The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 26

Just look at that crazy laughing face! What could be more hilarious than riding on Daddy’s shoulders?

Olive fingers!

Public Service Announcement: moldy dishwashers happen. And there are lots of places in dishwashers for mold to hide. After I noticed it creeping up on the dish racks, I did my research and rolled up my sleeves and blockaded my kitchen thusly, due to a certain little man’s desire to always dwell within the dishwasher.

Where there is a will, there is a way. I finally ended up strapping him in his booster seat, but even so, after I had put us all through the misery of 1.5 hours scrubbing (only about a third of which he was actually in his chair, but still), I had barely touched the surface, it seemed. I put everything back in the dishwasher and resigned myself to washing dishes by hand. Five days later, when Stephen’s dad and I decided to tackle the rest of it, much of the surfaces I’d cleaned off were recovered with mold. With a lot of elbow grease and persistence and Stephen’s mom helping out with John, we got all the mold out we could, and ran white vinegar through the dishwasher just in time to do prep dishes for Thanksgiving. I won’t be taking a clean dishwasher for granted anytime soon, and if I notice mold in there again, I know how to take care of it before it spreads!

Take a picture of me, Mommy!

This crazy man. Right in the midst of Thanksgiving prep, he started climbing everything. He can climb up on the step stool to lord it over sinks and counters, he can climb up to get things off the piano, he can turn on and off the tub and would likely climb inside if his attempts to do so were not so rudely interrupted. He doesn’t walk, though. He’s starting to stand without support for longer periods of time, but if you hold his hands and try to get him to take a step, he sits down with a defiant plop! I think he just wants to have it figured out so that he can do it perfectly on his first try.

Train rides!

He doesn’t usually hold still for pictures because the phone is too delicious not to grab. Love this little man.

And at it he comes!


Our Thanksgiving dinner table, minus the dressing, which had to be put back in the oven (I think it did that to me last time I made Thanksgiving dinner, six years ago in NZ, too). I was anticipating the dressing the most, but when I taste tested the gravy, I realized that it’s really the best part of the meal. Yum. We’ve been eating leftovers all week, which has been so nice.

From a trip to the park with Grandpa and Grandma H on one of the warmer days they were here.

Looks like Maria has the whole posing thing down better than John does, ha!

Stephen and I got to have a date with just the baby! We went to Mass, ate breakfast at Bruegger’s, went to Hobby Lobby, picked up some coffee (I’d been looking forward to that part for two weeks!), spent a few hours at Leaflet Missal (supposed to be Christmas shopping, but that was left for the last half hour or so after Stephen was done looking at all the books and I was going a little crazy with John and hunger), ate at Culver’s, then spent a half hour in the sunken gardens at Como before meeting Stephen’s folks for dinner. Maybe a little too much for one date, but it was good anyway.

It was super warm on Monday, so I took the kids to the park. I realized that it was the first time I’ve taken them alone since John was born, because it’s been something we’ve done for family time, but of course it gets dark too early to do it in the evening after Stephen gets home from work now.


The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 25

Pulled out the vacuum, and these two wanted to take over. Vacuuming with 25 pounds of baby on one’s arm and a scampering big sister takes more coordination than one might expect.

Our little doorman. He’s fascinated with doors, and spends long periods of time opening and closing them.

He climbed up on the box and wasn’t sure how to get down…so he just sat down, hard.

“Sister, hurry up, I gotta go!” Ha. Not really. Remember what I was saying about doors? Well, he takes great offense at the bathroom door being closed, no matter who has done such a deed. And we have to close the door without fail, because it becomes very difficult to use the toilet when the baby is doing one of the following things that may or may not be dangerous: 1. Hanging over the side of the tub; 2. Pulling himself up to the sink; 3. Sticking his arm in the toilet; 4. Fishing through the garbage; 5. Crawling behind the toilet; 6. Checking out the toilet bowl brush; 7. Investigating things draped over the tub to dry; 8. If sister is on the toilet, trying to pull her off; 9. Unrolling the toilet paper roll; 10. Trying to open the door All the Way, which can’t happen because your knees are right there.

They got to watch the lawn workers blowing leaves, which was so exciting. And look. She’s resting her hand gently on his, not grasping at it desperately, as has been her wont for the past 10.5 months. There is yet hope!

Love these kids. It’s good to have a more relaxed week and be able to take time to watch them and interact with them more intentionally. 

Guess what I found?! A baby playing all by himself! You’d better believe I exercised without any help! Or did handwork or something. I can’t really remember what it was that I did, because that was yesterday. I do remember that it was something alone. Which was amazing.

Thank you all who have been praying for a job for Stephen. He is now happily employed, and we rejoice in God’s continued provision and in a new routine and in the hope of being able to make ends meet for a good while longer now.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 24

This is my guy. Outlets and electrical cords and cast iron plant stands. And guess what? He’s stood on his own for a couple of seconds each time twice this week. He’s so much fun, loves jokes, and chasing with Daddy and sister.

Action shot. My sweet little puppy dog. He finds things and carries them in his mouth as he crawls.

Take a picture with me, too, Mama!

Maria decided to use the hat box to cook herself a scarf…I mean hot dog. And John has found a saucer this time.

We had a real snow yesterday! And because we didn’t have to go anywhere, we enjoyed the beauty of it, and the visual peace (the aural peace was disturbed by the roofers hammering and making loud bangs that had me anxiously looking up for falling bodies).

Still my baby.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 23

Last week was peak week for our trees here, so we went on a glorious walk.

Green and red…

And gold and red

This tree is always my favorite. It’s always a beautiful array of colors and a lovely shape and can be seen way up the road.

Then to the park!

Maria’s phrase this week is “I sure can!” which is a pleasant response to a request for her to help with a task.

She gave Daddy and John a ride on the merry go round.

Four years of marriage now! Perhaps I should sit still long enough to think up a sappy and sentimental caption about how wonderful they’ve been, but what I have to say is that God is so good to us, all the time, and reveals his goodness to us in so many, many ways, and especially through the graces of the Sacrament of Marriage. And yeah, definitely even more in love than we were to begin with. Looking forward to the next forty six years of newlywed life.

After watching the repair man fix the ceiling in the laundry room, she found her dress up gloves and a clothes pin and proceeded to fix the wall.

Whenever Maria watches out the window, John tries to look too. I put him up on the chair with her (and stayed right behind him) so he could watch some movers with her.

This week the winds and cold have come, and the sunlight is glorious.

I was experimenting in the kitchen this week. Should I put up my recipe for chocolate filled challah?

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 22

Naps are so important. Maria has taken to telling us when she’s tired and needs to go to bed (at naptime and bedtime), and sometimes that she’s not tired and doesn’t. Ha. She proves me right by falling asleep especially quickly those times. I really appreciate that she’s never been a bedtime fighter, except perhaps when we were transitioning her to her own bed last year, but that was different. She loves the secure pattern for bedtime we’ve had for as long as she can remember – rosary and snuggles, then sleep – and gets antsy if we have company over too late and bedtime doesn’t come promptly enough.

John wants to help whenever I’m at the stove (he can turn a knob once it’s on, yikes, as well as accidentally open the oven door, which always offends him when it lands him so emphatically on the floor), and Maria wants to help whenever I’m redirecting John. Or rather, she wants to take over and mommy him herself. Never mind that he’s almost as big as her!

I just can’t stop with the Daddy/Son pictures, y’all. They’re just so stinking cute. It may also have something to do with the fact that if Daddy has Johnny, Johnny can’t reach my most scrumptious and delectable phone.

Stephen’s parents visited for Maria’s birthday week, and we went to Minnetonka Orchard. Maria was all about the playground, but we also went on a hayride (which John loved because it was super bouncy) and explored the corn maze and checked out the petting zoo (or the petting zoo checked out us – I drew the line at the ram tasting my baby carrier) and of course, got a picture on the tractor.

Pretty baby fingers. Will I ever have a child with skin as pale as mine? Not yet, at least!

Sure, I can play that for ya!

Hi, Mom! Shall I sing for you? I’ll have to stand on my tippy toes.

Back to business.

Maria fell in love with a trike when we were visiting Forrest and Rebekah’s family, and has insisted since that she wanted a bicycle birthday cake. I was pretty excited to make it, as I don’t often have a reason for such a project. I made small rounds for the wheels and cut out the seat, handlebars, pedals, and basket from a rectangle. The flowers were an afterthought, made with scraps of cake. I used pretzel rods to connect it all (and Stephen pointed out after the fact that it would’ve been easier to coat them with almond bark then to frost them, oh well). She was quite satisfied with the end result, and especially with the flowers. She loves to be given flowers.

Here’s our bright three year old with the pumpkin she painted with Grandpa and Grandma H! And also a windup swimming monkey, probably confiscated from John to show him how it works.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 21

You know how adventures seem to find you sometimes when you hadn’t even thought of the possibility? Well, we were going to make a short trip to Wisconsin. Stephen had an interview in Green Bay, so we planned to stay overnight with my brother’s family in southern WI, head up for the interview in the morning, and go home from there. BUT our transmission went out when we were still an hour away, and what with one issue and another that the auto mechanics had, we ended up with a two week vacation at my brother’s house! We enjoyed a longer chance for a visit, and of all the times for such a thing to happen, this was surely the most convenient, as we didn’t have any pressing reasons to need to return home promptly.

John belly crawled everywhere, and hoped that if he haunted the door, he might just be able to sneak out. He also made a grab at the car whenever she walked past, and thankfully she took it pretty calmly.

Maria loved having so many cousins to play with, and especially bonded with Chavvah and Mary. 

She came in every day covered with dirt, and despite her first experience with skinned knees, prays that we will be able to have a house so that she can have her own tricycle.

I hope that someday we’ll get to live even closer (to these cousins and others, too!), so that Maria can continue to develop these friendships.

Once the car was finally done, we were glad to be back home (to throw away all the moldy food and finish up a few projects before our confirmation and reception into full communion with the Catholic Church. What a roller coaster ride this has been! Never a dull moment.

Forrest and Rebekah were our sponsors, and drove up for the afternoon and evening, and Fred and Hilary drove all the way out from Washington State, and Freeman flew out for the evening. It was a day overflowing with blessings. God’s graces toward us have been so multitudinous as we continue to seek Him and strive to grow in holiness.

Five siblings + one tired baby!

Hilary and Fred got to stay for a visit – Hilary for most of the week, and Fred for the last couple of days. Unlike previous visits, Maria warmed up to Fred immediately, and was not dismayed by Happy’s presence (in fact, she took great delight in feeding Happy and ordering her about).

We enjoyed talking and going to Mass and playing games and making food and singing together. Life has been so different for the past six years, but when we’re back together again, we do our best to make up for all that time apart.

Stephen’s folks came for a visit, too, and we enjoyed catching up with them. Maria soaked up all the grandparent time and asked first thing every morning for some of “Dama’s bana bread.”

John has started pulling himself up onto everything.

He thinks he’s pretty cool.

Maria took her first nosedive and some how managed to hurt only her face on the pavement, but not her hands and knees. She was pretty sad about it for quite a while, but then she started to take great pleasure in noticing this trophy when she saw her reflection. Now most of the scabs are gone and it’s just a bright pink.

Little Man likes to be everywhere sister is. Sometimes Sister doesn’t find this very convenient.

And then there are many times that Sister wants to be right where Buddy is, which may be slightly less than the safest thing for him.

Since soaking the dried fruit and citrus zest for hot cross buns in brandy, I try to do it for other things that have dried fruit in them. It makes the end product so moist and adds such great flavor. I did it for a Williamsburg Orange Cake I made this last weekend, and it was definitely the best I’d ever made. 

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 20

It’s been a long while since I last posted. These weeks have been very busy with many things; the biggest being that Stephen resigned as rector of St Dunstan’s and renounced his orders as an Anglican priest, and we are preparing to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church on September 17.

 This is something we’ve been discerning for a long time, and God, in his mercy, made it very clear that the time has come, but it’s also been very difficult – St Dunstan’s is a parish that exceeded our expectations, our diocese was amazing, and our bishop wise and loving, but even more than this, we grieve the unconditional surrender of Stephen’s vocation. God is good and faithful, and we know that his plans for us are much better than the ones we made for ourselves. We appreciate your prayers as we continue to seek his will for us in all things.

I completed a project very dear to my heart – a memorial for 9 of my little nieces and nephews who were miscarried. I loved how the medium of felt worked for this – the Sacred Heart that holds all of the sweet little teardrop swaddled babies, each embroidered with their names and unique faces and hair. What a gift it was to me to work so much love and prayer into it all.

Caught in the act! Who needs a silver teething ring when you can use a silver goblet?

My fashionista. She’s so grown up and I have all the feels about it! She says “Too much sleep for me, Mommy,” and proceeds to fall asleep before her brother. She is learning the art of interrogating, from the basic “why?” to asking anyone who closes himself in the bathroom, “Do you need to go potty or poopy or just brush your teeth?” to “How do you drive to Holy Family? How do you wash dishes? How do you wash your special Sunday glasses?” She is usually either singing, talking, or asleep. 

Matching braids!

Swingin’ pals!

My sister Hilary drove my Mama and little sister Hailie up for a visit, and it was so good to have a few hours with us three “little” girls and Mama, and then Mama and Hailie for a little over a week!

Maria followed Grandma Tucker around like a puppy dog. She enjoyed combing her hair, reading stories with her, and playing Old Maid with her (which she calls “Home Made”). She now insists that I must be only Mommy and never Mama, because “Mama is Auntie Hailie’s mama and Dama Tutter!” 

I put the monk costume I made last year on John, and he thought he was the Best Joke Ever. But then, he always thinks he is!

Matching stripes!

John is now scooting, and therefore getting into things. The delights of the bookshelf was one of his first discoveries, and it cracked me up when he pulled this book off the shelf.

He also plays brisk games of chase the potato around the kitchen, follows anyone he wants to whenever he pleases, and is dirty all down his front at the end of the day. I guess I need to mop!

“Mommy, tan I dust doe read this boot?” (Can I just go read this book). She picked extras in case Mommy and Daddy joined her.

This guy. So much sunshine. Plus for some reason I never seem to document the rainy part of his disposition…does it even exist? (The answer is yes, and it takes a lot of feeds and snuggles to make that sunshine! But it’s so worth it).

She was happy to push him, but mostly just wanted to get in, too!

My kids crack me up. Maria was wearing her favorite too-long skirt and boots. John is positive that having something on his head makes him hilarious.

It’s that time of year again. The apples are ripening and the memories come at unexpected, inconvenient times…and this time it’s been five years since my brother Ford died. Grief with kids is rough. This time around, I’ve wanted to hide, yell, scream, and cry, cry, cry. With four teeth and two more on the way in, John has been pretty needy. After all, he’s a baby! But there are moments that kids can be such channels of grace. During his nap, John had startled awake, and when he drifted back off, his hand rested on my face in such a loving way. What a gift.

My loves.

Those two teeth I was complaining about came through while Daddy was away on retreat! This little man army crawls everywhere, says “Mama,” “Dada,” “Bubba,” and a host of adorable babbled words that mean nothing or everything, and is beginning to pull himself up on furniture.