Sunday, December 26, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Noelle & Natalie

December 2010, just before they turned 4

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recent Family Pics

Second and last pregnant picture, taken as we were leaving for the hospital. I look pretty cheerful for some who's having contractions 3 minutes apart.

Apparently I delivered this baby while wearing my glasses. Didn't even realize..

Baby's first visitor, her big sister (by almost 20 years)


Theresa walking her balloon puppy

Natalie, Conor & Noelle

Conor and Regina

Sleeping twins

Big sister love - Natalie & Regina

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dear Diary,

Day three on the inside. All my planning and patience have paid off! I knew the first time I spotted them that they'd be an easy mark, with all those little girls oohing and aahing over me. Sure, the big guy gave some resistance at first, but once they started feeding me, it was in the bag. I know my mad-awesome mouse-catching skills impressed them. Then when they set up a warm place for me to sleep out back, it was only a matter of time.

All it took was a bargain with that gullible little mouse. "Go inside and let them see you," I told him, "and I'll cut you in on all the cat treats I receive." Sure enough, two days after they saw the mouse, I was in like Flynn.

Man, is it toasty warm in here! I never want to leave this room, even though they make me sleep upstairs where they saw "the mouse." Ha! Such patsies. But hey, anything is warmer than outside at this point! It even makes this stupid bell collar tolerable. Red is so not my color. But, OH! The catnip! Divine!

Well, that's all for now. Till next time,

Mittens Marie

P.S. Mittens Marie? Is that the best you could come up with???

Contentment personified.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Meet Regina

Regina Angela
born Tuesday at 10:15 p.m.
7 lbs 10 oz.

She's so round and perfect, but I haven't had time to sort through pictures to post any better ones. I just wanted to get this out there to let everybody know!

Deo gratias! Ad majorem Dei gloriam!

Friday, November 26, 2010

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Remember this song from Sesame Street? This version is really old school...

Anyway, I only bring it up because today when Andy went out to feed the chickens and gather eggs, he came back in singing that song. And then he showed me THIS:

The first question I had to ask was, "Is she dead?"

That egg in the middle is 4.3 ounces. The average weight for a jumbo egg is 2.5 ounces.

One of those lovely ladies out there is a real overachiever.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat Night

At first the older girls wanted to be fairies. But they weren't happy with how long their 'lazy' Mom was taking to help them assemble their costumes. (As if I have time to scour the thrift shops for suitably filmy scarves, etc.) Then Clare wanted to dress as a Chinese girl. Originally, Noelle wanted to be a ladybug and Natalie wanted to be a bumblebee. Then the all dug into the costume box, and Noelle decided to be Spiderman and Natalie wanted to be Batman. Then they were all going to be cheetahs. Then Noelle changed her mind back to a ladybug. Then Clare decided to be the Mommy ladybug and Noelle would be her baby. Then they all jumped on the ladybug bandwagon, even Mom. Conor wanted to be Link from the Legend of Zelda game, but a few days ago somebody gave the boys several sets of authentic fatigues.

Thus we have the annual October ladybug swarm:

And a Military Man:
The package of face paint reads: To remove, wipe off and wash with warm water and soap. Additional washings may be needed. Duh. You think?

At one point while we were out, Noelle was wearing gloves but Natalie had eschewed them. I turned to see them holding hands, and Noelle explained, "I'm holding Natalie's hand to keep it warm!"

Finally, a local stable had a fundraising picnic to raise money for their vaulting team. My camera has been broken since the corn maze, but these were taken of Clare & Noelle at the picnic.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Will You Please Get To The Point Of This Post?

This is Natalie.

When people ask me how we tell the difference between the twins, I run through the tangible list - Natalie's a little bit taller, their hairlines are different, Natalie sucks her fingers so her smile profile is different.

But there's also the intangible stuff. Their voices are different. They laugh differently. Noelle's feelings are more easily hurt, but Natalie holds a grudge longer. Natalie is more of a girly-girl, while Noelle wants to be the boy in all the games they play. Noelle stays up forever; Natalie recognizes and embraces her need for sleep (which really endears her to her tired old mom). Noelle has a longer attention span; Natalie seems more flighty. Noelle frequently has a slightly bruised expression, while Natalie almost always looks like she's up to something. Thus the twinkle and the devilish grin in the picture above.

And the list goes on.

One of the bigger differences right now is that Noelle seems to have a better memory for detail, having the ability to memorize books, prayers, and songs word for word. It was Noelle's gift for words, in fact, that convinced me that she might be ready to read. She was the first one to demonstrate an interest in reading, and to tell the truth, I really didn't think Natalie would be able to keep up with her. On this point, thankfully, I was mistaken, and they are both making excellent progress.

Where Noelle is meticulous with words, one particular quirk of Natalie's is the way she mixes words up. Instead of "forgot," for instance, she will say, "gotfor," as in: "Mom, you gotfor buy my favorite cereal at the store!"

One afternoon, on the way to Bible study, her lips got tangled up and no matter how many times she tried to say "Bible study," each time it came out "Bubby." This struck us as so funny that now our twice-weekly meetings are forever referred to as "The Bubby."

Which brings me to the final point of this post. Today something startled Natalie, and she turned to me in exasperation and exclaimed, "That scared me out of a crap!"

Apparently, the phrases "holy crap" and "you scared the crap out of me" are used too commonly around this house. I didn't know whether to laugh or hang my head in shame.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, we just went out and did something fun. It seems that lately, all our fun plans get scuttled or shipwrecked by our lousy time management or the myriad of obligations held by various family members. But yesterday - obligations be darned! - we spent two glorious, crisp, sun-drenched hours at a local pumpkin patch and corn maze. Not a very long time, but it felt like enough.

Daddy and the older kids tackled the corn maze (sans camera, so there is no photo record), and they really enjoyed it - especially my highly intuitive 12yos, Conor. He has my innate sense of direction, and paired with my husband's logical brain, that maze didn't stand a chance.

While they were navigating the maze, I dragged herded guided the twins through the other activities. Not too much held their interest, because on the far side of the park they could spy a giant bounce castle/obstacle course, and they couldn't wait to get over there.

They made it through the obstacles with nervous trepidation (is that redundant?), and soon found themselves at the summit of a giant precipice.

Uh oh. Dare we?

C'mon - nobody lives forever!

Did we make it?

Do you think they liked it?

Once more into the breach, dear friends! Once more!

I could have saved myself the price of admission into the activity park and just paid the dollar each to bounce in the castle. They went through at least twenty times and were totally exhausted by the end.

There was also a rope maze. I instructed them not to duck under any of the ropes as they tried to navigate their way into the center. Even though I was in plain sight the entire time, Noelle was practically in tears when she got "lost." Natalie, on the other hand, skipped ahead fearlessly and made it to the middle.

Then she threaded her way back through to guide her sister safely in.

The final consensus? Two thumbs up.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September Girls

Our church has a beautiful prayer garden out back that is currently in full blooming splendor. I always say I'm going to take the girls' pictures there, but I usually let the season slip by without taking advantage. Not this year!

Clare, age 9

Theresa, almost 7

Noelle, almost 4

Natalie, almost 4

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Heart Headsprout

I don't want to sound like a product endorsement, but I really do heart Headsprout.

The twins are almost 4, and they have been avidly interested in letters and sounds for the past year. They know their upper- and lower-case alphabets, can write most of the letters, and know almost all of the sounds the letters make. They are also rabidly attentive whenever Theresa does her online reading lessons. I am of the school of thought that a child will best learn to read when he or she is ready. For these reasons, even though they're not yet four, I decided to try them on the Headsprout free trial.

They first started with the "Using the Mouse" primer, which teaches them to manipulate the cursor and follow simple instructions. Then it was on to the free first three lessons. The early lessons are very slow-paced, and I thought that the first three lessons would take them at least a week.

I was wrong. They tore through them in about a day-and-a-half, and then they excitedly asked for more. So I caved and purchased them a subscription (on the payment plan). It's not exactly cheap, but to my way of thinking, the Headsprout lessons can teach them more consistently than I can. I started using it with Clare in March the year the twins were born, and she was reading independently by September.

They are very excited to have their own "school" to do. I observe and guide while they do the online lessons, then we review the new sounds later. Headsprout also offers printable flash cards for review, and leveled readers so they can show off practice their new skills offline.

Theresa also has a subscription, but she dawdles and complains about it and is only on Episode 15. The twins just finished Episode 6. At this pace, the they will be reading before Theresa is, and possibly before their fourth birthday.

Noelle, hard at work.

The Headsprout Friends

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Give Us This Day Our Daily...


How cool is that? We've been averaging about a dozen a day for the past few weeks. The neighbor's mature hens give us nine, and our first wave of hens just reached maturity. Today is the first day we got an egg from each of all four of our oldest hens! Yay girls!

Other than than, there hasn't been much to blog about going on around here lately. I've been feeling overwhelmed by the daily grind, and nobody wants to hear me moaning. But I've been greedily stalking my old favorite blogs and discovering some new ones, so keep'em coming, people!

Friday, August 13, 2010


You know how you're a parent and your kids are little and you experience those moments that are like, "I will never forget this as long as I live?" And then, ten years later or whatever, you can't remember most of it, even all that stuff you swore would be with you forever?

I am experiencing that right now. Well, it's actually been for the past decade or so. I have things in my shoe boxes and memory folders that I have no idea why I kept, even though at the time I am sure I thought I'd always remember. I have been sifting through my memories, trying to find the ones that stand out, but unfortunately all I'm coming up with are the bad ones . . . the times I lost my temper, the times I screwed up, the times I let the birthday kid down, etc.

I've been trying to come up with some positive memories for one kid in particular, and I'm failing in a particularly bad way. Could it be that I was really such a bad parent that I can't find anything good to look back upon? This is the best that I can come up with...

After ten or twelve years (and five or six kids) in the same house with the same walls, we finally decided to upgrade the bedrooms, move the kids around to new rooms, and repaint. This one kid and I had come up with a really cool plan - walls the lightest tan possible, with a multi-colored stripe that zigged and zagged around the room. We picked this light, creamy tan color that reminded me of a cafe au lait, moved all the stuff out, primed the walls, and began to paint.

Everything went well, at first. Then the paint began to dry. It dried much darker than we ever expected. It was like buying a make up compact and putting it on, only to realize that it makes you look like you have the worst fake tan imaginable. We had such a cool paint scheme in mind, and now this dark tan was going to ruin our plan.

We decided to go and buy a lighter shade of paint, without telling (or asking) The Man In Charge, and repaint the room in secret so he would never know. Back at the paint store we picked a much better color - I think it was called Malt - but we knew it was going to be perfect.

As soon as we had the time (probably after HE was in bed) we cracked that new can open and began to repaint. Uh-oh. Something wasn't right. The new shade of paint was going over the wrong shade, all right, but the two colors were exactly the same. It was so close that we couldn't even tell where the new wet paint ended and the old dry paint began!

By then, the two of us were somewhere between shock and panic, and didn't know whether to laugh or cry. What to do now? We decided to finish putting the new paint over the old, reassuring each other that it wasn't going to be that bad, getting more and more hilarious by the moment. We finished in the wee hours and left the room and shut the door behind us, for better or worse.

In the sunshine of the next day, we were relieved to find that the paint indeed had dried lighter, and the new room was exactly the light creamy shade we had hoped for. When it was completely dry, we used masking tape to create stripes of various widths, and made the coolest stripes in shades of blue, brown and pink. It was (and probably still is) the nicest room in that house.

I love that memory.

I miss those days.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

2011 Garden Plan

Andy, look these over and let me know your thoughts. They were too large to email.

Andy, look these over and let me know your thoughts. They were too large to email.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chickens Are So Selfish

Every evening, an hour or so before dusk, we go out back and let the chickens out of their pen, so they can get some exercise and fresh food. We also really enjoy watching their antics.

We wait until near dusk because we live in town and although we want them to have some free-range time, we can't let them out too long without supervision or they might get into the street or bother the neighbors. And quite frankly, an hour of idle chicken-sitting out back is about all I can stand. Stuff to do, you know, stuff to do.

That really is quite the backyard flock, isn't it? The original wild chicken, our six older hens, plus the nine hens I mail-ordered (and the thirteen roosters that came free with them), and nine older hens in my next-door neighbor's old pigeon coop. We feed and water the older hens (as well as collect their eggs).

When the light starts fading, they begin making their way back into the pen. The white chickens are always the first to bed.

Chickens like to get as high off the ground as possible. We used to have a roost about two feet off the ground, but then I got the bright idea to put one up by the ceiling, with a ladder to get up there.

At first, only the white ones went up there. But now it's becoming quite the hot spot.

The problem is that the chickens are all so selfish. They only think about themselves. As soon as they get up the ramp, they settle into a comfy spot and won't budge. Since there's only one ladder, this can pose a problem.

Shove over, willya?

Traffic jam.

Then there are those who are never satisfied, even with the high roost.

P.S. Some of the chickens in the pictures are no longer with us, thanks to a neighborhood dog. We lost one of the three white, one of the three orange, two of the five black, and two roosters. The white chickens are my husband's favorites.