Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bless the Lord...SMP talent show

Here, by popular demand, is a video of Starling and daughters singing "Bless the Lord" for the Saint Mary's Parish Talent Show. The video quality is poor, because of the low lighting, distance, and me holding Alleluia Boy.

Starling claims this is an exercise in humility. : )

The Days Are Just Packed

Yes, that's also the name of a Calvin and Hobbes collection, but it also applies to our life right now!

First we have to eat strawberries for lunch on the deck...

...then we have to catch a train...

...all while keeping the tooth fairy busy!

And to keep the tooth fairy busy, we need to hop on our bikes and bike around Lake Park to...

...the Lakeview Drive-In, where we need to order the first ice cream cones of the season...

...licking extra-fast to catch all the drippies.

And after a long and busy day, we climb into bed and avoid going to sleep for as long as possible!

"If you don't get to sleep soon, I will use my newly-acquired white belt on you!" Heh heh, no he won't, but he does look pretty intimidating, you have to agree!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our newest godchild

Here is our newest godchild! Several months old (taken in March)
Well, the newest member of the ever-expanding tribe of Daoust grandchildren made it into the world safe and sound this past December. (Yeah, I'm late posting about it.) Isn't he a cutie? Starling and I are his godparents.

We are particularly glad to have this little guy around because his mom's pregnancy was classified as very high risk. You might remember that she had had a heart attack a couple years ago, caused primarily by the effect of pregnancy hormones on the lining of the arteries leading to her heart. Her heart completely stopped beating on its own and was not re-started for forty-five minutes, after which she was in a medically induced coma for several days.

Besides the risks involved in the pregnancy, my sister also faced near-constant pressure to "terminate the pregnancy" (the polite euphemism we're using for abortion these days...where there is a euphemism, something ugly can't be far behind) -- mostly from medical staff. Some of the things that were said to her by doctors, nurses, and "specialists" border on jaw-droppingly unbelievable. But she also faced pressure to abort from at least one friend and various strangers. We're not talking about passive pressure here...a surprising number of people felt very bold about asserting their opinion that she was irresponsible to continue the pregnancy. Starling posted about her SIL's situation on her Facebook account and someone she knows was very outspoken about how "irresponsible" it was to continue a high-risk pregnancy. This person got pretty worked up about it, too.

What is the difference between the worldview held by these people and the worldview held by people like my sister? In the first, preserving one's own life, no matter what the cost, is all-important. It is a pragmatism that has its roots in reductionist/materialist assumptions: "This life is not just good, it's the ultimate Good -- the only good -- so preserve it at any cost." The worldview held by my sister and people like her, on the other hand, is rooted in the assumption that there is a transcendent, enduring aspect to each of us -- a soul. Life is good, yes, but we're all going to die at some point. And that means that there is something more important than preserving your bodily life -- namely, preserving the beauty and integrity of your soul. It is not whether you die that matters ('cause you're going to at some point); it is how you live. What does it matter if you live a few more years, if doing so requires you to sacrifice the life of your child? On the other hand, sacrificing yourself for another is a profound act of love...and in the end, that is what endures, even after our earthly bodies have passed away.

I am so proud of my sister and her family!

Following "Francine"

Here's another blog we're following (we also follow this family on FB): My Camo Kids. This family adopted "Francine," one of the nine children we were praying about when we were discerning the adoption. Actually, the Dad just got shipped out to Afghanistan -- again, mere months after returning -- just a few weeks after returning home from Ukraine with their new daughter. (Francine is now "Vi", a nickname she is familar with from her home country.) I will post their blog in the sidebar, too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The girls' birthdays

The girls celebrated their birthdays over the weekend...with Jubilee Girl turning seven and Mouse turning ten. Since their birthdays are so close together, we usually combine the celebration, with separate cakes.

Jubilee Girl is smiling because this birthday cake was preceeded with "ral" pizza from Godfather's.
("Real" in her opinion...!)

Mouse received a new scooter from her grandparents, while Jubilee Girl got a new
(much-needed) bike from mom and dad. We got each girl a bell for their handlebars,
so now they can go up and down the sidewalk together ringing their bells. They are
also showing off new purses they received from their grandparents; they have been
taking those things everywhere!

Mouse had wanted a dollhouse she could paint and decorate. This corrugated
cardboard one was perfect...she has spent hours constructing the little cardboard furniture,
as well as making her own accessories (tissue-paper bedspreads and pillows, a toybox made
from a matchbox). She spent a few more hours this afternoon painting the various rooms
with a friend.

On the afternoon of her birthday, Mouse wanted to paint a mural on a wall.
We set her up with paint in the garage. She painted the whole wall under the stairs
white as a preparatory step to painting the mural.


We did the whole Easter Triduum as a family, from Holy Thursday's
foot-washing (above) to the two-and-a-half-hour Easter Vigil. We
had multiple people come up after the vigil to compliment the kids'
endurance! They were definitely on their best behavior, and enjoying
everything from the bonfire to the baptismal rites and the unique music.

Easter morning. Peeps and beans! And a few Christian music CDs.

Alleluia Boy was VERY happy to finally be singing "Alleluia" again...he perked
right up when we sang it during the Easter vigil. Several times a week when we
sang a song for family prayer, he would interrupt with loud cries of, "NO!
ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!!!!" The kid's destined to be a bishop. Or a liturgist.

If ever this boy is ordained, this picture will come out. This is his cousin's...he tried it on himself,
without prompting. Also, he likes doing the orans gesture like he sees Fr. Jim do.

Of course we're squinting into the sun! Oh well. This was taken during our quick
run up to the Twin Cities on Easter Day, where we enjoyed a very relaxed Easter
dinner at my brother's house.

Root River bike ridin'

From our Palm Sunday trip to Lanesboro and the Root River trail:

The kids enjoyed doing some exploration off the trail.

Once one had a picture taken on the log, EVERYONE had to have a picture on
the log. We drew the line at Alleluia Boy going out there...

Our turn-around point, about an hour up the trail from Lanesboro.

This should have been predictable, right?

We thought this sign was funny.
After our long, really enjoyable bike ride, we went out for pizza at a local joint that shall remain nameless because its pizza was not worth the money we paid for it, by a long shot.

This was a great afternoon, though...biking through the countryside with nothing but meadowlarks, spring peepers, red-winged blackbirds, and the wind and sunshine all around.

Apple blossoms

Pictures of apple blossoms from the trees in the backyard. This is by far the earliest they've ever bloomed -- usually we see them blooming in May, but they're already fading and it's only mid-April!

The unusually warm weather forced them to bloom early. During the three nights we had serious hard frost threats, I tried to save them by covering them and putting large amounts of warm water under them. We'll know in a few weeks whether that was effective...if so, we might have an apple crop this fall.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jaybird: Annoyed at not being part of the family before her birth

Where has Gracewatch been lately??? I have all sorts of wonderful video/photos and stories to tell, and so little time to tell them! All I can say is that lately my kid-free time has been limited to MAYBE an hour in the afternoon and an hour after bedtime...which gets sucked up into other things, like doing our taxes! I promise I will catch up soon.

Having said that, I couldn't let this one wait.

So...we can generally expect a fit/tantrum from Jaybird about once a day, usually after school when she is "done" in terms of her energy for being good (they have gotten less frequent and less severe over time). It's hard to know what will trigger these. Yesterday, it was dehorning paste. Yeah, I don't know what it is either, but it was in a bedtime story we read ("Betsy's Up-and-Down Year"), and she found it VERY UPSETTING.

Today she was looking through our 2004 family journal; after half an hour, she came stomping into the kitchen with a scowl on her face. "WELL. How can this be a FAMILY journal when I AM NOT EVEN IN IT???"

"Oh, this is from 2004, weren't born yet."

"Well, couldn't I have even been in mama's womb???"

"Uh, no, not yet."

"You mean...YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW ME???"

"Nope. We don't know you were going to come along."

Slight pause. Then: "Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh!" And Jaybird exits the kitchen, hysterical at the thought of her non-existence in our lives....

....only to re-enter fifteen minutes later, dropping the family journal open-faced on the table and folding her arms across her chest, still scowling.

"I would like you to read this page, please."

So I take a look. Turns out she had drawn a picture of the whole family...including herself...and inserted it into the sleeve for the first page of the journal.

I have not laughed so hard in many, many, many days. I am still laughing. And I suspect I will be laughing over this for many years to come.

And yes, Jaybord, your picture will stay exactly where it is. : )