Category Archives: La Famille

Here’s what we’ve been growing–

 

Fairy Gardens:

Snowdrops (which we had no idea existed on our property until they burst forth with all the vigor of an invading army this spring):

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Gladiolas, Dahlias, and two kinds of sprouting mystery bulbs, which we uprooted, broke up, and replanted with hope and prayers and optimism:

Sourdough English muffins, and ensuing delicious lunches:

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Decomposing organisms, hopefully mostly in our (outdoor) compost heap. I haven’t got a picture of that, so here’s one more thing we’ve unearthed that delights us:

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Did we do some lanscaping and edging with 103 year old bricks buried in the yard? Yes.

Did we discuss the onset of World War I while doing so? Oh yes.

Literally stumbling across American antiquity all the time is among the best things about living in the wilds of urban Connecticut.

The End.

 

General Conference Eve in Seven Steps

The most exciting thing about today is that tomorrow is April first, the first (full*) day of the Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

General Conference is Christmas, Easter, and the Superbowl at our house. It’s a glorious time when sitting in front of a screen for 8-10 hours in a weekend is not only justifiable, but hands down the best way we could be using our time.

The refreshment and renewal we get in this weekend is unmatched by any vacation, any inspirational or motivational retreat you could throw at us.

Since lists are all the rage, here is my list of ways to get the most out of conference:

  1. Pray for the speakers to say what they need to say.
  2. Pray that I’ll hear what I need to hear (because 1)teaching and learning are interdependent processes, and 2)being interrupted and distracted by child needs is an inevitable part of our participation in conference)
  3. Take stock of questions I have, areas of my own character that need to improve, people I want to help but don’t know how, current concerns in child rearing that don’t have obvious solutions. Write them all down to keep in mind during conference.
  4. Ask for my heart to be prepared to understand what it needs to.
  5. Remind the kids that conference is coming, review steps 1-4 with them, and gear up the enthusiasm! (our kids are always excited for conference. It may be the outpouring of spiritual gifts and learning, or it may be all the treats they get to eat conference weekend. One way or the other, we all like conference.)
  6. Print off Conference Packets and activities for the children. It’s possible that toilet paper prophets are blasphemous, but by golly, they keep the littler people occupied so we can learn from prophets how to be better people, and therefore better parents.
  7. Draw up menu and grocery list for the tailgate conference party of the year! At least the first half of the year…I’m so glad we get to do this twice annually

 

*It started earlier, with the Women’s Session of Conference. Which is the best women’s conference in the world. And totally free.

The Sunday We Conquered the World and Survived the Apocalypse

Here’s what we did a few Sundays ago:

Made cinnamon rolls:

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Attended Stake Conference :

(No picture. Just a lot of wonderful learning from a lot of wonderful people. It’s possible that I spent part of it in the mother’s room chatting it up with a Sister in Zion-cum-beauty pageant winner about the plight of young refugee mothers and how she can help them as part of her platform. Yes, it’s wonderful and exciting stuff).

Made a carnal mess in the kitchen with beets and boiled bones:

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Conquered the world:

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Built shelters in the backyard, proving the offspring are ready for the apocalypse:

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Yep. We do love our sabbath.

The End.

 

Portrait of our Morning

Taken at approximately 9:25 am:

Jane the Austen:

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She practice for 30-45 minutes each morning, often in her bathrobe because it’s cold in the wilds of Connecticut.

Clive the Staples:

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While J the A practices violin, Clive the Staples and Mr. the Rogers cuddle me on the couch. We alternate who is getting in their reading with me, and who is practicing math and writing. At the moment, it’s Clive the Staple’s turn to read. He’s a major fan of Frog and Toad. Note Lucy the Maude’s hair in the corner.

Mr. the Rogers:

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Mr. the Rogers found new passion for writing today, due to the content.

Katherine the Great:

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K the G sleeps in. Being a toddler, we let her. So on this morning, as on many mornings besides, she breakfasts while the rest of the children are already at their lessons.

Lucy the Maude:

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L the M spends her mornings on my lap. But I didn’t photograph her this morning, so here we are on the Fancypants University Shuttle, doing what we always do: imitating kangaroo and joey.

In conclusion:

I love my children.  9:25 am is usually our most glorious time of day.

A Few of My Favorite Things:Family Home Evening Chart

On Sunday afternoons, I try to sit down with each of my children for at least 30 minutes each, doing something with only that one child, hopefully inducing meaningful conversation.

Because, you know, relationships and whatnot.

The child gets to pick the activity.

Jane the Austen likes to write or read, discuss her favorite books, and geek out over musicals and 19th century history together.

Clive the Staples likes back rubs and feet rubs, cuddles, and drawing.

Mister the Rogers likes to make treats with me, particularly cookies or caramels.

Katherine the Great likes dramatic nonsensical conversations, singing, and dancing.

Lucy the Maude generally likes to nurse, and doesn’t really get formal one on one time. She gets her loving in by default. Thank the stars for breastfeeding, snuggles, and infantile unwavering delightful sociability.

 

One Sunday afternoon, Clive the Staples decided we needed to make a family home evening chart together. So we toddled on down to the basement, found an old 2X4, and set to work with a skilsaw, sander, woodburning pen, and drill.

And my oh my, did we ever make a family home evening chart!

Towards the end, Husband the Man busted out the router, because he’s the only one who really knows how to work that baby, and gave it a fancy beveled edge.

The tags are flipped backwards, because, you know, privacy, but you get the idea.

Now, every week as we rotate everyone’s tag to a new job, I am reminded of my sweet secondborn, and how terribly fast he’s growing up.

 

The End.

Not NieNie Dialogues

Jane the Austen (upon seeing me start a blog): A blog? That’s so cool, Mom! You should make it like NieNie Dialogues.

Me: Her blog is lovely, my dear, but we don’t have enough* Anthropologie in our house to make a NieNie Dialogues sort of blog. Also, I am taking all my photos with my phone, not a nice camera.

Jane the Austen: Well, you can make your version of NieNie Dialogues.

Me: Good Idea.

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So here’s my version. It includes my kitchen window, complete with overflowing compost receptacles. Behind them there’s a lovely view of the corner liquor store.

 

I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except for maybe emptying the compost, because my kitchen is starting to smell like old cabbage.

You’re welcome.

 

*read: any

Women’s Conference: A Memory

Once upon a time, my church extended the Women’s Session of General Conference to all female members of our faith, 8 years and up.

At the time, my daughter was not-yet-eight, but my foster daughter was, and desired and insisted on attending with me. There is something about exercising one’s age privilege that makes kids really, really excited.

So I took foster daughter to the Stake Super Saturday/ Women’s Conference. The female leadership in our stake had put together a grand day for us, where we worked together on a bunch of group humanitarian projects, then had a potluck luncheon, and then watched the Churchwide broadcast.

I followed foster daughter’s lead, and we meandered from one service project to another, before settling on tying baby quilts to donate. Foster daughter, always fiercely independent, wanted to do everything herself, but was soon struggling to thread a needle.

The matron of the project leaned over to her and encouragingly whispered, “I bet your Mom could help you with that.”

This, of course, is a terrible thing to say to a foster daughter struggling with all sorts of feelings of love and attachment and separation anxiety and abandonment and loyalty. Poor quilt matron, with no ill intent whatsoever, had opened a deep and painful wound.

Foster Daughter, with the same look one gives someone blowing an airhorn in a library, hissed, “she’s not my mom!”

Quilt tying matron glanced at me, then back at foster daughter, then down to the quilt, all the many unspoken questions evident on her face.

Her tact didn’t spare foster daughter the weight of the silence. Irritatedly, she elaborated, “I crawled through a fence in her backyard, and now I  live with her!”

While it was all technically true, it did nothing to lighten the load of unasked questions. They bloomed around us like pond algae. But the emotional wherewithal for question answering had been exhausted.

During the broadcast, foster daughter curled up against me on the pew and doodled darkly hilarious comic strips.* They were all very original, but the premise of each was the same: stick figure man goes to do something perfectly ordinary, like pet a dog or smell a flower, and something utterly, extraordinarily terrifying happens, and stick figure man is decimated as a result.

It didn’t take a psychiatrist to understand what these represented.

Without the hope that was beautifully taught and articulated in this meeting, and countless others besides, the story of foster daughter, from past to present, would be irredeemably sad. But because of them I know, I know, I KNOW that 1) her story isn’t over yet, and 2) it has a happy ending.

The End.

*Foster Daughter was a highly creative little artist.