Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's a Girl!

I have to admit, I thought it was going to be a boy. So after 20 hours of labor, I was surprised and delighted when my second daughter was placed on my chest.

Latest Family Photo
Chester had wanted to keep this one a surprise after having found out the gender of each of the other children at the time of our 20 week ultrasounds. I wanted to know what we were expecting. He won the coin toss, and so I embraced the mystery of not knowing...
Tola, age 3, meets her sister for the first time.

The children, at home with Oma, eagerly awaited the news of their new sibling's arrival. They thought for sure they would know before bedtime on Sunday June 22.

We headed in for an induction after Mass that morning, thinking we would have a baby by day's end.
Tait, 5, couldn't wait to hold "it."

But this baby had other plans and she kept us waiting until 8:28 the following morning, Monday June 23.

Oles, age 8. Such a tender heart this one has for babies.
 Weighing in at 7lbs, 11 oz and somewhere between 19 and 20 inches. (The hospital said 19. The next day she had stretched to 20 at the dr's office...)

We did not have a name for her yet. She didn't have a name until today, June 25. We needed a little time to get to know her, to stare at her and try out different options.
Biggest brother Ziven, 10, the same age I was when my sister Colleen was born.
He's feeling protective already.
 Each of our children have Polish names, and so we scoured the lists of Polish girl names and tossed a few back and forth. Finally, we realized we kept coming back to one name in particular. And it just seemed to fit this sweet soul.

Oma and Tola with baby girl.
 And so, without further ado, we are happy and proud to introduce our daughter,

Zoja Florence.

Zoja (Pronounced Zoy-ah. In Polish, the "j" is pronounced as a "y") is the Polish form of Zoey, meaning "Life."

Florence was Chester's maternal grandmother, and it means "Prosperous, Flourishing."

Zoja Florence
Welcome to our family, sweet girl! You have 3 big brothers who simply adore you and a big sister who absolutely beams when she holds you. They all want to sit by you and hold you and kiss on you...You are well loved and we are so happy God brought you to our family! May you have a Flourishing Life!

Monday, June 16, 2014

8 is GREAT!

 My Oles is 8 today. How blessed we are to have this boy in our family! He is the child who is equally at ease playing with his big brother, his little brother, and his 3 year old sister. 

He's always got a smile on his face and a sense of humor that emerges more every day. He is tender-hearted, wearing his emotions on his sleeve. He loves everything outdoors--ice fishing, hiking, skiing, biking, snow shoeing.

He never complains of the hard work involved in such adventures, never whines of being tired or cold. This kid puts his head down and digs in! We are all better off for having Oles in our lives. God Bless you, Oles, and Happy, happy birthday!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Baby Betting Time!

It's less than 2 weeks to d-day (d being "due" date, of course which, this time around, is June 22). Time for a little baby roulette.

To place your bets, leave a comment below. You don't have to register or anything. You can even comment anonymously, but if you don't leave your name somewhere in the comments, you forfeit any bragging rights due to inability to confirm.

A short history to help you place your bets: The earliest I've ever gone was on d-day. The latest was a full 2 weeks(!) past due. One had to be evicted at 1 week overdue. My smallest baby was 6 lb 14oz and my biggest was 8 lb 6 oz.

So step right up! Pick your date. Pick your gender (We don't know ourselves this time around. I have my guess but won't influence your bet by stating it at this time). You can even throw in a guess for birth weight if you'd like.

Winners in all categories will receive exclusive bragging rights. 

Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

On Impulse

Oles just gagged and threw up in the kitchen sink. As I ran out to the kitchen to investigate, I sent up a quick prayer--please Lord, not another stomach bug! My eye discerned a straw sticking out of the box of Kosher salt on the counter. A straw in the salt? Looking curiously at my soon-to-be 8 year old, I inquired "Did you just suck up salt with a straw?!?" With tears in his eyes and still trying to rid his mouth of the offending crystals, he nodded his head. "What in the world possessed you" but before I could finish with "to do that?!?"I started laughing. I couldn't help it. I mean, does it really matter what impulse led him to suck up salt through a straw? Could the answer possibly be anything but "I don't know?" The reality is, children do impulsive things. Just because the moment presents itself. No real reason. And since it's impossible to foresee, and therefore forewarn about, all the circumstances that could lead to a rash and impulsive act on the part of little people, I'm sticking with humor as the best policy...


This week has seen a couple of milestones for our younger 2.

Tait figured out how to ride a 2 wheeler, taking off like an expert as soon as his training wheels were removed. More than either of his big brothers, this one seemed like one with his wheels. Inside a week, he was zipping down grassy hills, gravel hills (with daddy biting his tongue and holding his breath the whole time...) and trying out various "tricks." And though I've seen 2 other children arrive at the independence of riding on 2 wheels, it never grows old to see the excitement on a child's face when they realize just. what. they. are. doing! "Look at me! I'm riding a bike!!!" Priceless.

Tola finally started swim lessons, something she's been dying to do for months as she's tagged along to countless sessions for her 3 big brothers. I had promised her she could start just as soon as she was done with pull-ups. Unfortunately, there was a month lag between saying goodbye for good to those diapers-in-disguise and the start of summer lessons. But oh boy was she excited on day 1! Around 8 that morning, she packed her own backpack with a towel, her swim suit, and a water bottle, grabbed her flip-flops, and stood by the door, dressed, pack on back, waiting to go. Her lessons started at 11:30... A little eager. I finally lured her away from the door with an episode of Curious George. Once she was in the water, she was one big grin from start to end. Again, not my first child to start swim lessons. And again, it never grows old...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

PHFR Belated Beach Edition

A few weeks ago we escaped the still frozen North to visit grandparents in Seattle. My sister Kelly came up from CA for a couple of days and we all enjoyed a lovely trip to the beach one day. It's not exactly timely, but it's the best I could do at this point. Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.


I love the way this creek meanders to the inlet. The sight of all 4 kids playing together on its banks is a pretty sight, too.


Sisters pregnant together, due 2 weeks apart. She with her 1st, Me with my 5th...


I don't blame a 10 year old boy for wanting to leap from one side of the bank to the other. What's funny about this is that right after I took this picture, he did exactly what I warned him might happen and he adamantly denied as a possibility: he fell in. Was completely soaked. I resisted the urge to say "I told you so."


Our first family photo in 3(?) years!
Somehow we never manage to snap a picture with the entire family all at the same time...

Holy First Communion

Oles made his First Holy Communion 2 weeks ago. Shameful that I haven't posted pictures here sooner or written a little tribute to his day yet, but life and illness intervened.

 Oles was so proud to be dressed up for his big day. This is the son who never complains about getting dressed in fancy clothes. He looked so handsome and grown up!

Father Jaime delivered a homily directed at the children receiving their First Communion, helping them to appreciate the importance of the day. I really appreciate how this church incorporates the celebration into a regular Sunday Mass, rather than a separate celebration. The whole church community helps to welcome these children into the flock...

And we as a family got to celebrate our 2nd child entering into the banquet of the Church. Oles has a heart of gold and a quick smile for everyone. It is our earnest prayer that he continue use his gifts for the glory of God and to bring the joy of God's love to all those he meets. Congratulations, Oles!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Chesterton on white

OK, show of hands. Whose brain hurts when they read Chesterton? Mine certainly does. Maybe that's why I've always preferred CS Lewis; he's eminently more approachable! But I'm determined to work through Chesterton bit by bit until he sits easier in my brain. (It might help if my reading time wasn't relegated to those hours when my children--and husband--are fast asleep. That's not exactly prime brain time. It's more like prime "prime-time" time--you know, better for zoning out than tuning in.) I find I have better ability to focus on his short essays at this stage of my life. It's easier on the brain. If you're struggling with longer works, try easing in with some short essays...

I've been playing along with reading Chesterton since Sarah first challenged us awhile ago, but this is my first time participating in a Weekends linkup... I thought that maybe those of you also living with lots of white outside your windows might find this equally worth mulling over...So, without further ado, Chesterton on the color white:

White is positive and essential. ...White is a colour. It is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. 

When, so to speak, your pencil grows red-hot, it draws roses; when it grows white-hot, it draws stars. 

...the chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a colour. Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing...Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc.

In a word, God paints in many colors; but he never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.

--GK Chesterton, A Piece of Chalk

around the corner

I have to be careful that she doesn't see me, or the game will be up. As long as I watch from around the corner, she'll continue unabashedly, unashamedly. She is holding a pretend conversation on the phone; she is speaking to her daddy, calling him "Chesser." I love listening to the things she says--my own words mirrored back to me. Boy, that's scary, isn't it? How observant she is when I'm least aware of being observed.

She hangs up, grabs some lip balm and smears it on her lips, chin, and cheeks. Then she's back on the phone, calling someone else. She hangs up with "See you later, Alligator!" I laugh from my hiding place. I don't know where she picked that up; I didn't even know she knew that phrase.

I just sit here, around the corner, and watch and listen. Soaking it all in. Because I know--I know because I have a 10-year old who was but a toddler yesterday--I know this time is so short. They really aren't little for very long. That's not a cliche. It's a fact.

Other things await. Fun things, exciting things to be sure. Real phone conversations, real lipstick...And these things? I tremble to know that they are just around the corner.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Pink Birthday

Somebody turned 3 today. 

For weeks, she talked about her upcoming birthday--her pink birthday. Pink plates, pink presents, pink cake, pink nakkins...

I think we did a fairly good job of delivering a pink birthday to our sweet Tola D. 

But, my dear girl, you've been tickling us pink since the day you were born.

 Your smile delights. You give the best hugs ever. You giggle with Tait and you have your big brother Oles wrapped around your finger and Ziven loves you dearly. You've got a squadron of big boys looking out for you, and you better believe they always will.

Your pink ways and sweet spirit bring a little more softness to our rough-and-tumble boys. Where would we all be without our sweet little pink package?

We are so blessed to have you in our lives. We love you, our little Chickadee. Happy Pink Birthday!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Figuring it all out

Tola was digging through my bathroom drawer this morning while I was doing my weekly Saturday cleaning.

She held up a tube of lip gloss and asked, "Is dis for your wips or for your toes?"

"That's for your lips. Do you want to try some?"

Next, she pulled out a set of nail clippers. "Dis for clicking your toes. And your fingers, too?"

"Yes, for clipping your fingernails and toenails."

A stick of deodorant came next. "I want some of dis. Is for my shoulder."

"That's your armpit, not your shoulder."

"Oh. Okay... Dat tickles!"

Lotion was next. "Dis so I smell good..."

It went on and on with toiletry after toiletry. I think by the end we had it all sorted out. And I never passed such an enjoyable time scrubbing the toilet and wiping the sink... Children have a way of making everything in life a little more enjoyable.

That much I've got figured out.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Slow Cooker PAR-TAY!

Well, this New Year is starting off with a bang, and between all the new activities added to our calendar, I find myself needing to cook dinner while I'm away from home at that all-important pre-dinner hour. Since I can't be in 2 places at once, and haven't figured out how to clone myself, and hiring a housekeeper/cook is out of the question, I naturally turn to my trusty slow cooker. Trouble is, I turn to it for the same things over and over and I'm craving some variety.

That's where you come in.

I want to know what works for you in your home. What does your family love to eat from the slow cooker?

I'll get this party started by sharing some of our faves.

Did you know you could bake potatoes in a slow cooker? I discovered this a couple years ago and boy howdy are they tender and creamy inside! (Except, dear Martha, I need more than 4 potatoes and use a crock larger than 5 qts...) I fry up some bacon and shred some cheese earlier in the day and have some frozen broccoli all thawed out and ready to zap in the micro before serving. It all comes together quite quickly.

Here's an easy chicken burrito filling I did a few years back and posted at my former blog site.

Of course, there's the standby shredded bbq pork on rolls everyone loves. You can find recipes out there all over the place for this one. I just throw a chunk of pork into the slow cooker, salt and pepper it, pour some bbq sauce over, maybe a few dashes of liquid smoke, just to fool everyone into thinking it was done over an actual bbq, and let her go for 8-10 hours on low. Your house will smell like a barbecue joint by the end of the day. My mouth waters just thinking on it.

And then there's chili. No explanation required. Chili is chili.

So much for my repertoire.

Now here's a couple I'd like to try:

Mu-Shu-Ish Chicken wraps

Orange Chicken

(I'm sensing a theme here. Must be craving some Chinese food...)

And in a similar vein, Thai Peanut Chicken

Okay. Your turn.  Leave a link or a quick recipe for your favorite slow cooker meal below in the comments. Feel free to come back and check out what other people have contributed! Happy crock-potting!