A Fun Fam’ly Day

“This is such a fun fam’ly day!” Siena

Free FunFree FunWe started our day with a Fishing Derby and visiting friends in Trout Lake, then came home to recharge before walking to a community event. It was advertised as a Family Carnival Style Pig Roast, but when Siena saw the flier she was appalled by my answer to her question about why the clip art pig was “upside down”. She says we shouldn’t cook pigs, that it’s not very nice. Hawk wondered if this means we have a little “vegan animal fanatic” on our hands, but I figure every child has a moment where they first learn what meat actually is, and it’s probably a universal reaction. I still remember thinking I was making a great joke at the family dinner table, giggling as I chose my chicken leg, saying “What if it really was a leg from a chicken?!?” and for a quick second I thought my parents were joking right back when they said that’s what it was. [Read more…]

Lenten Musings

AshesThis past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, and we attended the most crowded Mass EVER. People were so packed in that it was standing room only on the right, left, and rear of the church, and there was just enough room for one person to walk in the aisle, thanks to folding chairs in the aisle. I am pretty sure that the number of children and babies exceeded the number of adults, which significantly increased the noise level. Most parts of the Mass were said in both English and Spanish, and even adults seemed to feel free to chat when it wasn’t their language being spoken.

Still, it was beautiful to see so many people gathering to celebrate the Eucharist, especially on a day that isn’t even a Holy Day of Obligation! I think people really like sacramentals… why else would Mass attendance consistently be so high on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday? We are flesh and blood people, and we associate with tangible items in a different way than we do with matters of the spirit or of the mind. We might easily forget a homily about the importance of sacrifice, humility, mercy, and forgiveness but we will remember those things with a physical symbol throughout our day.  Hearing the priest say, “Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return,” as he marks a cross on our foreheads, smelling the smoky ashes (an ancient symbol of repentance) with their hint of incense, feeling the grit on our foreheads… they are all ways for us to experience what might otherwise remain abstract. It all reminds us of our mortality, and calls us to die to sin in order to share in Christ’s resurrection.

Because I am a flesh-and-blood human, I’ve decided that I’m more likely to stick with my Lenten sacrifices this year if I have some accountability, and what better way to hold myself accountable than to share my plans with the whole Internet the handful of people who read our blog?  I’ve always liked the idea of not just giving up something for Lent, but doing something extra as well. Trading one negative habit, temptation, or tendency for one positive one. So this year I’ll write an update each Friday about how I’m doing with my Lenten commitment. Before I share what that is, I have a couple jokes for you.

Ashes on foreheadMy childhood memories of Ash Wednesday consist of singing “We Rise Again From Ashes” with my classmates at St. Pius X Elementary School, and listening to a joke during Father’s homily about a little boy hearing about us coming from dust and returning to dust, and determining that somebody is either coming or going under his bed. Hardy har har. (Every. Single. Year. …) The other joke I remember, but probably not from my grade school years, is about a priest being held hostage at gunpoint, trying to reason with the young man on the other end of the gun. The priest lights a cigarette to calm his nerves and offers one to the criminal, who thanks him but says he gave up smoking for Lent. The point is that we should be giving up the things in our lives that most keep us from God. While we smile at the criminal who gives up smoking but should clearly have given up his criminal activity, I wonder if God smiles when we give up chocolate instead of gossip, or desserts instead of hours of TV?

My plan is to start being more involved with my community. Ever since putting teaching on hold in order to move to a new state and have a baby, I’ve built myself a pretty insular world within my home. I’ve long complained to God that I miss feeling like part of a community, particularly the faith community I had found in college, so it’s time I do something to change that. Overall I plan to spend time this Lenten season becoming more connected to the community outside my home.  More concretely, I will attend at least one event per week through my parish or in the wider community. Those outings should make good fodder for blogging, so I’ll have my husband help hold me accountable for what I’m giving up, and ask you to help hold me accountable for what I’m adding.

Oh, and I have it on good authority that Siena plans to give up complaining when we put her in her carseat, and start taking longer and more predictable naps each day. I’ll let you know how that’s going each Friday, too ;-)

Then And Now: Bridesmaid Dress

As I alluded to in this post, my friend Michelle was my Maid of Honor, and looked lovely in her dress. (Be sure to click the thumbnails to view the pictures bigger.)


Almost a year later, she attended my baby shower with this adorable gift, made by her mom out of the same dress. She even used the tiny seed beads and the little buttons! I was so excited to try it on my baby girl.

So just two days after she was born, and much to the delight of the nurses, we put Siena into her beautiful dress as her going-home-outfit.

Now, three months later, we tried it on her again and it fits much better.

They say every bride thinks she’s chosen the perfect dress that her bridesmaids can wear again… but I sure wasn’t expecting my daughter to be the one wearing Michelle’s dress!

Sweet surprise

As my mom put it, “That’s probably the most expensive dress she’ll ever own…at least until she’s a bridesmaid!”

Saturday Night Out

Hawk in Winter and I have spent many of our waking hours lately working on a website for our photography business. Siena has other ideas for how she’d like us to spend her waking hours, however, so it’s been difficult to find a block of time when we’re both available.

Our friend Jillian had kindly offered to watch Siena for a few hours this weekend if we wanted to get away for an evening alone. In the past, Siena has slept through her trips to restaurants so we hardly noticed we had her along. We chose to take Jillian up on her offer, but to use our time without Siena to work on the website, then take Siena with us to Mass and dinner out.  Things didn’t go quite as planned, however! (I seem to be using that phrase quite a bit since becoming a Momma…)

We picked her up from Jillian’s and learned that she was hungry and fussy, but had refused the bottle. Jillian suspects she’s starting to teethe, so we’re bracing ourselves for that adventure. I fed and burped her in the back during Mass. Not ideal, but she was quiet and alert after that. Previously, she’d slept through most Masses. She still earned her usual praise from those in the pews around us once Mass had ended.

On our way out of the church, the parish priest asked if we could help him with something. When we first met with him about Siena’s baptism, he was delighted to discover HiW’s technical abilities and has asked for help with a few projects. He is interested in the latest technology, but not quite proficient. A few months ago, for example, he asked HiW to teach him how to check the voicemail on his iPhone. He had a couple hundred unheard messages, but instructed HiW just to delete them so he “could get caught up.” (!)

Saturday night’s impromptu project was setting up Father’s new computer, which then evolved into securing the WiFi network for the parish and connecting the printer. This time, I had an assignment too. Once I mentioned our aspiring photography business, he ran to a back room and emerged with another new purchase – a Nikon D60 camera, two lenses, and a flash. Siena was mostly content on a blanket while I took things out of their boxes, put them together, and tried not to drool over it all as I jotted down some instructions for him. After about an hour,  he had to go meet with some other parishioners. Once we finished, we locked up as instructed, and headed off to the second part of our evening – dinner out – almost two hours after we’d planned. Here are some blurry cell phone pictures of our adventure:

We have become accustomed to two things when we bring Siena to a restaurant.

1) Waitresses and other customers come up to us and gush over Siena.

2) We are offered a high chair, turned upside down, so her carseat can rest on the wooden dowels that make up the base.

Both things happened this time. Even a couple of truckers came over to adore our daughter! What made me laugh out loud, though, was reading the sign attached to the underside of the highchair’s seat, visible only when the whole thing was turned upside down. Click the picture to see it bigger:

Highchair warning


That’s okay. Siena didn’t sleep anyway, and didn’t want to be in her carseat. She wanted to be held, preferably in either a sitting or standing position, thankyouverymuch. It looks like her days of extreme portability are over. Which means we’ll be having far fewer Saturday Nights Out.

Double Tiggers = Double Trouble

Car SeatBefore Siena was born, HiW was working on getting the car seat ready. I thought it would be helpful to practice using the straps and buckles if we had a life size doll. I looked in my hope chest and found a beloved baby doll from my childhood. It was made to look like a newborn, complete with wrinkly fingers and toes (and was lifelike enough to play the starring role in a number of Christmas pageants). I found it ironic, as I pulled her out of my hope chest a week or so before Halloween, that she was dressed in a Tigger costume.

The doll served her purpose quite well, but the Tigger costume was too big for our newborn come Halloween. When Siena was ten weeks old I saw a Flickr album of our friends’ baby London wearing a different Tigger costume, and remembered the babydoll again. Siena fit hers well enough at that point, so off we went to London’s house for a Tigger photo shoot. We started off with both babies on the floor, but quickly abandoned that plan in favor of the couch. Never quite got them both smiling at the same time, but ended up with some pretty cute pictures nonetheless, don’t you think?

You Might Live In A Small Town If…

Top Ten Signs You Live in a Small Town:

10. You attend a real-live ribbon cutting ceremony (complete with giant scissors for the mayor) your first week in town, and end up with your picture in the town paper.

9. Your newborn baby’s doctor walked across the street from his office to the hospital in order to check on her the day after she was born, and you are pretty sure your OB walked across the other street to get there from her office when she heard you were in labor.

8. The lady in line behind your husband at the grocery store hears him mention the name of his three-day old baby, and says, “I know Siena! I delivered flowers for her this morning!”

7. You have started to feel guilty each time you drive by the hospital because the labor and delivery nurses asked you to bring your baby back in a couple months so they can see if her eye and  hair color have changed.

6. Your cashier coos at your daughter and says she’s just the cutest baby he’s seen all week. While you know he’s of course telling the absolute truth, you also know he’s probably seen about ten babies all week.

5. You’re next in line to buy groceries. Somebody gets in line behind you, and the checker immediately starts calling for any available personnel to open an additional station. You know, because the line was too long.

4. Every time you tell somebody which street you live on, they invariably ask if you’ve met so-and-so at the end of your street or say they just had dinner with what’s-his-name one street over. Every. Single. Time.

3. Even though the elections are over, you still refer to one particular house as The McCain House because theirs was the only lawn sign in town that didn’t support Obama.

2. You arrive at the DMV twenty minutes before they close and walk right up to the counter without even taking a number.

1. You get a new license plate at said DMV, a week after your husband picked up his, and you have the same three letters!

Cross My Heart Crafts

Siena has been very lucky to have such a varied (and stylish!) wardrobe, thanks to many generous gifts and hand-me-downs. Some of her most special clothes, however, have been custom made just for her! My friend Michelle has given me bridal and baby shower gifts that her mom, Theresa, made for me. (Theresa also shortened and bustled my wedding dress for me. Michelle was my Maid of Honor, and you won’t believe what her mom did with her dress after the wedding! Go here and scroll all the way down.)

I Love this BibI love the full sized hooded towels she makes (cuz hoods are a great idea, but don’t they always seem to be on teensy towels?) and now that HiW has dubbed Siena our “little spit-up fountain”, we’re loving our giant bib, too.

Anyway, back when I was pregnant, I didn’t spend much time eating (unless saltines and flat Sprite count) but I did spend dinnertime online researching baby gear for my shower registry. I came across plenty of cute little onesies that would have cost over $20 with shipping and handling figured in, but I knew HiW would get a kick out of many of them with their technology puns and sayings. So I collected the various sayings and asked Theresa if she could embroider some onesies in a variety of sizes for HiW’s birthday gift. They cost WAY less that way, and he loved them!  Go check out Theresa’s site for some of her great crafts, or ask her to custom make something for somebody you love, too.

Not So Jumbo Jack

New babyPlease pray for little Jack, born prematurely to a college friend of mine, at just 27.6 weeks gestation. You can learn his story and follow his progress here.

As a Special Education Preschool Teacher, I have been honored to know some pretty impressive little kiddos who have been fighting for life since the day they were conceived. They tend to bring people together, remind us all to count our blessings and appreciate the simple joys in life, call us to our own personal growth, and inspire us with their strength and determination. Little Jack already seems to be doing all of the above.

Keep it up, kiddo!

(Oh, and watch out parents – it seems like the kids I meet with these struggles in their past are some of the most stubborn strong willed preschoolers ever. But remembering it’s a character trait that helped them through the first few months of their lives does make it easier to be the patient teacher I strive to be!)

Siena’s First Christmas

Siena had a memorable first Christmas! At least, it will be memorable for us. We spent our first married Christmas with HiW’s family last year, so this year it was my family’s turn. This was HiW’s first experience of my family’s Christmas traditions.

My mom called us a few days before we’d planned to drive into town, worried we wouldn’t make it if we tried to come after that night’s snowstorm.  So we packed in a hurry and hit the icy highway before it got worse. The rest of our story is in the captions of the following pictures.

Our Christmas was fantastic, and we hope yours was as well!

January Game Night, Take Two

Because Hawk in Winter didn’t really get to join in on our New Year’s Eve Game Night, we had another one last night. We had a “progressive dinner” of sorts – dinner at Matt and Jillian’s, then dessert at our house. After delicious fajitas, HiW had a special request to check out Super Mario Brothers on their Wii. We all watched and reminisced about 80’s video games. When I say “we all watched” that includes Siena! We tried her in a little seat to help her sit up. Check her out!

Her head kept turning, with fascinated eyes, from the TV screen to her Daddy. Siena’s hands still spend most of their time balled up in clenched fists, tucked tightly to her chest, but a couple times they did touch the sunshine toy! She watched her hands intently, as if starting to realize those things are attached to her. [Read more…]