MODEST MAMA

Follow our family as we journey through life.



Monday, June 30, 2008

So we went to Maine...

Michael and his friends Father Paul, David, and Angela have started a liberal arts summer program in Maine. This is its second year and it is held at the Morrill Farm Bed and Breakfast in Sumner, Maine. Michael went by himself last year, but this year we were all able to attend with him. The original farm house was built in the 1790s. The land was given to the Morrill family as part of a land grant given to soliders who fought in the Revolutionary War. The current owners purchased the farm from members of the Morrill Family.
This is the only photo I have of the chapel that they built on the farm. I guess you can kind of see it. It is really beautiful and a wonderful place to pray and reflect on God's love. Attached to the back of the chapel is a library where most of the seminars were held.
This experience was so wonderful and relaxing for me. It was also great for the kids to get to be on a real working farm and play with other homeschooled children.

Maine Photos

Here are some photos of our trip to Maine. I was too busy sitting around talking with the other ladies to take more.Farms don't agree with Henry as he doesn't like animals or walking long distances.

At the Mill watching Mr. Larry plane some wood.


James playing with some other kids. The girl is the daughter of the other tutors in the program. The boy is the eldest grandson of the people who own the farm. He also lives on the farm, but in a different house.

Isaac relaxing on the porch swing.


After five days with nine other children to play with (not including each other), the boys were pretty tired. Here we are as we set off for Mass in town and then head home. Looking closely you can see Margaret in her mirror asleep.

Happy Feast Day Henry!

Sunday June 29 was Henry's Feast Day, the feast of Saint Peter. Since we were traveling back from Maine he didn't have his celebration until after dinner. Here he is examining the (plastic)Statue of Mary he received. His brothers made him cards to celebrate the special day.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Maine!

We have just returned from a wondreful trip to Maine where I sat on the porch of a farmhouse (built in the 1700's) for five days. It was the most wonderful experience. I will blog more about it later but now I must recover from 14 hours in the car with four children six and under.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Margaret Mary Phyllis

Does a more beautiful baby girl exist? Not in my world!Margaret is not only a beautiful baby, she is the easiest baby I have ever known. As long as she can see someone at all times she is perfectly content. How else do you think I have managed to get my kitchen almost completely painted in four days with a baby and three other boys age six and under? She just sits there and watches me paint. Sometimes, if I am really lucky, she will coo me a song.

We All Love Henry

Mike and I were recently talking about how cute Henry is right now. He is always doing and saying things to make us laugh, which is really good because when we are not laughing or cuddling with him, he is usually being scolded for naughty behavior. Sometimes I think if Henry had been my first I would only have one. Kidding!Anyways, Henry and Margaret usually bathe together because that is just easier for me. Recently Henry decided he was going to help me wash Margaret (who sits on a bath chair during the bath). All of a sudden Henry announced (in a high voice that only Henry can do), "Oh no! Mar-get loss her penis and now she only have a bottom!" Oh gosh, my stomach hurt from laughing.

Issac's Special Outing With Mama

Isaac has not been his usual self lately. I think that he is over tired and thrown off by all the traveling and changes we are doing in the house. Plus, we got new next-door neighbors with kids who are three and five and so there has been lots of excitement with new friends. In any case, he is not his usual cheerful self. I decided that he and I would have a special outing this morning (We decided to bring Margaret so that we wouldn't have to hurry home if she needed us). We started our outing by going to JoAnne Fabrics where Isaac helped me pick out some blue fabric for a skirt I am making. His choices were indeed fabulous!
Then we went to one of those pottery places where you paint your piece and they fire it for you. I had just been there to make Margaret's plate and thought about how much Isaac would like it. Issac is our artistic child; he is always creating things through art. Today he chose a watering can to paint. He painted it brown, purple, and gold. He chose a flower add-on for inside the can and painted that vanilla, which he proclaimed to be the exact shade of vanilla icecream. Who knew!


James Starts Baseball

Summer baseball has begun for James. Since his birthday was so close to the cut-off date of May 1, we decided to place him in the five-year old group. It is also his first year playing and we wanted him to be comfortable. There are eight teams and he is on the Padres.

James had a really good time at his first practice and mini-game. He seems to really enjoy it which we are excited about. His friend Michael is on his team and he knows several other children on different teams.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Comments

It is that time of year again, when we take a small break from schooling and I am out and about with my little ones. Every time we leave the house we receive comments from strangers. By far the most common one is: "My, you have your hands full!" People also ask if James and Isaac are twins, and occasionally I will be asked if the boys are triplets.

Here are some funny comments that I have gotten recently.

At a science museum as I am herding my crew into an elevator a lady leaving the elevator catches my eye, points to the kids and says, "That's work!"

Michael and I, with all the kids and travel gear (stroller, carry-on bags, laptop, etc) prepare to board an airplane. After the flight attendant scanned our tickets, I was about three steps away when she said to the next passenger (in a slightly raised voice as if I was supposed to hear), "My GAWD! That is not how I would travel!"

We get off the plane and we are heading to baggage claim with the kids and all the travel gear. We have to board one of those airport trains. We herd the children on and instruct them to hold on, stabilize the stroller, secure the baggage, etc. The woman looks right at me and says in a sarcastic but pointed voice, "You need one more kid." I respond, "Well, uh... I hope I have several more children." The lady, clearly embarrassed that I didn't respond how she was expecting mumbles something about how great kids are and then the train comes to the station. She declares in an elevated voice, "Well, here's the stop!" and she departs. Michael and I exchange puzzled looks.

Now for the grand finale. This happened today at the library:

The scene: The older boys were at a library program on bees. I was with Henry and Margaret in the children's room. The program ends, the boys enter the room with the other 40 children that were in the program. I begin to round them up by the counter where I am waiting to check out books. A 30-something, hip-looking mama(HLM) is behind me.

HLM: "Wow! Are they all yours?"
Me: "These four are mine."
HLM: "Well aren't you just Fertile-Mertle."
Me (Laughing): "Did... did you just call me 'Fertile-Mertle'?"
HLM: "Yeah, the way you've been popping out kids. Everyone should be so blessed."
Me: "Uh, thanks?"

Well, if I could only use one word to describe my life now it would be "fun." These children have changed everything about me, about my relationship with Michael, about everything. This is the most fun I have ever had, and I wouldn't change it for the world!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Kitchen

Annie's experiences trying to sell her house has helped me determine how much I dislike my own kitchen colors. Bright red is fun and joyful, but not exactly pleasant on a 95 degree day with high humidity. And bright white cabinets, our love of Mexican food, and four kids really don't mix. So, I decided to paint the kitchen. The problem is that I don't have much time because we are traveling soon and my folks are coming for visit. Both those things, and the fact that I am possibly the worst painter ever. Here's some photos before I get started. We got tired of opening cabinet doors to get the dishes so we removed some of them about a month ago. Seriously. It started by me adding a primer to some of the walls. Then I watched as layer after layer of the primer bubbled off. Hmmm. Is that supposed to happen? I soon learned that I have to wash walls with some special toxic chemical before painting them, especially walls in the kitchen. Who knew!
Now for some pictures of the process of me painting. This feels like art time when I used to teach Kindergarten. Here we have the colors tumbleweed, mossy mint sprig, butterfly garden, and desert dust (or something). Not shown is guacamole. Not only are these names ridiculous, but they are hard to remember and difficult to tell apart. Tumbleweed and butterfly garden would be better named dark yellow and bright yellow.

Not only am I terrible at painting, I am also pretty bad at matching colors. I think that my kindergarten students were better at matching colors than me. Our counter doesn't always look like that either. Usually there are a lot more beer bottles and diet coke cans waiting to go out for recycling. I removed them right before I took the picture. Some things are better imagined than actually seen.

Did this really happen? I am afraid so. So much for taking my time and painting the kitchen over the course of the summer. It looks so silly now that I have no choice but to get busy and get it down.

These three colors were actually the colors on a paint sample card that showed a painted kitchen. For some reason these colors are not going to work in my kitchen. Could be a combination of lighting, ratio mix, and painter incompetence.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

You Mean Things Get Easier than This?!?!?

This article really touched home for me as I often feel overwhelmed when I have all four children on my own. I look at families with double the number of children that I have (or more than double), and I wonder if #1. The are insane or #2. Am I not "strong" enough to handle more children? or #3. Both.

This article from Danielle Bean really helped me put things into perspective. Children are one of the greatest gifts we can receive in this life.

Movie Review: RAN

Akira Kurosawa is an excellent director and RAN is definitely one of the best Japanese made movies that I have ever seen. The cinematography alone is worth watching the movie for; unbelievable use of color and natural landscape. Lots of panoramic shots of horses and warriers running into battle againist sweepeing landscapes filled with green hills and Japanese castles. Kurosawa was heavily influenced by Shakespeare and RAN is full of metaphors and grand themes. Worth every minute of the three-hour running time, and we were able to borrow it from the library. Another cheap date night!

Margaret in a Hat and Bumbo Seat

Margaret wore the cutest hat to Mass today. I will have to get some more photos of her in the hat. She is such a baldy and it has been so sunny since we returned home that a hat has become a common part of her wardrobe.

Margaret can now sit in her Bumbo seat. Since cloth diapers are bulkier than paper ones, the bulk raised her up too much to sit in it before. So we had to wait another month and now she can sit in it. She likes it because she is able look all around and reach her friends on the toy bar. She has started grabbing for things, but actually being able to get them is another story.


As you can see, she has become a thumb-sucker. This makes us three out of four for thumb-sucking, four out of four if you include Isaac's desire to suck his elbow when he was a baby. I sucked my thumb until I got braces and so I believe this is an inherited trait.

My Grandma is Beautiful

I couldn't resist posting one more photo from Portland. Isn't my Grandma beautiful? I believe she possesses an elegance that is largely lost amongst the women of today's society. My desk dictionary defines a lady as: a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken. I know most of you don't know my Grandma, but she is truly a lady.

Happy Father's Day

Today is Father's Day and Michael's only wish for the day was that we celebrate it as a family. Here are some pictures of Michael receiving the cards that the children made for him.


And here is the most beautiful pie that has ever come out of the our kitchen. It is a strawberry-rhubarb pie, made from fruit bought at the local farmer's market yesturday. Not only was it beautiful, but it was delicious as well.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

You Can't Please Everyone

Our trip to Portland was a lot of fun. Exhausting at times, but very fun. While in Portland, there were 38 people who wanted to see me, Mike, and the kids. Not an exaggeration, I made a list of names and counted them. We were in Portland for 14 days. You can do the math for how much time we had if we were going to try to see everyone. Take into account that 18 of the people on the list are family members. That adds a whole new dimension to the math equation. Also add into the equation the fact that we were using borrowed cars, and had to drive two separate vehicles any time we went somewhere as a family that wasn't accessible by bus or MAX.

A common struggle amongst homeschooling mothers seems to be the issue of over-scheduling. While in Portland I went into "people-pleaser" mode and tried to accomondate everyone and their scheduling needs over the needs and wants of my own kids and hubby. This resulted in exhausted, cranky kids and a crying, overwhelmed mama. Hubby seemed blissfully unaware as long as a microbrew was included in the plans.

Thankfully, hubby and I were able to determine early on in the trip we were over-sheduled and needed to revise our original trip plan. We cut out several planned activities and meetings. Although we thought the kids would do best with one outing per day, we realized this was not going to work well since we had such limited time and so many people to see. So we managed two big events a day (some days were less busy), and we managed to fit almost everything in.

Almost everything and almost everyone. Some people we saw or tried to see everyday (Grandparents and Great-grandparents). Some people we saw for 45 minutes to a few short hours (Keeley, April, The Winslows). Every visit filled our trip with joy and smiles. Every person we missed seeing filled our hearts with sorrow.

Some of you we missed seeing might be reading this blog entry. You might feel slighted that we came to the West Coast and didn't make time for you. This was not our intention at all. We had a purpose of introducing Margaret to the family and family was a priority for our time. Out of 14 days we estimate that we spent a mere five hours with people who were not family. Some of our family members only got to see us once. I guess that I am writing this blog to ask for understanding of our needs while in Portland. If you felt left out, I am sorry. Sometimes you have to do what is best for your family.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Henry In Portland

Henry has little patience for pictures right now

Must be a two-year old thing

Isaac In Portland

Isaac really likes traveling to PortlandHere he is playing with Sage

Learning to type his name


Fresh Oregon Strawberries and Tillamook icecream is always a treat!


Look who walked out into the water when I was distracted by Henry

Yup, it's Isaac. Nothing like a four year old who can't swim but loves to try new things!

James in Portland

A few photos of James while we were in PortlandAlways ready to read a good book.

Finally, some decent Japanese resturants!



Playtime at the airplane museum.


Always excited to find a tree to climb.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Our real first sunny warm day and we spent the afternoon at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.



Another amazing place right in the middle of a city!

Sunday Lunch with Grandma Phyllis

This may look like some super fancy resturant, but it is actually the dining room of the retirement community that Grandma Phyllis lives in now.



Go Beavers!