Pure delight. A happy baby, splashing in the tub!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
We decided that Tyler will be the first to take a bath in the new tub (although I confess I will be chomping at the bit to have a lovely bubble bath soon after). The poor darling has been having his bath in the kitchen, on the floor, in a too-small baby bathtub with his knees scrunched up! The rest of us have been showering in a deck shower in the basement-brrr! So we went to Toys 'R Us tonight to buy Tyler's Christmas presents, and we also picked up a toddler-sized Thomas the Tank Engine hooded bath towel, and Elmo faucet cover (to keep little kids from bumping their heads on the faucet, plus he adores Elmo) and some fish to play with.
I will post pictures of the new bathroom as we install the new fixtures, etc. bit by bit, but I wanted to show a couple of construction photos so you can see some of the work we did, starting with a few "Before" pictures. In a nutshell, our bathroom was cramped, dingy, falling apart, icky, old, and awful!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
The tea table with my Peter Rabbit teapot in the middle
Desserts, including tiny carrot cakes (how appropriate!) that Colleen brought
A gift from Sandra
Decorations gone awry! I had purchased these darling Beatrix character Beanie Babies from a seller in England to grace the side table during my Beatrix tea. Once my grandson saw them, my little tableau was absconded with and an hour of delighted play ensued!Both Tyler and I love Jeremy Fisher the best. Tyler, because he loves frogs; Me, because I love his Regency costume. Jeremy had loads of fun driving the choo-choo full of Beatrix toys!
Monday, October 6, 2008
All of the first cousins who are the children of my sisters and me got together and went to a White Sox baseball game. We didn't think it would work because my eldest sister's son lives in Indiana and works long hours and rarely is able to visit. My middle sister's oldest son is married with two children and another almost due, and he also works long hours. My son was able to get out of football practice early for the trip down to the South side, and my two daughters and middle sister's younger son just happened to be available too.
They went to the game, had a blast together, caught up with each other and in some cases, really got to know each other for the first time as adults/near adults. Too bad the Sox lost. But the bonding of the cousins was the inportant thing. Here they are:
L to R: Lenny, Steve, Kristin, Julie, Robbie, and Dave
Monday, September 8, 2008
Tyler and "Da" (granddaddy)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
This is an historic garden designed by Catholic immigrants so that they could pray the Stations of the Cross. (If you look close you can see some of the numbers for the Stations where the people would kneel to pray.)
Here are Paul and the kids on the trolley tour. Paul is holding Tyler (for whom we purchased a t-shirt that reads, "Spoiled by Grandpa"!), and next to him are Kristin, Julie, and Robert. The kids enjoyed the trip much more than we anticipated. I think the thing that most pleased them was one evening when we went over the border for the Dubuque County Fair. While Paul and I took Tyler on kiddie rides (Paul and Tyler on the Scoobie Doo Bus was a sight to behold!) and toured the livestock ("Bunny!" "Cow!"), they went to hear a concert on the grounds which was, in their view, "Awesome"!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The gardens were lovely. We took several pictures of each other among the flowers (Note: I wanted to get rid of the modern building behind Paul, so I did a really bad, first attempt photo-shop job of the background. But just look at him, not the scenery!). My day dress was completed the night before the event. Most of Paul's clothing was made by online tailors. But his vest was made by yours truly out of silk from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL.
What a lovely day we had. It was so good to travel back!
Monday, June 30, 2008
I am currently working in two eras: Civil War and Edwardian. For Civil War I am finishing a day dress, and hope to have it done for an event in twelve days. I have hooks and eyes to sew, sleeves to put on (the cuffs and handsewn buttonholes are complete), and the bodice needs to be sewn to the skirt (the skirt is also done). I would like to start a new vest for Paul. The one I made last year is really too small. But if I can't do that, he can still go to the event; he'll just need to keep his coat fastened.
Finally, my Edwardian project is a Beatrix Potter skirt. I have it cut out already, and the sewing is not difficult; I just need to get to it. The skirt is to go with the Beatrix jacket I made before. I actually had planned to have it for a Beatrix Potter Tea I will be hosting. The date for the tea has been changed twice. Once, because my sister forgot and scheduled something else for the first date (and I really want her to be here for the tea), the second delay was because Paul got sick. But now I have rescheduled it for Labor Day weekend, and I so much want to become Beatrix for the day!
I love sewing and making dresses from the past. It is one of my favorite pastimes!
- We are eaing healthier meals. Less caffiene (or in Paul's case - none), less sweets, more vegetables, homemade wheat bread (which is not a difficulty because we have a sturdy Bosch mixer with a dough hook that makes bread baking almost effortless).
- Daily walks. Paul actually tries to get in two walks each day, and has been very good about this. He does one at work on his lunch hour and one in the evening, often with grandson and me.
- Saner work hours for Paul. He goes in at a certain time and leaves at a certain time. No more staying late and not getting home to eat dinner until after 7:30 PM. Thankfully his bosses are on board with this and have actually told him to take his time and take care of himself.
- Acupuncture. Paul was skeptical about this at first, but has found that it really does help him with his stress symptoms. Fortunately his medical doctor approves of this type of treatment.
- Less projects at home. This has put a stop to our bathroom remodel, but Paul's generous parents have offered to help meet the cost of hiring out someone to finish the work. This is a tremendous blessing to us. The only projects Paul has been doing are small things such as oiling the bathroom door and fixing the lock, doing a bit of gardening, and adding a piece of aluminum to a gutter! But big projects can wait for now.
This was all very scary for us, but it also had us reevaluate our life. The most wonderful part about it was that upon reevaluation, we both realized how lucky we are, in spite of the challenges we face. We love each other, our kids, and our grandson. We are privledged to all be together here at home, when in other circumstances we might have our two older children off away from us, either off to college or living on their own. Instead they are here with us, pursuing their dreams in the area, sharing their lives with us still. We are able to see our grandson grow up day by day. Our home, although not perfect (it's a very old home) has a lovely vintage feel with most of the rooms done, and is in a safe neighborhood.
We could look at our life in a different, negative light, and there were times during this event that I was - feeling that all was awful. But one evening on our walk, Paul and I talked about it and both came to the realization that while we don't match up to the mythical Jones' in material wealth and home and cars, we are just plain blessed with the gifts we do have. What a joyful feeling that was! Perhaps this was a wake up call from God - Open your eyes! See what I have given you and be glad!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Paul became ill at work last Friday, requiring a visit to the emergency room and a short hospitalization. This was an extremely stressful and difficult time. The good news is that he is home and safe, that this illness is not at all as serious as we originally thought, and Paul has several appointments to have certain test results explained or followed up on. He has been home and will be home all this week.
The big thing now is a change in the way we live and how we balance things. The balance in our lives was almost non-existent, in that Paul was overworked, overtired, on a treadmill, so to speak, and it finally got to him.
But the future always has a ray of hope. The trick is to see the ray of hope in the darkness. To see sane work hours, balanced, healthy meals, time for exercise and relaxation, and time for beauty. To be honest, I am quite afraid that I am not up to the task of providing this for my beloved husband. I feel and have always felt very scattered in my approach to my role as a wife, mother, and grandmother. Although I have many organizational tools at my disposal, my use of them comes in fits and starts. Never a seamless perfection of orderliness and balance. I must confess to a tremendous amount of guilt in the way our lives have been since day one of our marriage, and I am feeling that my deficiencies may have ultimately lead to this current distress in our lives.
My approach then is to put one foot in front of the other as we move through this crisis. And I just pray that God will reach me and show me the way out of this darkness.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
...soil amendments to be added to garden boxes ("Mel's Square Foot Garden Mix" - 1/3 composted manure, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss) while wearing a pair of feminine garden boots.
...a box planted with seedlings (broccoli, buttercrunch lettuce, and Romaine lettuce), and of course some pretty flowers, with the late afternoon sun making them vibrant with color!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
"Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ. The saints show us the selfless love of his way. As disciples of Christ, their extraordinary journeys unfolded within the community of hope, which is the Church. It is from within the Church that you too will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord. Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the Church's liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for you. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ's disciples today. Shine his light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you." (Spoken by Pope Benedict XVI at a youth rally at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers.)
I must remember each day the joyful instruction given by the Pope:
Saturday, March 29, 2008
After spending a lot of time in the afternoon working on household paperwork and insurance forms, I planned on an evening of doing nothing. And it did start that way. I watched the new version of Northanger Abbey, which I enjoyed very much. When it was done, I thought I'd go upstairs and surf the net. But I was oddly compelled to "tend" the house.
You see, the house had been nicely cleaned for Easter. Add to this that we had our new sitting room furniture delivered (a sofa and love seat). And although the furniture is inexpensive (with a toddler it just won't do to buy expensive stuff, plus it was on sale!), it looks very lovely. Before it was delivered, the girls and I vacuumed and mopped the sitting room thoroughly. We also picked up and sorted through all of Tyler's toys. Earlier yesterday I got motivated to sort and neaten our CD collection, which was out of order, many CD's were "homeless" with their cases strewn about on the stereo shelves, and there was quite a bit of dust on the shelves of the CD holder.
So last night, I wanted to keep this nice feeling of order. So I got the kitchen wiped down, sinks emptied, floor mopped, dishwasher started. I vacumed all the downstairs floors (with a toddler, vacuuming only once a week just will not do), tidied the table, and generally put things right. It was not a burden; it was actually quite enjoyable.
I liked the feeling of "tending".
Monday, March 10, 2008
You may be wondering - is it really picked by monkeys?! Sadly, no. I had these fascinating visions of darling little monkeys picking my tea. There is a tale going round that Buddhist monks long ago trained monkeys to pick tea leaves, but there are differing opinions on whether or not that is true. There is, however, one company in China today that claims to have monkeys picking tea for them.
At any rate, today the name Monkey Picked Oolong means the finest variety of Oolong tea. Oolong tea is the type of tea often served in Chinese restaurants. It is lighter than black tea. The differences are in how the tea is processed (it is called fermentation, but not the same fermentation as one would find with alcohol):
- Black tea: When tea leaves are bruised or crushed, enzymes in the leaf cells are exposed to oxygen and a chemical reaction (oxidation) takes place that causes the leaf to darken, or ferment. When tea leaves are fully fermented, the end product is black tea.
- Oolong tea: The fermentation process is stopped prematurely, once the leaves are slightly yellowed. When steeped, Oolong tea produces golden or light brown tea with a very delicate flavor resembling neither black nor green tea.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Here is how it all came about:
We sent our daughter off to college. She had always been the "rebellious one" of our children, distant, almost impossible to reason with at times. We got the news in early 2006 that she was pregnant. It was one of those moments that seem to stretch an eternity, when I felt God watching and waiting - what will you do? For Paul and I, the only right, loving, and moral possibility was for her to continue the pregnancy and to keep the baby with the family. We promised her that we would do everything possible to allow her to continue with her hopes and dreams, while helping to raise the baby.
It is a very odd thing to raise a baby again after your youngest child becomes a teenager. Interestingly enough, I did have this thought in late 2005 that I would love to have a baby again, and even briefly thought about adopting. I am quite sure that this was God's way of preparing me for my new role: A grandmother helping to raise a grandchild. The adjustment has not been easy. I have been dealing with some health issues, and it was all just such a topsy-turvy change of lifestyle. I had different plans and dreams. It made for frustration and often depression, even feeling trapped. I had to remind myself long and often about the bigger picture and that I was working for a greater good.
However, in spite of the difficulties, our grandson is a complete blessing. I am so grateful that we are managing to do what we set out to do - help raise Tyler and help Julie achieve her dreams along with it. Some things that have helped are having family therapy, getting needed rest, and eating properly. Finding a new doctor that is addressing my health issues has also brightened the horizons significantly. The most wonderful change has been in Julie. The once rebellious teen is turning into a lovely young woman, a good mother, a loving daughter, a sibling who is also a friend, and a grown up. Our life has altered quite a bit. I also am needing to reassess working. As it is now, I am doing a lot of baby care while Julie works part-time. But Paul and I discussed how since I am a Registered Nurse that I could earn more in the same amount of time Julie is working, allowing her to be with her son more. We have spent time in prayer, asking for God's guidance on this issue.
The Important Thing:
It can be done. It isn't easy, but God gives us the strength. When Julie was pregnant and considering adoption, I was so dismayed. I didn't want to lose this precious family member, however lovely any adoptive family could be. Even in my most depressed times, I have never regretted our decision to keep Tyler in our family and home.
He is a blessing. Thank you God.
Friday, February 8, 2008
I walked home today because my daughter needed the car and dropped me off at the doctor's office. It is a somewhat long walk, but today I welcomed it. It is a comparatively warm day, with the huge snows we have had recently beginining to melt. The sun was bright. I was grateful for the sun and fresh air and exercise. My doctor had given me a hot cup of green tea to go, and I sipped it all the way home. I paused only once to look at one of my favorite home gardens along that pathway. I often walk past this neighbor's house to admire the beauty of his garden vision. Once home I soaked my feet in a hot bath.
Simple pleasures on a winter day, knowing warmth will come in its time!.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Daily Task List from Monday
(This was placed in a Day Runner plastic protector sheet to allow use of the dry-erase markers. Tasks for morning and afternoon were completed and marked off with one of my dry-erase markers.)
Chore list "Let's Clean Up!" program
(Note that I re-wrote my inspirational quote onto nice paper with a rose next to it.)
Close-up of the chore list
The chore list is placed on the refrigerator. There are boxes to check off when a task is complete. If a chore isn't done, it can be put on the next day's list (that's where you see a number "1", indicating that the chore should have been done the previous day).
Joyful Mysteries (Mondays and Saturdays)
- Annunciation - Obedience
- Visitation - Love for Neighbor
- Nativity - Love for the Poor
- Presentation of Jesus - Humility
- Finding of Jesus - Prayer
Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesdays and Fridays)
- Agony in the Garden - Submission to God's Will
- Scourging at the Pillar - Loathing of our Sins
- Crowning of Thorns - Christ, the King of Our Hearts
- Christ Carries the Cross - Our Daily Crosses
- Crucifixion - Sacrifice
Luminous Mysteries (Thursdays)
- Baptism by John - Renewal of the Holy Spirit
- Wedding Feast At Cana - God's Transforming Power
- Proclamation of the Kingdom - Word of God
- Transfiguration - Christ the Light
- Institution of the Eucharist - Christ in the World
Glorious Mysteries (Wednesdays and Sundays)
- Resurrection - Overcoming evil
- Ascension - New Life
- Descent of the Holy Spirit - Ourselves as Temples of the Spirit
- Assumption of Mary - Peaceful Death
- Coronation - Glory of the Kingdom of God
I don't pray the Rosary every day, but it is a very calming and beautiful way to spend time with God on those days I do pray it. And my mother made me a beautiful Rosary when I had my First Communion as a child: