Monday, December 29, 2008

On the fifth day of Christmas...

I have been too busy enjoying my Christmas visitors to blog, but it's quiet time and the munchkins are reading or sleeping so it's a good time. Tara and family stayed from Christmas until yesterday, when we celebrated Lauren's birthday, which is usually the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Since it fell on Sunday this year the Feast of the Holy Family took precedence.

Christmas was a great adventure with fifteen around the table and two high chairs. I think that was about the limit at the table unless we get some long benches to squeeze everyone together. I love all the Christmas decorations, especially the stable which we set up early in December with the manger empty and waiting for the Christ Child.

We put up the Christmas tree on the 23rd. This was the first time since Alice was old enough to help put ornaments on the tree that we decorated it alone - kind of sad. But so many ornaments have memories attached that, despite having no children, we basked in the warmth of Christmases past.

One big adventure of the holiday visit was Rachel climbing our big weeping willow, getting out on one of the branches and losing her nerve. We thought we might have to call the Fire Department to get Rachel out of the tree but David climbed up and guided her backwards at which point she could have climbed out herself but enjoyed the adventure of using the ladder to climb down.

Larry has been giving football clinics to the older kids. Alex is blocking Brendan.

The little ones who are too young for football ride bikes, and enjoy the swings. We had incredible weekend weather with temperatures in the upper 60s. If that's global warming bring it on! We went to the park on Saturday (I forgot the camera and missed some great shots on the tire swing). We also enjoyed back yard fun on Sunday before Tara and Lawrence left.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Visit and a Birthday Party

Brendan was scheduled to have a birthday sleepover in early December so lucky Gramma and Paka had two potential party crashers come to visit. Lauren and Ryan are always lots of fun and we had a great time playing Sesame Street Dominoes, reading books, and watching one of Brendan's favorite videos, Rikki-Tikki Tavi, Rudyard Kiplings story about the little mongoose and his battle with cobras in the garden. I have to admit it is one of my favorites as well and I always sit down to watch it with the kids.

One of our projects was baking a cake so we could have another birthday party for Brendan when his mom and dad came down with him and baby brother Sean to pick up the siblings. Lauren got the job of putting the candles on the cake and did a good job! Brendan almost set off the fire alarm with all that smoke!

We had a hard time keeping up with Sean who was crawling all over and pretty determined to climb the stairs. He is pulling himself up and was clearly getting ready to walk. The next time we saw him (about a week later he actually took one brave step before dropping down). He was very fond of the chocolate cake, but cleaned up nicely after dinner.

Ryan beat me at least four times at Sesame Street Dominoes and has been crowned king and was very proud of himself. I think Lauren beat me once too. Gramma was not doing well and I wasn't letting them win either! I'll have to teach them to play Scrabble. I think I still have the advantage there -- temporarily.

Lauren enjoyed playing with the doll I made for Tara for her sixth birthday. I don't remember if she has a name but she lives at our house for the time being and will come down to play with Lauren and go back up when Lauren leaves to wait the next visit.

Jamie and Jonathan came over to join the fun with little Marianna who was dressed in a little bear snowsuit. Let's see, at Halloween she was a dragon. (or was it a dinosaur?) And she has several other animal hats. Yesterday she when she came to visit while Mom and Dad went shopping she had on her bunny hat. It keeps that little fuzzy peach head warm until she grows a little more hair.

Can't wait until the next visit which will probably be Christmas when we will have a real houseful with all the local families. Can't wait!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sailing, Sailing over the Bounding Main

Well, he isn't sailing yet -- he's in school, but Chris graduated from basic training and is now in another school studying to be a submariner. Just thinking of it gives me claustrophobia. Chris looks great in his uniform and seems pretty happy with the way things are going. Good luck, Chris!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Post Thanksgiving Gratitude

Well, Thanksgiving is over and, as usual, I took almost no pictures. After a good start photographing the holiday table (note the thanksgiving messages - a tradition we started last year)

and getting a quick snap of Marianna

and one of Jamie peeling potatoes,

the camera was set down and forgotten. I've always had a sense of the photographer being separated from the holiday fun, so I don't really mind being the absent-minded shooter. It demonstrates that I'm totally present to all the fun of the holiday and the little people who are such a joy to be with.

While we were enjoying Thanksgiving in Woodstock, Ray and Jessie were in Chicago celebrating Chris's graduation from basic school on the 26th, another good reason to give thanks. He will be off soon on a new assignment, but according to Jessie the Navy prefers correspondents not to say where so I'll just say he will definitely be enjoying a seafaring adventure at some point in the future. Good luck, Christopher! You look great in your uniform, sailor. I'll post a few pictures when I get them in a format I can copy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Fun Weekend, but No Pictures

Dave and Jes and their family were out for the weekend and we had a great time, but I was so busy having fun I forgot to get out my camera and snap pictures. Darn! So I'll just have to improvise. It was really frigid -- with a high below freezing but Matthew (2) still wanted to run around without his coat. Mean old Gramma told him if he took off his coat again I was taking him inside, a fate worse than death: in the house and with Gramma to boot. Yikes! The kids raked up a big pile of leaves and jumped in them, also jumped in the leaves in our little creek which fortunately was dry. No matter how cold it is they love to be outside playing on our little playground with a trampoline, swings, teeter-totter, and jungle gym.

Rachel is my crafty girl. So after cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows to take the freeze off we pulled out a piece of foam board and drew a Christmas tree on it. Then we cut up old Christmas cards to make a giant Advent calendar with a different picture for every day until Christmas eve. The last two were the star of Bethlehem and a beautiful Nativity scene. That was fun.

Jamie and Jonathan came over with Marianna and the two little pooches which the kids love. The four young adults played euchre, Jes made a big pan of nachos and we all just sat around and visited.

For dinner we had an indoor picnic with hotdogs and s'mores cooked in the fireplace and all the summer goodies that go with it: potato salad, baked beans, potato chips - shoot, I forgot the deviled eggs. After dinner we had a short movie and popcorn. Then finished the day with a decade of the rosary - Zack leading. (Matthew likes to lead but he was already in bed.)

Rachel came down a few minutes after going up to bed to ask if she could go with me and Larry to the early Mass. I take Communion to the nursing home and the folks there love to see the kids so I was delighted she wanted to come. They did fuss over her and then we took our big girl to Cracker Barrell for breakfast. Talk about a sugar overload. She had chocolate chip pancakes with syrup and whipped cream and hot chocolate to go with it. Larry and I had their new skillet breakfasts which were great. Then it was home and lots of game playing before they left in the late afternoon.
Can't wait for the next visit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The big 50th party and a few extras for fun

My cousin Kathy sent some more photos - a few from Aunt Marie and Uncle Tom's 50th wedding anniversary which Larry and I missed because of the transmission failure and two photos of her brother Tom ice dancing with his partner Nori -- what fun! The photo below is of my sister Susie with Kathy, Aunt Marie, and Kathy's husband Al. I was surprised to see so much resemblance between Susie and Aunt Marie (that beautiful snow white hair helps) and Kathy too (without the white hair). Just shows they all belong to the same happy family.

And this a group shot of some of the Schneider gang. I wish the picture were bigger. If I were better at using photoshop I could probably edit it, but I'm still just learning. Your challenge: pick out the three sets of siblings and the two sets of husband and wife. There's some overlap there.

And here's the happy couple cutting the cake. The pony tail belongs to my brother John (I think) who used to be a clean-cut cop (no doughnut jokes please) before he retired and became a mountain man. I actually like the new look, but then I'm so fond of John I'd like any look he cares to go with.

And here are Tom and Nori. What a fun hobby. I'm lucky if I can stand up on ice skates.

The almost last photo is Kathy and Al's place in Colorado. Kathy's email said, "We are high desert here. All we need is water and we'd have beach front property. How I miss the greenery and fall colors from back east." Well I have to agree we live in a beautiful place, my favorite in all the earth, especially when my grandkids are visiting. My very last photo will be what I hope we get for Christmas. I'm already dreaming about it and humming an appropriate tune. Hugs and kisses and y'all come see us!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Keeping up with Cousins on the Family Tree

Anybody who knows me well is aware of my idea of a real pet. It has four legs a looong tale and is a lot bigger than a breadbox. You can also saddle it and ride off into the sunset. Most young girls dream of having a horse. I'm the old lady with the dream. Most girls say their mean parents won't let them have one; with me it's my mean husband. Well...not really. I can't say I want the work or expense either. But I'm jealous of my cousin who has....well....I'm not sure how many horses Kathy has...maybe four or five. Sounds like heaven to me.

To orient all my kids and non-Schneiders to family relations, Kathy is my Aunt Rita's daughter. Rita was my dad's sister. He was the oldest. She was the next oldest. Aunt Rita died in her forties. But I still remember her very well from visits at our house in Cleveland Heights. We lived there when I was 5 until about 8 and they lived on the other side of town close to my grandparents in Lakewood.

Kathy now lives in Denver and I had the delight of getting together with her two years ago when I was in Denver for a meeting. We had a nice lunch and Kathy brought a photo album of all her "babies." And here are two of them (along with Kathy). and here's the info Kathy sent about the photos. "The one with the cart is me with my mare Maizie taken Nov. 1,2008. The other picture of me in the saddle is my mare Cami and taken in May this year." Now I want to take a trip out to Denver to go riding with Kathy. I can show off my bad form and hang on for dear life if we canter!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A visit from the three little ones!

Jamie, Jonathan, and the three little piggies, I mean cuties, came over on Friday night for dinner and cuddle time. Marianna Rose is well-named, a sweet little pink rose. Roo and Pumpkin are more like little stinkweeds, but they are cute too. I think everyone was going home for a bath after dinner.

I took a quick fall picture of the house. The next day all the leaves had dropped off so I snapped the shot just in time. I may now have the four seasons. I'll have to check out my past albums. I'd love to do a four seasons shot.

With the national election over I'm on to the next political goal -- getting a pro-life governor, lt. governor, and attorney general elected next year. All politics is local and I'm determined to do everything possible to protect the littlest members of the human family. They're worth it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The big bad wolf reminds me of liberals

I had an appointment in northern virginia on Thursday so I took the opportunity to go visit my favorite Fairfax family -- trips off the tongue in a nice way doesn't it? When I got there Ryan wanted me to read a book he got at the library about a wolf who wanted to make pancakes and tried to get help from his neighbors. It was a little red hen kind of story. He had to do everything himself. And when the nice smells started filling the area all the nasty neighbors who wouldn't help him read the recipe, or shop, etc. showed up at the door to help eat the pancakes. The wolf let them in and when they were all in the kitchen he went in and ate them all....then he ate the pancakes. It was definitely politically incorrect. That wolf acted like a wolf. It sure made me laugh! But on the other hand I have a feeling it's a parable about how the kind and gentle liberals will treat conservatives. Obama's chief of staff once sent a dead fish to a political enemy and he has a reputation for getting even with anyone who crosses him. Things are likely to get pretty nasty. Which means I need to read more stories to my darlings, cuddle and rock, and play cootie. And not only did I have fun with the kids, I had a great girls' dinner out with Tara. When we came back, the kids ate her leftover fish and chips (smart kids!).

When I need some sanity, which is often, you'll find me with a baby on my lap or a toddler by the hand or down by the river skipping rocks with an 8-year-old. They're the reason I fight to restore the culture of life after all and they keep me smiling while I do it. By the way...have you prayed the rosary today?