The Scrawl Vol. 3, No. 1

Here it’s been how long since I last posted? Phew, but it’s been a crazy month or so.

We were sick a lot during Advent, so yet again, we didn’t get much of a chance to make Christmas goodies. We did manage soda cracker toffee, springerle, and I think maybe one other? I don’t remember what it was. And then we started a restrictive diet at the beginning of the year, so we couldn’t finish out the twelve days of Christmas with that sort of goodies, either. God willing, as long as we don’t have due dates (like hindered us last year) and nasty colds next Advent, we can do better!

“Take a picture with me, Mama!”

Busy with Grandpa. Stephen’s parents came for John’s first birthday and Christmas, and we had a lovely visit…until the Christmas plague began, and we all started dropping like flies.

One of my favorite Christmas picture outtakes. Crazy family.

Love these folks!

We got in some games and some first birthday cheesecake before everybody got miserable. As always, it was good to visit.

Taste testing the batter. Yum, yum!

John is a year old! He loves climbing, playing close-sister-in-the-closet, nursing, doors of all sorts, climbing, tuna, salmon, egg yolks, almond butter, jerky, hummus, and avocado (among other delicacies), climbing, outyelling everybody else at Mass, being silly, climbing, singing, and getting into the fridge. He says Mama, Dada, Jesus, and Hi. He cruises around furniture and stands alone very well. 

Having thus demolished his cheesecake…

How big is baby? So big!

Maria received kitchen toys for Christmas, and there really wasn’t anywhere for them to go, so on St Stephen’s Day, I took a diaper box and an Amazon box and made her a little stove to cook on and store everything in.

Busy, contented little man. I love the crossed ankles.

I made this little hand cross for John as an Epiphany gift. It’s just the right size for his little paws, and I enjoyed including the tiny details. Creating can be such a prayerful process for me, and I hope to make more time for it this year.

Our M bug got sick again last week. This time, she ended up with some (non infected) fluid in her right ear, which affects her hearing somewhat. She says “What!??” a lot, and I get better at enunciating my words.

The kids were dressed up pretty fancy this Sunday, so I was going to sit them down and get a picture of them together, but John just wanted to say hi to Baby Jesus.


Dear John Stephen: A Birth Story

Dear John Stephen,

It was Easter week, and our hearts were bursting with the grief of the dark days preceding and overflowing with the hope of the resurrection. Daddy read to me from The Return of the King, and I drew a sunflower and shaded each petal with three different crayons, harmony of yellows. It was good to be making something beautiful after the busy sombreness of Lent, and Sister was just getting old enough to play by herself enough that I could be busy with more than just meals and laundry. In the midst of the sunshine and warmth, your life began. You were so tiny inside Mama, but it didn’t take long for her to notice you. We took a trip to visit Uncle Freeman and then Grandpa and Grandma H, and Mama was so tired and sick, especially in the car. She was pretty sure you were in there, but she couldn’t be positive until we got home. When Grandpa and Grandma T and Auntie Hailie came for a visit the next week, we were ready to tell them about you! Auntie Hailie stayed for a longer time after Grandpa and Grandma T left, and she helped a lot while Mama was too sick to do anything.

We traveled a lot while you were inside me. We flew on an airplane all the way out to Nevada to visit Grandpa and Grandma T and Uncle Finn and Auntie Hailie, then out to Arizona to visit Uncle Tim and Auntie Heidi and Auntie Hilary and all your Enloe cousins. You couldn’t get used to the time changes and wanted Mama to eat on home time! 

Back at home, we took a walk every week to get our CSA box, you and Sister and Mama, and Sister would fall asleep in the stroller on the way home. Sometimes we would sit out in the shade and wait for her to wake up.

You kept growing and growing, and Sister and Daddy and Mama all talked to you every day. Sister would lift up Mama’s shirt to talk to you, just to make sure you could hear her. By the next time we took a plane ride, you were big and bulky and we were a bit squishy, which made Daddy grumpy, but at least Mama wasn’t so sick! We went to Auntie Hannah and Uncle Jim’s wedding, and you tried to make it into all the pictures. 

Buddy, Mama got so tired. With her body constantly working on building you, it was hard for her to take care of Sister and Daddy and herself properly. Mama was sad most every day, and she’d go crazy at bedtime, because it was too much for her. Losing control like that was scary, and Daddy and Mama decided to get some help. Once we knew how to take care of Mama properly, it was like the sun finally came out and even the hard days weren’t as bad as they had been. We took as many walks as we could, because the fall had come, and soon winter would be here, and you would come out!

But for now, you were still tucked inside, growing and growing. You were a long baby, Miss Jeanne could tell from outside! You tried being upside right for a bit (which was upside down for an inside baby!), but gave up on that. You squeezed and squished around until there wasn’t much room left for anything inside of Mama! It was getting to where Mama didn’t really want to go much of anywhere anymore…but then, Mama’s Grandma had heart owies, and Mama and Daddy decided, before Mama settled down to get ready for you to be born, Mama needed to take Sister for a visit. Sister needed to meet Great Grandpa and Grandma M for the first time, and Mama needed to give them hugs again. So onto an airplane we got again, this time without Daddy, and flew far, far, far west. We spent a week with Great Grandpa and Grandma M and Grandma T, and you got squished in all that hugging. You made a good baby sandwich!

Advent came, and Mama was excited to meet you soon, but glad to have a little more time to work on handwork. We sang your songs to you and Sister more than ever: Comfort, Comfort Ye My People and Alma Redemptoris Mater. But by the fourth week of Advent, Mama was getting antsy. Auntie Hilary was visiting and Mama just wanted to get you out and snuggle you, and she didn’t want to climb in the car one more time! Once, she thought it was time, but nope! You were staying put. So Mama had to get in the car again, and off we went, bumpity bump, all the way to Miss Jeanne’s house. You were doing just fine, so back home we went to finish waiting. 

Finally, on Friday, Mama woke up. “It’s happening for reals now!” she thought. The belly was squeezing pretty hard. Mama went and showered to try to relax, but it didn’t slow down. After a while, we moved Sister into the spare room with Auntie Hilary and called the midwife. Mama was excited and relieved. Finally! But when Sister woke up, everything slowed way down. So we spent the day playing games in between squeezes and listening to Christmas music…it was only two days until Jesus’ birthday! Would you wait that long? 

Evening came, and Mama was ready for some help. Miss Jeanne and Miss Joanna came and talked to us and checked up on things. It was time to rest, they said. So Mama tried. But every time she started to relax, another big squeeze would come, and she would have to get out of bed and lean on the dresser. They were such hard squeezes, such hard work. Mama got so tired and discouraged. Miss Jeanne gave her hugs and good words. 

When morning finally came, we did stairs. Up, down, up, big squeeze, up, down. Mama was worn out. “I just want to rest,” she said. Auntie Hilary would have to leave soon, and still you weren’t coming! We cried and Auntie Hilary prayed for us and we cried some more. Then Mama had to do some silly stretches to try to get you in the right place. It felt awful. Finally, it was time for a nap, this time with a heating pad to help Mama rest better. Daddy took a nap too, and Sister played with Miss Jeanne. But Daddy and Mama were still a little scared. What if Mama wasn’t strong enough to get you out? What if we needed to go somewhere and find more help? Who would take care of Sister? It was Christmas Eve, after all. We talked and prayed, and Mama said, “Let’s put Sister to sleep and see how things go.”

Sister went to sleep very quickly, and so did Daddy. We had our pretty lights on in our room, and they were so sweet sleeping there in the glow. But Mama had to get out of bed soon so that she wouldn’t wake them up. The squeezes were back, harder than ever! Mama snuck out and talked to Miss Jeanne, and then woke Daddy and we prayed together again and moved Sister into the other room. Miss Jeanne said you were coming very soon, and called Miss Joanna to come back. Daddy let grandpas and grandmas and uncles and aunts know that you would be coming out soon, and pray! Then he went to get the door for some friends who were bringing Christmas dinner, and Mama tried to moan quietly. It hurt lots, but the end would be soon! We moved into the bedroom and Mama leaned on the dresser, and people took turns holding her hips and rubbing her back. “Can I kneel?” said Mama, and Daddy sat on the stool so that she could lean into him. Then she started pushing and in a little bit, splash! Out came your swimming waters! You were next, and Mama was roaring out her prayers loudly, but Sister never woke up! Miss Jeanne said to try to be quiet and just push, so Mama did. She pushed and she pushed and out came your head! Then she pushed and she pushed and “wait!” somebody said, and propped up one of Mama’s sweaty slippery legs on the dresser. She felt like she was going to fall, but she held on tightly to Daddy and pushed and Miss Joanna pulled, and out you came! Mama held you in her arms, you slick little baby, and we rubbed you and talked to you and knew you were a boy – our John! And before long Mama could get into bed with you, and it felt so luxurious! Then you were weighed and measured while Daddy and Mama called to tell people you were here, and everybody was surprised at how big your chest was! And you weighed almost as much as Mama did at birth! You weighed 10 lb, 13 oz, were 23 inches long (Miss Jeanne was right! Such a long little man!) Your head was 14 3/4 inches around and your chest was 16 inches around. No wonder you got stuck! It was a good thing we had such good helpers! Then Mama showered and we snuggled back into bed, and Daddy brought Sister in to see you, and she was so excited, but then she was very tired and sad. So we all snuggled together in the glow of the pretty lights, and Sister fell asleep, and Mama stared and stared at you, my beautiful little baby boy. Happy birth day, my John Man.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 26

It’s been a few weeks, so posting is more daunting, which means I’ve been procrastinating, sorry! We’ve had a couple weeks of a bad cold and it feels like we’re just coming out of the fog. This picture is from a few weeks ago; I had gone grocery shopping, and at the last stop, Maria fell asleep juuust as I pulled into the parking lot. Poor kids. They handled being woken and dragged into one more store pretty well; it helped that there was a Salvation Army bell ringer and I found some coins on the ground for Maria to put in the bucket.

We hosted the First Evensong of Advent at our place for our parish, with soup and fresh bread afterwards. Fresh bread, how I love thee. It went quite well, and we’re hoping to have Evensong here at least every couple of months, as long as everybody can fit in our little place.

John has big dreams of doing big things, and he wants all of them to come true. Like flushing the toilet. Brushing his teeth with Sister’s toothbrush. Cooking on the stovetop without anyone telling him silly things about the dangers of fire. Chewing on knives. Calling someone on Mommy’s phone. When he is thwarted in one of these or other dreams, his heart is broken. Was his hope truly in vain?

One of John’s greatest desires is to climb off an elevated surface onto another one, no matter the distance between the two.  In one day, he cut his lip doing this in the living room, then broke it open again doing the same in Maria’s bedroom.

Sister was pretty proud of herself for giving Brother a ride in her camp chair!

Before this cold hit, we managed to have cocoa (with candy canes from St Nicholas) and play a game of marbles on St Nicholas’ Day. Maria is finally getting the hang of it, and wants to play it all the time, which of course doesn’t work so well with John about. It’s hard to find ways to do things with her that he can’t do yet, because he still needs constant companionship. We worked it out that day, and I’m glad we did. She craves one on one time, and playing games makes her feel so grown up.

Playing peekaboo with Daddy’s pajama pants. He’s such an impish little guy, and so much fun just to spend time with.

Do you remember when I gave a rave review for the Healthy Farmgirl’s deodorant? We’ve been using it for about a nine months, and I still marvel at how well it works. If you haven’t yet, check it out! I know the price seems a bit steep, but Stephen’s only nearly done with his second, and I’m somehow still on my first, and it’s so so worth it. Anyway! Melinda has come out with a baby line of products! I was excited to try the baby bar soap, and was not disappointed – I used it for both the kids, but also for myself, testing especially on the more sensitive areas where I often get itchy. It’s a mild soap with a pleasant, clean scent, and I have been happy with how it has worked for us. I’ve been cringing at some of the fillers used in typical baby soaps, so I’m glad to have a very clean alternative. I’m also looking forward to someday (when the budget allows) trying some of her other bar soaps. Her Christmas scents look wonderful, who wouldn’t want to just smell like eggnog all season long?

Happy customers here!

Sorry that this post was a bit rushed…apparently my baby is turning one year old on Sunday, and I still haven’t finished writing out his birth story. Wasn’t he just born a couple weeks ago?

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?