyn were to be served--on their very own little place settings, with our very special glass dishes--the cookies and drinks we made together this afternoon. I think there is nothing in the world that I wouldn't do to see their sweet faces light up the way they did tonight, and I marvel at the fact that I can do that for them with just a little extra effort and a lot more love and patience.

This was, indeed, a most splendid little tea party.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Coming up for air

Life around here is usually, for the most part, pretty smooth sailing. We try to adhere loosely to a routine that works for us, enjoy spending our days reading and playing and baking and crafting, have quiet time in the afternoons, and, following a pleasant bedtime routine, generally have all the kids tucked into their beds between 7:30 and 8:00. This week, however, has just completely thrown me overboard, and I've been drowning in a metaphorical sea of illness, injury, and disorder with scarcely more than a twig of hope to cling to.

Caitlyn and Meghan have been waging war against terrible coughs, the likes of which I've not previously heard in this household, and neither has had much of an appetite. Meghan, when she can be enticed to eat, invariably ends up coughing so much midway through her meal that she throws up all that we worked so hard to get into her. Caitlyn, ordinarily a very good sleeper, is up countless times throughout the night coughing and asking for water. Both girls have been intermittently experiencing fevers over 101 degrees. And Darren, God love him, has acquired a fairly significant hernia which will require surgical repair on April 11.

Still, when my alarm rang at 11:30 Thursday night, I had no idea how interminably looong the next 24 hours would prove to be. I had significant reservations about working that night, but Darren assured me that since everybody was sleeping anyway, he would be just fine. At 2:30 he called me to say that both girls were up, and told me later that after medicating them at that time, they were all still up for a long while. When I got home yesterday morning, everybody seemed fine, but my assessment of the situation proved to be completely inaccurate as the day progressed. By lunch time Meghan was getting extremely fussy, so after hastily feeding Dylan and Caitlyn, I announced that we would all be taking naps. Somehow, though, in a brief window of time during which I was talking to my brother on the phone, Meghan managed to fall against the bottom rung of a dining room chair and busted her lip, bloodying her mouth and setting my heart racing. She was, from that point on, inconsolable. No amount of rocking, walking, swaying, dancing, singing, or talking would soothe her. She refused to nurse, arching away from me, wailing in agony.

After exhausting all means of calming her, I finally called Darren at work and he was able to get a 3:00 appointment for her with the pediatrician. He came home early to go with me, and my mom volunteered to watch Dylan for us (we took Caitlyn along with us to find out what more we could be doing for her). After waiting for over an hour to be seen, the doctor finally came in, took a quick peek in Meghan's ears and mouth, diagnosed an ear infection, and rushed back out. We left with prescriptions for antibiotics and albuterol, with dosing instructions for both girls.

Since it was already 5:00 by the time we returned home, we invited my mom to stay for dinner. While we waited for pizza to be delivered (I hope you'll excuse our laziness!), we prayed the Stations of the Cross as we've been doing every Friday this Lent. My mom was more than happy to join us and it felt really nice to include her.

By the time we finished eating and tidying up the house, I was really looking forward to crawling into bed and burying myself under the covers. Little Meghan, on the other hand, wasn't so cooperative. I had hoped that following a long day with very little nap, combined with doses of her new medications, she would fall asleep easily. How wrong I was! She cried and fussed through two entire rounds of this CD (one which usually settles her right down). When she finally fell asleep around 10:00, I tucked her into our bed with us and was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow...only to be awakened at 11:30, when she woke up screaming and crying anew. Luckily, she fell asleep after nursing briefly, but was awake again at 1:00, crying this time with an intensity that had both Darren and I out of bed trying to calm her down. Following another dose of Tylenol, a complete change of clothes for myself and her after she threw up all over us, and more nursing and rocking, I decided to sleep sitting up in the recliner with her resting against my shoulder. She seemed more comfortable that way than laying down, and I was so desperate for some sleep.

This morning, I feel as though I have broken the surface and can finally see the shore of health and well being beckoning in the near distance. Today, praise God, Meghan is doing much better, and has even been playing and laughing with her usual mischievousness. I took her with me this morning, in fact, to a bridal boutique with my mom. I'm having a few alterations done to the dress I'll be wearing as matron of honor in my mom's June wedding. It's so pretty, light blue and sparkly, and I feel like Cinderella when I slip it on. (Well, minus the itsy bitsy waist. And puffy sleeves. And full skirt. Ummm, and I won't be wearing any long white gloves. But really, it is rather pretty!)

And now, with Meghan down for a nap, I, too, am going to try and get some rest. There is nothing in the world that sounds more inviting to me right now than my nice soft bed, snuggled together with my sweet, warm children!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!

I have always felt such a special fondness for St. Joseph, the tender, loving, devoted husband to the Blessed Virgin Mary and gentle foster father to her Son, Jesus. But it was only after Darren and I married and became parents ourselves that I began to truly appreciate the affection and obedience he displayed during his life as the head of his most Holy Family. He is a perfect model that Darren and I continue to look to as an example of how to raise our own family, and today we will be celebrating his feast day by reflecting on his life of service and by baking some some soft pretzels, as found at Women for Faith and Family.

From today's Gospel:

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.

Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.


A blessed day to you, friends!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

In the gardens

It has been such a great weekend. We went all out for our St. Patrick's Day dinner yesterday...corned beef and cabbage with carrots and potatoes, homemade rolls, Irish Soda Bread made by me for the very first time (recipe courtesy of Danielle Bean--delicious!), and shamrock sugar cookies with frosting and green sprinkles. We were in the kitchen all day long! The kids and I did some cute crafts, we decorated the dining room and kitchen, and I kept meaning to take some pictures, but somehow...I never did. Oh, well, wait! I did take one of the "rainbow and pot of gold" craft the kids and I did. The rest of the day was spent just having a great time! I love St. Patrick's Day. It's become a family favorite in the past few years and every year it just gets better.
Today was beautiful, a little breezy but a perfect day for exploring the gardens. I am so excited by how well the vegetable garden is doing! It's been just a week, but we're already seeing the first of our seedlings boldly emerging from the ground! I think they're so cute right are some of the chard and sunflowers, respectively:

Darren also did a little more planting today: tomatoes, okra, eggplant, snow peas, basil, and garlic!

And we're finding all sorts of lovely little surprises in our flower bed these days. This is one of my favorites, which we suspect must have been included in the perennial wildflower seed mixture Darren scattered last fall. I think it is simply beautiful:

The dianthus is starting to bloom now, too, and I think the deep crimson of this one is just so pretty:And I love, love, love creeping phlox that borders the outer edge of our garden:Out in the native garden, more of Darren's cacti are in bloom. Here are just a few:

I am just so in love with gardening right now that I may very well decide to post weekly updates! In the meantime, you can see what else is blooming around here by checking out Darren's blog.

Happy gardening, friends!

Friday, March 16, 2007


Words just can't express how happy little discoveries like this make me:

I am forever finding Dylan's drawings strewn about the house. From the moment he wakes up in the morning--often right up until it's time for bed--he's drawing or coloring, and I'm frequently surprised at the wonderful works I find when I'm tidying up his room. This is one I found on his desk this morning as I was getting some clothes out of his dresser drawers. Here is a closer look...I just love it!

He has also developed quite an interest in creating his own books, especially since acquiring his very own stapler. (Which really took some pleading on his part! I still vividly recall stapling my finger to a bulletin board in my third grade classroom--I was quite accident prone as a child--so it was with trepidation that I agreed to let him have his own!) But he has proven himself to be very conscientious, and has put together some of the cutest little books! One of my favorites is a Kasey the Kinderbot coloring book he made a few days ago. I just think these illustrations are so adorable!

And, here is another of Dylan's drawings that I just have to share!

We're all still a little bit obsessed with the Wiggles...seeing them in concert was just such a happy, wonderful experience! (Darren thinks it's hilarious that I have been heard saying in recent days, "Hey, kids, do you want to watch a Wiggles video?!") I can't help it...but I'm worried that I may have developed just a slight crush on Anthony (a.k.a. "The Blue Wiggle"). How pathetic is that?! :)

Oh, and on a completely unrelated topic: does anyone else remember those fabulous deeley boppers of the early 1980's? I had a pair topped with the likeness of Smurfette, and I thought they were the absolute coolest thing. Of course, I was probably no more than six or seven years old, but still. our excitement for the St. Patrick's Day party we're having tomorrow, the kids and I have been doing all sorts of silly little crafts over the past couple of days. Today we made our own deeley boppers utilizing--what else?--card stock (I LOVE that stuff!), glitter, chenille stems, and a couple of Caitlyn's headbands. So easy, and so much fun! Here are Dylan and Caitlyn enjoying a "picnic" lunch on the couch in my bedroom this afternoon.

We're silly, I know. But we are having so much fun...and we've got more planned for tomorrow!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Worth watching

Darren called me from work this morning to say that he had sent me the link to a video he thought I might be interested in seeing.

He was right. I've been thinking about it all day long.

This is just so incredible:

Incredible - Funny bloopers R us

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I am so blessed to be married to a man who not only tolerates my crazy whims, but who is actually (most often) genuinely pleased with their outcomes! One day last December, Darren returned home from work and found that I had not only rearranged the furniture in our master bedroom, but I had also set up and decorated a Christmas tree in there! We loved it so much that after Christmas, we kept some elements of the furniture layout (I really loved having the rocking chair in our room). Lately, though, it just hasn't been working for me, so it was so much fun yesterday morning to change things around once again. Here's how that bay window in our bedroom looks now:

I really love our new arrangement and it has opened up so much more floor space in our room! (So much room, in fact, that there is plenty of space for the kids to play!)

And, a few words (and pictures, of course!) about our garden. Darren was kind enough to remind me that, contrary to what I may have said before, our garden still isn't quite finished yet. We still need to finish the center walking path (probably with crushed pecan shells), add some straw as a mulch, and, in a couple of weeks, finish planting the vegetables that it's still just a little bit too early for now. At any rate, we've all had a grand time planning, preparing, and planting our garden!

And here is our almost-finished "work in progress". This just makes me so happy! I keep sneaking out back to peek at it throughout the day!

So far, we've got kohlrabi, spinach, lettuce, chard, and sunflowers:

We've also got onions, red and green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots:

We also planted a small strawberry patch and an herb garden, including parsley, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives, thyme, and tarragon. Next we'll add peppers, tomatoes, okra, eggplant, cucumbers, and snow peas.

This is just so much fun for all of us! I love that so many of our conversations lately have revolved around which vegetables we love, which ones we want to plant, how we might like to prepare said vegetables once they're mature...even Dylan and Caitlyn have strong opinions on the matter! We're new at this, but I am so thrilled with the opportunity our garden has given us to work together towards a real and substantial reward. I pray that our efforts will be abundantly blessed!