Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Before Christmas Eve Mass


Friday, November 29, 2013

Our Thanksgiving

The Ross family had their big shindig on Saturday (which I missed because of work), so we celebrated our Thanksgiving Day at home. I love being at home on the holidays. I love being in our kitchen with my HoneyBear…
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This year, some of our martial arts family joined us for lunch.

And then we spent the rest of the afternoon making joyful noise.

We all agreed that a jam session should be included in all of our celebrations from now on.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Like My Kitchen Again

We knew our kitchen floor needed work, but we put it off. We really couldn’t afford it--in a family of nine, the needs are many and the money is stretched thin. We didn’t think we had the skills to fix it ourselves. So we waited. And waited. (You know, new babies and dental bills and time to replace both vehicles and a squirrel chewed through our power line and…) Until we couldn’t wait any longer. We all know we’re eventually going to get to that point with whatever we’re putting off, right?

We got an estimate for $2700 to fix it…there was just no way we could squeeze that in. Surely we could do it ourselves for less money than that? Surely a floor isn’t that hard to fix?

We started on it ourselves, and tearing up two layers of floor was a formidable task.
Have I mentioned our house was built in 1929?

We called an old family friend, and he spent a day helping us get it all pulled up and then helped us get the new boards measured, cut, and nailed down.
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And after about ten days of working on it, between Greg’s work schedule, my work schedule, homeschooling, and caring for a house full of small children, we got it done. It cost us around $500 to replace the floor ourselves (including what we paid our friend for his help).
While we were replacing the floor, we pulled out the cabinets and drawers above and beside the refrigerator. Whoever had put them in must have had a very small refrigerator. Our refrigerators have never fit and have stuck out in front of the cabinets, creating a space behind that everything fell down into. I’ve wanted those cabinets gone forever, and now I’m glad to be rid of them.

Sometimes being poor is not as bad as it seems. If we had been able to afford paying someone else to fix our floor, we would have missed out on the experience of planning and collaborating together, working side-by-side, and sharing an adventure. We enjoyed the teamwork. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be gained from taking on a project like this and completing it. We high-fived each other for being so awesome.

Now that it’s all done, I like my kitchen once again. I got rid of a lot of junk that I had accumulated over the years that wasn’t being used, which freed up space for things I enjoy…like pretty decorations. My ceilings are high, and there is a lot of space on top of my cabinets. I’m pulling out some of the vintage glass that I’ve collected (and will add to) and displaying it there. I’ve also always wanted to grow some herbs in my kitchen, so I’m making use of the freed up counter space for growing some of my favorite herbs. Being surrounded by order and loveliness, rather than the chaos that my kitchen had become over the years, makes me happier to spend time there. IMG_9279[1]IMG_9278[1]
Getting rid of those extra cabinets (which were only used to collect junk) opened up the kitchen a bit.

Some fall decorations, vintage canisters, the wine bottle that we used to toast at our wedding reception, and yes, that is the Tardis traveling through Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—I like living in an old house, even though it sometimes takes work to maintain it. There is charm and character there which I just can’t find in the new houses.
Having said that…the bathroom floors and the walls in the hall/library need to be fixed next. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Celebrating Our Little Gem

Seven years ago today...
I was 42 weeks pregnant. I had wanted to go into labor on my own, naturally. Dr. Breniman was respectful of my wishes, but we both agreed that at 42 weeks I would come in to be induced. On a Sunday morning, he met me at the hospital to break my water, and I joked with him that I would try to wait to have the baby after church was over...but that didn't happen! lol I had said a prayer that Holly--the best nurse ever--would be working that day, and having her taking care of us was such a blessing. After about 3 1/2 hrs of walking around 2nd floor chatting with my coworkers and relaxing in the whirlpool, my sweet Little Gem made her appearance.
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(That was my last hospital birth. After that, my babies were born at home with midwives.)

She truly has been a sparking jewel in our lives ever since.

Gem loves My Little Pony, and her favorite pony is Rainbow Dash. Her favorite color is blue. Her favorite food is hot dogs. She loves playing dress-up and attending karate class with her older sister and brother. She is an affectionate, generous, sometimes shy girl. We love you, Gem!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Belt Promotions

Greg and Mojo earned their green belts and Caveman earned his blue belt. Gem received a stripe on her belt. The ranks in our system progress from white, yellow, blue, green, purple, brown, to black. Although stripes are not officially included in our ranking, we do sometimes add stripes to the children’s belts as a visible sign of their improvement. Since it generally takes a minimum of six years to earn a black belt, and since the minimum age to test for black is sixteen (although eighteen is the more common age), stripes can add a little encouragement of progress.
I can’t help but be proud of the way my family is progressing. My son, in particular, has shown such a marked improvement since his last ranking!
Here we are looking mean. Except Gem. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Yet.

Congratulations to my warriors!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our Lovely Fall

Taking an unscheduled break to go hang out at the park…

Meeting Uncle John, Aunt Catie, and James at the Pumpkin Patch…

And this is how our running route looks like these days…