Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When Negligence Can Be a Good Thing

About, oh, I don't know, 4 months ago, I planted various vegetables in 2 of my garden boxes.  Then, I nurtured them for a couple of weeks.  Then, I forgot about them....completely.  During the last 2 weeks, we had a few days here and there of sunny, warmer, somewhat spring-like weather.  So, I got the garden bug.  I walked around my garden bed to think about the spring planting season, and to see the damage from the winter garden.  Surprisingly enough, we had produce!!!  My block of turnips made about 20 or so very nice sized turnips, which we smothered down with pork roast, twice.  It.was.good!  Last night, for dinner, we brought in a hand full of lettuce, which tasted oddly like broccoli, for a salad with vinaigrette, and we also brought in several hand fulls of baby carrots!  I say they were 'baby carrots' only because since I neglected the garden so much, they were never thinned out, so they made a whole bunch of small carrots, instead of several good sized carrots.  Either way, it was all very tasty!  We steamed the carrots with butter, and that with the salad was the perfect accompaniment to go with a Sunday evening steak night (homegrown beef, of course =)  Now, I can't wait until spring, when Phil has promised to help me out with a big garden this year!!!  He is WAY better at growing veggies than I....

Our "baby" carrots

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, Have You Any Wool?

Over the summer, I knit up a few of these wool diaper covers for Luke (it's the Very Chunky Diaper pattern link).  They came out very cute, and they work really well, too!  And, apparently, you only have to wash wool covers once every few weeks.  All you have to do is air them out between diaper changes, and they are good to go.  The really don't smell...it's amazing!  And, I've had NO leaks with them, yet.  Wool fiber has some other pretty interesting characteristics, as well....here's a link from The Diaper Pin on the properties of wool, and why it is ideal for cloth diapering, if you're a research-nerd type, like me.  Apparently, I've also become a yarn nerd since I picked up knitting.  I mean, seriously, how many people do you know that rant and rave about the properties of wool yarn on their blogs?!  

 The only catch with wool covers is that you have to take some care when washing them.  You can't just throw them into the washing machine, or it will ruin them, and then your heart will hurt.  So, they have to be hand-washed/soaked in warm water with a little bit of baby soap and lanolin.  Did you know that sheep naturally secrete lanolin, which makes wool a natural repellent of water...just in case you opted out of reading the link, I couldn't leave you without some useless, random fact about wool ;).

***several days later***

So, I tried washing these things.  Washing them isn't so bad, but it takes FOREVER for them to dry!  I'm going to have to see if I can find some tips and tricks on how to dry them faster.  In the meantime, I think I may have to knit a few more wool diaper covers...there are some very cute patterns on ravelry.com =)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Witnessing to the Truth

So, I've been thinking.  I've been thinking about the vocation to family life and Motherhood.  With the March for Life right around the corner, most people in the Catholic world are vamping up their ever-present support for unborn life, so I, too, have been thinking about what kind of witness I am to the sanctity of life...am I a good witness?...do people look at me and think "wow...that mother really loves her children and her family"?....does my example make others want to value their families more, or be more open to life?  As Catholics, we are called to witness to the truth, and the truth is, life is valuable and worth living - no matter how hard it is.  And, the truth is that it is not up to us to decide whether or not a life is brought into the world...it's God's decision.  But, the hard part is making others see the beauty of raising a family - whether you have 1 or 10.  On the surface, motherhood is anything but glamorous...I mean, the baby literally threw up down my shirt the other day.  My two year old ate something off the floor that she thought was chocolate, but it most certainly was NOT chocolate (what was it doing on the floor, you might ask??...doesn't matter...).  My six year old brings frogs into my house.  My 4 year old is on the verge of learning to communicate using only his bodily functions (what is the deal with boys thinking that is so funny, anyway?!).  And, children need to be disciplined, they make messes that they refuse to clean up, leave their dirty clothes on the floor after being repeatedly told to pick it up, and don't get me started on the sink in the kids' bathroom!  It's a never ending cycle of cooking, feeding, cleaning....lather, rinse, repeat.  But as a mothers, I also know that all those mundane details are SO WORTH it!  The love in a child's eye when they look at you, kissing them good night, hearing them read for the first time, those little hands and feet, baby yawns, the joy of holding a new baby for the first time, hearing them say their first words...there is just so much love for these little people, that it can't fit into your heart, and it can't help but spill out into hugs, kisses, and affection for them.  

But, some days, it's really hard to see past all the grit and grime.  Some days, I feel like I'm in the trenches, and I am the worst witness to motherhood ever.  I yell...it's not pretty.  Many times, when I go out in public, and I have small children climbing all over me, people just think I'm crazy for having all these kids.  They love to tell me just how full my hands are...as if I didn't know that!  And, heaven forbid that I ever complain about how hard things are, because then it's "well, then stop having kids"  Well, I don't want to!  I love my children...I want a big family, but that doesn't mean it's easy all the time.  So, how do we get people to see past the surface, and that by sacrificing so much for our children, we actually gain so much more in return.  It has to be one of life's greatest paradoxes.  But, some people just don't want to see the beauty and the value.  All they want to see is the stuff they would have to give up, and the demand on their time that is too great.  I actually heard a woman on the radio once say that she wanted to have a child, but really wanted to have a surrogate carry the baby for her, because she "didn't have time to be pregnant"!!!  I...what...where does that kind of logic come from?!?!  

I can only do so much in my role as mother.  I can't exactly be present at all the pro-life rallies, and the marches, and travel around doing missions.  My place right now is at home with my little ones.  Much of the time, a mother's sacrifice and effort goes completely unnoticed and unappreciated by the world.  So, for me to be a good witness, even when no one can see it, I have to be joyful...firm, but loving.  And not just for the sake of others, but for the sake of my family.  My husband needs to see me happy and glad that I am part of his family (which, of course, I am...even on the hardest of days I love our life).  My kids need to see that I am honored and over-joyed to have them for my children.  I need to keep in mind that my kids will be adults one day, and the way that I treat them will affect whether or not they will be pro-life.  If they see a mom who completely loves her job as a wife and mother, then they will have respect for life, too.  I can't be a good witness and draw people to the Catholic Faith if my life doesn't reflect joy and happiness, even in the midst of suffering.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year, New Life, and New Experiences!

Well, we are barely one week into the new year, and our family has already has so many new memories to share!  First off, we kicked off New Year's with a bang by doing a few sparklers, watching a movie, and going to bed at 10:26 p.m.  That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we know how to party over here!  No, seriously, it was a really nice Christmas and New Year's holiday this year.  Besides having a new baby, we were able to just stay home and enjoy our family without the stress of traveling.  Usually we go back and forth between our house, my Mom's house, and my in-law's house.  Which I really enjoy, because I love being with my family for Christmas, but it gets hectic now that we have so many children, and it gets difficult to keep perspective about what the season is really about in the first place.  So, Philip's family came to visit the weekend before Christmas to celebrate the birth of Luke, Baby Jesus, and one of his brother's graduation from college.  Then, my family came up this past weekend to celebrate Christmas and Luke's Baptism.  Call me selfish, but it was SO NICE to have everyone come to us instead of us going to them (I should say that we don't live in the same town as our families...we are 2 1/2 hours away from each, so it gets to be a lot of driving when we go see both families in just a couple of days).  So, we had a beautiful Christmas at home.  We went to the Christmas Vigil, then just enjoyed the day with good food, a few gifts, and my Mom.  She stayed with us for a little over two weeks after the baby was born to help me out...which was extremely nice!  

2010 Family Christmas Picture
 Ok...so, I didn't actually take this until a few days ago, but it still counts!  It was taken before Epiphany (you know, the January 6th one), so still in the Christmas season ;)  

Also, this year, our little Rachel turned 2 years old!  I can't believe she is growing up so fast...they all are, really.  She is just such a sweet little girl.

Rachel's Second Birthday
   She is quiet and cautious, which is so unlike my Natalie.  They are both beautiful girls with kind hearts, but their personalities are SO different.  While Natalie is bubbly and outgoing, always on the go and looking for something to do, Rachel is more reserved, and content to stay at home and just be with those people she loves the most.  It's interesting to watch how different they are.  

Rachel's First Birthday
She is content to just quietly play at my feet, or follow me around all day long, trying to help out with whatever I am doing at the time.  She loves to read books!  I think that may very well be her favorite past time...well, that and holding her new baby brother!

  She absolutely ADORES him!  It is so cute.  As long as he isn't crying, she will sit and hold him forever...once he starts crying, she call me:  "Mom!  Luke's crying...I'm done!"  =)  She loves to put her finger in his hand and let him hold it.  

When we brought Rachel home from the hospital 2 years ago =)

And, of course, this year has also brought with it so many new experiences with our new family member!  It's funny, because now that I have four children, everyone just assumes I'm this 'experienced' mother now.  Like I'm a pro or something O_o.  All the nurses at the hospital, my pediatrician, my OB, the lactation consultant...they pretty much all said the same thing...."oh, this is your 4th baby; you know what you're doing, just call me if there's a problem."  Thanks for the vote of confidence!  On the one hand, it's kind of nice, because I get a lot less unsolicited advice that people feel like they are required to give to new Moms...and, I'm guilty of it, too!  I love dishing out my mothering secrets to women who are inducted into motherhood for the first time!  But, at the same time, I don't feel experienced at all!  I mean, sure, the nursing thing I have down pat...co-sleeping - not a problem!...and diapering, well, I'm sure I could hold my own if there were a contest to see who could change a baby the fastest using only one hand (which is a common activity when there are 4 to deal with!).  But, this is still new territory for me!  Having four children is a totally different ball game!  WOW!  I thought three was a lot of work...sheesh.  So, yes, I do have a small amount of 'experience', as people like to say, but in reality, I'm just learning as I go through this whole process.  Which keeps things fun, for sure =)    

And, finally, we had Luke Baptized this year!  So, we have a brand new member of the Catholic Church as of January 8th!  The Baptism was absolutely gorgeous!  While I've been to many Baptisms in my life, this one was completely new for us.  We had the privilege of having Luke Baptized in the Traditional Latin Rite.  It was awesome!  Kind of stressful, since I had no idea what to expect, and I'm even WAY less experienced in Latin than I am in mothering.  So, I had a little trouble trying to follow along in the booklet, hold Luke, and make sure Father could reach the baby's head, chest, and such for the different blessings...all while wearing heels! But, the ceremony was just beautiful.  Our Priest did a fantastic job of administering the Sacrament (complete with the blessed salt and the knocking on the Church door to enter!), and he explained each part of the ceremony very nicely, since the majority of those present had never attended a Latin Baptism before.  My niece, who is pretty talented at photography (No!  Of course I'm not biased!) got some really nice pictures for us.

My Mother-in-Law makes one of these for each of my babies on their Baptism Day =)

this was actually taken the day before the Baptism, but it was just so sweet!

This was part of the Exorcism rite, and Luke was smiling at me =)

Father and the Godparents just after Luke was Baptized

Luke's God-Parents, Parents, and our Priest
Ok, Phil's going to love me for this next one, but there is a story behind this Baptismal gown.  It was hand-made by my a friend of my Grandmother's.  She made it for my brother, who was Baptized over 40 years ago!  Everyone in my family wore it, except for one of my nieces and my only nephew.  For each of my boys, I made sure Phil was ok with them wearing the 'dress'...and, he has said yes both times, but then when we get to the Church, and start dressing the baby, he gets this look on his face and shakes his head.  I think it's funny, but I always make sure to put something very manly underneath the Baptismal gown for his sake =).  For me, it's a beautiful family tradition, and I love that gown!
Luke in his Baptismal gown

The God-Parents =)
I hope everyone had a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year's!!  Welcome to 2011!!
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