Thursday, January 1, 2015

...and a Happy New Year!

Since my Christmas cards were mailed DURING the Christmas season, as opposed to the Advent Season, I feel totally justified in posting Christmas morning pictures on Jan 1. This blog is only read by those who know me well, so the delay really won't shock or bother anyone, anyway. Irish Jig suffered a cold for the first weeks of December and was diagnosed the Tuesday prior to Christmas Day with Type A Influenza.

Joy, Joy, Joy!

Mr. Neoclassic and I made the decision to quarantine our family.  We had a fabulous few days of games, family jokes, movies, songs, and lots of books. By day three, the Tamaflu had done it's job and Irish Jig was noticeably improved.  With the rest of us on preventative doses of Tamaflu, we managed to avoid subsequent cases.

We generally like to attend the vigil Mass because it gives us the opportunity to focus on Christmas, in it's truest sense, long before the gift unwrapping begins.  This year, we opted not to attend the Vigil, believing that the crowd didn't need any possible germs from us. We did venture out for Mass on Christmas morning, but were very careful to sit in the back and wave from afar!

For the grandparents and various family members, here are some of the Christmas morning gifting highlights.

Waiting for the boys prior to stampeding down the stairs for gifts!

And with one gift, this girl was content and fulfilled.  That did not, of course, stop
her from opening any other gifts....

A box of electrical components, circuits, and robot programming gear.
The expression/ gesture of pure rapture and happiness just cracks me up!

So very joyful in her little nest of Legos, books, and a CD player for bedtime stories.
That last one is really a gift for the rest of us, shhhh!

Zydeco's hand picked gift for his dad: Shakespeare's Insult Generator.
This one kept us laughing all day!

Apparently, she could get more excited...the book to tell her what to do with all the Legos.
A thoughtful gift from Classic Rock.

Because somebody has to help this boy dress appropriately...

The only Mama-handmade under the tree this year.
A crown.  But NOT a princess crown.
(PS - Nana, it has vintage buttons on it from the great box!)

Where's Waldo?!

Auntie M: she's polishing the jewelry box mirror so she can see herself :)

And by loading these pictures, I've realized there is not one single picture of me on Christmas morning!  Oops.  

Our family hopes your Christmas and New Year were fabulous.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Joy to the World

So this post is a bit late...on Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of Joy, we hosted the annual Gingerbread House Decorating event. We opted to "spice" things up a bit this year by having each participate choose a decorating theme. Possibilities included Harry Potter, Star Wars, Frozen, Legos, and the like. Here are the happy house builders...

Hagrid's Hut: complete with pumpkin patch and flobberworms.

Santa's Workshop!

The start of Sponge Bob: that's Patrick the starfish...

Supposedly a Princess Castle. 
She did the whole thing herself this year, so I just Let It Go!!! 

Scooby Doo: complete with Scooby snacks.

Frozen: complete with an Olaf snowman.

Burning off the sugar high playing in the leaves!

Pick up football.  And trash talk, of course.  I love boys!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tis a gift to be free...

For the past several years, I have tried to create the majority of the Christmas gifts our family gives. Either by sewing or baking, we’d create something wonderful for friends and family. This originally started about the time the press reported most of the small toys imported from China were covered in toxic lead paint. I wanted to know that the gifts I gave my children or my nieces and nephews weren’t hazardous.

We would also incorporate purchased/ manufactured gifts because sometimes, that’s just what is needed or desired. If a small child is begging for Legos, you don’t give them crochet finger puppets. Both excite the imagination, but one is truly more relevant for the asker.

That all said, this year I realized that a full time job just doesn’t lend enough time to the sewing and creating endeavor. I decided which very few gifts would be handmade and accepted the rest would be purchased.

But I have put a great deal of thought into how the gifts would be purchased. I want to make my “almighty dollar” make a difference. So I turned to the Fair Trade Federation website and looked into various retailers offering fair trade merchandise. Scarves, coffee mugs, wall art, jewelry, and so much more are available for purchase. These items ensure the makers, often in depressed societies, are justly compensated for their work and time.

Image result for fair trade symbol

Here are a few of my favorite finds this year (click to go to company website):

Ten Thousand Villages (their local retail store closed last year, but their online store is awesome)

Serrv (their wall hangings and tree skirts make me drool)

Project Have Hope (these are the most beautiful bead bracelets I’ve seen!)

TaraLuna (the scarves are exquisite and I selfishly purchased a whole new stack of dinner napkins for our family)

Women of Cloud Forest (I want all of the embroidered bags….I can’t decide! Sea turtle? Fruit Bat?)

The lyric I’ve used today is very old and everyone knows the song….Tis a Gift to be Simple…but we sometimes need a reminder that it truly is a gift to be FREE. Just knowing my shopping will help someone – a lot of someones if I’m honest about my shopping – be a little more independent and a little more dignified makes my personal Christmas season much more meaningful.

PS - I didn't include any pictures of the items I bought because I don't want to give away the surprise...shhhh!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I believe that happiness is something we create

I stopped blogging (you might have noticed??) for the summer.  It wasn't expected or intended.  It was the result, I have figured out, of not being completely at peace and just needing to step back. My work, while necessary, wasn't fulfilling and I spent a great deal of time feeling guilty for being gone.  Lucky for me, a great husband, supportive family, wonderful kids, and awesome friends helped me to remember that happiness can be created.  And it has been....

A new job will be started in about three weeks.  A fulfilling and exciting position I will be proud to hold.

I've posted several snapshots of a summer well spent by this Domestic Church.  A summer that included the following:
  • MAGGIE:  I am pretty sure I haven't mentioned the newest family member.  Maggie the standard poodle sort of fell into our laps and we love every curly, large inch of her.  She was a rescue, but not hurt or abused in any way.  Maggie is wonderfully gently with the children. She loves playing catch and chasing the kids around the yard.  The best part is that she came house trained, leash trained, and command trained.  The only downfall is that I find myself horrifyingly jealous of her long and lean legs.  The short Italian women in me is coveting her neighbor's goods.
  • PAINT and MORE PAINT: I finally stopped the family agenda for one whole weekend and managed to paint Zydeco's room.  He's been upgraded to a fabulous deep blue accent wall with the rest of the walls a version of sand.  A gift from Papa inspired the color palette.  Riding the high of accomplishment, we finally picked a color for the kitchen walls.  We'd had various paint sample splotches on the walls for months, so it's nice to have a uniform color.
  • SEWING: In order to stay sane, I found pockets of time to cut fabric and plan small projects.  Irish Jig has two new dresses (one involved the piping foot - whee!) and new jammies.  I started a sweet doll for Irish Jig that will become a "Tooth Fairy" doll.  Halfway through doll sewing, I managed to drop a straight pin into the sewing machine.  All sewing is on hold until the machine returns from its tune up. 
  • CONFIRMATION:  In early June, we witnessed Classic Rock celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation.  The Mass was beautiful and the Sacrament delivered with such grace. That grainy picture up there is the blessing with oil.   A wonderful family friend stood with Classic Rock as sponsor.  This young man has been a quiet but steadfast mentor to our boys and we feel blessed to have had him walk the journey with our son.
  • VISITORS:  We joyously welcomed Nana and Papa (my parents) for the Confirmation and a two week visit.  It was, according to my children, the best visit ever with their grandparents.  My parents would pick them up from school and treat them to lunch out, snowballs, a shopping trip, or just let Classic Rock practice driving them around town.  Nana spent an afternoon teaching me to safely launder delicate vintage linens.  I took notes!  I will post!
  • DRIVING:  Classic Rock received his driving permit in December and we've been very good about giving him opportunities to drive.  He's quite a careful and deliberate driver.  While I am eager for him to just get his license already and run errands for me, he has another month before he meets the age requirement for Virginia.  Since Louisiana pretty much handed me a license at 14.5, I appreciate the caution and extra training he's had.
  • BIRTHDAYS:  Zydeco celebrated 13 and recently surprised us all by asking to having his longish hair cut much shorter.  While the long hair bothered many a relative (Nana), I always figured he wasn't piercing or tattooing, so what did I care?  Jazz celebrated 10 with a Fiesta themed party that is worthy of it's own post - note to self.  She's taking time each day of her summer vacation to work on a variety of needlework projects and really showing improvement.  Classic Rock embraced 16, his driving permit, a summer sailing trip and a week at the NASA Wallops Island facility.  And, yeah, I celebrated yet another year....
  • OPEN HOUSE:  I always seem amazed and surprised that our home becomes the central party house each summer.  The kids' friends are invited over or just randomly show up, and we embrace the chaos.  We serve a lot of lemonade, popcorn, and freezer pops.  We make the children guests do their own dishes.  We listen to many wii competitions and board game disputes debates.  We (me really) try not to obsess about the constant dirt on the floors by reminding ourselves that we know where the kids are, that they are safe, and that we can overhear every little comment.
  • GOODBYE:  Our family said goodbye and good luck to wonderful friends starting a new journey.  I consoled Jazz as her closest friends moved halfway across the country on their new adventure.  I indulged extra sleepovers and took lots of pictures to preserve the memories.  I finally created an email for Jazz so that she could keep in touch with her friends.
  • FARMERS' MARKETS:  We start every Saturday at either the Smithfield or Williamsburg Farmers' Markerts.  The fresh and local produce drive our menus all summer and force us to try new and exciting foods - 8 ball squash??  We've also discovered the wonderful woman in Smithfield with blue egg laying hens.  Yum!  
Much more has occurred in the Domestic Church, but stopping here allows me more fodder for future posts! Create some happiness of your own -

Today's blog post title from Sugarland's Something More.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I just took up my place in right field

Happy Mother's Day!

My poor little blog has been so ignored for the last month (or more). There are reasons for that and I'll get to a newsy post soon. Today, though, I want to share how my Domestic Church touched this mother's heart.

Earlier in the week, I was asked how I'd like to spend Mother's Day. Getting a wonderfully made breakfast is a given since my boys really enjoy cooking. And I agreed to bacon, making Zydeco's own heart sing. My usual answer to how I'd like to spend a leisurely day is "sewing without the pressures of a schedule." 

But this time, I asked my family to stretch themselves. The company I am working for has a wonderful branch that encourages and supports community involvement and volunteerism. We certainly do both of those in this Domestic Church, in many ways and forms, but the company offers new and various avenues we've not explored.  My family agreed to try something very new.

We donned our logo'd tee shirts and headed across the water to help with a very special Little League game: a game for special needs children. Explanation of the Challenger Jamboree is here. We all stepped outside of our comfort zones to "buddy" a child during the ball game. We played in the field, cheering and offering encouragement while also providing a watchful eye. We stood near home plate while our buddy player swung at pitches or a tee, then ran with them around the bases.

(No pictures of the game because I thought it insensitive to photograph other peoples' children).

Classic Rock, a true football fan, put aside his baseball prejudice and really enjoyed his time in the field with his buddy. Irish Jig didn't ask any questions about why a child walked a little differently or didn't speak quite as well, thankfully. She just accepted the fun offered to her by the small boy we buddied. I love the innocence of the young.

The rock star today was Jazz. She was so nervous and anxious about befriending someone with a special need. Would she be able to communicate? To share? She was buddy to a girl just about her age but with a slower speech pattern. The girl took Jazz's hand and ran her around the bases, laughing and enjoying every minute of the attention. And Jazz relished in giving it to her - all her qualms vanishing in an instant.

Today, I am so very thankful to be mother to these amazing children. I'd like to believe their hearts are generous because of the nurturing from Mr. Neoclassic and me, but I know the hand of God is playing their hearts to His tune. I'm just along for the beautiful, amazing ride.

On a slightly humorous note, when I received the logo tees from the HR department, they didn't have a tee tiny enough for Irish Jig.  Knowing she'd feel left out, I pulled a navy tee from her stash and traced her small hand on the front.  I used day-glo orange fabric paint to create a helping hand logo so that hers would mostly match ours.  She was thrilled!  It's the small things that really make us happy, right?

Today's post title is from Peter Paul and Mary's Right Field.  So appropriate since Irish Jig, our buddy child, and I played in right field today.  And, as my parents can attest, that's the position I played during my high school Catholic Youth sports league tenure!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gentle mother, peaceful dove

The Annunciation by Francisco de Goya
Image from

Today, the Catholic church recognizes the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary and her willingness to accept that which she surely didn't fully understand. The readings of the day are carefully chosen to reflect this day - The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord:

Isaiah 7 & 8 (parts only here):
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”
Psalm 40:
Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Luke 1: 26-38 (parts only here):
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”

I heard these readings during women's Bible Study this morning and found myself revisiting the words and messages throughout my day.  I met a great friend for coffee and long overdue conversation.  I spoke with my own mother and shared funny vignettes from our home's last few days.  During all of the little parts of my normal "mothering" today, I reflected on this great event, this young woman's willingness to be mother for us all.

I also let the idea of mother remind me of the wonderful mothers I know: my own (of course), my mother-in-law (hysterical), my sister, and fabulous friends.   All these inspirational women that make my own mothering journey more fun, more sensible, more loving, and more palatable (just being honest).   Women my own age who are in the same stages of mothering adventures and women who have "been there, done that" and offer valuable hindsight thoughts; women who love this crazy adventure as much as I do and are as thankful to the Lord for the opportunity.

Many years ago, while hugely pregnant with my third child (Jazz), I reluctantly rolled (literally) out of bed and dressed for Mass.  I was tired, achy, hurting some, and not wanting to leave the comfort of my bed and my fuzzy jammies.  As I left Mass, a wonderful member of our congregation stopped me to offer words of encouragement.  With eight children of her own, she had much encouragement to offer!  I just remember her holding my hands and reminding me that my state of pregnancy just meant that, like Mary, I'd said YES and allowed the Lord to create something of his own within me.  For just a brief period of time (although those nine months don't always seem brief), we turn ourselves over for His use and become something wonderful in the process - mothers.

I let that and other encouraging memories of conversations had and experiences shared color my day and make it more joyful.  I made cookies with the four year old "just because" and skipped more laundry loads in favor of downloading silly music and dancing up and down the hallways with my girls.  We danced to the LEGO movie's Everything is Awesome, some Bruno Mars favorites to remind us that we're great Just the Way you Are, a few Frozen movie themes, and Katie Perry's Roar.  Because sometimes a mother roars.  Sometimes a lot.

And we danced.  Badly.  And laughed.  Loudly.  And rejoiced that motherhood gave me all this.

Celebrate your motherhood today!

Today's post title from Hail Mary: Gentle Woman by Carey Landry

Friday, March 14, 2014

Math, Science, History, Unraveling the Mystery

Happy National Pi Day!!!

Classic Rock decided he needed to make a pie for National Pi Day and bring it school to share with his favorite math teachers and good friends.  After some discussion concerning the mess of cutting into fruit pies (his first choice was cherry) and the inability to keep them chilled (lemon pie), he settled on a straightforward chess pie.

Be a geek today!  Our Domestic Church is, sadly, full of geeks.  Some are cooler and higher up on the geek scale, but truly geeks nonetheless.  I remind myself that this means my children will rule the world and support me in my old age - when I will eat lots of pie.

Today's post title from The Big Bang Theory's theme song...