Monday, June 27, 2011

A Semi-Narnian Birthday

Just a few snapshots of a very special day...

The Narnian shield cake...this turned out to be one of my favorite ones that I've done.

Playing Narnia in the treehouse with some of the cousins

A watch from his Godparents...he even wears it to bed.

From Mama and Papa...what could it be??

The long awaited hand drill!

A brotherly hug after Michael gave him his painting gift

A REAL bow and arrow set...his face was priceless when he opened this one up!

Cake on the porch

Testing out the archery skills

Happy Birthday my sweet boy!!  I hope this day was the stuff of your little boy dreams and let you know how much you are loved!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This Week in Boys

John Paul 
Today we celebrated John Paul's SEVENTH birthday (which actually doesn't happen for another two days).  Seven.  This is real boy age and rather than being melancholy and reminiscent, I'm excited for him.  He is becoming an amazing kid.  I love watching who he is and who he is becoming.  It was so fun being able to get him gifts that were for HIM, that I knew would make his heart happy and speak right to who he is right now.  I love that.  I don't hear other parents talk about that much but I'm sure it must be there, too...this awe at the fact that I get to know YOU, a real, unique, separate-from-me person, who is pretty darn cool.  I'm proud of who he is and that is a very awesome thing, indeed.  I think I'll do a separate birthday post with the details of our day.

King for a day with his Narnian shield cake

Michael is growing up but is still unsure of whether he really wants to do so.  (I guess that doesn't ever end, does it?)  He is still my fighter and has the same melancholic tendencies as his mother.  It worries me a bit.  There are times when the pure innocent joy and happiness of free childhood shine through and that consoles me some.  Sometimes I think he is just plain tired, though he would never admit it, and I wonder if I should be enforcing a nap still, despite how difficult that would be.  He is so sweet when I get him one on one and I know that needs to happen more often.  The boy just loves to enjoy simple little play and the attention of his mama or papa.  Lord, please help me to give him that much more often than I am now able.

Showing his cousins how to feed the chickens

We've had lots of doctor appointments for David and it is hard.  He is the first of my children who has health issues that merit any sort of outside intervention.  I don't like it but at this point, it is the only way.  I don't want to get into it here until we have a definite diagnosis but I have a new compassion for families who have to spend much of their time and energy worrying about the health of their little ones.  We have been very blessed.  David is a trooper and has been very brave through it all.  He's at the hard age of two right now, testing limits and learning how to handle frustration...a slow go so far.  I love that he is chattering away all the time and he loves to make us laugh.

Getting a very blurry haircut from Papa

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Camping

We took my dad up on his invitation to come out to his cabin for Father's Day and the boys had a blast.  It was beautiful out there and it was a nice, quick getaway.  We joined two of my sisters and their children out there for the night.  And I think I get some sort of mom credit for willingly and (mostly) cheerfully opting to sleep in a tent with all five of us on a deflated air mattress while pregnant.  I survived the several pitch black middle of the night out in the wilderness runs to the outhouse, thank you very much.  John Paul and Michael both tried the has a little seat attached for the kids, which is great!  They loved the raft and searching for hundreds of tadpoles and frogs.  We tried to catch some of their koi to take home as pets (they wanted us to...they're overtaking the pond!) but they were far too elusive for our little nets.  Fire-tending was also a big hit. We were exhausted the next afternoon, but the memories are well worth it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This Week in Boys

John Paul 
This boy has been enamored with both his treehouse and archery.  He has spent hours in the treehouse and when he is not there, he has been fashioning bows and arrows out of sticks and string.  They actually shoot.  I think I'm more excited than him for his birthday to arrive in a few weeks...  Today he drew me a picture of the exact type of drill he would like "if I happened to want to buy it for him."  It's already arrived in the mail.  Trying to decide if we can have a real friend party now that this little boy is turning SEVEN.  That seems like a big number to celebrate to me!

Michael has been such a joy this week.  He's spent a lot of time working with John Paul on the treehouse, even though he's too little to climb the ladder.  He still is intent on being a farmer and just yesterday while we were working in the garden, he was internalizing the fact that farmers are allowed to get dirty and therefore, it was okay that his hands were covered in muddy goodness.  Brian and I again realized the other day that he is fitting his name more and more.  He is so angelic but he is a fierce fighter and will embrace the battle when it comes to anything 'bad' that may want to harm us. There is such power in a name, but more on that in a future post...

Brian caught this one when Michael happened to fall asleep on the porch. I won't share the one that he caught of me sleeping on the bench right next to him :)

David has been our trooper this week.  We had to take him for some medical tests in the middle of the week and he was so good.  Thank you to David's angel!  He talks more and more and his sentences are just adorable.  I don't really want him to learn correct pronoun usage yet when it means he won't refer to himself as "me" in the subject of a sentence.  "Me LIKE pasta," with a big nod.  That sounds very caveman-esque when I type it but I assure you when he says it, it is as cute as can be.  His pretend play is so sweet to watch and very very thorough.  He's been enjoying playing with the kitchen set and making dinner for him and his brothers.

Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Pentecost by Jean Restout

Pentecost is here!  Praising God today for the gift of His Spirit.  Today we will be having a more low key celebration in our home.  Brian worked at the shelter overnight so the boys and I will have a special breakfast of homemade coffee cake and a big omelet.  This afternoon we will be going to the cathedral downtown for the Confirmation celebration for our diocese.  We led the RCIA classes for our parish this year and we would like to be there to witness the Confirmation of the young man we taught.  So it's a lazy morning here and that doesn't happen often so we will enjoy.  Of course, the most important part of celebrating the Liturgical Year is celebrating it with the Church.  The Church herself has provided THE way to celebrate.  Anything else we do must be an extension of that, lest it be fruitless. In our desire to make the liturgical year come alive for our children and be experienced in a real way, we must always be sure to make the Liturgy the central player in all of the celebration.  I love Leila's post on this topic...go read it, so very wise.

With that said, it is wonderful to make the celebration real in the home as well.  This can be done in such simple ways.  Last year, we had family over for dinner to celebrate Pentecost and as part of our celebration I made a "Seven Fruits Salad" which was fun and the kids all loved.  I got the original idea for this from Catholic Cuisine, such a wonderful resource that site is and I'm so grateful for the creativity of all the lovelyladies who contribute there.  Let's see if I can remember what I put into, grapes, blueberry, cantaloupe, kiwi, strawberry, and Something like that.  This is a fun little way to celebrate since it's so versatile and easy, though admittedly, fruit salad can get expensive to make and it is always eaten so quickly.

The other treat I made was a Pentecost birthday cake.  It seemed appropriate to celebrate the birthday of the Church with a birthday cake.  I used white frosting to represent the Holy Spirit and sliced up strawberries so that they resemble tongues of fire (sort of...).  I put 12 candles standing up around the outside rim of the top of the cake to represent the 12 Apostles in the upper room and one blue in the center for the Virgin Mary.  Candles are perfect, too, because then there is a REAL flame dancing above them just like the first Pentecost.  They are then blown out by all the kids present who are all members of His Body, the Church so it's partly their birthday celebration, too!  Creative, huh?  I needed to make a dessert anyway and this is what came out!

This year will be more relaxed as we'll be at the Cathedral and won't be home in time for me to make anything elaborate for dinner. I do plan on making some homemade icecream and I have some leftover cake pieces in the refrigerator from a time when I turned over a birthday cake too quickly and it fell apart before my eyes.  So maybe I'll do something similar with the red and white and birthday theme...

May the Spirit be welcome in our homes this day and forever and may He change our hearts to be more and more like that of our Lord.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Homegrown Nettle Tea

Making my own nettle tea was so simple!  We have loads of nettle that springs up in our yard and, until the past few months, I saw it only as a nuisance.  If you've never experienced stinging nettle, be glad.  When you come into even the slightest contact with this weed, it's tiny little 'hairs' that cover it sting and cause a burning, itching sensation for 10 to 15 minutes.  Not fun.  If you do happen to come into contact with it, do your best not to rub or itch, as it only makes it much worse!  BUT this weed has a redeeming quality!  It is chock full of lots of vitamins and lots of wonderful nutrients and has been used through the ages to treat all sorts of maladies.  Because of it's high vitamin and nutrient content it is a wonderful way for a pregnant woman to get the necessary nutrients she needs.  Nettle is high in calcium, magnesium, and IRON which is why I was anxious to try to make my own.  I have been deficient in all of those during pregnancy but the pill forms leave much to be desired and produce some undesirable side effects. You can read more about the benefits of nettle here.

So one spring afternoon when it was actually not raining, I very carefully cut down as much nettle as I could from our yard, filling two small baskets.  WEAR GOOD GLOVES AND LONG SLEEVES.  I thankfully did not get stung even once.  Once inside I tied up several bunches of the nettle and hung them upside down to dry in the mudroom.  After several days, they were completely dry and ready for the leaves to be removed.  My guess is you could probably use the stems as well but it seemed easier to me to just remove the leaves.  At this point I did not need to use gloves as the stinging properties are gone once the nettle is dried.  It's still a bit prickly but nothing painful.  After collecting all the leaves in a large bowl,  I simply crushed them into a quart size Ball jar.  There it is, nettle tea!

You can use any sort of fancy tea steeper that you'd like...I'm sure there is a correct name for that device but I don't happen to know it...I'm new to this tea thing, after all.  I found one for $3 at our local grocery store.  I simply fill the ball with the crushed nettle and steep in hot water.  The longer it steeps, the darker, more flavorful, and more beneficial the tea becomes.  It will turn a rich green if you let it sit long tastes good!  I've been adding about a half teaspoon of my dandelion syrup and it has been the first thing I drink in the morning.  I'm hoping to harvest and dry nettle several more times this year so that I can have a good stock for the fall and winter.

Thank You, God for the gifts you give us and thank You for showing me once again how those things which at first are a nuisance to us, can actually be the things that help us to grow and thrive. Your creation is amazing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Very Good Thing...

A very good thing indeed when you see your little boy head out to his newly built treehouse with a copy of Peter Pan in his hands.  Thank you, God, for letting us give him this sort of childhood.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Week in Boys

John Paul 
John Paul spent hours today with Brian working on his new tree fort.  Looks pretty cool.  He's been asking Brian all week for help with the 'ladder' (the logs screwed into the trunk) and Brian went above and beyond to make a little platform and helped John Paul improve his pulley system for getting things up and down.  They are both in their glory.

Enjoying the Memorial Day parade with their "Memorial Day crowns"

Michael began asking me questions this week about death.  I see his little innocent mind working and he asked me when we will die followed a few minutes later by would it be soon.  I love these moments as a parent explaining the mystery of the universe in a way that is not tainted by fear or false piety but with a real faith in what is true.  John Paul has always taken death as a fact of life and at some moments has said how he's excited for us to die so that we can go to heaven.  Michael may react differently, as expected but for now, it is beautiful to watch him work through these questions as I beg grace to answer them in the way that is best for him.

Putting more and more sentences together, often backwards.  He makes us laugh so often with his ways of putting things and his complex sentences that do make sense if you have the David language decoder ring.  We do.  I started doing "So big!" with him again but this time added, "how fast is David?"  He then races his legs and arms in place and says "SO fast!"  Also added "how strong is David" in which he answers with his cute flexed arms and declares "SO strong!"  He's sleeping a bit better now that he is in the big boy room and we are working more with consistent discipline and helping him know how to properly ask for things and not whine.

Just after catching a frog at the nature preserve

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