I know, based on my last post, I should have been here a lot sooner to let you know how Matthew did at the State competition……but we have been oh, so busy. I have turned my computer on almost daily to post here, but either never found the time….or was too pooped out to actually think to write. I assume you realize, of course, that if Matthew had won the state contest, I would have been back here quickly with my exciting news.
FRIDAY, March 14, 2008
Poetry Out Loud in Sacramento was a great experience. Matthew did well, but did not win. He is looking forward to competing next spring…..and will have his sister as competition. Sarah is determined to spend the four years of her high school years, attempting to win state so she can go to DC. I believe they both are planning to pick their poems soon.
Matthew is the tall handsome fella on the right, second from the end.
The California Arts Council was so generous. They provided good and fun snacks, plenty of water, very nice tee shirts for anyone who wanted them, cute pins and posters of all of the winners and runners-up. Each contestant was given a bag of goodies, all good quality including three poetry books and a book about a poet’s life. The contestants were treated very well, like celebrities. Matthew had the entire family as his rooting section…..even Marty made it down for the day. It was wonderful to have all of us together…..it does not happen much when we are out of town.
Sisters Sarah, Maddelyn & Anne.........waiting........and the little brothers, who handled the 6 hours quite well, Malachy & Garret
After we left the Capital, we headed to Marty’s cousins, only to find out they were sick. Bummer! We love spending time with Deborah and her family, and Aunt Phyl. We love Aunt Phyl for herself, of course, but she is twice as special because she takes the time to talk to the kids about their Grandma (Marty’s mom), who died before they were born. Hopefully we can see them soon.
Thus, we arrived early for our next destination, which was in San Francisco, with the G Family. We planted ourselves here for the next few days. We realized it had been almost 2 years since our last visit. Funny, every time we enter their home, we feel like we just came home. We all feel that way. They are the closest thing to family we have, when you take the “blood factor” out of the equation. We just love this family…..and they just love us. :) It is kind of cool when five of my six kids are over 11years of age, and 5 of their six kids are under 9 years of age……we are still a good fit! Who would have known?
All 7 of the girls and the 2 moms stayed home all day while my two older boys went biking about 20 miles around San Fran with John G. Oh, and Malachy being only 6, stayed home with the ladies, too. He is just dying to join the big guys. Maybe in a year or two…..I took Gloria to a Saturday evening Mass so she could sing. It was so lovely to hear her sing the mass responses and the hymns. I have only heard her sing for us and her family and for our campouts……never professionally. She is quite capable! I loved listening to her heavenly voice.
Both families went to San Rafael to a place called St. Vincent’s Home for Boys for an 11:30 Mass. It was a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), which was just newly at this site. We were a few minutes late, and settled in our pews quickly. We waited, and waited……only to have Father announce that the time was moved to 12:15pm, starting that day. With 10 kids, and five of them 8 years and under, sitting that long, plus mass would be so long. So most of us took a tour outside the grounds. It was so beautiful there. The buildings are old, early 1900’s and you can just FEEL the history while you explore. At one point, Matthew and I found a “secret garden.” I believe I have some photos somewhere. I had grabbed my camera because the “chapel” as it was called, was a gorgeous old church. I was expecting a small chapel, and what we found was a small basilica. It was not really a basilica, but it looked like one.
Isn't Holy Rosary Chapel just lovely?
All the B's and G's under the age of thirteen. Sweet, no?
We gathered in our pews, again. We always attend the TLM, but this was the first time for most of the G. family, especially for the kids. I do not know if most of you know this, but Palm Sunday has the longest gospel in any mass of the year. It goes on and on…….lovely, of course, but long. In the TLM, the gospel is first read in Latin, and then later in English, as is the epistle. And, as is tradition in the Catholic Church, the people always stand for the gospel. This particular priest reads his Latin and English quite slowly….which is okay….but for this really long gospel, left everyone standing still for a really long time. Since I had attended mass with Gloria the evening before, I actually stood for this gospel three times. Gloria and her two-year old were unable to stay in the church for this mass, as the toddler was quite unwilling to tolerate being quiet & still this day. All of this to say, due to the later time of mass, and the really long gospel x2….we were unable to get 8yo Catherine to her violin concert. She was so sad……her daddy promised her a bike ride and some ice cream.
The entrance to our "secret garden"
It was one of those perfectly lovely days in San Francisco with the sun shining, a blue sky and only a slight breeze. We returned to their home and got into play clothes and went out for ice cream. While John took the littles for a bike ride, I took most of my kids for a ride along the beach. By now the wind had picked up so we just looked and smelled at the ocean. Mmmm……I LOVE the Pacific Ocean! I spent so much of my childhood on the beach in Southern California, it is in my soul.
I ran Anne down to Redwood City for an appointment with her favorite chiropractor, while Gloria prepared for the day, and John took advantage of having my two boys there to wash his car. When we returned to San Fran, we packed up a picnic lunch, which we ate in the car, and went north, over the Golden Gate Bridge for the third time in two days. Our destination was a new experience for us.
First, we explored John Muir Beach. It was hard to walk on all of the rocks there, but at least we got our feet wet in the ocean. Since I usually tell my children they can only get wet up to their ankles when we go to the beach, and they usually get soaked, this time I told them only the bottom of their feet could get wet. Malachy was troubled by this. He tells me, “every time I try to only get the bottom of my feet wet, my ankles get wet, too.” :) Somehow they stayed dry, though Claremarie, 7, and Malachy,6, came close to getting soaked a few times. I went wandering over the big rocks looking for tide pools. I only found barnacles and mussles. There was a small blue crab, too.
Malachy & the ocean.......Marty says I have A LOT of photos of this boy and the big ocean, playing together. :) I just love the movement in this photo!
Great shot of a colony of mussles on a rock.
There was a trail that led up over the beach, to a cliff. We were all going to take the hike, but most of the kids got up there fast, with John following with his 2yo….leaving Gloria, Matthew and I to care for the stroller and cooler. Since the trail was not conducive to the stroller, Gloria sent Matthew up to keep her baby safe while we took the stuff to the cars to wait. I look up and see Malachy leaning over the cliff….yikes!! Thank goodness Anne was there to watch the littles who kept leaning over the edge. Gloria and I enjoyed our quiet little visit.
John & the 2yo, Maddelyn helping 5yo Clementine, and Garrett, of course, going off the beaten trail.....sigh.
From the beach, we went to John Muir National Woods, or whatever it is called. I was so happy to have one more opportunity to use my National Park Pass that we bought at the beginning of our Star-Spangled Adventure. And, we met our old "friend" Theodore Roosevelt here. That was a surprise. It was lovely to walk a two mile trail, with early spring blossoms everywhere under the Redwood canopy. I even found a banana slug! Have you ever seen one? I am not sure if they live anywhere else, but they love to live in the Redwood forests on the Northern California coast. We were told they are not found very frequently, yet on one camping trip to the Redwoods, the kids and I and our friends found 40+ in three or four days. Oh, and I also purchased a book, of course. J It goes with the collection of ABC books I purchased on the big trip. It is called “M is for Majestic: A National Park Alphabet Book.” These books are so lovely. You can find the list of books here and the study guides here.
My family LOVES the Redwoods……these are Redwoods we had never visited. I am so glad we made this excursion. The air smelled so foresty. Is that a word? It is now. :) Under those trees, the air is so cool. Have you ever been in the Redwoods? It is strange, but you can almost sense the trees breathing the air, and you sharing their breath. The silence is often palpable…….hmmm….so is the air, almost like you could slice it. We have places on the Northern Californian coast that we think of as “Our Redwoods.” These trees are in our souls, just like the ocean.
One last trip back over the Golden Gate Bridge, and we enjoyed dinner with Gloria’s family and her sister’s family, too. We just love all of Gloria’s family. We packed up the car for an early start.....as if that made a difference.
We got on the road for our trip north, home to Our Hearts’ Haven……a later start than we intended, of course. Isn’t that always the case? The drive went quicker than normal and pleasant enough. We thought we would listen to one song on each channel of the XM radio…..we only got to about 40-some stations. We found some pretty crazy folk tunes and country songs…….for example: “She has a website that sparkled like the morning dew….a mouse in her back pocket….what’s an analog girl supposed to do?”
Where do they come up with this stuff? And then, who said some people could even sing well enough to record their voices???? It made for good entertainment, anyway.
The kids were great and emptied the whole car immediately upon arrival. I was too fried to help much……and then I went to teach the third of my three-class series for childbirth classes. Only one of three couples showed up, so it was a pleasant private class. I was so tired when I got home……but still, I prepared for the next day…..packing the car with what I would need.
Today was “Ski Day”……the day when Garrett and Malachy go up to the Ski Park for lessons through our local charter school program. Lessons are $11 each through the school……..great price! This is Malachy’s first year and he is on skis. Garrett had been skiing for three years and this year is taking lessons on snowboard. He is doing well and having a great time. It took Malachy a few lessons to learn how to stop…....and he is fond of flying straight down the hill. On this day, he finally started making curves. Our little friend Abraham, 7yrs, has been going with us, too. He was an instant success on the first day, just as I expected!
Matthew went with the three little boys today and took all of them up on the runs when they were not in lessons. I guess one time Matthew and Malachy were getting on the chairlift and somehow Malachy did not make it on the same chair as Matthew, so he rode up ALL ALONE and only six years old. When Malachy got off the lift, Matthew asked him, “Were you scared, Malachy?” The wee fellow says, with an attitude, “No…..the whole time I was riding up, I was thinking, ‘Duh!’ can this thing go any slower?” :)
Still, his parents feel kind of ill about it…..Marty has ridden up with him and says the boy is always trying to lean forward on the chair. Ugh. Makes my mother’s heart ache.
It was a great day on the slopes….even if it was lightly snowing and foggy the whole time. We dropped Abraham off at his house and I got to visit with his mom for a bit…and with the non-biological twins. Then we stopped at the library so Matthew could interview the librarian about a paper he is writing for his English class. We came home to homemade vegetable soup & homemade bread, prepared by Anne & Sarah, who, with Maddelyn went to rehearsal for “Aristocats” earlier in the day and so could not join us on the slopes…….I hear tell the older girls worked in the kitchen while Maddelyn took them on the Way of the Cross. Isn’t that so sweet, to be inspired to do that, with no grown-ups around?
OH, how I wish we were somewhere where the kids could see the fullness of the Church’s services for Holy Week and the Holy Triduum. I was able to partake of Holy Week as I first entered the Catholic Church….mass for every day of the week….in its fullness…..and, as I was baptized and received my First Confession & First Holy Communion on Holy Monday, I was able to go to communion every day for the first week of my Catholic life. On that first Holy Thursday as a Catholic, I even spent almost all of the night before Our Lord in adoration. I wonder if I am still using the graces from that week. It was an amazing week, spiritually. Oh, boy, do I digress……
Now you know what I think about, every single Holy Week. I wonder if I should go stay with some friends for a week who live near an active Traditional parish next year……I should consider that. Or, maybe even just go to Gloria’s….she only lives about 50 min from a parish we often attend. This is a GREAT idea……hope I remember it!
So, the children and I read through all of the readings for this day in our missals, and prayed the Rosary. The younger kids literally begged to watch Jesus of Nazareth. It has been our tradition to start watching it early in Holy Week, to keep our minds on what is happening to Jesus every day during Holy Week. Since we were not at home for the beginning of the week, I was just going to skip it this year. I guess not. I let them watch it off and on all day. On our new big flat-screen TV (thanks to my dad!), it was a good watching experience this year. We saw so much more in the film.
Anne and Matthew were made to do homework all day since none had been done yet during their spring break from their classes at the college. I made up to-do lists for everyone else in the family and we did quite a bit of spring cleaning, before the movie was put on. We were expecting company on Holy Saturday and our house was pretty thrashed. We will finish our spring cleaning in a few weeks, just before Jiddee (Marty’s dad, Arabic for grandpa) comes for a visit.
After the youngsters (12 and under) were put to bed, we oldsters put on The Passion. It has been our tradition to watch this movie on Holy Thursday since it was released a few years ago. I was a little nervous to watch it on such a big screen…….but, since I fell asleep three minutes after it started, I guess I had nothing to worry about. :/ I actually awakened for the scourging scene. My, it is so vivid. Many people were shocked at the violence of The Passion. I was not….it was everything I expected. For over two decades, I have used Anne Catherine Emmerich’s account of the passion of Our Lord as meditation for Good Friday. I knew exactly what to expect. Brutal. This is the same source Mel Gibson used to base his movie on.
This morning we did a wee bit more spring cleaning. I also got a batch of my "famous" herbal salve going in the crock pot. From noon till three o’clock, it is our family tradition to practice silence, as much as is possible in a family of kids. These are, of course, the anniversary hours that Jesus hung on the cross. We also pray the Rosary, the Way of the Cross, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, read all of the readings for today from our missals and read from one or both of these books: Anne Catherine Emmerich and The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop. Since it is lunch time, some of our readings occur while we eat. We always eat spice cake, without frosting, and hard-boiled eggs (for protein), without salt, and nothing to drink. We tried to eat the hot cross buns a couple of years, but no one ever liked them enough to even eat them. Then, one year when Garrett had his second birthday, we saved the unfrosted spice cake for his party, waiting for the guest to be able to come…till it HAD to be eaten. We ate it for Good Friday, and the spices remind us of the spices they used for Jesus’ burial…….and without frosting or water to drink, eating the cake reminds us of Christ’s words on the cross, “I thirst.” That is how we justify it. It sounds crazy, but it works for us……for 10 years, now. We also stand during this meal. My sister-in-law passed this tradition on to us…..and I just read the WHY about it…..but it is eluding me now. This is kind of hard to do when you are over 6 feet tall. Trust me. :)
At 10:30 this morning I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. I told my dad via the phone I needed to go sleep. He tells me to go…but, of course, I could not. My Lord had asked me to stay awake and watch with Him for those three hours. I needed to get all ready. It was so painful to stay awake those three hours, and then to pray, too. A few minutes after three I laid down on the couch….where I ended up with a mild migraine-like headache for the rest of the day. It was a nice gift to give to Jesus on the day of His crucifixion. While I rested, the kids finished up the rest of Jesus of Nazareth.
Speaking of Garrett’s birthday…….this day was his eleventh birthday! It is the only time his special day will fall on Good Friday during his lifetime. It is related to this especially early Easter, of course. I do not mind celebrating birthdays on any day of Lent (we always have one or two), but I draw the line at celebrating on Good Friday or Ash Wednesday. So, we made him a special dinner later, with ice cream for dessert.
Happy 11th birthday, Buddy!
I was awakened unexpectedly at 5:55am this morning, by a hospital nursing supervisor looking for a second OB nurse. I told her I was expecting company this day and was unavailable to work. I laid in bed for an hour, trying to figure how I could work and have company and make dinner. I got it all figured out……called the OB department at 7am to see if they still needed help….and it turns out they never really needed me in the first place. What a bummer to be awakened so early! So, I enjoyed about two hours to myself while the whole household slept. I prepped for the day and for company. I made homemade rolls for our Easter feast.
Once all were awake, we tidied up a bit more so we could handle lots of little visitors.
Our company was none other than the G. Family we just stayed with in San Francisco! What a joy to continue our conversations. They arrived early enough for John to take my two older boys and his only boy, Walter, aged 14yrs, for a bike ride around the Lake.
The younger children, with Maddelyn’s help, colored Easter eggs. We had lentil chili for dinner, as our final Lenten meal. I took Gloria to the drug store to get whatever was going into her Easter baskets. Her two-year old, Charlotte, had been a handful of mischief when we visited in San Fran, but at my house, she was just plain cranky…unless we took her outside. She walked in the door with a scowl on her face and left it there for a few days…..till she traded the grumpies back for the mischief! ( A note: the G family has their own home in a town just south of us....so they only spend their waking hours at our house.........and sleep down the highway......well, some of them. :) )
After the children were in bed, we turned the Lenten-flavored house into a spring-filled house. The purple cloths on the home altar were replaced with white-lace…..the purple Lenten beans became Jelly Bellies…..the winter tablecloth was exchanged for a flowery, bright piece…….candy-filled plastic eggs waited as a center piece in a basket on the table…..pretty crystal candle holders with pink candles guarded the basket of eggs.
A beautiful day…..and beautiful friends to share the day. In the afternoon, the man and boys biked at the lake again….while we prepared our Easter feast. Marty is so good to me….buying me a nitrate-free ham for Easter (nitrates give me bad headaches). Gloria baked a leg of lamb……actually, I guess I prepared it……Charlotte settled in for a long, forced nap……due to her crankiness, tying Gloria to the rocking chair. We had a yummy meal, with all members of both families present. John hid the Easter eggs for the littles outside……one of the only years we have done an outside hunt. With so much lawn and so little else, it used to be hard to hide eggs. It is easier now. The kids had so much fun, even Charlotte……and they loved the candy treats. Since Gloria is an opera-trained singer, she sang our Regina Coeli for us with our meal prayers. What a special treat!
Three of the G kids stayed the night with us. Sarah continued a bedtime story for the little girls that she has started when we were visiting in SF…….I told her she had only 8 minutes, since it was already 10 pm…….only to find out the little lasses were still awake at 11:25pm. She says she got carried away! For an hour and a half??? Puhlease! The girls have always thought Sarah was quite the storyteller. I guess so!
Oh, and the salve smells and feels so lovely......there is even a hint of sweetness. I think it is from using much less goldenseal than I did in the past. :)
John took the three older boys skiing today. The girls and Malachy played. Gloria and I watched a movie in the afternoon…….eventually putting together a beef rib dinner for Garrett’s birthday dinner. A delicious meal! Marty came home early to prep the ribs for us before he had to be at volleyball. That was so appreciated.
Just before dusk, Charlotte decide to crawl down my steps, losing her balance and landing on her face on one of the small bits of cement we even have around here. Her cute little face swelled up quickly, with lovely scratches across her face. Hey, it did not affect her appetite………she ate her dinner quite heartily!
Anne & Matthew returned to college classes today after their spring break. John & Gloria took the little girls to the park and then joined us for the afternoon, with John taking the boys to bike and hike, and with all of the children playing outside for hours here at Our Hearts’ Haven. Miss Charlotte was a new gal, sweet-tempered, and back to mischief. That was good…….it is easier to chase after her and to keep her safe than it is to keep her happy, or bring her back to a state of happiness. :)
As soon as she arrived, Gloria got to work making homemade chocolate éclairs for me. I had heard the story of the éclairs she made for John just after they met…….and I could taste them. Happily, she agreed to make them for me……I had no idea it had been since that time for John since she had last made them. It took about 6 hours to make them. They were delicious! Even before they were frosted, Gloria and I ran out of the house to join local homeschooling moms for dinner out. First we dropped Garrett off for baseball practice, the first of the season. Funny, only three coaches and their sons showed up. Think there was a communication issue??? :) I guess we will start for real this next week.
We enjoyed visiting with the other moms…………..and especially with each other, without kid interruptions. We need to have mom’s night out every time she comes up to visit! We are thinking this could be arranged. :) One of my un-named friends locked her keys in the car…….so we took her home to pick up her keys and back to her car. It was kind of nice to get extended time to hang out with her. :)
Then, I took Gloria home to her family, in the town south of ours. Her kids were still awake. All went quickly to bed (but not to sleep :) )…….except Charlotte, who was oh, so adorable this evening. She is SO smart…….so clever. It was fun to watch her play. In fact, we all sit around and watch her regularly for entertainment’s sake. When I said goodnight to her, I whispered in her ear: Say, I love you, Chari. She whispered it back to me…….I said: Say it loud. She repeats, very loudly: I love you, Chari…………she does it twice, and then tries to trick me and says: I love you…..pause……….Mommy! And giggles at herself. Then, her mommy tells her to go tell big brother Walter “I love you” and to give him a kiss. She says, emphatically, “No!” with a cute grin on her face, of course. Mommy asks again……..again, “No.” Can’t remember how it ends……I drove home singing to Broadway music so I could stay awake…….I think it is about a 15-20min ride.
Oh, while I was at dinner, Garrett called me……he was so cute on the phone. He BEGGED me to invite the G Family over for breakfast the next morning. He had already invited John…..but John says it has to be okay with your mother. So, we are expecting 7 more for breakfast tomorrow!
Anne went to school, but Matthew was able to skip his two classes today…..one was canceled and he got permission to miss the other, so he go could “play” with John today. Can’t remember what they did……….but it probably involved hiking………maybe biking??? For breakfast, we had sausage and egg sandwiches with chocolate éclairs, too! MMmmmm. Gloria and I went over a spelling program, so she could start it with her girls…….we began planning First Holy Communion Notebooks for Malachy and her two oldest girls……..and one other focus, but I cannot remember what. Bet she cannot either. :)
They left for home about 4 pm……..and I spent one hour cleaning the house and then settled on the couch for a nap and a Jeeves & Wooster episode, our latest enjoyment from Netflix.
When I put the little boys to bed, we started our next book in the Narnia series, The Silver Chair. I am having so much reading it aloud to this next group of siblings. We have been reading them in the order of being published, not chronologically, as it is sold now. It read them the first way, and it is they method closest to my heart.
Last night, Garrett begged to put Malachy’s training wheels back on the wee fella’s bike. He said the boy wants them back so he can ride his bike. I told Garrett, at Malachy’s age of 6.5 yrs, he needs to try a bit harder to get the two wheel thing going. I told him that Marty and I would spend the next few days helping to make it happen. We took the training wheels off at the end of fall last year because the kid was riding with the training wheels off the ground. I figured he would catch on quick, but he didn’t.
So, this morning………..out of nowhere, Malachy gets on his bike, and RIDES! What happiness and independence he has now!! The two spent as much time on their bikes today as they were allowed. I got what schooling started as I could this morning……because I had to go to the dentist (yes, yet again…sigh…..) in the north. I was nervous about a tooth I had pain with………..and unbeknownst to me, it was the tooth he needed to cap. I felt so apprehensive about him working on that tooth……sure that he would hit the root and I would fell excruciating pain (I DO have experience in that area, you know). Of course, it all turned out just fine….and I THINK the tooth feels better. I hope!
Okay, this is the last post for the two weeks window of our life…….yea!!!! :)
Malachy is so cute! He keeps wanting to hide, or have us hide, the plastic Easter eggs for him. His older siblings always did that for about a week after Easter. And now, Malachy follows in their footsteps………except the poor thing has only older siblings……and no one wants to hide the eggs with him! So, all seven of us old fogies have stepped to the plate and played “hide the eggs” with him cheerfully. He just loves it! And, that is the end……I think, because I am too tired to remember anymore. :)
So, don’t go thinking I am going to blog this long of a post again anytime soon. Or ever. :) I suppose it would be best if I blogged shorter amounts more often…but my mind seems to be attached to long and thoughtful posts….which of course limits what I can actually do! I will try to change my mind-set and blog more often, for shorter amounts….but I will warn you, I have already tried that tactic and apparently have failed.
EASTER BLESSINGS TO ALL OF YOU THIS SEASON!