27 December 2010

Christmas Joy

Our family celebrated a wonderful Christmas.  Our usual tradition is to attend Midnight Mass as a family. Our parishes Midnight Mass is the real deal -- starting at the strike of midnight and lasting until the wee hours of morning, the joy of Christ coming is palatable.  Trumpets sound as we joyfully celebrate the Christ Child.

This year, with a few family members feeling under the weather and Christopher scheduled to serve his first ever Mass at 7:30 AM, we had to forgo our tradition.  I was sad to be missing one of my favorite Masses of the year, but was excited to celebrate Christmas with my son serving at the alter.  So well before sun up, Christopher and I headed out into the deep and glistening snow.  Our short walk to the Church in the silent darkness was a wonderful reminder of the dark cold night when our Savior came.  The moon was full and the snow shone in its light.  It was really beautiful!

And my favorite part of Christmas was seeing my little boy serving.  He was so sweet!

And after Mass, we got this nice family photo.  We never get good family pictures, so this was quite a gift!

(All photo credits go to my AWESOME new Nikon-- Christmas gift from my parents and Andrew!!)

20 December 2010

Buried in Yarn and Frosting

It's the final push -- so much to get accomplished before Christmas!  The kids and I made two batches of cookies this morning and they both turned out well.  This is a big deal considering the lack of gluten, egg, and dairy they contain!  We still need to cut out the last bit of sugar cookie dough and frost the ones that are cooling right now.  Fun, fun!

I am buried in crafts right now, as well.  I need to get moving or some people on my list are going to receive half finished items, which isn't very exciting.  Opening a half finished glove and a ball of yarn on Christmas morning might bring laughs, but probably not much gratitude!  Maybe I can included knitting needles and offer a free lesson?  I could start a whole new market "Finish Your Own Christmas Gift"

I think it'll make me millions.

17 December 2010

Oh Christmas Card

I am finding it ridiculously difficult to get five kids to smile all at once.  Do you think half dressed kids are inappropriate for a Christmas card??  Because I really like this bottom picture.  The top one is nice, but Andrew took it with his phone so it is a bit fuzzy.  (Or maybe it's "vintage".  I can pretend I took it with my old school SLR 35mm)

Do I even have time to do Christmas cards?  Talk about procrastinating.  No wonder the Church, in Her mercy, gave us twelve days of Christmas!

13 December 2010

Fun Feasting!

Oh my. Aren't these little girls the cutest?? My nieces were princesses at our Gaudete Party last night.

A great time was had by all. We were a bit low on numbers, due to weather, sickness, and general bad advertising by the party planner. (ahem)

And now we have an abundance of food. I guess I won't be cooking for a while - woo!

And a joyful Gaudete is follow quickly by a Happy Santa Lucia today! I didn't have the energy to do the full early morning baking and wake up, but some cinnamon rolls might be in order later today. Especially given the beautiful snow fall, afternoon baking will be so cozy!

12 December 2010


Rejoice! Light your pink candle!

Taking a quick moment from party prep to print some activities for the kids. I love Gaudete Sunday! I hope you find a moment to Rejoice today!

A few fun Advent links:

And these totally amazing Creches!!! (thanks, Jessica!)

Despite a few glitches -- like a husband who drank the party beer and a ham that wasn't a ham, we are hoping for a joyful Gaudete!

09 December 2010

Where did the time go?

I can not believe that it was a whole SIX months ago today that our sweet little Avi was born! The time has flown by.
I have never known a child so dearly loved by her siblings! People always seem to think that children are going to be so jealous when the new little one arrives. I think this is just a culture-driven fallacy. This little girl is so loved that she never gets a break! But she loves her older siblings and doesn't mind (too much!) when they dote on her.
And rarely is she set down. In fact, just today, I layed her down and when I came back some unknown older sibling had set her up in a sitting position and she could stay in it for quite a while! I don't know if I should be sad that she learned to sit with no one noticing or happy that she is snuggled so often that she never really had the opportunity to practice!

Happy Sixth Months, Sweet Baby!!
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brics for Mary

We took the kids for ice cream last night to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Not only a fantastic solemnity worth celebrating, but also the "name day" for Bella Concetta.

In this fuzzy pic, the kids have polished off their ice cream and are playing a game with Andrew.

We went to this super cute ice cream shop called brics in Indianapolis. It's in an old train depot and was very charming, albeit in a modern way.

It was a fun and cozy way to celebrate the day!

06 December 2010

We're Alive!

Wozers. This is one neglected little corner of the internet! Is anyone even reading anymore??

My cute kids did their own impromptu photo shoot the other day. I'm not sure where PeterXavier was...probably causing trouble. Hopefully it didn't involve the knife drawer.

Holiday madness has ensued. I always decided to make way more gifts than I can handle, but we are enjoying the challenge. The kids have really taken to it as well, so it is fun to all create together!

Our little Avi, as you can see, isn't so little anymore! She is charming us everyday. Her siblings love her to the point that I sometimes have to ask them to stop! She is almost six months old now (what?? NO way!!), outrageously interested in the world and delighted to be alive. She can almost sit up and I am fearing that her immobile days are waning.

This last photo pretty much sums up my life. I'll let it do the talking.

17 August 2010

Big Weekend

In addition to having our favorite friends visit this weekend, we had a few other adventures. On Saturday, Andrew graduated from Indiana Weslyan with his MBA. It was a very exciting day!
Then on Sunday, we visited some friends at there farm. Grace spent the day with Daisy-Mae, the horse. And fell in love!
This little foursome had quite a fun day. Grace was in heaven with the horse and Sarah, the lone girl in the midst of four brothers, had a ball with Isabella!
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Best Buddies, Christopher and Isaiah, acting like goof-balls.
This one is from RiverFest. These cuties wanted there Mama, but she was singing, so Uncle Andrew had to do.
Tea party on the porch with Luke and Emma!

Summer Pictures

Some of our most fabulous friends have visited us a couple times this summer. Here is PeterXavier with his partner in crime, Luke.
Grace and Emma
Big daddy and his pal Avila, napping on a bench.
More summer pictures to come . . .

Pro-Life video link

I always laugh when I pop over to a blog or open a magazine and find Ben's work. My brain knows he's a real deal famous illustrator, but my heart still says he's that meany-head big brother who wouldn't let me play with him! ;) Check out the video -- it's kind of nifty.

04 August 2010

A Little Linky

This speech, by a public school valedictorian, is excellent. I relates to my previous post on unschooling. Go read it!

19 July 2010


I was asked to be on a panel, representing various different methods of education, for discussion at this evenings CHOICES meeting. I was to represent the "unschooling" homeschoolers. Another mother represented conventional homeschoolers and the last woman was a veteran of the public school system. (There was supposed to be a fourth person, representing private school education, but she was absent) I think the talk and discussion went very well. The group was small, but very receptive. I thought I would repost my talk here for others to read.

Please note that I am in no way claim that this is the one and only way to educate your children, nor am I setting out to put down conventional schooling. I am simply outlining and defining what works for our family at this time.

“Unschooling” is the popularized, but not necessarily flattering name for a method of learning also known as “child-led”, “child-centered”, “holistic”, and “organic”. Unschooling differs greatly in appearance from the other forms of schooling, but not in its fundamental end – the acquisition of knowledge and skill. As unschoolers, we simply go about this acquisition in a radically different way. In unschooling, the student, not the teacher, is the primary agent of learning. Ultimately, unschooling is a gentle and natural method of learning in which the innate curiosity of the child is respected.
As Aristotle pointed out in his work Metaphysics, “all men by nature desire to know”. In unschooling, this desire is respected and allowed to grow and flow naturally. The absence of blocked learning times leaves room for the child to explore and learn in a natural way. If presented with an environment ripe for natural learning, a child is guaranteed to garner knowledge. Despite the popular blueprint, learning need not be separated from living. As John Holt, the father of unschooling, has told us: “Children learn best . . . not by being taught, but by being a part of the world, free to explore what most interests them, by having their questions answered when they ask them, and by being treated with respect rather than condescension.”
Children naturally learn at different and individual rates. Unschooling respects this and allows the child to set his own pace in learning. There is time to “follow the rabbit trail”, so to speak. A child may run after his interests until this interest has waned and/or the natural curiosity is satiated. An unschooled child will gain knowledge via primary resources and hands on experience, therefore making the knowledge his own, instead of filling his brain with facts to be spilled back onto a page come test time. An unschooler learns for love of knowledge, not for the attainment of good grades.
Another benefit to this method of education is that the family learns as a whole unit. While older children will come away from an event with different information than the younger children, all will come away different and stronger because of the experience. For example, a hiking adventure may teach an older child about different flora and fauna in a certain area, differing life cycles and differing terrain while a very young child may simply find joy in an interesting bug or the feeling of sunshine on her face. Both of these children came away from the hike changed and better, but in very different and age appropriate ways. This gentle and natural learning fosters and life long love of learning and a desire to continue to gain knowledge long after the child has passed “school age”.
The role of the parent in the home of unschooler’s is not that of “vessel filler” but rather that of “resource provider”. The parent lays out an environment conducive to learning and then quietly steps into the background. This is NOT to say that the parent slips away and leaves the child to his own devises. Quite on the contrary, the parent must be always ready and willing the answer questions, research more information, or jump into the car for an impromptu field trip. Unschooling parents are always learning alongside their children. They must be equipped and eager to seize the learning opportunities in everyday task and events.
Another key component to successful unschooling is trust in the child. Unschooling is very child-based and child-led. We as parents must trust the child’s innate desire for knowledge and foster it through that trust. We must encourage individual curiosity by answering questions and providing materials and experiences which will allow the child to develop his natural interests.
Everyday life provides us with a multitude of learning opportunities. Because of our classroom-tainted vision of learning and the breakneck speed with which we move through our days, we very often miss these opportunities. As unschoolers, we must open our minds and eyes to the world around us and gently put the brakes on life so that we can see and learn as we move through our days.
Let me provide you with an example of gentle learning in everyday activities. Children love to write letters to friends and family members far away (my kids also like to send email!). A simple handwritten letter provided lessons in spelling, grammar, handwriting, and creative writing, as well as the joy of written correspondence. It is much more natural and enjoyable to write a letter than to study an arbitrary spelling list and take an exam on it, fill out a grammar worksheet, complete a creative writing assignment on a given subject, and labor over a handwriting sheet. Not to mention far less time consuming!
As adults, we gain knowledge be reading and researching whatever interests us at the moment – that is why we are here tonight! We learn through everyday life and experiences. We develop an interest and run after it, gathering knowledge along the way. As unschoolers, we are simply passing that liberty on to our children.

28 June 2010

Our Weeekend in Pictures

Is there anything cuter than a big brother holding his new little sister??
We packed up all five kids and headed out to the Fiddler's Gathering this weekend. If you look closely in this picture, the miniature people in the back are Annie and Martin. We pulled in at the same time, so the cousins romped around together for the morning. Check out JC online for a super cute picture of the Annie, the kid-magnet!
Grace got a tin whistle lesson from a friendly man and then had a great time practicing.
After listening to music, eating and drinking merrily, and buying a wonderfully cute skirt, we headed out and decided to go to the cottage. On the way up, we stopped by the new People's Brewery and got a growler of their Fiddler's Brew -- yum! Added to a meal of Prophetstown pork chops and road stand sweet corn, it was the perfect meal!!
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Now that I have three girls -- with (eventually) three heads of hair to fix, three cutie outfits to find, etc. I may need to enlist help from the upper ranks.

But for now, I think we need a little more supervision before we are ready to go out in public!
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18 June 2010

Baby, baby

It's amazing how much babies change in their first few days of life. Avila is only nine days old, but already she seems meatier and more awake. She is bright-eyed more than she was a few days ago.
And her bright eyes are BLUE. I know most people are used to blue-eyed newborns, but this is a first for our family. I hope that they stay blue -- such a contrast to her mass of dark hair!
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09 June 2010

Welcoming Baby

We are excited to welcome our little early bird, Avila Josephine!! She was born yesterday at 4:37PM and weighed in at an even seven pounds.

Immediatly upon her arrival, she stole the hearts of her older siblings. I can't blame them -- she is one sweet little girl.

30 May 2010

Holy Family Catholic Conference

This past weekend, we went to the Holy Family Catholic Conference in Kokomo. When we pulled up and saw this:

We knew we were in the right place!

We had a great time, as the entire event was set up specifically for families. The bigger kids each had their own special activities, while the
smaller ones stayed with us. (We could have dropped them off and had a virtually kid-free weekend, but that's not how we roll!).

While all of the speakers were fantastic, the highlight of the weekend for many fans in our family, was meeting Fr. Leo.

And then being called up on stage BY NAME to taste-test his food. Crud. I had a picture and it disappeared. PeterXavier and Fr. Leo really hit is off and they have the same birthday, which was only a few days before the conference, so he called PX up onto the stage to try the food he had just made. It was totally cute. There were other people up there as well, but he was the only one singled out. And now PeterXavier is Fr. Leo obsessed.

24 May 2010

Good Grief

Where did the time go? It's been six weeks since I posted!! Woops. Part of the problem is that I have this fancy new SD card, which is apparently to fancy for my archaic computer and I can't seem to upload any of my pictures.

Much is still the same around here -- our house is still for sale and nothing looks to be changing on that front any time soon. I am still pregnant -- enormously so -- and hopefully nothing will change on that front for a couple more weeks. And let's just say that 37 weeks pregnant and 90 degree weather don't mix very well. Eesh.

Funny story about our house: We were heading out of town this weekend (that's a post in itself -- coming soon, once I can upload the pics) and had to leave early Saturday morning in order to reach our destination in time. Consequently, the house was in less than stellar condition as we walked out the door. Andrew mentioned to me that maybe we should straighten up quickly, just in case we got a call for a showing. I laughed at him and reminded him that we hadn't had a showing in over three weeks -- what are the odds of getting one now?? So we left the house and locked it up tight -- with keys that no one else but the realtor has.

And I think I heard God laughing.

That afternoon who should call, but the realtor! So we called in the emergency troops (my awesome parents), had the realtor run down to our house and let them in, and in a whirlwind fifteen minutes they somehow managed to clean our entire house. It was pretty much insane, but luckily everything worked out in the end. Maybe I should start listening to my husband more often??

06 April 2010

I'm a walking (waddling) conversation starter

Last night while we were out and about, I, with my pregnant girth, shuttled the four kids past a group of chatting young college girls. As I went by, I heard one of the girls say to her friends:

"Have you guys seen that show 18 Kids and Counting??"

Seriously. Can YOU count? Five is no where near eighteen!

05 April 2010

Ahh, Spring!

We had a lovely Easter, filled with a beautiful Mass, lots of food, and ridiculous amounts of chocolate. Easter Mass is my most favorite Mass of the year -- I love how the entire church is filled with the smell of fresh flowers, the trumpets and music are so beautiful, and everyone is dressed to the nines. I was totally jealous of all the young skinny girls in the wonderful fancy dresses! *sigh* Some day I will be not pregnant, not nursing, and maybe even skinny all at the same time! (Not that I am ungrateful for my current bump!!)

I made the kids cute little Easter boxes, instead of baskets, this year. And I made homemade Peeps! It was really nice to set out on a crafty project and actually complete it. It has been a while since I have been able to do that. Of course a certain (adorable) three year old wandered off with my SD card a couple weeks ago, so I have zero pictures of cute Easter crafts or cute Easter kiddies.

Spring has really sprung here and it is wonderful. We took the kids to the park and let them run and play off all of their energy before bed time. We hiked up through the woods at Happy Hollow in an area where I had never been before. I had no idea it was even there. It was SO pretty! The kids loved being able to RUN, run, run after the long winter being cooped up indoors. The younger two crashed on the way home, but the older monkeys are chatting away in their beds.

19 March 2010

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!!!

God was certainly being kind when He plopped a Solemnity smack in the middle of Lent! I love it!! In an amazingly timely manner (not just quickly, accounting for all the work we had to do, but the day before St. Jospeh's Day as well!), we officially got our house on the market yesterday and there is now a big For Sale sign in our front yard. It is a little sad, since we really love this house, but it is super happy as well. We are excited to find a new home with lots of outside space for the kids to romp around. And hopefully dear Saint Joseph will help us do just that!

A great deal of child labor went in into preparing this house for sale. But our sweet helpers were (generally) ready and willing. Grr. I had lots of cute "child labor" pictures of the kids working, but Picasa is not cooporating. Maybe later.

The kids all put on shorts this morning (well, except Bella -- she just stripped naked). I hope it gets as warm as the weather man is predicting!

07 March 2010

Houses and Ultrasounds

I gave up blogs and facebook for lent --which explains my lack of posting lately. Funny thing, though, it's been way less sacrificial than I thought it would be!! And the time it has freed up has been great. Although it has led to complete insanity, in some ways.

Like the fact that we decided to put our house on the market. Not that this is a rash decision -- it has been coming for over a year now. But a few things have happened in the last couple of months that made us look at each other and say "Apparently, God wants us to move!" Sometimes, He comes down and beats you over the head.

So, if you want a beautiful home downtown and RIGHT next to St Boniface -- I have one for you!

We had an ultrasound a couple weeks ago. I wasn't planning to have one at all, but ended up doing it just to clear up a few things. Everything is just fine and dandy! I took the four kids and they LOVED getting pictures of the baby! They were so excited. Having baby #5 is totally different than the previous pregnancies. It is so fun to have all of these little people to share our excitement. I think the sibling rivalry thing people talk about is a myth -- that or they just bring it on themselves. Self-fulfilling prophecies! In fact, the other day Christopher said out of no where "I just wish the baby would get here. I keep seeing all these tiny babies and I want ours!!"

13 February 2010

Valentine Making Adventures

While Andrew was at the Men's Retreat this morning (with Dr. Cuddeback . . . can you say jealous?? At least Andrew came home for his check book so he could buy the book!), the kids and I worked on making Valentines.

It was an adventure, to say the least. And a learned a lot. For example, did you know that if you heat a hard boiled egg in the mircowave it explodes? It makes a pretty impressive noise, too. I can't tell you just how long you have to cook it, but I do know that at the time of the sonic boom, the timer read 31:42.

Some how I think Andrew's morning was a little . . . quieter.

And the Valentine's . . . they got made, but they may be lacking the candy to which they were supposed to be attached. Some people just can't handle seeing candy and not eating it.

I doubt those men at Church grew in patience as I did this morning. Or maybe I didn't . . .

11 February 2010

Dustin' the cobwebs off the ol' blog

Does anyone even read this anymore?? Sorry for the serious lack of posting -- all of my (few) creative juices have been sucked away by this new little person.

Despite the fact that not one flake fell from the sky yesterday, Andrew had the day off from work. It was a great little bonus day in the middle of a somewhat boring week. We didn't do any thing exciting -- cleaned up the house, ran a few errands -- but it was fun to do it all together.

Isabella is in the very early stages of potty training. It is quite funny, actually. I am certainly not stessing over it, since she is still really young, but she is somewhat interested, so we are just rolling with it. The big kids think it's great. If she does her job properly, they cheer and woop and carry her in the air as they parade around the house. I thought all the commotion might scare her into diapers for the rest of her life, but she seems to love it! What ever works, I guess!

Inspired by Elizabeth Foss's popcorn snowballs, I let the kids make rice krispy treats last night. But I didn't realize how late it was . . . so we may have had a bit of a sugar high around 9:30 last night . . . and we may have eaten some more for breakfast this morning! But I LOVED what she said:

Even if you don't have snow, read the books and make the popcorn balls.
Childhood should be sweet.
Well, we didn't have the books and I was to lazy to pop corn, so we "made do" with rice krispies. No one complained :)

17 January 2010

Weekend Recap

Following a LOOONG week, this weekend went WAY too fast! Since this week was a bit . . . stressful (let's just say the vacuums got a serious workout and if I were to dump the bags out back, the bird would have a feast!), we were all suffering from some serious cabin fever. To remedy the situation, we headed out early Saturday to spend the day at the Indy Children's Museum. We got there earlier than usual, so we were able to do a few things we haven't done before. Christopher got to climb the rock wall and got all the way to the top! He was quite proud and had a great time.

Whenever we truck down to Indy, we try to get the most out of our trip (it's an hours drive), so we hit Trader Joe's for groceries and then went to Goodwill in search of a few things. I scored big with a new coat for PeterXavier. The zipper on his old one broke and he really couldn't make it a whole winter with a broken zipper. I was kind of happy, because I had never really liked the coat anyway, but couldn't justify replacing a perfectly good coat, just because I thought it was ugly! So now he has one, similar to his big brothers, and that makes him happy!

And did you know that Goodwill has OUTLETS??? Seriously. I was shocked. It was a pretty scuzzy place -- I think they take the donations straight from the donors garbage bag and dump them into bins. But I am not above scuz if it means a hot deal! And for many items, you pay by WEIGHT! Haha. It totally made me laugh. But we found Christopher a new (to him) bike for only nine dollars! He had outgrown his in the middle of last summer, but we were waiting for a good deal to come along. He was pretty happy when we found this one. In fact, everyone was so excited that they bundled up and took a ride to Border's this morning before Mass. (We're thankful for an adventurous Daddy!)

10 January 2010

Naming Fun!

Have you seen this site? It is a really cute and fun way to come up with different baby name ideas. I typed in the names of our children in order to see what names it would pick that we might also like. It actually came up with some good ones!! And ones I hadn't thought of, as well. "Francesca"?? Woo! "Giovanna", which is awesome, but not very practical. And the funniest -- "Lafayette"!! Ha!

Of course, when I typed in "PeterXavier" it didn't quite know what to do. And then I tried our most probable middle name pick for a boy -- which is a REAL name -- and it still didn't know what to do!! So funny. Maybe I just like weird names?

We had a good time playing around with this. It was a great conversation starter -- seeing as Andrew is the "hold the baby in my arms before I name him (her)" kind of person. Which is kind of annoying for a "let's sit and chat about baby names" kind of person! And since we are a little stumped anyway, it was fun to get some more ideas.

08 January 2010

Getting back to normal

This blog seems to be reflecting my life as it is right now. It can pretty much be summed up in two words:

Waaaay behind.

But things are looking up. I am finally starting to feel like a somewhat normal, but very tired, person. But I think I can deal with fatigue and occasional nausea much better than constant, never-ending nausea. Much better, I say.

My mom had the kids over to spend the night last night and didn't bring them home until mid-afternoon. I actually used my time wisely and in most areas of house keeping I am no longer WAY behind, but merely somewhat behind! Actually, the insane amounts of laundry are caught up and I can now walk through the kids room without fear of breaking my neck as I trip over legos. Things are looking much better around here.

Now, if I could get back on track with my grocery / meals routine, life might run smoothly!