Sunday, December 28, 2008

Share in our Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I'm sorry this post was so long in coming. In doing so, it acquired quite a bit to say, so sit back and prepare to catch up on the details of our small homestead Christmas. (A blanket apology for any complaining your computer might give you over this picture intensive post!) I was considering breaking into several posts for the Baptism, cute Donna pictures, our Kris Kringle exchange and Christmas, etc., but I reasoned, what's the point? It's just a pause in the reading. So, if you need an intermission, go ahead and take one. I will assume no responsibility for weak eyes due to too much computer reading.

I have to start with a couple pictures from Donna's baptism (which I intended to share before Christmas but I wasn't able to get away and upload them).

I was the proudest Godmother and big sister ever on Tue. morning! Donna was just a doll through the whole Mass and baptism--never made a peep! Mom said her babies have never been that content through a baptism before. I was beaming with pride over her angelic little face, taking in the church with such curious dark eyes... It was one of the happiest days of my life!!

The next day we got our tree. Dad tramped through the deep snow armed with a saw and a prayer. We don't have many pine on our land at all, and certainly don't want to take the few healthy ones that we do have, but every year the Bl. Mother provides a tree for us on Christmas Eve. This year, it was 6in. from another tree the same size so one of them had to go. Most of the kids braved the deep snow, (hopping in Dad's footprints I'm sure), to participate in the tree falling.

Of course, to the kids it was our best tree ever (taking the place of last year's 'best tree ever'), though it was certainly nothing you'd find in the tree lot. It is a 15ft., 9in. Charlie Brown tree! What it lacks in density, it makes up for in height. Andrew had to cut some off each end to fit it in the house. Obviously, the kids begged him to take as little as possible, so to make them happy, it's just touching the ceiling at the tip. No room for a star, but it's beautiful anyway!

As they were leaving the house to get the tree, Stephen caught Buddy (our little bull cow) outside his pen, giving the chickens a bed time story. Sadly, it was rudely interrupted at the climax when Buddy was caught and shoved back where he belonged.

The kids and Annie baked cookies all that day. Annie also got industrious and attempted a natural ginger bread house after our encouragement and pleadings. I thought it turned out really cute for her first!

Christmas Eve was spent finishing up and wrapping gifts. Throughout the day, present by present slowly trickled in, filling the cavity below our giant, if sparse, tree. Everyone worked quickly, knowing that our evening party would only be possible when the house was clean, farm chores were done, and cooking prep for the next day complete. Of course, by the time all this was done it was late evening and since Johnny couldn't contain himself a moment longer, we sat down and turned off the lights (with the exception of the tree) and Dad read the Christmas story. We said some prayers and sang some songs, as Johnny placed our little porcelain baby Jesus in the manger creche. Afterwards, the lights were flicked on and the treats pulled out as the Kris Kringle exchange started.

We always start with Johnny. He had Michael, so he collected his gift and bashfully handed it to him.

He's not so good at keeping a secret, so there was suspicion that he had Michael. He gave him a shirt that he painted all over. I'm proud to say he did most of this by himself. I drew whatever he wanted to say on a piece of paper next to him, and he copied it on to the shirt with fabric paint and permanent markers.

Then Michael went next. He had Annie, and while I don't have a picture of her opening her little gift, here's one of her that week, googooing wittle Donna.

Michael made her a binder for all her cookie recipes, with organized tabs and cute sayings on the cover. He completed this mostly on his own, too, just helped by my ideas.

Then Annie got up and retrieved her present, handing it to Andrew.

...And she made him dig around in that box for a tiny envelope that contained a hand stitched scapular of his patron Saint.
Andrew got up next, and placed a heavy package on Theresa's lap.
The wrappings uncovered a small wooden chest, but to Theresa's delight (and our surprise), four different hand-turned YoYo's filled the chest. Dad and Andrew have just started playing on their new lathe, so no one was expecting such a nice finished product already!

Theresa was our YoYo master for awhile, so she was thrilled with the different styles of the YoYo's as well.

And we have to add this one of them goofing off together while playing with the new YoYos!
Andrew's not bad on the YoYo either, and admitted to spending lots of time playing on them out in the shop.

Then Theresa dragged the huge package that had been puzzling the kids all afternoon out from beneath the tree. Because it was so large, she had to point out it's recipient instead of handing it to her... Lizzy!

As the wrappings were lifted off, a squeal went up from Lizzy as she took in a new castle doll house complete with royal furniture and her favorite little people dressed in princess gowns with their hair done up in ribbons.
Because I had heavily helped Theresa pull this one off, I was especially excited to see the finished product all together--complete with the look on Lizzy's face! Dad asked her to turn around and take a picture, but by the time the camera was ready, the smile was looking a little forced....
There's a natural one!!

Anyway, moving along: Then Lizzy produced a long mysterious package to Johnny which turned into a little shuffle board game!

This gift was kind of taken over by Dad and Andrew, obviously, as Lizzy couldn't do much in the shop. She added some coloring pictures that she drew for him, to make up for that fact.
He's been playing with it almost unceasingly since he opened it!

By process of elimination, Stephen and I looked up and grinned at each other, knowing now that our two packages under the tree were going to each other. I handed mine out first.

It was a black T-shirt with a phrase painted on it that Stephen is notorious for.... It's kind of an inside joke, but it also works on a number of levels.

Then he invited me to open the last gift. I was sooo happy with what I pulled out of his box! Two beautiful, rustic, hanging, plant holders!!

I'm already dreaming about what I am going to grow in them. His gift showed that he noticed and appreciated my love of flowers and I thought that was really considerate. Thanks Steve, I simply love them.

Dad also placed a few surprise (purchased) games under the tree. I wish I could have captured the craziness that the eight of us experienced playing Pit around the table Christmas Eve night after our gift exchange. It's one of those 'no taking turns' games that we always love. The only reprise that one's vocal cords got would be if you had to quickly duck under the table to recover a card that was slid across the table at you by an opponent. Otherwise, it was shouting out your numbers, laughing and trying to keep your large hand in order.

It was a very fun, happy experience. When Dad was reading the Christmas story, I kept looking around at all the faces in thanksgiving that I was part of our happy bunch.

Now I have to post a few of the numerous pictures of my sweet, adorable, precious, perfect, lovely, angelic, doll face, wonderful, awesome, incredible, and that word that I can't think of, little sister (sorry, I seriously can't narrow it down to one word! She's indescribably wonderful!!!)

She's such a good baby too! Good nurser, good sleeper, quiet and content, everything Mummy could want!

Finally, I'd like to conclude with the most adorable picture of our twelve day old angel taking in her first Christmas tree sighting.
(That almost looks like a smile, doesn't it?)

Well, that was our simple little Christmas celebration. Thanks for sharing in it!

Signing off with our family Christmas picture this year:

God Bless ya all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Donna's assessment of the household she's been born into!

Hello Everybody,

 I just thought I'd give an update after my first five days outside Mom's belly as part of this household. This is a very strange household, let me tell you...

We'll start with the big daddy man with the soft voice. After a few hours outside my warm womb, I was sitting in Theresa's arm on this warm bench they have, and this man came and sat next to me, and while it was very bright, I kept forcing my eyes open to look at him every time he talked. His voice kept reminding me of something, and for reasons I didn't know, I was drifting asleep every time he talked. It was annoying indeed, because I terribly wanted to look at him--his voice was so familiar! Then, just as I was falling asleep, I remembered it: it was the voice I would hear softly talking to Mom at night as I drifted to sleep inside her warm belly. This daddy is not so good at changing poopy diapers, though. My first night I had to go poopoo at 4am and Mommy couldn't get up to change it. The next morning, I heard his oldest daughter telling him what he did wrong. Good grief, I hope it was nothing too terrible! I mean, it would be awfully embarrassing to wear ones' diaper the outside in...   [He simply forgot to rinse out the diaper. At 4am we'll give him a break. After nine of us, he still remembers his stuff! ] Thankfully, Mommy can change me during the nights now and all these adorning fans of mine fight over who gets to do it during the day, so I'm covered there... He tells me I'm a cute baby, and he's good at burping me, so I guess he's pretty cool, as far as daddy's go.

When I went back into Mommy's room for my first nursing, I forced my eyes open the whole time (even though there was light above me) because I wanted to see what my Mommy looked like on the outside. In between telling me what a precious, perfect angel I was, she softly lectured me for staying in her belly for so long. I wasn't very happy, I gave her a concerned look with my dark eyes through the whole lecture. How was I to explain how cold it was out there to somebody who lives in the U.P., for goodness sake? Mommy only gets to hold me when the girls are busy, though, unless I get cranky enough that they are forced to turn me in for feeding. As soon as she lifts me to burp, I am snatched away by one of four girls who do nothing but wet my cheeks with kissing and shower me with adoring names. Mommy's pretty good at finding names to call me that they missed, though, when she gets her hands on me.

The oldest boy I'm not sure about, though. See, he's really tall and I was scared when he held me. He called me squishy, too, which I'm not sure was a compliment. I think, though, that it wasn't very nice because four female voices yelled at him at once, giving him all kinds of alternatives to call me.

The oldest girl is the first one I saw when I plopped into this world. I opened my eyes, and through the blurry brightness I could see her face, and I'm not sure why, but she was crying. I mean, here I am all wet and cold in this bright room with lots of noise and all, shouldn't I be the one crying? But when I tried, my voice sounded funny, so I just settled for squirming. This girl kisses me CONSTANTLY. Now, everybody likes kisses right? But 5 for each hand, 4 for each cheek, 1 for the nose, 1 for the chin, several for the forehead, are you starting to get the picture? I think these girls are kissing the skin off my cheeks!

The next girl is really nice. I heard someone tell her she's good with babies and I second the notion. She can quiet me down or put me to sleep effortlessly every time! No matter what else she has to do, she always has time for me. She rocks me and sings this funny song and I almost smile, and then 'boom' I'm sleeping. I don't know how she does it... big sister magic, it must be.

The second boy is very good with me. He's always taking pictures of me and trying to make me smile. He uses this ridiculous voice, and it's like, hey, you're a strange bird pal, and what's with the voice? I mean, who does he think he's talking to, anyway? Once he accidentally used a flash and my face wrinkled into a funny expression which made everyone laugh (except the girls who were yelling at big brother for his carelessness). He got a little sore throat a day or two after my arrival and hasn't held me because of it in the last few days. He said he missed holding me, and I thought that was nice. Yeah, so, I think he'll do for a big brother.

The next girl (I think, I'm still working on getting them all straight), lloovveess to hold me. She hates it when my bottom lip trembles so I've pretty much figured out how to get her to do whatever I want. She's a sucker for a pitiful whine, and positively adores me, so that's cool, too. If I wake up during the night and cry, I can hear her moaning "Aww!" from the loft above me. She'd rather hold me than eat, or do pretty much anything. She's getting pretty fast at changing my diaper, too, which is always nice. 

The next boy, I'm not sure what his name is, but he kisses my forehead whenever he walks by. He calls me cute and makes sure he gets his turns holding me, too. He's pretty doting on me, so I guess he fits in with the rest of them, huh?

The next girl is smaller than the other three, but I think that makes her understand me better... She loves all my cute little outfits. If it were up to her, I think she'd change my little outfit every couple hours. She also promised me she'd teach me how to play doll house when I'm bigger, so I'm looking forward to that.

The last boy before me is kinda loud. He has abundant energy and races about the room like a little maniac. My sisters tell me not to watch, nor ever imitate him. They remind me I'm a quiet, gentle little girl and the answers to their prayers after such a brother. Between looking forward to Christmas and staying in the house too much, (and perhaps a bit to do with my arrival), he's been really bouncing off the walls lately. He calms down only for a few moments to hold me, which he does very gently and maturely, before handing me back to my sisters and sky rocketing off the walls again. The girls constantly remind him that he has to be very gentle with me, but I think he's also eager to show off his (tiny, haha!) muscles to me in just about everything he does.

They also have this little white dog that has yet to get used to the sound of my cry, especially at night. I think it reminds her of a kitten's cry. She watches me, whines, cocks her head and sniffs my cheeks eagerly whenever I whimper and cry.

As far as myself, I've made some milestones already... My dried up umbilical cord end fell off my belly button yesterday, and my sisters were tickled pink to find that I have a little outtie. Mom got her milk in, so my poops have changed and are no longer that icky, sticky meconiom, which Mummy calls 'tar'. I have yet to meet the rest of my world. I haven't been outside yet, but whenever I'm carried past a window I grimace and stick my bottom lip out at the brightness of the snow outside. The kids tell me about all these furry friends they have outside, but I'm not sure I believe them, as I have yet to meet any myself. I wish I could, but Mary tells me 'not till spring'. I will be going outside for the first time on Tue. when we leave the house for my Baptism. I will be exactly a week old. Mummy tells me that I will be all white and clean afterwards. I surely hope that doesn't mean a bath! I hate water.

Mummy said I nurse terrifically and sleep pretty good at night. Last night I only woke for one feeding! The girls keep me up until bedtime so that I will sleep better for Mummy and Daddy at night. The kids pulled out the photo books and were holding pictures up to me to decide who looks the most like me. I think it was discerned that I most resemble Annie, or Theresa, though I hold features of almost everybody and I'm told that I tie everyone together in a perfect blend of Lund. Mummy also said I seem to have my own look, too, so that's nice... I think I'll go with that.

Anyway, I'm still deciding, but I think I landed in a pretty good spot in the world, huh?

Well, I'm off to take a nap. Nice 'talking' to you all!