Friday, December 30, 2011

A Little Bit of Regina

Regina had her first birthday recently, which went unblogged until now due to technical difficulties. Here's a smidgen of her latest doings.

Happy 5th Birthday, Twins! Sorry I'm A Few Days Late.

Can't believe they're 5 ALREADY! They have really grown up in the past few months. Dresses that were floor length in the summer are mid-calf now. They are getting so leggy and coltish. They're changing, too. They're cracking jokes, and they can participate in a successfully executed game of "Pass It Down The Alley." Right now their biggest hurdle is being able to complete a song on Dance Revolution with a passing score.

I tried to take a nice birthday photo of them, but they kept giving me the goofy buck-toothed grins. So here you have them in all their goofy birthday glory. Natalie isn't taller anymore; she's kneeling on a chair.

e them

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning

Look at this chaos.  Christmas morning 2011.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011


Noelle is sweet.  There's no other word to describe her.

When I ask, "Who's going to help me clean __________ up?"  she is on her feet and helping before I finish talking.

Whenever she sees me looking her way, especially with a camera, she stops what she's doing and gives me a sweet smile, compared to some of the other hams in the family who stick out their tongues or make a crazy face.
Noelle - smiling.  Natalie - sticking tongue out. 

They all saw me taking a picture.  Guess who's the only one that smiled?

She's always the one to give in to Natalie whenever Natalie pitches a fit over who gets the red cup, who gets to sit next to mom, who gets to pick the story, etc.

The other morning, the three youngest were all in our bed after their nightly migration.   And for some reason, they weren't content to rest quietly - they all had to thrash and flop until they were mashed up against each other.  Natalie's head was hanging off the edge of the bed.  Regina was close to putting her fingers in Noelle's nose.  None of them were sleeping soundly, but every time I tried to separate them, they would, in their sleep, coalesce again into a fitful conglomeration.

L-R:  Regina, Noelle, Natalie.

Regina was especially fitful.  She kept scooching and throwing  her head around with a mighty flop.  Eventually the inevitable happened:  she scooched next to Noelle and brought her head down - smack! - right in the middle of Noelle's face.  Noelle instantly woke up crying, but the next thing she said melted my heart.

WAAAIIIIL - WAAAHHHH - and through her sobs:  "Regina! Are you okay?"

Bless her little heart.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Do You See What I Am Dealing With Here?

Check out what I found in Conor's science book.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Poor Poor Pitiful Me.

Regina wasn't happy about being put up for a nap. She screamed and yelled for quite a while. When all fell silent, I crept up to retrieve a schoolbook and to put a blanket on her little bare feet.

I found her sleeping like this, sitting up in a crumpled heap in the corner of her crib. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011



I am single-handedly trying to start a grass roots movement to opt out of the madness that Black Friday has become.  If you also think that it's just a ploy by merchants to get people out and spending, it's the most blatant display of consumerism and greed imaginable, and completely contrary to the spirit of Christmas, then I encourage you to spread the word.  

As if Black Friday hasn't already grown into monstrous proportions, as if it doesn't reach new depths of violence and greed each year, now the trend is to begin the shopping on Thanksgiving Day, a day traditionally reserved for family and thankfulness. 

It isn't a popular position to take up, but people trampling each other at 4 a.m. over a two-hundred-dollar laptop or the latest toy (which will be forgotten a few weeks after Christmas) is NOT the meaning of preparing for Christmas. Just Google "Black Friday fight" and you will  find hundreds of examples of greed, violence, and selfishness.  This is not what we were created to be.

Let's take back the holiday and remake it into what it was meant to be, one family at a time.  Speak out!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011, 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 29, 2011, 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Black Walnuts

This time of year, the roadsides are littered with fallen black walnuts.  Usually you see the hulls on the ground with the turning leaves still on the tree.  

I was fascinated while driving by this little tree, which has lost all its leaves already but is still hanging on to most of its fruit.   . 

Lookee What SHE Can Do!

Regina finally got the hang of crawling this past week.

Until this week, she used to largely stay where you put her.  Sadly, those days are over now.  Now, the work begins.  Not only do we have to watch her with an eagle eye. now it's time to be extra vigilant about what's on the floor.  Legos.  Barbie shoes.  Pencils.  Brian has a horrible habit of leaving a trail of toothpicks through the house.  Every time we bring firewood into the house, we drop bits of bark.  It boggles the mind.  We are going to have to vacuum until our arms fall off.

Having said all that, she's so awfully cute when she crawls.  And she's so much happier to be put down now, because she can get around on her own.  While this picture was taken, she spent a solid hour playing on the floor with her sisters, scooting here and there.  She's NEVER been happy that long without being held, usually by ME.  She'd crawl over to the jumper, pull herself up, see something interesting, crawl over to it.  Her sisters would catch her attention, and she'd scoot over that way.

And she managed to eat only one little twig.

Wow, my living room looks almost clean in this picture.   Trust me, it's not.

Monday, October 3, 2011

And The Blogging Mama Made a Mad Dash For the Computer

Two twins, age 4 and 3/4, sit side by side, having a snack at the dining table.

The first one turns to the second twin and asks, "Are we still best friends?"

The second twin says, with a reassuring grin, "Of COURSE we are!"

Apples and peanut butter.  MmmMmmM.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Gypsy Daughter

With Sarah being away at college, we mainly communicate through texts or pictures. She tells me I send her enough pictures of the baby to make a daily calendar, or at least a monthly one. She (Sarah) is also noticeably absent from my usual blogging, owing to her general scarcity. The other night I sent her a picture of one of the twins, clean and shiny, fresh from the tub. Sarah tried to guess which twin it was (wrongly) and then shot back this picture of her own.

As for the gypsy part, it's sort of her "thing" for the moment.

The "mystery twin"

Another clean, shiny kid

"Take my picture!"   Don't ask.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2:33 p.m., Any Given Weekday

This picture speaks volumes, if you know what to listen for.   

I’ve been homeschooling my kids since 1998.  None of the children who are currently homeschooled, with the exception of Clare for her kindergarten year, have ever been in traditional school.  12 days ago, (on Thursday the 15th) Clare, who is 10, faced off with me and told me she doesn’t want to do her schoolwork.  This was not a news flash.  We'd been having issues with her cooperation for almost two years.  She was just being honest - sassy, but honest - but I was tired of threatening her and telling her how much easier she had it with me rather than in school, tired of her draining me of time and energy and enthusiasm.  Within a few minutes I had called the principal and made an appointment, and before she knew what hit her, she started school last Monday.  I cried about the decision for 2 straight days, and she cried every day in school for the first week. 

It’s Tuesday of the second week now, and both of us have stopped crying, although we still both have mixed feelings about this development. We are spending the same amount of time on after-school homework that we used to spend on all of her daily work put together.  She misses being home, being with her sisters, spending time with me, and she regrets losing the freedom we used to enjoy. She's sorry that she didn't cooperate more.  She wishes she could just come back home.  I don’t think she’s learned enough of a lesson yet.  We agreed that she has to finish out the year, but that seems so terribly long to me.  I want her to do well in school, but not so well that she loves it and never wants to be homeschooled again. 

And yet, without her, I’m getting a lot more done with my other kids.  The younger girls are getting regular lessons every day now, where before I often ran out of time.  Noelle will be 5 on the day after Christmas, and she has already progressed to the point where she can read 75% of everything she sees.  The “reading” switch has been turned on in her head, and now she can’t stop herself!!!    And Theresa, who is almost 8, still wasn’t reading fluently, but in just the past 2 weeks she’s made huge improvements.  The small increase in time we're put in has already reaped huge dividends.

Because Clare needs to get up early, all the girls have been put to bed earlier so that the house quiets down enough for her to be able to sleep.  She is notoriously nosy, and can't settle down if they're being noisy in the hall or the next bedroom.

There's another bonus I should mention - since Clare needs to catch her bus at 7:18 a.m., we have been getting up at 6:30 a.m. every weekday. I have never been a morning person, so this has opened up a whole world of extra time that I didn't even know existed!  (Just kidding, but only barely)  I have several hours of the peace I crave before the baby and the twins wake up.  If we get cracking, Brian and I can complete his courseload by 10:00 a.m., instead of us just getting up and moving by the same time.  I still haven't figured out how to work in all the cooking and cleaning too, but hey, it's only been 7 days.  Give me time.

So here I am, caught in this conundrum.  Because Clare is in school, I have this extra time.  If she were back at home, my motivation to get up early would diminish severely.  We'd probably fall back into our late bed/late rise pattern.  But having her in school was my last resort, and it was never part of my dream for our family.  All of the things she likes about school are the social aspects:  recess, seeing her friends, lunches.  There is tuition to be paid - we're paying for her to socialize?  Why is it that the school has her for seven hours during the day, but they send her home with two hours of homework that she can't even do, because she didn't understand the teachers' explanations?  If she can sit with me and do two hours of someone else's assignments, why couldn't she have just cooperated with me in the first place??  Then there's the endless fundraising, school uniforms, gym uniforms, new shoes, yada yada yada.  And did I mention that it's no coincidence that by the end of her very. first. week.  she and several others in our family had caught cold? 

There's no neat ending to this post, just a jagged hole in our day that used to be filled with Clare, for better or for worse.  And every day at 2:32, we go to meet the bus that brings her back to us.  They miss her, I miss her, and you can see how happy they all are for her to be back.

Postscript 10/21/11

That "cold" she caught turned out to be pneumonia.  She missed the next eight days of school and lost 9 pounds, but she's fully mended now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11/For The Record

My experience of September 11, 2001, as I remember it:

We were staying that week in Ocean City, New Jersey, in a blue rental beach house in the 3400 block of Central Ave.  "We" consisted of Andy &Michele and our then-"enormous" brood of 5 kids - Sarah (10), Scott (8), Brian (5), Conor (3), and Clare, (3 months), as well as my mother, who was still well enough to travel with us.

Beach houses come with standard cable TV, sometimes one in every room. Since we had taken the plunge and canceled cable in the fall of 1998, the only chances the kids had to flip channels and melt their brains were when they visited grandparents or during our beach vacation.  Consequently, the television(s) were on nonstop (it was their vacation too, after all) and Andy and I did our level best to ignore them, turn them off, or pry the kids away from them.

That particular Tuesday morning Andy had taken the older kids down to the beach by 8:00 a.m. to fly kites, while I stayed behind to care for the baby and the younger ones.  When I finally made my way to the living room just before 9:00 a.m., the television was on AGAIN with my mother glued to the set.  The first plane had crashed into the tower about ten minutes prior.

Now you have to understand, my mother is one of those who couldn't miss "her shows" - every morning news program, Rosie, Oprah, the evening news, the daily number, every single Philllies game and Tiger Woods match, and "Wheel."  I hated it.  You couldn't talk to her or even get between her and the television when her programs were on.  Heaven forbid she miss the daily number.  What was the answer to that puzzle?  Did they win the trip to Hawaii?  Incessant boring golf matches. Aargh!  Spending a week living with it day and night was wearing on my nerves.  So when she called me over to watch the coverage, my reaction was, "Yeah, yeah, whatever.  A plane crashed into a building."  It was unarguably a tragedy for all those involved, but there are lots of sad things in this world.  Why should I watch one more?  I headed down to the beach to watch the kites.

Scott received an awesome blue biplane kite for his birthday that year, and it was a perfect day for flying - brilliantly blue skies dotted with puffy clouds, a brisk ocean breeze, an empty beach drenched with warm golden sunshine.  The only hitch was that his kite only came with about a hundred feet of string.  I volunteered to pop over to the boardwalk kite shop to get a longer spool.

In the kite shop, all the televisions were also on the same channels, and by then the second plane had struck.  I bought a 500 foot spool of string while keeping one eye on the screens, as we were all starting to piece together the information and realize that this wasn't just a bizarre coincidence.  The sun-drenched morning seemed to grow darker as a knot of fear twisted up in the pit of my stomach.  Everything wasn't right with the world.  It occurred to me for the first time that this life I was living, this peace and relaxation and safety I enjoyed and took for granted, was nothing more than a fragile facade that could be shattered at someone's whim.  We were vulnerable.  I was scared.

I took the kite string back to the beach and helped Scott tie it on while I related everything I knew so far to Andy and the kids.  Scott was really anxious to get the biplane kite going high, so we stayed on the beach for a while, but the anxiety and fear of the unknown was growing all the while.  Scott got the biplane going so high and so fast that it wasn't long before  he approached the end of the spool   It was with dismay that we abruptly learned that the kite string wasn't secured to the spool, as we had assumed it would be.  We all stood, open-mouthed, as the string paid out completely and the biplane went sailing, tethered no more, out above the wide-open Atlantic.  We watched until there wasn't even a speck left in the sky.

The rest of the day, nay, the rest of the week was surreal.  On the normally bustling boardwalk, small knots of people were clustered motionless around television screens, staring in disbelief as the story unfolded.  People were more subdued and polite to each other.  Andy and strongly felt that we needed to be at the special Mass that was hastily scheduled that first day.  Churches everywhere were packed.  I would never have suspected before that day that so many people would flock to worship and pray together in the wake of such a tragedy.

I felt so guilty to be on vacation, to be able to enjoy such glorious weather.  I felt vulnerable and unsafe.  It felt wrong to laugh or smile or even talk.  I kept glancing north up the coastline, as if I'd be able to see the smoke from 130 miles away.  I didn't want to let the children out of my sight.  I wept, watching each more shocking video that surfaced, showing the horrors faced and the desperation of some of the victims.  I wept at each poster and flyer made for the missing persons, and prayed for the families who were waiting for news, begging God to let them be restored to each other.  And I was, and still am, proud, so fiercely proud, of the bravery, the tenacity, the resourcefulness and the determination of all those people who were affected by the attacks or involved in the rescue and restoration efforts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011


This week was Fire Safety Day Camp, a free service that is a Godsend to homeschoolers like me, needing to fullfill the PA state regulation that I teach my kids fire safety.    I mean, of course I teach my kids when and how to dial 911, why NOT to play with matches, and stop, drop and roll.

But Fire Safety Day Camp?   What a tailor-made opportunity to rack up a few free school hours and beef up the portfolio! 

Except, we're not morning people.  These three days of camp are going to take a serious toll on us.  This morning we were up at 7:30 (brutal), at camp by 9:00 (arduous), and had to pay attention for 3 hours (strenuous).  And we have to do it three days in a row (unthinkable)!  After camp, it was a stop to have lunch with Daddy; forays at 1, 2, 3, 4 stores; and a visit with Grandma.  

Though there was lots of complaining from various factions throughout the day, Regina was a real trooper.  Her only problem was that she never had a chance to take that solid nap she so strongly requires.
Finally, after 8 hours out and about, we landed safely back in our crib.    (This is why we don't participate in many homeschool field trips.  A two-hour day camp turned into a three-hour camp, which turned into an all-day affair).  We headed straight for my room, which boasts both AC and television, and rested while we cooled off.  Now we're waiting for Regina to wake up so we can hit the pool before it closes.


We may be waiting a while.

Baby's first Robeez.  We chose brown because she's on the verge of crawling, standing and walking.  Hopefully the dirt and scuffs won't show so much.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First-ever tractor pull. Oh yeah, baby.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Look at what SHE can do.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Regina at the playground

REGINA - 8 months old

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gotta Love Texas!

Gotta love Texas!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Regina's first swim

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Endless Nebraska Sky

Endless Nebraska sky, featuring our RV overhang and 1400 miles of accumulated windshield casualties.

Oh, P.S. -  Happy 21st Wedding Anniversary to us!

Westward Ho!

At a whopping 7 mpg.   Sheesh.    :-/

You can just make out our oldest offspring, Sarah, peeking out through the driver door crack.  She took the wheel for the first leg of the trip and drove ALL THE WAY TO NEBRASKA.  WTG, Sarah!  You're a champ.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Just can't stop taking pictures of this kid!

Regina & D'Artagnan

D'Artagnan regularly attacks the baby, but  he must be holding back with the teeth and claws, because she thinks it's HILARIOUS.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday At The Pool

Before lunch

After lunch

Monday, June 27, 2011

Aikido Kai

Martial arts skills AND killer hair.  Lethal combo.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

She's Digging This New High Chair Thing

Drawing at Pap's House

Pap keeps a well-stocked supply of dry erase markers at his house, and the kids spend part of every visit filling up the white boards.

Noelle, showing off some of her handiwork

Natalie would rather sort them according to hue

The finished product