The Gift Grab Dice Game

On Christmas Eve, Sean, Aiden, and I went over to Sean’s Aunt’s house. Besides the usual gift giving, all the cousins participate in the “gift grab dice game.” This is always everyone’s favorite part of the night, and a game we play for New Year’s Eve, wedding showers, and baby showers, too! We love it so much; I had to share it with you, dear readers!

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Learning How to Celebrate Advent

CelebrateAdvent

For as long as I can remember, my family has been Catholic. My dad was raised Catholic, and my mom converted with her parents when she was in high school. However, it wasn’t until I started 1st grade in a Catholic school that they really recommitted themselves to the faith. As our family has grown and changed, so have our Advent traditions. It seems each year we celebrate Advent in just a slightly different way. Keeping traditions with seven kids running around, especially when those kids are young, can be difficult. This year, we’re all old enough to understand the significance of celebrating Advent, and we want to start some new traditions that will really make this season more meaningful.

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Celebrating Martinmas

Celebrating Martinmas

This Sunday we celebrated the feast of St. Martin of Tours, or Martinmas.

Making lanterns, and then going on a lantern walk, is one of the usual Martinmas traditions. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, so we decided to stay inside. We had a great time making these paper lanterns. Even Aiden was able to participate (using a safety scissors with Grandma’s help, while I held my breath, ready to dial 911 in case he cut off a finger. You know, typical mom stuff).

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A Little Update

Things have been moving quickly around here. Today was a lovely day of rest, but I don’t see too many others in the near future.

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We live in my parents’ basement

We live in my parents’ basement, and it’s awesome.

Also, it saves us mad amounts of cash.

Also, we technically don’t live in the basement. More like a normal-sized bedroom on the same floor as everyone else, but that doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

Also, we love our current arrangement, but we’re hoping for a little more space to ourselves when we buy a home together.

 

Did you catch that last part? Sean & I are planning on buying a home together. With my parents. In four years. After I finish law school, and Sean finishes his electrician’s apprenticeship.

Also, none of us have brain tumors or any other medical condition that would cause us to make any serious lapses in judgment. Pretty sure. Also, I’m not counting ADHD.

So why would four, probably sane adults want to live together with their respective children? Why wouldn’t Sean & I want a house of our own? Far away, but not too far, from that of our parents? Why would my parents want their adult daughter, son-in-law, and grandson to live with them, instead of just visiting on the weekends or holidays like normal people?

Well, we like each other.

Of course, there are more complex reasons than that (don’t worry, I’m getting there!), but when it comes right down to it, we like each other, we like our family’s company, and we want our son to grow up with his aunts and uncles and grandparents as a close and intimate part of his life. Sure, at the beginning, I lived at home out of necessity, but now, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

When I first gave birth to Aiden, I was still a senior in high school. Living at home was the only choice, really. That fall, I started college at a university that was only two miles from my parents’ house. I figured a 7 month old baby would be a real buzz kill in the dorms, so I lived at home (although I did technically have a dorm on campus, as part of a generous financial aid package, I would go there between classes, but never stayed overnight). When Sean and I got married this past June, all our relatives assumed we would move out into our own apartment (Sean had been living with my family for almost a year and a half, by then), and we surprised them all by saying we would continue living with my family, even after getting married. All those pretty dishes, champagne glasses, and linens are stored away at Sean’s parents’ house.

Then came the kicker – when we told people that we really weren’t planning on moving out anytime soon [read: ever]. We got weird looks. We got rude comments. We even got people who thought we were joking. No, seriously, we just want to mooch off my parents for life – no joke! (Ok, maybe the mooch part was a little joke – we do help out financially and with chores as much as we can).

The thing is, we like living as an extended family. We like having someone to fall back on when both Sean and I are working or in school, without having to rely on outside daycare or babysitters. Same goes for my parents. With John and Clare currently playing five sports between the two of them this fall (I know!), you wouldn’t believe how useful it is to have an extra set of ‘parents’ on hand. Aiden is only five years younger than my little brother, John, and [most days] they are the best of friends. I just can’t see living apart from my family and losing that kind of closeness. None of us do.

I love my extended family, but up until recently, I seriously thought we were the only ones. Well, probably not the only ones, but few and far between. Then I was reading the textbook for my Family Communications class (My chemist father probably died a little on the inside when I told him I was taking that – “Med school, Hannah, you could still do it if you really wanted to!”) and it was describing all sorts of different family systems. Of course, the one that struck me was the extended family. But here’s the real kicker: according to the 2005 census, 1 in 7 whites, 1 in 3 African Americans, 4 in 5 Asian Americans, and over 19 in 20 Native Americans were identified as part of extended families. Who knew?

So here’s to living in your parents’ basement/normal-sized guest bedroom – and loving it!

 

Why I have yet to write

I have yet to write a post on the blog that is technically half my responsibility.

When Hannah and I first brainstormed the idea of writing a blog together, it sounded so perfect.

Of course, life gets always seems to get in the way.

We had decided we would start writing after Hannah and Sean’s wedding, in June. Then we wanted some time to relax, so we waited. Then we were prepping to travel down to Iowa, for a reception on the Mac side of the family, so we waited.

After that, it was August. Things were slowing down a bit in our house.

The quiet before the storm, really.

Come September, sun up to sun down would be packed with school, chauffeuring, after school activities, volunteering, chaperoning field trips, and sports practices and games. I just wanted some down time.

Then September hit, but not as hard as I expected. In the past, there has been no down time in September – until this year. For the first time in fourteen years (Yes, fourteen. I’ve been a SAHM or WAHM since we adopted Tav, who will be turning 16 this December) there is finally a time during the day when I am alone. Granted, it only happens three times a week for 2 1/2 hours when Aiden is in preschool, but those 450 minutes are all mine!

With all this luxurious free time, I’ve been doing some thinking. These thoughts have been churning around in my brain for quite some time, but now I finally have the quiet to hear myself think.

This is the one life we’re given.

This is our only chance to do well by our Lord, and raise up those around us to Heaven.

I don’t like where society is going. This culture of mindlessness, living too fast, and unnecessary excess is not one I want my children and grandchildren to live in.

It’s time for me, and my family, to live more mindfully.

It’s time for me, and my family, to become more involved in our church.

It’s time for me to say all the things I’ve wanted to say. All the rants I’ve been holding inside.

It’s time for me to write. Just write. Because I can. Because God gave me this voice and this ability and I’ll be damned if I let my talents go to waste.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

And blog all about it.

 

The End?

Today is filled with firsts.

 

My first day back at school.

Aiden’s first day of preschool.

Sean buying his first ‘real’ set of tools he will need as an electrician.

 

So why do I feel like these firsts just signify the end? In a way, they do.

 

Today might be my first day back at school, but this is also my senior year in college – the beginning of the end of my undergraduate career. I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the things I have and haven’t done. I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had and all that I’ve learned, but at the same time I wish I could stay another few years and triple or quadruple major, or just take every class that sounds interesting to me. Well, almost.

Today might be Aiden’s first day of preschool, but it’s also the end of him being my baby. I am not going to cry. Like I did this morning. After I dropped him off and was well within the safety of my suddenly silent living room. I will not tear up while writing a blog post.

Ok, maybe I will.

Aiden going to preschool means he is beginning to spread his wings and fly. On his own. Without me grabbing his hand and saying “Get down from there before you fall! Do you want to give your mother a heart attack?!” It means someone else (besides a parent or grandparent – he’s never been to daycare or been anywhere that a family member wasn’t present) is in charge of him and his behavior. This scares me. Will they know how he needs you to ask him why he’s pouting? That he [almost] always has a [surprisingly logical] reason for his behavior, but you need to take the time to ask? Will they be aware of how sensitive he is? How easily he can have his feelings hurt? We’re still working on ‘using our words’ when this happens, but sometimes he just responds with anger. I trust his teachers, but still, I worry. He’s no longer just mine, to keep hidden away and all to myself. He’s out in the world, making friends, sharing his goofy faces and funny dances, and brightening someone else’s day.

Today might be the day Sean buys his first set of tools, but, like me, this is also his last year of school. Sean, however, is more than ready to be done with school, and start working. I can’t say I blame him – he’s never been the sit-still-and-listen-quietly-while-your-teacher-lectures type. I know he’ll be happy just diving in and doing, but his first day means a significant end to a chapter in our lives. The one where we’re both full time students.

 

But with each chapter’s end comes the beginning of a new one.

 

I’m finishing my last year of undergrad, but next fall, I’ll be starting my first year in law school.

Aiden is done with being a baby, but he’s growing into a big boy. He’ll always be my baby, but I can’t wait to see the kind of boy (then man! But I can wait for that) he grows up to be.

Sean is finishing his last year of school, but soon he’ll be starting his electrician apprenticeship. He’ll still be learning, but he’ll finally be getting the hands on experience he’s been wanting. Not to mention a paycheck!

 

Despite all the ends that come along with the firsts, I can’t wait to see what the future holds with all our new beginnings.