Wednesday, November 30, 2005

off on a 24 hr jaunt...

This time to the North. Wish I could drop and and visit with anyone in the area! We will hit Columbus, Ohio early tomorrow morning, pick up our merchandise from the local base and then find our favourite Tim Hortens. We almost have it's location memorized.

Once there we will stock up on coffee and treats before heading back south. Anyone know what temperatures to expect, snow flurries, drizzle, sleet?

Prayers requested as always!

God Bless and see you when we get back... tomorrow evening!

mum2twelve Read more!

I love my tister...

"Look Mummy, LOOK at ME!", called Emma.

"I'm holding Elta!" This drew my quick attention given Emma is only three and Elsa is now a whopping 17 lbs at 7 months of age.

Sitting on the floor with her legs encircling Elsa, and her arms wrapped around her waist, Emma grinned at me.

"Look Mummy. I holding Elta so see won't fall down."


Elsa flopped over Emma's knee and wonked her head on the floor but did not really have time to cry as Emma was quickly trying to upright her amidst oodles of kisses and hugs.

Yes, Emma really does love her sister! Read more!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving

Or an Ode to two beautiful cats...

Wednesday was a teary and somewhat stressful day here. Mid-day while all of us were trying to work through our get ready lists for big sister Jenny coming home - a very sad discovery was made. One of our cats was discovered dead in the barn. Miguel and the two younger boys, Teddy and Noah were taking a break from their lists and while taking a detour through the barn, they discovered Harlie. She was a very beautiful and striking looking cat and was pretty even in death. However - that did not eased the pain of her passing for the little ones.

They all declared though that they would be brave and try not to be too sad since it was Thanksgiving and they did not wish to spoil Jenny's visit. I believe God assisted them with this unexpected cross as I heard more than once the comment that God seemed to be helping them as they did not feel as sad as they did this summer when we discovered that Cappie had passed away in the night. (Pictured above) This does not mean that tears were not shed, nor that they did not slip out often during the weekend to sit by the double graves in the back field.

I had promised Gabriela, the owner of Cappie, an ode to her beloved pet and now before I have managed to post what I wrote this summer for Cappie, I have need for two obits. However, Aimee has done such a wonderful job writing about Harlie, that I will simply include the link to her post here.

Rest In Peace Harlie

I will never forget the day we adopted Cappie about 6 years ago. We had stopped by Pets Smart and unbenownst to me they were having an adoptathon. While I shopped for doggie treats, litter and general pet needs the girls, Jenny, Aimee and their little sister Gabriela were cuddling with cats and kittens. Once I caught up with them I was assailed by Aimee and Jenny to check out Gabriela, who had crawled into the cage with a tiny, though full grown, male cat. He was tawny coloured, like a mountain lion, with a touch of cream on his tail - like the froth of a cappachino.

'Look Mummy, look how gentle he is, and how much they love each other!", they purred into my ear.
'Please let Gabriela bring him home. Pleeeease, she doesn't have her own pet yet and she really wants him. Pleeeeas
Gabriela said not a word, but pleaded with me silently with her big blue eys while Cappie continued to melt into her lap.

I relented. "Your father will kill me, you know. We already have four cats! But, alright, we can take him. For a trial period." I tacked on, semi hoping maybe that gave me an out. We filled in the papers and brought home our "foster son" and a new member was added to the family. Permantly.

Cappie had a way of kneading your head that drove one crazy and he was hilarious to watch playing hide and seek with the "other boys", Sam and James who immeadiatly took to their new brother. He loved Gabriela most though, and she was on the only one who could safely carry him out of doors. Anyone else attempted to carry him, and you risked 4 sets of very sharp claws implanting themselves in your chest or arms. Until Emma that is. In his last year with us he endeared himself to all the adults; as we watched this cat, who turned into a wild scratching fur ball if we tried to carry him, turn into putty in Emma's chubby 2 year old arms. In her arms he was the story book cat that everyone could dress in doll clothes, and drag about in any manner of ways. All of the other cats steer clear of Emma when she appears on the scene. She can clear the room of cats in under a nano second. But Cappie would sit down and stare into space while Emma bent over, grunted and hefted him up into her arms. Once released he did not dive for cover but would, with great dignity, begin to stroll away and immeadiatly stop if Emma decided it was time to carry him again. Which she invariably did.

The morning we discovered that he had died there was great grief. Not just for Cappie, but for Gabriela and Emma. The older boys (Jonathan and Miguel) who had no great love for him quietly searched for our shovel. Discovering that it had accidently been left in a rental truck, they pick up a post digger and took turns in the 90 plus summer heat and thick humidity digging a grave for Cappie. It was back breaking work and took 3 - 4 hours, but their love for their younger, grieving siblings kept them at it.

And once again this past week, these two boys showed their love for their younger siblings as well as their oldest sister this time. Quietly without a word; they went to work digging a grave beside Cappie's, in the rain and the cold. I had hoped to say a second Good Bye to Harlie before she was buried, but they were too quick for me.

While it is hard to lose a animal, it is harder to see the children grieving over a beloved pet, esp during the Holidays. But it was eased greatly, both times, by seeing the love the children showed for each other as they supported one another. I know they were only animals, but they were loved and cherished by the children that I love and cherish. It also served as a reminder for us all - that you never know when our Maker will call us. We need always to be ready for this time, whether it is our's or that of someone else we love. We must always remember to give our loved ones a hug, to smile as they pass you the salt, to listen when they speak, and especially to pray for them.

God Bless you and God Bless our pets... Read more!

Monday, November 28, 2005

His name is de new boyfriend

A few nights ago a few of us were crowded around the monitor of my computer. Our family pictures are set up as a slide show slash screen saver. So we were watching the family slip by in groups and in sets of twos and threes as well as members all alone. I was pointing to people and asking Emma who is this and who is this. Sometimes Nathaniel would chime in all helpful when she hesitated, or when I teased and called the sister or brother by the wrong name.

Then some of the zoo pictures started to wind across the screen and we came to a group picture of almost everyone. I pointed to Jenny's boyfriend, John, who happened to be holding the baby as she slept. (He is very good at keeping sleeping babies sleeping!) I said; "So who is this holding Elsa? Emma was distracted so Nathaniel had the whole stage to himself and stuttered;
"Oh, oh, I know, I know. It's, it, ... uhhh,... his name is de..., his name is de new boyfwiend!" Read more!

Our Wreath - finally!

As promised, I am posting a picture of our Advent wreath. I had worried the past month that although I had my candles well in advance, I would put off searching for the old wreath or purchasing a new one until the last moment.

I did.

So Sunday afternoon I spent a half hearted five minutes searching under the stairs for the old wreath, but decided I wanted a much smaller wreath than the one we had used over the past years. So some of the girls and I hit the stores looking for flowers that would be exactly like the ones I had decorated the previous wreath with. James, our ragdoll had eaten, picked off, chewed and ultimatly destroyed all of those original flowers until we had a simple bare wreath with four candle holders. It took him approximatly three Advents to accomplish this.

However, the flowers we used 7 years ago are apparently no longer being produced. Old stock long gone by the wayside. I took a deep breath and regrouped.
"Stand here girls for a minute."
I gritted my teeth while I dove into these rows and rows of flowers, and tried to figure out what would come closest to what I had wanted! So many flowers and none looked the way I had imagined. Slowly, with input from Anna and Gabriela, I began to make choices and build a new wreath in my imagination, but it was proving difficult to match the image of pruple that I had in my mind. Finally we gave up and decided to try another crafts store. We paid for a few flowers, the wreath and other craft supplies I wanted for some of our Advent crafts that we will be doing over the next few weeks and left.

We got to the next store and Elsa simply demanded to be nursed before we could scurry again through the rain and into Michaels. Once there we were again assailed by rows and rows and rows of silk, dry and plastic flowers, but none quite the shade of purple I was seeking. Lots of purples, reds, browns, golds, yellows and even white, but that exact shade of purple was proving to be quite elusive. At last content with my choices, I grabbed a cheap glue gun and stuffed it into the cart and asked a lady behind the floral counter where she kept her candle holders that she had used on her advent wreath - the one behind her on display.
"Oh - I'm sorry - I didn't make that, it came like that from our supplier, we just put it up as a display. "
I stared at her dumbly.
"Oh, well, ummm okay, but you do have candle holders, eh?"
The florist behind her chimmed in helpfully.
"Those would be over there." (Gesticulates in a general direction over her shoulder) "But we are sold out of those, I know because I was looking for them for another customer earlier today. You could try A.C.Moore...."

I blinked at her. This couldn't be happening. I had just been to that store and had not found holders.
"Well," I asked hesitantly, "is there another Micheals nearby..."
Glad to be helpful, they listed three or four different craft or fabric stores, not one closer than a thirty minute drive... The first lady added brightly - "Oh you could try the dollar store in Wakeforest." I brightened at that, I liked the proposed cost, as well as its near vicinity.
"But they are closed on Sundays."
Try as I might I could not help but feel bitter about that, and the irony of it hit me hard!
"Well, thanks anyway." I replied not really making much effort to hide my dissapointment. Refusing to give up all hope I slipped over in the general direction they had pointed, hoping against hope that the second lady was wrong. She wasn't.
I gathered the girls and patiently answered Bethany's questions about this and that and we got through the line. I made a conscious effort to be polite to every one around me. What I really wanted to do was pout, smack my purchases on the counter and snarl at everyone. After all - my wreath was ruined - I did not want to place candles around it in regular candle holders, I wanted them IN my wreath, where they were suppose to be. My annoyance with myself for waiting so long to buy the needed items sat hot in my chest. The temptation to inflict it on others was large.

I am grateful that I did not (entirely) give in to it, especially in front of my four daughters. We piled the bags into our cart and headed back into the rain and loaded our purchases and ourselves into the van. I backed up and then wove my way through the crowded parking lot, stoppng for other drivers and waving them ahead of me. As I continued to force myself to show a charity to others that I was not feeling, my mood began to lift. I chuckled inwardly at myself. So what if I we had to light our candles tomorrow, or use regular candle holders. Was it worth spoiling the day over that? (How often has my husband asked me that very question over our 25 yrs of marriage? What can I say - I'm a slow learner!) Then another thought struck me - something I am often saying to the kids.

Well you just got lucky. You have something to offer up!

At this point I laughed out loud, causing Anna to ask me what was so funny. She knew how dissappointed I was. I am not that good an actress. I shared with all the girls what it was that I was thinking. As I drove home, I thought quite a bit about how hard it is sometimes to do as I say and not just say what to do.

Read more!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

First Sunday in Advent

"Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved."
Saint Robert Bellarmine

"O God, thou art my God, I seek thee;
my flesh faints for thee, as in dry and weary land where no water is.
So I looked upon thee in the sanctuary, beholding thy power and glory.
Because thy steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise thee.
So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.
Pslam 63: 1-4

Readings for the day:
Jeremiah 20:7-9, Psalms:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9, Romans 12:1-2, Mathew 16:21-27

Saint of the Day: Saint Augustine Read more!

Advent thoughts on the Eve of the First Sunday…

There is one homily that I will never forget. It was given by Father McNally in the early nineties, shortly after I had officially joined the Church. He was talking about Advent in contrast to the secular idea of when the Christmas season really begins. As Catholics we called to try and observe Advent while plagued with Christmas commercials and a culture plying us with all of our wants ~ disguised as needs. If you are working for a large company, as opposed for yourself, you are surrounded by peers who are planning Christmas parties. Your children if in school, (assuming Christmas is not a foul word yet for your school board), are also surrounded by festivities when we are actually suppose to be in a time of fast and prayer as we prepare for Christ’s birth.

Father addressed various ways of coping with that, while also trying to be a quiet witness to our friends and relatives. He began with the exterior means, things as simple as not turning on your Christmas lights until Christmas Eve. 'Of course put up your lights outside before the snow flies (we were living in a northern portion of Canada) but bide your time before turning them on and then keep them up and shinning until the official end of the Christmas season in the Church.' This would be the Twelve Days of Christmas, the true source for the popular Christmas Carol and begins with Christmas Mass at Midnight and continues to Epiphany (The Day of the Kings or Wise Men).

Popular merry-making. Codex Theod., II, 8, 27 (cf. XV, 5,5) forbids, in 425, circus games on 25 December; though not till Codex Just., III, 12, 6 (529) is cessation of work imposed. The Second Council of Tours (can. xi, xvii) proclaims, in 566 or 567, the sanctity of the "twelve days" from Christmas to Epiphany, and the duty of Advent fast; that of Agde (506), in canons 63-64, orders a universal communion, and that of Braga (563) forbids fasting on Christmas Day. Popular merry-making, however, so increased that the "Laws of King Cnut", fabricated c. 1110, order a fast from Christmas to Epiphany. ( )

But in today’s world it seems that all festivity ends with the Christmas dinner and is picked up in a purely temporal manner for New Years Eve, leaving us Christians in the cold and no where to go with our merry making that we have denied ourselves all of Advent. The Christmas carols that played in the malls and on our car radios disappears and life returns to its normal muted humdrum existence. Despite this, Father McNally encouraged to try and follow the traditional fast and self denying through out Advent. Some how this seems to be so much easier to do during Lent as even most of the secular world is aware of the Catholic tradition of fasting, or at least giving up something, for lent. He suggested that when there are office parties that surely we should attend but to not over indulge in the treats, but quietly avoid seconds and refrain from making a show of our sacrifice. 'We should by all means take advantage of the feast days and celebrate them with the decorum that they warrant.' This advice was easily digested but the following was the most difficult and is a struggle to this day.

He strongly advised that we forbear all Christmas Carols and try to listen only to Advent hymns such as O Come O Come Emmanuel and to not put up our Christmas tree until Christmas Eve.

So how did our family cope with these well advised suggestions from a priest who is a very holy man? At that time we were part of a strong Catholic home schooling group which helped immensely. We did not have to deal with the pressures of school festivities and Christmas (Or should I say Winter Holiday?) concerts and we could plan group activities around the feast days that are many in December. We have four in quick succession during the month December that are well known and celebrated in various fashions throughout the world. They begin with one of the most famous which happens to also be responsible for our modern Santa Claus, St Nicholas on December 6th. This is followed by a Holy Day of Obligation here in the States, which is the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and falls on the 8th. Two lesser known, but still familiar, Saint days are Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Lucy and these days fall back to back with our Lady’s day being celebrated on the 12th and St. Lucy’s on the 13th . Then we also have the feast day of Juan Diego on the 9th, if we really want an extra day of festivity to light the dark days of winter. In our family we rise early on St. Nicholas day to a table filled with yummy treats such as ginger bread and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and a candy cane. Traditionally each child receives a letter or Christmas card from St Nick with a note of encouragement, as well as gentle admonishments for areas where improvement is needed. These letters are written with great love as well as with prayer and much thought. A small gift lays alongside each place sitting or on the plate. Some years that is the day the children have written their Christmas list of wishes to leave for St. Nick to take back to Baby Jesus to read. This year I am planning on suggesting a list of Thanksgivings in lieu of wishes.

Another local Catholic Home schooling group that was an hours distance from us had monthly meeting, and well in advance of Advent it would invite parents to share ideas they used to help incorporate peace and spiritual growth within their families. My favorite was the idea of having table clothes that reflected the colour of the Season. So the first Sunday of Advent the children awake to a purple table cloth or runner on the table. Then Gaudette Sunday is celebrated with a rose coloured cloth, and Christmas Eve or Morning is greeted with either a red tablecloth or a cheery Christmas themed cloth. I did this for many years until a recent move caused the misplacement of our advent tablecloths that I had sewn by hand so many years ago in Canada. The very first year that we decided to do this, we also happened to receive a care package from my Stepmother and father, in which there was a delightful cloth decorated with jolly St Nick. This adorned our table on St Nick’s day and was also laid below the red cloth we placed on the table late Christmas Eve. Sadly, they are all missing and I cannot afford to replace them this year. We will have to be content with our paper cloths that we have been decorating each birthday and make a Christmas one and perhaps one for each feast day as well.

I think the biggest struggle we have had with any of Father McNally’s suggestions vies between the listening of Christmas Carols and when to erect the Christmas tree. I have completely lost the battle with the idea of decorating the tree on Christmas Eve for the last ten years and have gracefully retreated from the battle field with the compromise being that we decorate the tree on Gaudette Sunday. (However, the fact that our two oldest children will not arrive until 22nd or 23rd may give me a card up my sleeve this year.) As to the Carols, I must admit there is very little advent music out there, and the little there is wears out fast. So as a family we have completely given into the secular tendency to start listening to carols by Thanksgiving, and this year it was even earlier I am ashamed to admit! Originally we searched for John Michael Talbot music and used his quiet cds for a year or two until they disappeared or got destroyed, not sure which. I feel that we gave it a strong shot, but ultimately we just succumbed to the lure of this beautiful music and have searched for a large variety of it so that we do not tire of it before Epiphany.

This year, in addition to our small family advent traditions we have built up, I have added a new one through the purchase a book I found online this year while searching for my advent candles. It is Jotham’s Journey and is meant to be read one portion of the story for each day of Advent with the story culminating on Christmas Eve. I am really looking forward to this addition to our family evenings this year and hope to add the other two volumes of this trilogy in the years to come. I also hope to complete a Jesse Tree this year and it will be our first attempt at one.

Largely, our family goal for Advent this year is to draw closer to each other as a family unit, continue to strengthen our family prayer life and focus on charity, starting within our own family – for if we do not learn to cherish our own brothers and sisters, how can we know how to love the rest of humanity?

I pray that each of you find peace in these coming days of waiting and that as the light expands weekly from your lit advent candles, so will the light of Christ grow within your heart and that of your family.

GOD Bless

aka Christi to her friends, Madre to her two oldest sons, mummy to the rest of her children and originally localinda to her husband!

Read more!

Friday, November 25, 2005


We were reclining in the living room and the fire was crackling and spreading warmth through the room, feeding the sleepiness that accompanies a busy day that has been followed by a large meal. Contrary to our normal routine, we were praying the Rosary after dinner instead of after breakfast and had reached our fourth decade.

"Bethany?" one of the adults asked. "Would you like to lead this one?"

"Oh, that's okay." she said, hugging my Catholic Mother's Journal. "I'm the announcer. Maybe Anna would like to lead this one."

Anna looked up. "Oh, no - that's okay - you go ahead Bethany. You can lead it, I don't mind."

"Well," replied Bethany. "I really don't mind you know. I've been announcing the mysteries. So you go ahead."

A few yawns were stiffled, after all it was going on ten and we all were pretty tired.

"I really think you should have a turn Bethany, Honestly I don't mind at all..."
"Gee Anna, I really don't mind..."

As the discussion continued barely audible in their soft voices, Noah leaned a little toward me and whispered in my ear. "You know, sometimes charity can be a little annoying."

I nodded in agreement while hiding my smile. Patiently we waited until Anna finally persevered and convinced her little sister that she really should get a turn leading a decade even if she was the announcer. Sitting a little taller, Bethany announced the decade and then proceeded to also lead it.

Well - charity might be a little annoying when dragged out like this, but it still made me proud of my babies. Read more!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Left Overs....

Jenny is home and we have been busy baking today. My rolls are sitting on the porch as they need to be slightly chilled before being set to rise. Jenny is teaching Anna how to make pumpkin pie and htis being her first pie we are using pre-made pie dough. Come Christmas - she will get her first pie dough lesson. While I was starting on my rolls - the phone rang. It was Aimee. She is cooking Thanksgiving dinner all by herself for her boyfriends parents, who are flying in from Texas today. She was using my bread recipe and wanted to know what temp to set the oven to for the rolls she was baking.
"You know Aimee," I reminded her, "that recipe makes enough bread to last 2 - 3 days... for OUR family."
"I know!" she sighed. She is still not used to paring recipes down for 4 - 6 people, let alone for one. "Besides," she said "I was so focused on my Thanksgiving menu that I never thought to buy groceries for the rest of the weekend - just Thanksgiving dinner. I blew my whole weeks food budget on it, so I am hoping we will have enough left overs the rest of the time they are here...." Given she is used to making thanksgiving dinner for 12 - 14, there should be lots of left overs. So no worries there!
(Smilely borrowed from Franciscan cards - link on the right)

Read more!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bless us oh Lord, in these Thy gifts...

"Get used to lifting your heart to God, in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day. Because he gives you this and that. Because you have been despised. Because you haven't what you need or because you have.

Because he made his Mother so beautiful, his Mother who is also your Mother. Because he created the sun and the moon and this animal and that plant. Because he made that man eloquent and you he left tongue-tied...

Thank him for everything, because everything is good."
The Way, 268
Author ~ St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei Read more!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Advent Activities

Secret Christmas Angels...

We have many things we love to do during advent and this morning we have begun preparing for one of our most favorite activities. The children have decorated a cracker box by removing the outer flaps, drawing lovely pictures on some white paper and gluing it to the outside of the box. To what end, you might ask! Well – they have also written their siblings names to be put into the box. Then this Thanksgiving the eleven oldest children will all draw names. (Actually, one of us will draw for our oldest daughter Aimee as she is unable to join us for Thanksgiving this year and it is only eleven names as Elsa is too young to participate yet.) Then each child will be a secret angel to the sibling whose name they draw.

A secret angel helps to foster an atmosphere of charity by doing kind things in secret for their sibling. It culminates with each child purchasing a Christmas gift for the person they were secret angel to and on Christmas day each person gets one guess as to who was their angel. The children really love it and I like is so much because it helps us to focus on others instead of ourselves during a time of the year when children are highly encouraged through commercials on the tellie, the papers, and radio to focus on what THEY want for Christmas.

My own personal Advent Wreath…

As an answer to the age old dilemma of who gets to light the new candle each Sunday of Advent one year I decided that on the first Sunday of advent each child would make their own wreath out of paper with paper candles on them. Then each Sunday, each child gets to glue the flame on their wreath. Some years they have kept wreaths in their bedrooms and others they have opted to decorate the main room of the house with them.

You need:

Paper or Styrofoam plates

Coloured paper


Glue sticks, hopefully enough to go around for each to have their own as there is a lot of gluing in this activity.

In lieu of plates one can cut wreaths out of construction paper.

If using the plates you cut a hole in the middle. I draw or get my older children to draw oodles of leaves on green paper, typically just pointed oval shapes. Then we cut and cut and cut. And then we glue and glue and glue… Usually we enjoy a plateful of cookies, the first candy canes of the season as well as some hot chocolate while we do this, accompanied of course by lots of giggles and Christmas carols in the background.

Some times we have cut out little red circles to add as holly to the wreaths to decorate them a bit.

A very simple craft that eases the potential of hurt feelings when one or another sibling is chosen to light the candle on Sunday.

Baby Jesus’ bed…

Last year we had a pretty glass jar sitting on the counter. Beside it was a box filled with bits of yarn waiting to be earned. The yarn that would eventualy fill glass jar was what we would fill baby Jesus’ crèche on Christmas Eve when we put it out for baby Jesus to rest his little head in after we had all gone to bed for the evening.

The children earned the right to put the bits of yarn in one at a time through doing good deeds, preferably in secret. Hence, no one was to question one another as to what they had done to earn a bit of yarn for baby Jesus.

But there was another side of this. If a child was disciplined by a parent for being uncharitable to another member of the family he would be asked to remove a piece of yarn from the glass jar as a reminder that ‘whatsoever you do to another, you do also to me’. Again – we were not to ask anyone why they were removing yarn from the jar as it was between them and God.

As the last week of Advent approached, it was most interesting to see how the glass jar began to fill with great energy! It was also lovely how the children tried to support each other when they saw someone have to remove a piece of yarn. Rather than chiding each other for decreasing Christ’s comfort, they seem to feel for the person who was being so explicitly reminded of how their actions hurt God. I think that this year – I will actively participate in this too.

We also have special feast days that we like to remember during Advent and I hope this week to share what we do for our favourite one ~ Saint Nicolas day.

Wreath update…. In one word… GULP!

Read more!

Monday, November 21, 2005

The comic Strip...

By Anna
(BTW - if you click on the pciture - it will open into a full page - making it easier to appreciate the details, as well as to read.)

Tomorrow we hope to have a list and details for activities we have used in the past to celebrate advent. Still no wreath and I now have less than a week to go. But I have my candles! (Smug grin accompanies this statement to offset my distress over the missing wreath!) Read more!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Christmas music is wafting through the house...

...and it was only 7 am - November 16th! How could that be? I heard children crooning away with the von Trapp grandchildren as they sang; Please Don't Send Me Fruitcake.

I was hidden in my bedroom sipping a tea, trying to prepare myself for a day that was already 2 hours old thanks to a little muffin who is developing the very bad habit of awaking at five am, when I heard these joyful notes slip through the cracks of my bedroom door. Gabriela knocked on the door and came in with an armful of baby who needed a change and explained to me that Bethany, 7, had pinned up a "sign up' sheet for the family Christmas play and in trying to create the right atmosphere to encourage her siblings to sign up and attend the first meeting for it this afternoon she was playing Gabriela's Rhapsody's play list.

This was a "kodak" moment that is the perfect answer to the eternal question I am frequently asked:

"But if you teach your children at home - how do they get any socialization?" Read more!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Guess How Much I love You?

Apparently someone has recently read our copy of How Much Do I Love You? to Emma as a conversation I over heard recently, revealed to me.

Emma calling coyly from another room: Meekell?

Miguel (18): Yes?

Emma: I wuv you all over the place!

Miguel: I love you all over the place too! (Smiles at me and then goes back to his computer.)

Emma: Meekell?

Miguel: Yes? (grinning)

Emma: I wuv you ALL over the place!

Miguel: I love you too! (Still staring at the computer...)

Emma: Meekell?

Miguel: Yes? (patiently...)

Emma: I wuv you ALL OVER the place!

Miguel: I love YOU all over the place (continues typing while smiling to himself)

Emma in a teasing tone: Meekell?

Miguel: Yes? (still patiently and well knowing the answer by now)

Emma: I WUV you ALL over the place!

Miguel: I love you too. (Grins at me again and I grin back. )

Emma: Meekell?

Miguel: Yes?

This went on way beyond what I would have had patience for. It was very endearing to see my 18 yr old patiently answer his 3 year old sister over and over until she finally lost interest in her new game. This is just one of the many pleasures one gets to enjoy in a large family. Read more!

Monday, November 14, 2005

The answer...

It was Saturday morning and I had my wicker basket hugged to my hip and the baby balanced on the other side. I glanced at Emma’s clothes as I carefully searched for the next step down, and noticed a wrinkled pink pull up peeking out between some jammies and a dress. While it still had it's flowers it was obviously slept in. ‘Humph’, I thought to myself. ‘Someone is not being careful when they help Emma change in the morning. I’ll have to ask the girls to pay more attention.’

I finally felt the floor solid under my feet, and passed Elsa to someone else, made my way to the laundry closet and dropped my wicker basket in front of the washer. I opened the dryer to remove Nathaniel’s clothes that I had put to dry the night before. I groaned when I saw they were still completely wet. Darn, I was sure I had turned them on. My memory has not been functioning so well for a while, but really?! Then I remembered I had purposely not turned it on because Nathaniel had been enjoying ‘helping’ me wash his clothes so much that I had decided to let him turn the dryer on. Obviously someone, or something, had come between me, Nathaniel and our date with the dryer.

Grumbling, I turned it on, and then gasped when I saw that the washer was full of towels, washed but clearly…. Not…. Dry…. I slapped them into Nathaniel’s basket and dragged them to the porch where Jenny’s makeshift clothes line still hung across the front of it. I flopped bath towels over the railings and pulled my sunglasses down so I could see to hang kitchen towels from the loose string that was flickering in the breeze. Harlie purred and rubbed her nose in my side as she basked in the sun under my dangling dish towels. I gave her dirty look to warn her off the bath towels now decorating the porch sides, and slipped back into the house. It was only 8’ish – I might get Emma’s laundry done yet before noon, if I managed not to get sidetracked too much. Hurriedly I dumped the full basket into the washer and pumped an oz of detergent into it, slammed the lid shut and moved onto the next chore.

Somewhere around two I remembered Emma’s clothes and headed back to the house from the packing shed where I had been organizing packing materials for the coming week. I opened the washer, reached in and grabbed…. that pink pull up I had seen earlier. I gave a yelp, and then laughed. Anna and Gabriela, curious as to what was so funny came over to look and had to laugh too at the pull up that now weighed at least a lb if not two and was about 4 – 5 inches thick with rinse water.
“Thank Heavens it didn’t burst.”, I exclaimed.
You see this is not the first time I have recycled a pull up, or a diaper for the matter, and I well know the mess it can make. But it had been a few years since the last time so I was quite amazed at the amount of water they can now hold. We threw it out, and I proceeded to pull the clothes out and toss them into the waiting dryer. Suddenly I gave another shriek. Darned if there hadn’t been TWO pull ups in that load and this one, while holding as much water as the first, had leaked some of its gel. The side of the washer looked as though it were slathered with a vanilla slushy! YUCK!

Moral of this story…. Umm – don’t recycle pull ups in the washer? Read more!

Can you guess what mum2twelve did?

Read more!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

"We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can - namely surrender our will and fulfill God's will in us."
St Theresa of Avila

Readings for the day:Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20 30-31
Psalms 128:1-2. 3, 4-5
1Thessalonians 5:1-6
Mathew 25:14-30

Saint of the Day: St Francis Xavier Cabrini

(Image of Jesus with child found at
Read more!

Friday, November 11, 2005


  1. The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important: the advent of the computer.
  2. Advent
    1. The liturgical period preceding Christmas, beginning in Western churches on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and in Eastern churches in mid-November, and observed by many Christians as a season of prayer, fasting, and penitence.

Within the Catholic faith the season of Advent is second only to Lent and Holy Week. Every year since our fifth child joined our family, I have learned a little more about this beautiful tradition of my faith. As I have grown in understanding, I have learned that Tradition is considered by Catholics to be one of the means through which God reveals Himself to us. The other two are scripture and the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the church).

In the case of Tradition we are not just referring to the passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation as we find within a family, but we are also referring to the liturgy of the Church (as in it's Mass), and the sacraments.

In addition to this more formal meaning of Tradition, Catholics have a beautiful culture that encompasses many traditions as in the more commonly understood meaning of this word. One of them is the Advent wreath, which I had promised to explain so many weeks ago!

The Advent wreath is an ancient Germanic idea we have adopted. The wreath of evergreen boughs offers us many symbols for this time of spiritual preparation we are participating in. The evergreens symbolize God's everlastingness, and the colour green reminds us of the new life brought to us through the birth of Christ. As a circle, the wreath emphasizes for us God's eternity and mercy.

To this we add four candles to the body of the wreath (although some will place their candles separate from the wreath simply from personal taste.) Three candles are purple which is the liturgical colour of Advent and represents our feelings of penance and sorrow, as well as our longing for the birth of Christ. One of the four candles is pink or rose and is lit on the third Sunday of Advent - Gaudette Sunday. This is the Sunday of joy when our excitement at the nearing birth of Christ overflows and overtakes the silent penitential preparation of our hearts for the coming of our Saviour. Finally there is a fifth candle that is lit Christmas Morning (or in some families on Christmas Eve following the Midnight Mass). At that time the four original candles are replaced by white candles, and the wreath continues in use as a Christmas season decoration.

During the 4 to 5 weeks of Advent one candle is lit each Sunday, again nicely representing how the light of God grows each week as we come closer and closer to the birth of Christ. In the beginning of Advent we are four weeks or more till Christmas. The single lit candle, with its weak flame, seems rather lonely much as the faithful Jewish population was while they waited in the (spiritual) darkness for the coming of their Saviour.

By the time the fourth is lit - there is much light. Enough that if you choose to, you can read your evening prayers by it. Again, an apt reminder of how much closer we are to the coming of Christ.

There are many prayers available, as well as activities that families can incorporate into their own traditions to do each night or perhaps only on each Sunday as fits their schedule. Over the next few weeks I will be adding prayers, activities and celebrations that we do as a family, as well as some new ones we will be trying this year. Each year we attempt to try something new- sometimes discovering one to add to our traditions. My goal is to share these early enough so that anyone who might wish to try them with their family will have time to get any needed items for the activity.

We are now only 16 days left until the first Sunday in Advent. I have my candles, but not my wreath yet! Once it is ready - I will share a picture of it with you.

Many Blessings

Read more!

Thursday, November 10, 2005


...two more Sundays until the First Sunday in Advent. Do you have your candles yet? I had a request for an explanation of Advent and I promised an answer... and I will share about this wonderful tradition of the Catholic Church this Friday! My apologies for the delay!

mum2twelve, aka Christi to her friends, madre to her two oldest sons. Read more!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

In the same vein as Monday's Post ....

Sunday, when we ate at Adam's Pizzeria -Adam lamented to us how much he misses his family. He is one of 14 children and is originally from Egypt, his parents are both dead now and his siblings spread through out the world. He talked about how as a young man he came here to visit and ended up staying - enamored by the ease of life, the quick dollar earned. He quickly amassed a small fortune for himself, and eventually bought a house - 12000 square feet in Europe - somewhere on the water and was reprimanded by his older brother when he complained that it was not 15000 square feet.

Adam told us; (Hear this in the accent of the Ivan Korshunov the terrorist leader, from Air Force One) "He said to me, Brother - do you not remember when we were 16 in a house of 1500 sq feet, 7 to a bedroom and HAPPY? And you complain for the lack of 3000 square feet? Do you not see how your materialism has gained you nothing? NOTHING!”
And Adam shrugged his shoulders as he gazed at the children with us and said," He is right. We have our TVs, our money, our houses and cars and yet we are not happy. We were so happy then when our biggest care in the world was getting a meal a day. "

Then while we were eating he said; “You know, you are like family to me and if you do not mind I would like to pass by your house now and then to have, what is you drink in Canada? Tea?”

We told him that of course he was very welcome – please, whenever! (And I thought to myself ‘and of course he will show up on the day that we have papers all over the floor and the floor unwashed for two days (and it only takes is one day to look filthy!) Nathaniel will have built his massive train track, and Emma will have knocked it down so that it is in pieces - all over!!!’)

When we left, I looked over my shoulder at his empty restaurant and at him in the kitchen, washing his counters... all alone. I felt very sad for him and very grateful for my family! We are living what are his memories. It is, I will be honest, hard to appreciate the idea that fighting day by day is wonderful but still - I understand what he means. We are together, loving each other and enjoying each others company. The absence of Aimee and Jenny emphasize even more what I think Adam was trying to say. Enjoy what you have WHEN you have it. It is gone in the blink of an eye.

Read more!

Monday, November 07, 2005

What is the hardest part of being mum2twelve?

Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small
I always leave my handprints
On the furniture and walls
But everyday I'm growing big
And soon I'll be very tall
Then all my little handprints
Will be so hard to recall
So here's a special gift
Just so that you can say
This is how my hands looked
When I placed them here today.

Right now I feel that the hardest part of being 'mum2twelve' is having children who have become young adults. They move away and leave... you... with a huge hole... in your heart!

And you miss them... a whole... bunch!

You miss them every day, but some days are more punctuated by their absence than others. When that happens I look around me at all the little faces and realize that I have so many more goodbyes to say in 8 years, 9 years, 10 years, 12 years, 14 years, 16 years, 18 years down the road. So I decide to read to someone, or have a little cuddle. I listen a little more carefully when someone tells me about a silly or scary dream they had last night. I look in their eyes and listen, really listen.

How quickly those first 23 years have gone with three children already having flown the nest. And it is not only hard on the parents, but also the younger siblings. Recently we have managed to arrange a few of our business trips so that we could pass by where Jenny is attending college and spend an hour or two with her. This Thursday I decided to accompany Hugo on his trip to Maryland to be company and available to drive if he needed a break after being on the road for several days over the past two weeks. We brought four children with us, one of them was 3 yr old Emma, who is Jenny’s god daughter. After a few hours on the road – Emma began to ask when we were going to Jenny’s house. She calls Jenny’s dorm ‘Jenny’s house’. No matter how much we tried to explain to her that we were not passing by Belmont and would not see her today she kept asking when would we see Jenny. Finally we called Jenny on her cell phone, and as soon as she got the message she called us back and had a long chat with her baby sister. We heard several “I wov you Denny! I mit you, Denny!”

I did not envy Jenny having to finally say Good bye.

Many of my days, and much of my time, is spent helping children deal with squabbles, changing diapers, nursing Elsa, making menus, tying shoes, explaining long division – again. And yet, all of this compared to dealing with children grown – out on their own, is a piece of cake. When they are grown – you are no longer there to catch them if they stumble, you can’t help them with their daily choices, chores and decisions. You can pray. You can call. You can hope they will call... but ultimately you have to let them go and trust that all you have taught the first 18 or 19 years of life is having an impact and keeping them on the straight and narrow. You pray that your prayers are keeping them safe when they are out alone at night driving home from work or on the bus traveling to work in the morning. And you miss them - a lot!

Yes – I think the hardest part of being 'mum2twelve' is saying goodbye.

Read more!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

To live, grow and persevere in the faith untiil the end we must nourish it with the word of God: we must beg the Lord to increase our faith: it must be 'working through charity,' abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the church." CCC 162 ( as quoted in Catholic Women's Daily Planner)

Saint for the day: St Theophane Vebard
Wisdom:6:12 - 13
Psalms: 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
1 Thessalonians: 4: 13-17 or 4:13-14
Mathew 25: 1-13 Read more!

The value of...


Etymology: Middle English familie, from Latin familia household (including servants as well as kin of the householder), from famulus servant

1 : a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head :

5 a : the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their own or adopted children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family


Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin parent-, parens; akin to Latin parere to give birth to
1 a : one that begets or brings forth offspring

1 b : a person who brings up and cares for another


Etymology: Middle English, from Old English cild; akin to Gothic kilthei womb, and perhaps to Sanskrit jathara belly
1 a : an unborn or recently born person b dialect : a female infant
2 a : a young person especially between infancy and youth b : a childlike or childish person c : a person not yet of age
3 usually childe /'chI(&)ld/ archaic : a youth of noble birth
4 a : a son or daughter of human parents b : DESCENDANT


[Middle English, from Old English, from sibb, kinsman. See sib.]

1 : SIB 2; also : one of two or more individuals having one common parent

The sum of the above definitions…. Priceless!

Read more!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

No Vanity in THIS house!

(Just a quick post as we catch our breath from our whirlwind tour through Georgia and Florida and prepare to leave for Maryland this morning. )

As reported from the livingroom:

Jonathan: "Tanny Paul, you look very handsome today!"

Nathaniel: "Oh hank you Donatan! And dood looking too!"

Yep - there is not a vain bone in this boy's body! Read more!