Friday, January 22, 2010

It's Finally Here!

Yup, after much worrying, saving and whining, we have a fence! It's just beautiful: four foot chainlink, two gates, and our fenced yard measures about 80' x 30', which makes for a nice span. Would I like more? Sure. But it will work for us. Soon to come (when the weather warms up) grass and a sandbox!

I'm so excited.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A daybook entry

Our school year is done. We are waiting for Seton to grade the last three essays for Literature and the last two history tests, then we can order her junior year curriculumn. In the meantime, we're all getting a bit of a break.
This photo is from my older brother's wedding. Aren't they both just adorable?

Outside my window . . . sunny, warm, calm. Truly beautiful.

I am thankful for . . . being finished with the school year, the beautiful weather, giggly children, my industrious husband.

I am remembering . . . how stresful it was a year ago when we painted our entire house in about 5 days, so the colors would be neutral. Sal was only about four months old, Lilli was two and a half. Today, we are painting our main bathroom a pale, seafoam green called Country Garden.

I am going . . . on a date with my husband tomorrow. We decided that a once a week date without children would be so nice, and a real break for both of us. It's just dinner, but it's a dinner without fussing, wiggling, or escaping.

I am currently reading . . . Unseen Academicals, by Terry Prachett. It is probably a sad commentary on my confidence in our government that I would prefer Lord Vetinari to Barak Obama.

I am hoping . . . that the ground warms up enough for that fence!

On my mind . . . conceiving another child. I want to wait until after February though, because there are enough October birthdays in the family.

Noticing that . . . I gained a little over the holidays. I need to start running with the dog, instead of just walking.

Pondering these words . . . "Obediance is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams." From the book of Samuel, which was the mass reading this morning (I didn't get to mass, but it's in my Magnificat). It puts things in perspective.

From the kitchen . . . chocolate-oatmela-peanut butter mound cookies. You know, the ones where you heat the cocoa, butter, PB, milk and sugar, then add oatmeal until it's a lumping mess and cool the cookies on wax paper or foil. Yum, but not helping the whole "lose-the-holiday-weight" idea.

Around the house . . . Painting. Cleaning, laundry. The usual.

One of my favorite things . . . did I mention the cookies? And sunny days in January.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Lilli is pleased with a birthday present.

Chalea gets earrings for Christmas

Sal hangs out with Tia Ruth on Christmas morning.


Mom, I dressed myself!

Okay, is this better?

More Christmas, birthday and wedding pictures to come.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Daybook Entry

This is Lilli last spring, almost a year ago. She loves that little white hat, which Jeanie Etchemendy in Douglas made for her. New pics coming soon, I promise.

On another blog I read, it mentioned the Simple Woman's Daybook, which is at I liked it, so I thought I'd try it for those days when I don't have anything to sound off about on my soapbox.

Outside my window . . . the sun is shining. We are supposed to keep the above-freezing temperatured for a little while longer. It's breezy, cool and the mountains look splendid.

I am thinking . . . about the people of Haiti, the rescuers, about how the US is so good at making this all about us, instead of them, as if what we do in response is more important than what happened in the first place.

I am thankful for . . . finally finishing the Homeschooling 'year'. Since we started in Sept. '08, I've had a baby, Chalea worked part time for 5 months for a boss who tried to give her full-time hours, we had to stop schooling at the drop of a hat to clean for showings about once or twice a week, we sold our house and moved into my parents house, then bought a house and moved again. I think it's safe to say that the next year will go quicker and smoother.

I am wearing . . . jeans, a long-sleeve v-neck t-shirt, sneakers, which Lilli called my sketchers, because somehow, she got it into her head that all sneakers are sketchers.

I am remembering . . . how careful Lilli used to be with books. I could let her page through my magazines sometimes and she wouldn't tear or rip them. Salvador eats the bindings off books. I actually had a serious conversation with the checker at Petco yesterday about whether nylabones would be a safe thing for him to teeth on. She thought so, especially since they can be run through the dishwasher.

I am going . . . nowhere. I was out of town most of yesterday and spent Tuesday uploading work for Chalea's schooling, so the house is a disaster. Today I clean.

I am currently reading . . . The Sharing Knife, Passage by Lois McMaster Bujold and my daily devotions from The Magnificat.

I am hoping . . . I can stay feeling this well. I was fighting some really dark, depressing thoughts through Nov. and Dec. It's mostly Seasonal Affective Disorder, I think. The nicer weather and little longer days are helping. I am also hoping my fence will go up this week while the weather is good.

The kids are . . . goofballs. We bought a new toilet plunger yesterday and Sal thinks it's his toy. Maybe he has a great future as a plumber. Lilli has been oscillating between quietly painting, coloring and letting me read to her and running amok and yelling nonsense.

On my mind . . . again, Haiti, cleaning the house, wondering where simple overeating ends and the sin of gluttony begins, writing my book and making it both good writing and good morals.

I almost adopted a cat yesterday. I was so tempted. He was at Petco, a big, brown tabby named Elvis that let Sal and Lilli love on him while he just rumbled. We discovered that Sal can say 'kitty'. I have three reasons that I can't adopt a cat, even just a lovey one: allergic husband, a dog with high prey drive (thinks cats make good breakfast), and three birds that the cat would think are breakfast. Honestly, I'd work with the birds, but I won't make Lupe miserable or risk the cat's life with Sutter.

Noticing that . . . Lilli needs a haircut.

Pondering these words . . . not words so much as a concept that my Grandma Holt told me about one a visit long ago. It was about praying for your town or neighborhood while walking around it. So much sin builds up in areas, and without prayer for the people and the area, it starts dragging it down. Walk the boundaries and pray.

From the kitchen . . . we have leftover rotini pizzaioli, except I used wagon wheels instead of rotini because the kids like them better. Right now, the kitchen needs cleaned.

Around the house . . . a mess, a mess, a mess. Lilli and Sal are playing with an empty coffee canister, the birds are twittering, Sutter has settled down by my feet--his favorite place while I'm at the computer.

One of my favorite things . . . The mountains in the morning when the sun is still pink and orange across them; watching Sal and Lilli dance to any music that's playing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Family as Priority

A popular nugget of conventional wisdom is that older children shouldn't be expected to take care of their younger sibling "all the time" because they "have a life too, you know." When I only had one child, I generally agreed with this. After all, watching my younger brother was such a drag, wasn't it?

I now have multiple children, a teen and two little ones (age 1 and 3). I've decided that the conventional wisdom, like so much else about today's culture, is bogus. It is an attitude that fosters selfishness, instead of selflessness, and emphasizes that family has little or no value, while "having a life"--defined as going out to fun places and hanging with friends--is much more important. Vitally, crucially, all-important. As for watching my little brother . . . I'm sure I thought it was a drag at the time. As an adult now, I am proud that my parents trusted me to watch him. Bear in mind that when I was sixteen, my parents left to go elk hunting across the state for a week and left me in charge of my 12-yr-old brother. I could drive. I could cook. I took him to see Jurassic Park. Okay, maybe that last detail doesn't show responsibility, but neither of us suffered. We didn't miss our Sunday obligation to Mass, either.

As people go through life, they forge new relationships at every turn. A new school, class, neighborhood, or job leads to new connections and friendships. Unfortunately, it can lead to the breaking or fading of old ones. Maybe that's less likely nowdays, with the internet, e-mail, texting, instant messaging and all the other ways people can keep in touch. Even with the new friendships, though, family should form a solid core of reliable relationships. In her book, Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold's Character, Aral Vorkosigan, says, "My home is not a place, it is people." Certainly, once people are married, home is the spouse and later, the children. That should not exclude a person's parents and siblings.

A family is a complex thing that take a lot of work, a lot of doing, to keep it in good shape. On a purely physical level, a family need a place to live and food to eat. The living place needs to be kept clean and the food needs to be prepared. Someone needs to work so the house and food can be paid for. People need clothes. Clothes need to be washed. Emotionally, the family and the people in it need security and stability. Having the physical needs helps with this, but stability is much more about healthy relationships than it is about having dinner on the table at 5:30 sharp every evening. Parents need to exercise self-discipline (like, I should have cleaned the kitchen before logging on this morning), and children need to accept discipline from their parents until they are mature enough to exercise self-discipline too. That's not a decision chidlren make on their own, by the way. Young people live under their parents' authority so long as they live with their parents, are supported by their parents, and still call their parents' house home. It takes a great deal of energy, time, effort and--there's that word again--self-discipline to make a family work. Everyone in the family has to do his or her part to help make that family work.

That brings me back to the idea of sibling taking care of one another. I do not mean that a parent should sluff their responsibilities off on and oldest child. My parents left my brother and I alone for one week out of 52. They were on a hunting trip, which in our family was about meat in the freezer. If they had taken off for Deadwood or Vegas every few weeks, the situation would have been completely different. I do mean that doing what needs to be done to keep the family working is the responsibility of everyone in the family. Everyone does what they are capable of doing to help out. Even my three-year-old helps out. She feeds the dog (under supervision) and puts the silverware away. She even helps set the table and sort laundry. Older siblings are capable of watching their younger siblings when mom and dad need to get other things done, or even when mom and dad need a break.

One thing that needs to be done in our house is walking the dog. Because we do not have a fenced yard, he needs to be walked first thing in the morning and again after dinner. I usually do the walking, but someone has to watch the little ones. It is not one whit inappropriate for me to wake my teenage daughter up early on a Saturday morning so I can walk the dog. Not is it inapproriate for me to have her come home early from friends' houses because he needs walked in the evening and my husband is on nights. It has to be done, so everyone has to pitch in to help it happen. Someone has to walk, and someone has to watch toddlers.

So I'm skeptical when an older sibling is complaining about watching younger siblings. It is part of keeping the family working, and that is top priority. It is more important than friends, more important than the mall or the movies. The older children need to learn love and responsibility toward their younger sibling. They should learn patience and compassion while taking care of younger ones. In turn, the younger sibling should learn love and respect for their older brothers and sisters, and parents should emphasize this. There is no bigger drag than watching a younger child who won't listen and won't be respectful.

In case anyone missed it, this is the reason for doing chores around the house too. It has nothing to do with getting an allowance. It's about keeping the family working smoothly.