The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 19

We’ve spent a good bit of time traveling over the past month, between going to our diocesan synod in Illinois and then after a week at home, visiting family in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. The kids were good travelers overall, and we sure loved naptime – time for Mama to read uninterrupted out loud!

We took Stephen’s sleeping bag with us for Maria to sleep on, which was a fun adventure for her, as well as something familiar she could look forward to…and it meant we didn’t have to share our bed with her!

Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t have hurt to share this one with her. We lucked out and got a king sized bed in the hotel we stayed at during Synod. I have a love-hate relationship with king beds. It’s so nice to have space that the baby doesn’t have to always be against me, but…if I’m wanting to snuggle with Stephen and then I pull the baby to me to feed him, I’m likely about two counties away from my water bottle. And I need my water bottle. We talk about upgrading to a king someday, especially because Maria still does get in bed with us sometimes, which is not a pleasant experience, as it requires John and me to be wedged into the middle between Stephen and Maria, who are each up against the edge…but if we ever do, we’ll have to come up with some solution. Like a shelf over the bed for water and books. Maybe. Because then you could knock contents of said shelf onto sleeping children…maybe not such a good plan.

John loves it when I jump with him in the carrier. Also, he has the best grin ever.

Maria is a huge fan of bright yellow wayside flowers, and they collect and wither in the car when she forgets them. In addition to their beauty, she finds them useful for a game she plays that she calls “blowing”, which, as far as she can see, is what those folks do outside buildings (smoking).

I love that Maria goes off to “read by herself”. I may need reminded in ten years or so that it is a lovable thing.

Jack-in-the-Box! We don’t call him Jack, but I couldn’t resist the pun.

Maria had so much fun with her Tucker cousins, but this was the only picture I got during our visit…because I was so busy having fun, too! It was so good to have some time to hang out and catch up.

Just a couple of crazies. Freeman finally got to meet John! Freeman was confirmed the same day that John was baptized, so I guess that makes them some sort of sacramental pals.

Loving the head-tummy rub! And this was the only picture I took during our week in Hillsdale. *insert facepalm* We had a relaxing, fun week together, and did indeed succeed in surprising Stephen’s mom by arriving on her birthday!

We stopped in Wheaton to lunch with Freeman on our way back, and remembered to take a picture!

John is suddenly sitting up by himself and keeping his balance quite well! Here you see Maria playing her accordion for him while he is trying to figure out how he can go over to play it too.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 18

We got a Tula! Hoorah for Craigslist! It still feels too fancy to wear around the house (compared to my well-worn, simple geometric print, faithful Ergo, which has suffered from too many washings recently, as well as teething). It’s definitely different in many ways from the Ergo, and I think overall, it’s the more comfortable for Baby of the two, but I haven’t used it for long enough yet to give a full review.

These succulents were barely opening when we received them in a bouquet a few weeks ago, but they’ve lasted longer than all the other flowers and are finally almost fully open. I love them!

On Saturday, Stephen pointed out that since Pentecost is the second highest Feast of the year, we should have a special meal. I made a birthday cake for the Church, and we appropriately lit the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin on fire. I was perplexed as to whether I should say “Happy Pentecost” or “Happy Birthday Church”, so I asked Stephen, and he told me to put on the introit. The Alleluia couldn’t fit and is wrapped around the side of the cake.

And Stephen set the table the night before. Hopefully soon we’ll start having a pretty table every Sunday. As it is, we rarely use our tablecloth and napkins. Little steps, though. We’ve started to have challah and wine every Sunday, so we’ll work our way up to fancy meats and desserts and table and all that. It’s hard to make space and time for a special meal when Sunday is one of the busiest days of the week for us.

John is rolling over and back all the time now, and he does it so efficiently. He always starts out on his bear and ends up in the bare floor. Here Maria decided to help him chew on his rattle (which she loves to sneak away with and carry around, sucking it like a sippy cup…her imagination is always busy these days!). He has his second tooth now, and is busy working on more.

Well. I wanted to share this sequence of photos (because aren’t they the cutest?) to show the progression of John’s glee, but they uploaded backwards. So scroll back up and look at them that way, if you please. My sister Hilary is here for a visit, and we’re trying to make every minute count! We’ve been besties for longer than I can remember, so being together is packed with conversation and music and cooking and cleaning and just being together, trying to soak each other up and catch up since the last visit.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 17

This sweet boy. He’s had a long bout of teething, and I’ve been wearing him much more than my muscles would like. He’s been such a trooper. 

On Mother’s Day, we took our supper sandwiches out and ate on the grass and then made our calls to our moms before heading back in for bed. As you can see, Maria loves to do what Daddy does. I especially love seeing her imitate him when he gets to be with us for Mass – on the kneeler, her back straight, her hands folded, her face attentive.

Pink and yellow honeysuckle on one plant! Is it normal for pink honeysuckle to be scentless? Because I find that to be so disappointing, after growing up with honeysuckle fragrance being one of the best of the summer.

Because Sister can’t stand being on the sidelines when a camera is involved…

This is what she had to get in the middle of. While Mama melts in a puddle in the distance. I have a picture somewhere of Daddy and Maria doing the same thing. And yes, John is starting to scoot a bit and experiment with positions that will propel him farther.

When Mama sets a stack of hangers next to you, grab them quickly!

Our parish’s Canterbury Festival has been postponed, but when John and I came down with colds right before it was originally scheduled, I figured I should go ahead and dress them up for a picture. Have you ever seen a cuter jester? The costumes are handmedowns, and I was so excited that John’s was so appropriate for his personality.

Hi, Mom! Sister is snuggling me again! 

Maria is the queen of mix and match. I don’t remember how old she was when she first started switching lids around on our differently colored water bottles for a laugh, but I think it was at least a year ago. She continues to be quietly amused by such practical jokes.

Pretty flowers…

Pretty leaves! And that should hold you until I have a picture of Little Man’s first tooth. It looks like his second will be in before the week is out, but I thought that two months ago about his first one!

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 16

John’s been enjoying being on his tummy more recently. He can scoot if he has something to kick against, and he’s rolling over a bit more frequently (he first rolled back-to-tummy at one week old when he was having his diaper changed but was determined to be in a position for eating, but then only did so rarely until now). Because I’m used to Maria’s mobility now and he’s pretty big, I catch myself thinking that he should be sitting up, or considering the fact that he’s squirming off my lap reasonable – he just wants to get down and play, right? Nope, he’s only four months. (Bonus: I did not notice until after I took this picture that Maria’s new sandals are Seahawks colors, so I cannot take credit for that).

We planted some marigolds, and they’re sprouting! I’m disappointed that I’m not magical enough to get geraniums to grow, but marigolds are exciting, too! {Three out of five sprouts have died so far and the last two look sad. Maybe I’m just not supposed to have flowers in my kitchen.}

It snowed on my birthday! Just enough to wash the world clean on our way to start the day off right with Mass.

It’s been nice to get outside more often! One day we went out to take out garbage and recyclables, and simply didn’t come back in for a long while. Maria was happy to pick up sticks.

Maria loves to do whatever I’m doing to John, and sometimes I have to remind her that I am John’s Mama, and if she wants to do Mama things she should do them to her baby. This occasion, she requested a Moby for her baby (to match Mama), so I tied her baby on with a receiving blanket and she paced with me. Her baby fell asleep before John, so she sat and snuggled him while she waited for me.

These gorgeous roses were part of a bouquet we brought home from church. They smelled amazing, and our bedroom was laced with their perfume for days!

We acquired an old little piano, and I’ve loved having it played most every day. That’s one of the things I’ve remained homesick for since getting married, having a piano played daily in the home.

Just bein’ crazy at the store.

John loves grabbing things, and he finds his toes to be pretty handy for this purpose most of the time. (Also, the t shirt is such a big boy shirt. It looks as though he’s going to get his toy truck and head out to the sandbox. Or maybe that’s just me).

We went to the zoo with Grandpa and Grandma H, and Maria was fascinated by all the animals.

And then these guys were sitting around looking like a lot more fun than exotic plants, so I had to take a picture or ten.

Having fun with Grandpa H.

Maria got to help Grandpa and Grandma make cookies! (While I trimmed John’s nails – took me a bit to figure out what was going on back there!)

John is such a people person! He’ll often give a smile just if you look at him or make silly faces at him. He likes his down times every once in a while, but he always wants to have some familiar person close by him.

We went on a date with Daddy! And we didn’t have time to dress up, so we just grabbed hats on the way out. A little swagger never hurt anybody, right?

We drove down to Kansas for a funeral, and I sat in the back with these beauties for all but 20 minutes of the driving time. They were troopers.

I took Maria over to see the milk can cows, and she instantly clambered onto the calf.

New clothes! And warm weather means we can see those dimples elbows now. Loving all the chubby rolls!

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 15

Grandpa and Grandma H brought sidewalk chalk last time they visited, and there have been many fine days recently that it has been taken outside for use!

Snuggle buddy!

We had our last snow early in Holy Week, which by the afternoon…

Looked like this! Everything is green and lush now, and even the trees have a fine mist of green on them!

John loves to watch Maria at everything. He’s so fascinated by all that she does.

We didn’t get a family picture on Easter Sunday (can anyone say #clergyfamilyproblems?), but I did get a picture of John after he amazingly slept through most of the Vigil and left me to weep to my heart’s content at the astonishing beauty that is the miracle of the Resurrection…

And one of Maria after Mass in the morning, having found an egg and extracted its contents.

So excited about these frames I found on clearance at Aldi! We needed one for John’s footprint, and I took Maria’s out of the frame it had been in so they could match and be hung (and clutter the dresser a little less). Likewise reducing clutter is the candle shelf and rosary holder that I finally hung (after we got it at the thrift store a year ago – I added the nails for hanging rosaries).

We got to have our youngest goddaughter over for her birthday (oh, and her family, too!) She wanted a rainbow cake, so I colored/flavored the layers with Koolaid, baked them one by one…

Stacked them with a double recipe of frosting…

And hurriedly slapped on some frosting while John complained that it was evening and I was still working on it…

And Maria emptied the contents of half the red food coloring bottle on herself. The lighting isn’t helpful here; it really looked like she had blood smeared on her hands and mouth, and it was darker all the way down the front of her dress and on the step stool and the cupboards. I set her in the tub and she gladly scrubbed her dress until not a bit of red remained (it took a while!)

Anyway, the cake was a hit (although Stephen made sure to inform me that he will not be requesting a rainbow cake, for which I am grateful…one is enough for a year or so).

And we had such a wonderful visit with everyone! Lots of talking and passing around the baby and eating and playing and watching Karol find all the climbable structures in the house and such. It was so lovely to see/hear the little girls all playing together. 

And to conclude, John wonders if it’s worth taking the time to do “she loves me, she loves me not…” on a dandelion (the answer is no, John). 

I made a Mass book and couldn’t choose just one picture to post, so I wrote about it here. Check out the simple pattern here.

Happy Easter, everybody! Don’t wear yourselves out celebrating – we’ve got to keep up the feasting for another 44 days or so!

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 14

Finally got this one from a few weeks ago off of Stephen’s phone. John loves jokes so much. He started laughing this week, and I gladly rub his tummy with my head seven more times or waggle my tongue at him yet again for the sake of hearing that wonderful chuckle.

We had coffee the other day so that we could finish up some whipped cream, and Stephen had settled Maria with hers at the table and returned to the kitchen to collect ours when a loud cry of weeping and wailing was heard in the land. It took a little bit for us to distinguish the words “my nose!!!” It would seem that Maria was attacked by whipped cream.

GUYS. This is amazing. If you never get smelly when you sweat, skip to the next part. If you do, this might be your new favorite thing, too. I heard about The Healthy Farmgirl’s deodorant, and it sounded a bit too good to be true, but Stephen had recently been complaining about his body odor. It’s frustrating to need to apply deodorant liberally twice a day and still be unpleasantly fragrant when it’s winter and your job is mostly sedentary. So I asked him, and he said he’d be willing to try it. He’d tried natural deodorant in the past and found it worthless, so we weren’t too hopeful, and when the package arrived and I opened the containers to sniff, my heart sank. The scent was faint, far too faint to cover up anything remotely odorous. The first day Stephen tried it was a Sunday, which is naturally one of his busiest and smelliest days. I had mostly forgotten about it until we were undressing for bed, and he remarked in surprise, “I can’t smell any body odor!” I hadn’t been expecting this. I went and sniffed in his general vicinity, nothing. I stuck my nose in his armpit (you only live once, right?), and could only smell a cool scent of pine. I didn’t know that it was possible not to have body odor! I had gotten two scents (Forest Explorer and Patchouli Spice), so I took the other one and started using it. Despite all the crazy hormonal hot flashes that have kept me stinking it up for the past five months or so, it works the same way for me, too! Every few days I’ve checked in to make sure it’s still working for Stephen, just in case it wears off or something, but apparently the gentle scent is just camouflage for a workhorse of a deodorant! I think I’ve also noticed a reduction in itchiness in my armpits. It’s nice to be using something that’s not yucky for my skin and get better benefits than with commercially produced deodorant. It’s a little bit on the pricy side compared to what I’m used to paying for deodorant, but I think it’s worth it. Please, Healthy Farmgirl, never go out of business! After all, I’m going to have at least one teenage son someday…

When we went to the conservatory a year ago to escape the brown and find a splash of color (and those hyacinths!), we didn’t know we had a teensy John with us. It’s been a crazy beautiful year and we’re learning ever more to trust in God, seek his will, and delight in all his gifts (especially our children, but so many other blessings, too!)

Maria sings a story to John. 

So far, it seems as though John’s amber teething necklace has been more of a placebo than anything helpful. He’s had a pretty painful week, but he’s been a trooper. I’m coming to treasure his naps and successful bedtimes more and trying to let go of all the extra things that pile up this busiest time of the year.

So big!

Talking to Mommy. He’s turning into a chatterbox! Last night, he talked to the ceiling light all through family rosary. Such sweet sounds! And can you believe those eyes and lashes?

Felt Mass Book

I’ve always wanted to make a busy book, the kind that help children to engage with something in a more tactile way, and when I discovered Nancy’s simple, genius pattern, I knew I had to make it. I decided to make two, one for Maria and one for my goddaughter Chavvah (as an aside, I wrote books for my goddaughter Marigold’s first five birthdays or so, and even though I can’t catch up with that for Chavvah as my time is a little less free now, I think this counts for maybe two or three). This one is Chavvah’s. I’m a rebel when it comes to following patterns, as you’ll see if you check out the original, so some of the designs are tweaked, and all of them are stitched a bit differently, in the (perhaps ridiculous) hope that they will last through a couple generations of children. I chose the colors for the pages based on the ones another customer of Nancy’s used – I loved the chocolate and butterscotch and cherry colors together. I made most of the decisions for changes based on my observations of and interactions with Maria throughout the celebration of the Mass.

Cover Page – Told you, I’m a rebel. I didn’t want to cut out a ton of little letters and stitch them on for a title page. We often arrive at church nearly an hour before Mass starts, and besides making sure everyone is ready and checking to see if we can help out anywhere, it’s a great opportunity for quiet prayer time (sometimes it seems as if all of Maria’s quiet is used up during this time!), so I decided that a stitched on rosary would be suitable. My niece Noelle designed this one.

Processional – I used a palm cross from Palm Sunday for the processional cross. They’ve been floating around and driving me crazy, so I was happy to find a good use for a couple! I adapted the vestments a bit to try to reflect what the kiddos are used to – added a chasuble to the priest and gave the crucifer a cassock and surplice.

Opening blessing – Making this little book for the priest to hold was so fun! I love how it closes with a thread and bead clasp and can be opened – such a clever idea! Again, I added a chasuble for the priest. I really wanted to spend the time stitching orpheries onto the chasubles with metallic thread (because how awesome would that be?!), but my family reminded me that it is my duty to feed them. Whatevs.

Readings – I can’t remember exactly why I didn’t go with the original lift-the-flap option; probably mostly to save time (which is a silly reason, especially considering some of the other decisions I made; still, Maria approves) . Stitching text is so enjoyable (when there’s only a bit of it like this). I trimmed the lector’s Bible to make it look a little more like an open book; I was afraid would make the piece too small to work with, which is amusing, considering what’s coming up in a few pages.

Creed – I used embroidery thread to connect the symbols for the Persons of the Trinity rather than pipe cleaners, as I was a little nervous about sneaking some from my husband’s desk. Ha! I like the way the thread looks, though.

Offertory – I think the wheat was my favorite piece to stitch for this entire project. Partially the color (which shows up truer in subsequent photos), but partially just that there’s something so pleasing about the shape. I switched from a loaf of bread to a host and added a drop of wine for this page.

Elevation – added page alert! One of the things I love about the Mass is that it is so clearly for distractable humans (children and adults alike!) There are so many points in the Mass that call us back to focusing on what we’re all here for: to offer all that we are and have, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the Father. And in turn, what are we given? The Son, Himself! I designed this page to capture the moment the chapel bells call to us, “Look up! Thy Lord and Saviour draweth nigh!” I love the way it turned out. There were a ton of little pieces, and it did take a long time to cut out, but I sewed the page in my head so many times before I had a chance to do it for reals that it went quite quickly and smoothly.

Consecration – I decided to sew the pages back-to-back to make the book less bulky, and one of the things I love about it is that these two pages face each other. The page with the chalice and host was the most terrifying because 1) cut the page straight down the middle 2) sew on a zipper and 3) stitch it to the next page. I freaked out about this page for so long, but when I decided to cut the chalice and host before stitching them on and to stitch on the zipper by hand, it wasn’t so bad. I just didn’t want to mess up, as this, I think, is the very heart of Nancy’s brilliant design

Consecration – Because see? This is what it opens to. Simple way to introduce children to the Real Presence of Christ.

Our Father – I adjusted the children’s posture to reflect what Maria is used to for prayer at Mass, and had the added benefit of not having as much to cut out. Score! The girls’ chapel veils are actually lace flowers that were originally on my mama’s wedding veil; I’ve had them for some time, and never had the perfect opportunity to use them… until now.

Ecce – I added this page, too, which not only works for “Behold the Lamb of God!”, but also enables the children from the previous page to go forward to receive their blessing or to be communed! That’s Maria’s favorite part.

Sign of the Cross – how clever is it to have this little girl with her arms free so that one can teach her to cross herself? (Of course, Maria doesn’t think she needs that so much as long as John’s hand is within her reach). Again, the veil I added is from my mama’s, and I put cuffs on the sleeves to hide the ends of the threads.

So there you have all the pages! But wait! There’s more! Some handy things I learned :

  • When tracing pattern pieces before cutting out, use washable markers. Be careful to remember to flip anything that needs to be a mirror image.
  • Don’t make stitches too small, as they will get caught in the felt and get nasty.
  • If you like the aesthetic appeal of handstitching, it doesn’t take too long to stitch the pages together, and it gives you more control over how well lined up the pages are.
  • If you’re afraid of botching up the pages by punching holes in them, there is an alternate form of binding: take a blank page and wrap it around the raw edges of the end page. Stitch along it, then repeat with each page following. Finally, hold all the finished pages together and stitch them clear through. You’ll want to do this a few times; it will be hard work and take a lot of thread, but it will be sturdier. Here’s how it looks for me:

Have you made Nancy’s fabulous pattern? How did it work for you?