Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Celebrating the Feast of the Archangels

Today is the Feast of the Archangels, or Michaelmas as it is also called, as it used to be only St. Michael who was honored on this day. The Church calendar now celebrates all the archangels on this date. The girls helped me make an angel food cake yesterday (well, they mostly watched... separating 12 eggs is not exactly kid-friendly work!), and today, we whipped some cream (using agave nectar - I love that stuff!) and assembled a trifle.

Legend says that when St. Michael kicked the devil out of heaven, he fell into a prickly blackberry bush and then cursed the blackberries, so it is traditional to eat the last of the season's blackberries on this day... before they become cursed by the devil. I happened to see fresh blackberries at Sam's, so I got a package and then had to decide what to do with them for this feast day! I had seen the suggestion of making an angel food cake trifle for an angel-themed dessert, and thought I'd just use the blackberries. So, we have the angel part covered with the cake, the whipped cream looks like clouds (evoking thoughts of heaven and angels), and the blackberry folklore - all in one recipe!! I took the agave whipped cream recipe and the whole wheat angel food cake recipes from two different places and then threw them together with the blackberries. It was yummy!!

I don't have a trifle bowl (yes, there is actually such thing as a container specified for trifles!), so i used the biggest semi-clear bowl we have. Caroline and Cecilia's biggest contribution was tearing up the angel food cake (which had gotten stuck and torn partway in half already) and putting it into the bowl... and licking the beaters after I whipped the cream, of course! Caroline liked sprinkling the berries in, while Cecilia just fussed that she couldn't eat all of them.

I cannot remember now where i found this pattern, but we used it to make archangel puppets. I traced the outline onto white cardstock and let Caroline decorate it however she wanted. Then I cut out the angel part while she cut out the wings - she is getting to be really steady with the scissors! She named her archangel Michael.

He is a very colorful archangel! :)

I figured Cecilia would want to get in on the coloring action, so I made one for her as well. I colored part of it and she colored the rest. Caroline named it Gabriel, and said that next year we'd have to make a Raphael.

Here are their angels "flying." Caroline wanted to take them outside in the afternoon to run and swing with them in the wonderful fall breeze that we had today! We spent a lot of time outside today on our first day that has really felt like autumn!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Daybook for September 28, 2009

Outside my window... it feels great! A nice fall day, and I opened the windows far too late in the day! The chickens are asleep, although Chris has had to help them get onto their roost every night so far!

I am thinking... that insurance companies would save a nice chunk of change if they stopped covering birth control. Hmm, maybe a future post will elaborate on this.

I am wondering... if these people are going to come pick up our old mattress. I am starting to really dislike Freecycle - these will be the second no-shows on the mattress.

I am thankful... for the beginning of fall!

Learning at home... the chickens are our latest and ongoing hands-on learning experience.

From the kitchen... Beer in the rear chicken, roasted rosemary potatoes, and yellow squash casserole. I'm going to attempt French onion soup later in the week, along with more homemade pesto from the last of the basil in the garden.

I am reading... Attached at the Heart - slowly but surely. And Family Foundations magazine (from the Couple to Couple League, a Catholic NFP organization).

To live the liturgy... Big week of feast days! Tomorrow is the Feast of the Archangels (Michaelmas), and we will be having a blackberry angel food cake trifle to celebrate, along with angel hair pasta and carrots with our dinner. For more info on this day and the foods, see this link. Then St. Theresa's memorial is on Thursday, and the Feast of the Guardian Angels is on Friday... we'll be having more angel hair, topped with pesto as a main dish. St. Francis's memorial is on Sunday, and I have checked out these books from our local library to put in the book basket for October.

I am creating... October circle time plans. Well, I am tweaking and finalizing them. I'm also getting supplies ready for an angel craft for Caroline tomorrow.

Around the house... The guest room is finished!! Anyone who wants to stay overnight will now have a place to sleep... if somebody would come and get the stinkin' mattress, that is! There is also plenty of laundry to be done, of course.

I am hearing... the sound from some computer game Chris is playing and the crickets outside.

One of my favorite things... chai!

A few plans for the rest of the week... nothing again! Just MMO on Wednesday for Caroline and our various chores and feast day celebrations. Some friends from church are having their daughter baptized this Sunday at Mass, followed by a reception in the parish hall, so we are looking forward to that. I love seing the babies become children of God! :)

A picture thought I am sharing...

Double time... two pigtails, two cups of water (she had hidden one cup in a toy barn and I gave up searching and filled up a second cup... then we found the first one!)

Have a wonderful week, everybody!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We have chickens!!!

And they are in our backyard right now!!! Chris has done an excellent job building their home, a "chicken tractor," which is an enclosure that can be dragged around to various locations in the yard to simulate free-ranging. Also, the chicken poop won't all build up in one spot this way! I have been wanting to get some hens for over a year now and have just been waiting for the right time. About two months ago, Cecilia and I were at a farmers market at a local college, and I learned some more about chickens from a man who was selling them there. We did some research and asking around and decided what breeds we were most interested in and then called Bill up to see what types he had currently. He had two black Australorp hens who were just about to laying age, so we wanted those. He also had light brahmas and barred rocks, and we ended up choosing two of the rocks to make four hens in all.

The rain held off for us most of the time at the farmers market today, but it was pouring by the time we were leaving. Chris and Caroline wore rain gear and went out to introduce the chickens to their new home. Apparently they like it, because they stayed out in the open part even though the rain was coming down hard!

Here are the two Australorps, once the rain slowed down late this afternoon. It is hard to tell them apart... they look basically identical. These are one of the gentlest breed, plus they are the best layers of all. Under optimal circumstances, some people get about an egg a day from each Australorp! We really want to eat mostly fresh eggs, so getting a breed that lays a lot was a priority, and being gentle and laid-back will be a plus around the children!

Here is a good view of the chicken tractor. Chris built the enclosed indoor section with old fence posts and then we painted them black. The nesting box is inside - we just have to fill it with some straw. There is also a roost that runs the entire width of the tractor. They get in by going underneath the front panel and then they can go up some ramps to get to the nesting box and the roost.

Chris also put an old broom handle across a corner of the outdoor section... the barred rocks hopped right up there. So far, they seem to really like roosting more than the Australorps. They are also a very gentle breed and are good layers. Right now, they are slightly smaller than the Australorps, but I don't know if that will last.

Caroline has named the chickens. We have Eat, More, Chicken, and Sally. I am not joking - she came up with this on her own. The Australorps are Eat and More... Eat has a slightly larger light area on the tip of her beak than More. The rocks are Chicken and Sally, and it is really hard to tell them apart... their ears are slightly different (yes, chickens apparently have ears!). I asked Caroline if we should spell their names the real way, or the silly way that the Chick-fil-A cows spell them (Mor and Chikin), and she opted for the actual spelling. I am not sure how the hens feel about these words yet, what with their meaning and all...

I think this is Chicken...

... and Sally scratches in the background.

Cecilia is amazed by the chickens... she loves them, and cried when I wouldn't put her inside the tractor with them. Caroline said she wanted to camp out there with them in her sleeping bag. The chickens seem to be popular here so far :)

And now, we wait for the first egg!

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's International Babywearing Week!

Join in if you want with a post full of your own babywearing photos!

First, we have Caroline... and I can only find one photo of her with me in the sling, and it is not digital... so here's a bunch with Daddy! I really did wear her in the sling a lot, but I guess not as much as Cecilia, and I didn't take as many photos of her with me...

Dutch's rear end and Tim making guest appearances...

washing the truck

Cecilia's turn

with the sling rings in her mouth...

yep, that's her foot by her mouth

Grampa was amazed by the "legless baby" position

not my baby, but so precious!!

I will wear you while we swing wearing a pumpkin hat,
And I will wear you near this dead bobcat,
Yes, I will wear you here and there,
And I will wear you anywhere!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Daybook for September 21, 2009

Outside my window... it has been raining a lot here. We got three inches in just an hour last night! But we're faring much better than Atlantans... my parents had a foot of water in their basement! So, the temps are autumn-esque, but the humidity hides that!

I am thinking... about organizing a Christmas list and deciding what to get for the girls. A bit early, maybe...

I am thankful... that the rain was intermittent enough for us to enjoy our apple orchard trip on Saturday! It sprinkled on us here and there while we were there, but nothing compared to the pouring rain that we outran (outdrove, rather) on the way there! Unfortunately, I forgot my memory card... I do that frequently - and so I won't be posting pictures, although a friend who was there took a few of the girls, so maybe I will get those at some point.

Learning at home... We've been singing "Joyful,Joyful, We Adore Thee" as our circle time hymn this month, and Caroline seems to have it down pretty well already. It's kind of a long hymn! Cecilia is having fun participating in circle time lately... she seems to take pride in the fact that she knows what's going on. She announced, "Apples here!" when she knew it was time for the finger play that begins with those words.

From the kitchen... apple bread - yummy! We grated up two of the Honeycrisp apples that we got from the Ellijay orchard. Later this week, we will be baking a bunch of baked goods to sell at a local farmer's market as a La Leche League fundraiser.

I am reading... Attached at the Heart - slowly but surely. I took it to the doctor's office with me this morning and, wouldn't you know it, my wait was only a few minutes? That always happens when I don't have any kids with me and have a book handy! The book is quite good so far. I am also reading my own literature... little books about horses that I wrote when I was about eleven years old. I found them in the guest room closet.

To live the liturgy... We tried a Korean dish yesterday, on the memorial of the Korean martyrs. I have never had Korean food before, and this was YUMMY!!! It was pork tenderloin cooked in a Korean BBQ sauce and then wrapped up with rice and green bell peppers in romaine lettuce leaves. I also made a spicy dipping sauce which Cecilia loved... she likes spicy stuff. Caroline and Chris opted to pass on the sauce, although Chris drank a spoonful of it later in the evening on a dare! ;)

Also, I got my saint stickers in the mail and once I find magnets of the correct size, I can make saint magnets for our magnetic calendar.

I am creating... not much right now. A Christmas gift list...

Around the house... baking bread, laundry, and folding diapers. Caroline is really good at folding the cloth wipes and is quite helpful with that! And I wish I could just finish up that guest room organizing that I have been doing for over a month... ugh. I really want to organize all the closets over the next year, but trying to sort through stuff with both kids is near impossible - they want to play with all the stuff that I am trying to put into the "donate" and "trash" piles. I could do it after they are in bed, but I'm too lazy and just want to read and blog and such at that time... which leaves the weekends, when they are not too busy. Once I get rid of a lot of junk, maybe the organizing won't be such a task in the future.

I am hearing... Chris talking on his ham radio ("hamical radio," as Caroline calls it!), and somebody else not coming in well at all.

One of my favorite things... listening to Cecilia saying new phrases and making new connections. She said, "Wipe milk off tray," on Saturday morning after spilling some milk from her cereal bowl. Lately she is obsessed with people being "nooney" (which means "naked" - which is how one of my younger brothers said it as a toddler, and it stuck)... although she thinks if somebody just has his shirt off, he is "nooney!" When we were at the beach, she would point at women in bikinis and say, "Nooney!" which we thought was pretty funny. Lessons on modesty from a one year old! She will also say, "Bum-bum (grampa) nooney beach!" because he didn't wear his shirt while at the beach. Lately, she points to the crucifix and says, "Jesus nooney cross!"

And one of her favorite words... "bum." She points to her bottom and says, "Eyenie ("hiney")... bum." In fact, she saw the following illustration in a Babar book and immediately pointed at the elephants' backbones and said, "Bum. Bum." Ha, I guess that is what it looks like!

She's also interested in other body parts, like eyes and mouth and such, but "bum" is the funniest!

A few plans for the rest of the week... nothing! Just MMO on Wednesday for Caroline, and baking on Friday. The farmer's market is on Saturday. Oh, and Chris is picking up our new mattress on Thursday!!!

A picture thought I am sharing...

Cecilia does the "dinosaur walk" - quite entertaining in person!

Have a great week, everyone!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More on Nighttime Parenting - An 80s Music Perspective

So, I'm still on an 80s song kick. In my recent 80s song-listening jag, I have noticed some lyrics that made me think about the recent thoughts on parenting children to sleep and apply them.

For instance... "Missing You" by John Waite. Think of it as being from an infant's perspective, being left alone to fall asleep:

Every time I think of you
I always catch my breath
And I'm still standing here
And you're miles away
And I'm wondering why you left
And there's a storm that's raging
Through my frozen heart tonight

And I'm sending you
This signal tonight
You don't know
How desperate I've become
And it looks like I'm losing this fight

I ain't missing you at all

(note: that last line is said as a denial in the song, to bury his true feelings)

To a baby, its parents may as well be miles away when out of the room. Babies send "signals" to their parents by crying. Sometimes their cries reach levels of desperation before they taper off and stop, once they realize that they have lost the fight.

How about Paul Young, "Every Time You Go Away"...

Every time you go away
You take a piece of me with you

Young babies do not have object permanence... in their view, their mothers are a piece of them!

Let's try "Cry for Help" from Rick Astley (by now you guys are probably reading and thinking, "Gosh, what is with her and Rick Astley lately????):

All that I need is to cry for help
Somebody please hear me cry for help
All I can do is to cry for help

Why must we hide emotions?
Why must we never break down and cry?

All a baby can do to communicate with its parents is to cry for help. Babies come into this world so helpless, and it takes them many, many months - usually a few years! - before they begin to develop some independence in doing self-help tasks like being able to use the toilet without help, clean themselves, dress themselves completely... and yes, to sleep. Night can be a lonely and scary time for a baby, and then once the imagination comes into play in an older toddler, it can be hard to calm one's mind down and fall asleep peacefully! So when they cry to their parents to help them get to sleep, they are hoping that we will please answer these cries.

The part about hiding emotions... hmm, this doesn't seem to apply to babies. They don't hide emotions, and they typically cry freely rather than holding it in. However, when we don't respond to their cries, we teach them that they are on their own and have to learn how to cope and fall asleep (or do whatever) by themselves. Eventually, if our emotions are ignored, then we learn to hide them. I would say that this may result from more than just CIO sleep training: very small children are typically pushed toward independence in many ways, and the repeated actions of adults in teaching the small child to "get over it," "brush it off," and "work it out yourselves" could very well be teaching children to hide their true feelings... to hide emotions, to never break down and cry, as they get older. We do tend to think of crying as a sign of weakness in our culture. But even adults cry sometimes, and we usually want somebody to be there for us when we do. If we respond to our babies' cries for help, then we teach them by example that their feelings are okay and that we will support them - and especially so when they are so helpless in the younger years! Hmm, maybe the push for early independence should be another topic that needs a closer look...

And now I am sure you all think I am completely nuts, analyzing 80s songs and applying them to babies and nighttime parenting! Of course these songs have nothing to do with attachment parenting... but I had fun seeing how the lyrics could fit in with it!

And to stop being so annoying, I will try to limit my mentions of 80s music from now on. If I feel the urge, maybe I will just write about it on my old blog...

Caroline on God's Immeasurable Love

Many nights when I am kissing Caroline good night, I say to her, "I love you, Caroline, and God loves you even more!"

Tonight, she said, "We can't know how much He loves us... He loves us until counting stops! You have to count to ninety-nine before it stops!"

Friday, September 18, 2009

What we've been up to this week

It has been a dreary week, threatening to rain a lot but then not really raining much, yet horribly muggy even though temps have been in the 80s. Some of indoor fun this week:

This was a train and then became a tent.

Yes, it looks like a train, but Caroline insists it is an airplane, complete with two "sick beds" (yes Tim, you read that right!) in which Cecilia spent a lot of time being cared for by Caroline. No, she wasn't really sick - she just enjoys sitting in laundry baskets with blankets and pillows and stuffed animals and books piled in there with her...

We celebrated the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross

Caroline glues bark onto a shoebox house I set up for her

adding sticks to the house...

The completed project (I helped to color it!)