Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow Day

Today was the first snow-day of the season.  It's hard to believe as this is the last day of February.  I really haven't missed snow this year, or so I thought.  But as we awaited the storm, I discovered that I had great anticipation.  It was fun waking up this morning to our own winter wonderland.  School was closed and we "hunkered down", as my mom says.  

The kids kept themselves busy all day.  They crafted paper airplanes.

They played Just Dance 3.
 We baked cookies.

We cleaned.

 We baked bread.

We played Monopoly.

We played on the computer.

We made spicy sausage and lentil soup.

AND. . .

We played in the snow.

Friday, February 24, 2012

These Forty Days

This past Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent.  We have done a few activities to help us prepare for this season.  We changed our table centerpiece just a bit.  We added the color purple and a Catholic Relief Service Rice Bowl, along with 2 small wooden crosses that were handed out at Mass on Ash Wednesday.  We decided what each of us would be doing to ready our hearts in preparation for Easter.  Monkey Toes is giving up caffeine.  I am fasting at least one day a week.  The kids have chosen to give up something different each week of Lent.  Currently, they are "fasting" from Power Rangers.  Trust me when I tell you that it is truly a sacrifice for them!  We will also look for ways to spend more time in prayer (i.e. Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary more frequently, etc).  I love this opportunity for our family to spiritually journey together towards the Paschal Mystery. 

Wednesday evening each of the kids crafted their own Crown of Thorns.  The ideas came from  Just a side note - I love this website.  "Lacy"  is extremely creative and I love how each craft is purposeful.  It is worth checking out.  Each of the kids rolled two ropes of craft dough and then twisted them together.

I then gave each of them 40 "thorns" to place in their crowns.

They look great!

Every night during our family prayer, each child has the opportunity to share a good or kind deed they accomplished that day, or a sacrifice they may have made.  They then get to remove one thorn.  The goal is to have all the thorns removed by Easter.  I would like to surprise them with something on Easter morning, symbolically tied to this activity.  I'll have to give it some more thought.

The following was attached to our church bulletin this past week.  It is a good reminder of why we do what we do during Lent.
Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance.  It is a season for reflection and taking stock.  Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism.  By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus' withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Presidents and Snowman

The kids had Monday off of school due to President's Day.  Since my boys enjoy Presidential facts and trivia, I decided to plan a few activities around the holiday.

First off, we crafted George Washington.

Our final products.  I thought they were quite impressive!

There are only 5, as Sweet Potato was invited to a Birthday party for the afternoon.

We also made Red, White & Blue cupcakes.  They were Cherry Chip - with a dash of red food coloring, Cool Whip and blue sprinkles.  Honey Bunches suggested we sing a patriotic song before eating them.  America the Beautiful was the song of choice. 

Yesterday, we woke up to snow.  The first thing Sweet Pea asked when she looked out the window was, "Can we go outside and play?"  So we bundled up to frolic in the new fallen snow.  The girls wanted to build a snowman.  The consistency of the snow seemed right, but each time we tried to roll a ball, it fell apart.  So we decided to just mound up some snow and try to shape it.  As we were working on this, I made the comment, "who knew snow could be too sticky for a snowman?"  Cucumber replied, "Jesus knows."  Yeah, I guess He would know that.

Here is our little friend.

I thought it was really sweet as we were beginning to go back inside, Pumpkin ran back to the snowman and gave him a hug and said, "Goodbye snowman.  I love you!"  Honest emotions and simple joy.  Perfection.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


The use of the term "Dude" has been introduced into our home.  I'm not sure who is responsible for this induction,  but its usage tends to get a bit out of control.  Honey Bunches is the biggest culprit.  He uses this term to express excitement and frustration.

A few nights ago, the kids were helping me clean up after supper.  The next set of instructions were to get their pajamas on and get ready for bed.  Honey Bunches was dragging his feet.  By the third time I had to ask him to get moving, my patience was running thin and my voice was beginning to raise.

Me:  Honey, I am not asking you again.  GET READY FOR BED!
Honey:  Dude!  O.K.!
Me:  Ahem (with raised eyebrows)
Honey:  Sorry Mom.  I'll go now.

The following morning, I had to go to the post office.  I happened to be by myself.  As I was sitting in my van, I noticed the same car drive by 3 times.  I heard myself say, "Dude.  What is up with that?"
Certainly not one of my finest moments. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's Day

My oh my has time gotten away from me.  I have had every intention of posting, but each night I find myself far from the computer.  So today, here are our Valentine memories.

We began the morning by having strawberry milk.  Sweet Pea, who doesn't care much for milk, asked for seconds.   While the older kids were at school, the girls made cut-out heart cookies.  They turned out really cute.  I'm not sure why I didn't take more pictures of the day, but this is what I have.

We also made these yummy treats.  Thank you Pinterest!  We took waffle pretzels and added a Hershey's Hug to each.  We baked them for a few minutes and then pressed an M&M on them.  The combination of salty and sweet was delicious.

Our Valentine tradition of the last few years has been to have a pork-chop dinner (Monkey Toes favorite) and then give each of the kids a small gift.  This year we gave Sweet Potato a Cross Word Puzzle book, Honey Bunches received a Paper Airplane Kit, Gummi received a Word Search book, Cucumber excitedly opened up a Kindergarten Workbook and each of the babies (I know, they're not really babies anymore) were given a Lenticular Puzzle.  We did well in selecting these treasures, as they have kept the kids entertained all week.

We ended the evening with individual Cheese Cakes.  Again, another of Monkey's favorites.

Valentine's Day is one of those "holidays" that I (we) enjoy.  The focus has completely shifted from the stress of trying to find the right gift or sentiment for Monkey Toes, to making it a fun family celebration.  As usual, the kids enjoy the little things about the day.  They bring treat bags home from school whose contents rival that of Halloween and have fun reading each of the cards/messages from their classmates.  The little girls make their own cards for me & Monkey and now Grandma.  The kids look forward to Monkey coming home from work so they can shout "Happy Valentine's Day Dad!"  We read our last scripture verse from our Valentine Chain, which the kids let Pumpkin remove and then repeat from what I whispered in her ear.  Eventually they all came down from their sugar high and had a restful night's sleep. 

This day that we celebrate LOVE, is a day that we truly love.  Although we should be mindful of how we talk to each other and how we treat one another every day, it is a good reminder (and helps us put into practice) the importance of telling those close to us how much they mean.  How appropriate, as St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of greetings.  Wishing you all, hearts filled with love!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Poor Man's What??

For lunch today I made the kids nachos.  We ate in shifts, as Grandma & I had gone grocery shopping and were busy putting our items away.  While me, Grandma, Sweet Potato and Gummi Bear were eating, Pumpkin came into the kitchen and said, "I smell steak."  We all laughed and told her it was hamburger she was smelling.  This led to a discussion on how hamburger is sometimes called poor mans steak.  That's besides the point.  Anyway, a few moments later, Pumpkin reappeared - bare bottomed - holding a poopy diaper and saying, "steak."  Translation - "stink".

Friday, February 10, 2012


Comedian Anita Renfroe does a bit about being a mother of small children.  She talks about well intentioned ladies who approach her and say, "Don't blink honey or they'll grow up before you know it!"  She then turns around and blinks really fast.  I'd be lying if I say that I never did that - imagining my Love Bugs all grown up.  As I was sweeping the kitchen floor yesterday (taking care of the morning mess at 1PM), I was daydreaming about steeling away a moment or two just for me.  My thoughts were interrupted by Sweet Pea who had shuffled into the hallway with tears streaming down her cheeks.  It was nap-time and she had thrown up in her bed.  As I looked into her eyes, I saw the face of Jesus and realized that this is exactly where I am called to be and exactly what I am called to do; to care for these little souls. 

I worked in parish ministry for 15 years and loved it.  I didn't like all aspects of my job, but I found my work very fruitful and fulfilling.  When Monkey Toes and I were married, my vocation - my calling, became that of wife and eventually a mother.  Some days are really hard, and other days it is easy to count my blessings.  What I have discovered thus far is this:  God desires our happiness, but He also calls us to holiness.  Being faithful to our vocation leads to true happiness - not the fleeting kind, and our vocations in life help us to walk the path of holiness.  It was never promised to be easy, but we have been promised that we don't walk these journeys alone.  We are given the graces - the tools necessary - to help us along the way.  I can't count the number of times that God's grace has led me through the day.  Sometimes it is very evident and other times it is subtle.  These graces reaffirm my response to God's call in my life.  So if you ever catch me daydreaming about what the future may hold, please don't mistake me for being ungrateful.  My heart is where my faith and family reside and they challenge and encourage me, every single day, to be the person God has created me to be.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Honey Bunches Turns 8

Today Honey Bunches turned 8 years old.  Again I have to ask myself, how did that happen?  At supper tonight I was staring at him; truly marveled at how big he is, how handsome he is, and how blessed I am.  We haven't done too much to celebrate his birthday this year, but we're hoping later in the month to have a few of his friends over to mark the occasion.

Honey Bunches reminds me a lot of Monkey Toes.  They have similar interests, talents, and wit.  Honey Bunches is a remarkable artist.  He shows passion for music.  He usually has a quick-wit response to pretty much any situation.  He is stubborn at times.  He gets into trouble at times.  He shows compassion to others. He is smart.  He is funny.  He tends to be quiet at home, but talkative at school.  He is an all-around great kid.

As I reflect on his life, Honey Bunches brings a smile to my face.  He walked the earliest of all the kids - 9 1/2 months to be exact.  While he was teething, he would gnaw on the corners of our walls, chewing right through the sheet rock.  We still have the "worn" out spots to prove it.  He climbed faster and higher than the other kids.  There was one day when I had placed him in his crib for having a tantrum.  I hadn't even made it down the hall when I heard little footsteps behind me.  Honey had climbed out of his crib.  He is the only baby who has ever mastered that skill in our household.  Then there was the time when I caught him standing at the top of the slide with a helmet and knee pads on, ready to ride his skateboard down.  He was only 4 years old.  I have no doubt he will give me my first gray hair! 

There are also the times when he is gentle and helpful with his little sisters.  He helps them put their boots on the correct feet.  He helps buckle them into their car seats.  He pours their milk for them in the morning.  He helps Gummi with her reading and quizzes her on her spelling words. 

Honey Bunches - I hope you know how much I love you.  You make me proud to be your mom.  You are a gift to your dad and I and you're a blessing to our family.  Happy Birthday Dude!  Love you forever!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Coffee Break

I love coffee.  I love the smell of it.  I love the taste of it.  Even not so great coffee, I still like.  What I appreciate the most about coffee is that it forces me to slow down, even if just for a moment, and take my time to drink it.  I may not always afford myself the luxury of doing so, but when I do brew a pot, I attempt to sit for just 5 minutes and take in the experience. 

While the older kids are at school, the little ones and I have begun a tradition of a "mid-morning" coffee break.  My girls actually like coffee.  I try to keep a jar of decaf-instant on hand for them.  The last few days, Cucumber has specifically asked if we can take our coffee break and visit for awhile.  How could I possibly say no to such a request?

With all of our home projects in progress, I have been feeling extremely tired.  Today, it felt as though I had hit a wall.  So instead of having coffee during our morning break, I made a drink called "The Green Monster", in hopes that it would give me a boost of energy.  It's made with banana, peanut butter, yogurt, milk, and raw spinach.  Once blended, it takes on the color of lime green.  As the girls and I were enjoying our visit, I saw Cucumber shudder.  I asked, "What's wrong honey?"  She replied, "That green drink is freaking me out!" 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Love and Forgiveness

Last night, Honey Bunches made his First Reconciliation.  It was a lovely celebration - Yes, I repeat,  CELEBRATION.  The concept of confession is often a difficult one for many - both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  I won't go into the Theology of the Sacrament today, but it is a beautiful, healing, and loving experience, made possible through Jesus Christ who is our spiritual physician.  After receiving the sacrament, I asked Honey Bunches how he felt.  He said, "I feel closer to Jesus."  True words of wisdom from a child.

We have also begun our Valentine Day countdown.  Once again, I took this idea from CatholicIcing, but altered it a little.  Here is the result:

The chains are in the shape of a heart, and each one contains a passage from Scripture containing the word "Love."  Each evening during supper, we remove a chain and read what is written.  It was simple and easy to make.

Lastly, here are a few kid-isms from the past couple of days. 

Monkey Toes:  Cucumber, do you want to come with me to get my hair cut?
Cucumber:  Um, dad?  Why are you going to get a haircut when you're bald on the top?

Monkey Toes left his belt on the changing table and Pumpkin asked, "Daddy left his seat belt here!"

Pumpkin has a rug burn by her eye that she keeps scratching.  Sweet Pea told her, "Pumpkin if you don't stop scratching it will blood and then you'll have a scarf."  Translation - if you don't stop scratching it will bleed and you'll have a scar.

I wake the kids up for school in the morning, and the boys usually get a bit irritated by my joyfulness so early in the day.  Friday morning I flipped the lights on and said, "Goooooooood Friday morning!"  Honey Bunches replied, "I think I like good Friday night a whole lot better."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Did you notice the slight title change of my blog?  No, we are not expecting another baby (although we would joyfully welcome a new little life).  As of today, we officially have another member of our household - my mom has moved in with us.  We have been in transition for the past three weeks and are not all completely settled in yet.  Everyday we work a little more towards making our home her home too.

We are excited for her to be here with us, especially the kids.  In just a matter of days, my children lost two grandparents.  My mom is the only grandparent who they get to see daily.  That is a blessing.  So we gratefully welcome Grandma into our brood!  

Our Living Room/make-shift Bedroom
As our home is in transition, so are all of us.  Not so much because Grandma is here, but because our "spaces" have changed until we finish a few home projects and make room for all of our belongings.

Views of our kitchen
By evening, I welcome bedtime (for all of us!).  The end result is in sight and that makes me very excited and very happy.  In the meantime, we'll keep working hard to truly make our house a home.

May God’s peace be upon this house
That God has blessed us with
A home that reflects His awesome love
And the grace He freely gives

May it be a home with open doors
That welcomes strangers in
And makes them feel loved and accepted
Knowing that God dwells within

Our homes should be more than a house
Where we live day by day
It should be a place where God can reign
And precious memories are made

For as we establish in our home
The Lordship of Jesus Christ
We invite His presence to come and dwell
And fill each room inside

So as we continue to lift up the Lord
In every part of our lives
It’s then our home will reflect the faith
And hope we have in Christ

© By M.S.Lowndes