Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Oh, here I am!

When I've taken an unplanned break from blogging I never know whether to just jump back in like nothing has happened or to offer a lengthy explanation (justification?) for my absence. And then I overthink my explanation (okay, definitely a justification), and that just delays my reentry even more.

So. Hi. I'm back. I didn't mean to take an almost-two-month hiatus. In fact, in that time I started at least four different posts and never made any significant progress with any of them.

I guess I don't really need to justify why I was living my life instead of blogging about it, do I? Everything just got kind of overwhelming--imagine that! So if I'm back does that mean things are settling down? Ha. Of course not. More like I have a new writing project and looming deadlines, so I'm finally motivated enough to procrastinate (and it's a huge relief to write something I don't have to think through as intensely as a Bible study).

As the weather has been getting nicer we've been spending as much time outside as we can. John Paul is walking all over the place as of the last two weeks--just in time to play outside with his brothers. I've been doing (marginally) better on keeping up with laundry. I finally finished going through the amazing abundance of hand-me-downs we've received over the years and actually got around to redistributing the wealth among various family members and friends. (My bedroom looks so much bigger without half a dozen garbage bags full of clothes sitting in the corners. Seriously.)

There, consider yourself updated, more or less! Pictures of John Paul's birthday coming soon. In the meantime, here are some pictures of our Holy Week and Easter spent in Lincoln (not pictured, the stomach bug making its rounds Good Friday through Easter Sunday. Ugh.).








Saturday, February 28, 2015

Boy Talk



Michael (4):

Ash: That's a lot of lotion, make sure to rub it all in.
M: On my flippers?
Ash: ... Your flippers?
M: Yeah.
Ash: You don't have flippers.
M: pointing These.
Ash: Those are your knuckles.
M: Oh.

(upset because Liam's dinosaur was getting a little too close to his carefully constructed scene) Liam is getting into my business! He needs to get into his own business!

(upset because John Paul was trying to take apart his Lego sheep) Mama! This sheep is my homework and John Paul is always destroying my homework!
I'm sensing a pattern here... Welcome to your life as the firstborn, my son.



Alex: Michael, what are you drawing?
M: I don't know. What does it look like? (his standard line whenever he draws anything)
Alex: Hmmm... Is it a plate of spaghetti?
M: No it's not! It's worms attacking each other. But that's not nice.

Ash: Michael, who is the Lamb of God?
M: Um... Jesus!
Ash: Very good!
M: But what would happen if he turns into a boy?
Ash: Well, he's not really a lamb, like an animal, but it's a way of saying that he takes away the sins of the world.
M: without missing a beat That's too bad!



Liam (2):

L: A Thomas-ache! A Thomas-ache!
Ash: You have a tummy ache?
L: Yeah! A Thomas-ache!
You are so happy about it, I rather doubt it... 

Hep yoo! Hep yoo! whenever he needs help... I love it

but let's be honest--when you're two and your trains simply won't cooperate,
remembering to use your words isn't exactly high on your list of priorities

L: puts a blanket on his head A elf-unt! A elf-unt!
Ash: Are you an elephant?
L: Yeah! Moo!
Ash: No, an elephant doesn't say moo! What does an elephant say?
L: Raaawwwr!

upon observing me poking Alex in the ribs for stealing my phone: Mama! No a-hit Daddy.

John Paul (11 months):

A lot of "ooh" and "daa" and mimicking the craziness of his brothers




Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Boy and His Tiger


Our handsome Michael Alexander turned the big 0-4 last month.


How convenient--I found a box full of my childhood books on his birthday. He spent at least 45 minutes going through the entire pile. Happy birthday, my little bookworm!

His birthday requests were ice cream, ice cream cake, and corn on the cob. We convinced him to add hamburgers to the menu and spread out the ice cream treats over multiple nights.

A family trip to Coldstone the day after his birthday
My parents visited us for a week in late January, so we postponed Michael's birthday party a week so they could be there for it. I've never felt like entertaining was really my thing, but the party was a huge success, if I do say so myself.


The cousins went on a short treasure hunt. The prize? Glow sticks!


I had so much fun making Michael's ice cream cakes. I used this recipe as a starting point and improvised from there (with my go-to chocolate wafer cookies, of course).


If any treasure is better than glow sticks, it's ice cream cake!


Michael agreed!


For the kiddos: chocolate and vanilla ice cream, with chocolate wafer crumb crust, a crushed Kit Kat layer in the middle, and whipped cream. The Kit Kats were a delicious choice, but ruined any chance of picture-perfect slicing. I don't think the kids minded.


For the grown-ups: chocolate and coffee ice cream, with chocolate wafer crumb layers, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle.

For the record, we did not actually need two cakes, even with 17 people (I have a deathly fear of running out of dessert at birthday parties... no idea why). But we thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers!

We are thoroughly enjoying our big boy. Michael loves reading as much as ever, and I have high hopes of him reading to the rest of us in the very near future. He's very interested in spelling--he is constantly stringing together letters and asking what they spell. Unfortunately his spelling words rarely contain vowels... "What does x-f-l spell? How about t-s-d-r-l-m?" And whenever Alex and I spell out words to avoid a riot, Michael always tries to join in: Alex: "I think the boys could have an s-h-o-w after dinner, what do you think? M: "How about a h-o-a-w?"

Calvin and Hobbes is still one of his favorite things, which prompted Cici to get him a stuffed tiger for Christmas. Michael promptly christened his new friend Hobbes, of course, and he takes him everywhere around the house.

I'm not always sure Hobbes is such a good influence on Michael...


We love you our handsome, clever, hilarious Michael Alexander. I think 4 is going to be a great year :)


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Reading List

Have I ever told you that I love to read? Like, panicky-stressed-out when I finish a book if I don't know what to read next? Never go anywhere without a book because what if I suddenly have 30 seconds of free time? Spent recess through most of elementary school reading on the playground and getting annoyed with classmates who came up and asked what I was reading because, hello, I'm busy?

True story.

So I love to read, but I'm kind of dysfunctional about it. When I start a book I tend to neglect little things like sleep, laundry, and dishes until I finish it. And that doesn't seem work so well with the whole parenting thing, unfortunately. I've taken to reading in spurts--I'll read a book or three, then I'll go for weeks without reading anything substantial. No bueno. I miss reading.

This year I was inspired seeing reading lists pop up on a bunch of the blogs I've been following. I've never made a reading list before, but I decided to give it a try. I'm so excited. Not only does this mean that when I steal away for a couple minutes to read I actually feel like I'm accomplishing something (don't you just love being able to check things off lists?), but this way I'll avoid that awful panic when I finish one book and I can't decide what to read next. 

This is only a partial list, because it is awfully light on the fiction, and I kind of thrive on my fiction. So any recommendations to slip in between some of that heavier reading in the second half of the list would be most welcome. It is probably overly ambitious even without adding any other books,.. I got somewhat carried away in my desire to take care of books I've been meaning to read for quite some time. Alex and I have this bad habit of buying books much faster than we can read them. And Alex is not helping matters by bringing home daily loads of books the school library is giving away. I think he has doubled the number of books in our house in the last few weeks. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but if the library could give away a couple bookcases as well as all these books that would be fabulous.


So here is what I have so far:

Lilith -- George MacDonald (already finished it and thoroughly enjoyed it... may be adding more MacDonald when I need a break from the scholarly stuff)
Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church-- Benedict XVI 
The Shadow of His Wings -- Fr. Gereon Goldmann
Angels (and Demons) -- Peter Kreeft
The Treasure of Homestake Gold -- Mildred Fielder 
Jesus the Bridegroom -- Brant Pitre
The Silmarillion -- Tolkien (a millionth-time reread, can you tell by the binding?)
Life of Christ -- Fulton Sheen
Ascendance Trilogy -- Jennifer Nielsen (read the first one last fall and thoroughly enjoyed it; our library finally made the other two available to checkout as ebooks)
Theology and Sanity-- Frank Sheed
A Pilgrim's Journey -- St. Ignatius of Loyola
A Theological Introduction to the Book of Psalms -- J. Clinton McCann
Kristin Lavransdatter -- Sigrid Undset (read it two years ago and may have liked it even better than Tolkien... maybe... possibly...)
Love and Responsibility -- JPII
Orthodoxy -- G.K. Chesterton
On the Reliability of the Old Testament -- K.A. Kitchen


no, Ignatius Press is not sponsoring my reading goals--but I wish they would!

Last year our family did a collective Big Year (it's a birding thing). We had so much fun with the friendly competition that this year we're doing a Big Year with books. Too bad I made this list before finding that out--I would have put much shorter books on my list! But I'm already loving reading with (a little) discipline, and looking forward to the accountability of having set actual goals (which now exist forever on the internet). I'm sure I'll be checking in to report on my progress. If not, you can just assume I got lost in Middle Earth and fell off the bandwagon.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy Birthday, Liam the Agreeable!

Guess who turned two? This guy!


Two months ago... whoops!


At least we celebrated his birthday on time! We had an All Saints Day/Construction themed party mash-up.

From left to right: Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Joseph, and David.


Later St. Joseph went from 1st century carpenter to a modern construction worker who was too busy to stand very still for a picture.


Once everyone had a hard hat we moved outside to crack open geodes. Notice the impressive mix of costumes combined with the party hats. So random. So us.


Daddy's birthday helper.


I made this icebox cake (with the homemade wafers) and I was thrilled with how it turned out... despite the achy muscles from hand-whisking that much whipped cream.




And it must have been a hit, because the rest of the family has requested it for Michael's birthday party in a couple weeks. We shall see; so far Michael's requests for birthday food have been ice cream, ice cream cake, and corn on the cob (?!). Come back in March when I finally get around to blogging about Michael's birthday, just before it's time to celebrate John Paul's birthday. Hmm... I'm sensing a pattern here.

Back to this guy!


Two is both my favorite and not-my-favorite age. There is a generally delightful abundance of communication and an often frustrating lack of reason. Liam is talking up a storm, and I absolutely love it. Right now everything is "dat's siwwy!" He and Michael got a talking Spencer ("Sodor's sleek silver bullet," for those of you not up on your Thomas and Friends) from Cici for Christmas, and one of the things it says is, "I'm Spencer the Grand!" When Liam is playing with it he always repeats, "Pencer da Gwand, dat's siwwy!" Spencer also says, "Out of my way, slowcoach!" and now Liam can often be found running laps around the house yelling "Ow da way, so-hoach!"

Partially inspired by Spencer the Grand, we've started calling Liam "Liam the Agreeable" because his answer to almost any question is "Yeah," regardless of his actual opinion or intent. Alex and I joke that he is the second son from the parable in Matthew 21:28-32. Liam is the one to immediately and docilely answer "yeah" or "o-hay," and then run off and do the opposite of whatever we asked (or forbade).

He is constantly following and mimicking Michael. I hope Michael loves it as much as I do. Liam repeats whatever Michael says, mimics whatever he does, follows wherever he leads. If Michael is sent to timeout, Liam will go along and sit down next to him. But he is also totally his own little person, with his own sense of humor and mischief. He is also a wonderful big brother, incredibly sweet and affectionate to John Paul... except when he is (not infrequently) stealing his toys.

My favorite is when Liam prays. He make the Sign of the Cross (more or less... most days a little less than more) and prays with us before meals. He sings and prays along in Mass. When he hears the bells at the consecration he always whips his head around and whisper-yells, "Jesus!" and it always melts my heart. He has established his own little litany of patron saints when we pray together as a family after Mass, and it goes something like this: "St. Thomas... St. James... St. Henry... St. Percy..." Okay, so maybe he's a little confused about differentiating between saints and trains, but in his defense Thomas, James, and Henry are all saint names, and  there is a Bl. Thomas Percy. I love how proud of himself he is as he announces each name and waits for the rest of us to ask their intercession.

Oh Liam Roderick, you are a joy and a handful. We love you so dearly and we are so thankful for you!


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