Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dear Sarah Palin

Dear Sarah Palin,

I saw you at Walmart yesterday. My first thought was to interrupt to say hello but I wasn't entirely sure it was you so I held back. When I saw you again at the checkout line (I promise I wasn't following!) and heard you say "Thank you, Ma'am," on your way out, I knew it was you but then it was too late. As my husband and I drove home, we talked about things we remembered (We've lived here 20 years.).

Had I interrupted you in your search for yogurt, I would have asked if your big son had Christmas leave and if your little son was doing well. I would have asked about your daughters and grandson and if your extended family gathers at your pretty house on the lake. I would have asked about your mother, who taught my small sons' Sunday school class many years ago at MatSu Covenant church (Hi Miss Sally!). I would have said that I'm so glad to see you home for Christmas and that I bought your book for a present and read it before wrapping! I wouldn't have talked politics too much, but I would have told you that we thought (and still think) that you're doing a great job and that I trust your researching into candidates and propositions  (There's a local lady that I also pay attention to: whatever she does, I do the opposite.). This is not because I'm lazy but because I'm busy with kids to homeschool and interesting things to read on the internet!

Had I interrupted you, I would have shown you my one-year-old with cystic fibrosis, born in my mid-forties, that others would have aborted. I would have told you that we have premier doctors up here and that life is wonderful. I would have told you that my eldest is attending college locally on a state scholarship and has no desire to leave our great state. I would have told you that my twelve year old daughter is pretty hard-headed and what about your girls?!

Had I interrupted you, we would have parted friends. I imagine when one has such a public life that other people feel they know you, and I'm no exception.

The next time I see you; I plan to interrupt!

Merry Christmas to you and yours and may the new year bring strength and joy.
God bless you, dear Sarah Palin.
Your friend,
Allison (and all my family)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

In Defense of Decorating for Christmas in Advent

I've read several articles recently that wag the (written) finger at those of us who decorate for Christmas right after Thanksgiving, accusing us of of crass materialism and a misunderstanding of the liturgical season. Not necessarily so.

The Church calls Advent:
  •  *a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ's first coming to us is remembered;
  •  *a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second Coming at the end of time.
Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation [Norms 39].


We put up the tree and decorate it; we change around pictures; we have lights everywhere; we get out all the Christmas books and movies and music; and we get out the three children's nativity sets and keep Baby Jesus in. Here's a description of what we do.

We work on memorizing Isaiah 9:6 and John 1:14 and praying our Saint Andrew novena. They play the nativity story all day long. We make a Maranatha poster. We go to Confession extra times and celebrate extra feasts for Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Nicholas. We give stuff away and make gifts for people we love. We attend Mass for the feast of the Immaculate Conception and thank God especially for babies, our lives and His plans.

All in the glow of the Christmas tree, with Bing Crosby, Josh Groban, and Susan Boyle crooning the hymns and carols. Occasionally we break out into dance when I put in a celtic CD! The younger children ask all the time how much longer for Christmas and I tell the story over and over. And over.

It's our way of preparing, remembering, and directing ourselves toward Jesus in "devout and joyful expectation."


Oh and P.S. ~ our afterglow does last until Epiphany, when we have a final party, write thank you notes and take everything down (Glad I remembered to add this!).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

From Clare's blog ~

(She's 12 and it's a locked blog, but I copied and pasted here because I like it and because you never know when you may meet a werewolf...)


Lycanthropy is a fancy word for the sickness of being a werewolf. You can become a werewolf by being bitten by one. If they are in human form and bite, you won't become a werewolf, but you will have many werewolf tendencies, such as a taste for raw meat. Scratches only leave deep scars. If a werewolf marries a normal person, their children will also be normal. It's very rare, but if werewolves mate in their wolf forms, the result will be a litter of regular wolves! Regular, except for the fact that they are extremely smart. So smart, in fact, that they are considered almost human . . .
Anyway. Although they can live almost normal human lives, once a month at the full moon, a werewolf will go through an incredibly painful transformation from human to wolf-like creature. They lose the ability to think in a human way, becoming highly aggressive towards humans-even those very close to them.Though werewolves usually only infect their victims through biting, sometimes they take it too far and actually kill the person. Without any humans nearby to attack, or any animals to occupy it, a werewolf will attack itself out of frustration, leaving deep scars that stay even in human form. There is no cure for lycanthropy, however, according to the Harry Potter Wizarding World, a certain Wolfsbane Potion will dilute the effects, making it so that when you transform, you keep your human mind in your wolf form, thus freeing the person from the worry of harming anyone unknowingly. Indeed, when in their human forms, many werewolves age prematurely under the stress of perhaps biting somebody when they transform. Werewolves are often treated (in human form!) with prejudice and disgust, although most are just like us except on the full moon. Some are good (likeRemus Lupin) and some are bad (like Fenrir Greyback). Both of those names and characters are from Harry Potter.
However, not all are evil in their monstrous forms. In old irish legends, there's a creature called a Faoladh, which is described as being a human that turns into a large wolf whenever somebody gets hurt, and the Faoladh goes to the wounded persons side and gives them luck. But usually (in most good literature), Werewolves are evil when they transform. That's it. No way around it. Well, maybe not evil, but crazy, and that's bad enough. Unless, of course, you happen to know someone who can brew Wolfsbane potion!

In case you didn't see last post, here's a werewolf I drew this morning. I call it Lupin, if you get my drift . . .

Remus Lupin as a person, the Werewolf that's good in human form.

And here's Remus Lupin again, this time in werewolf form.

Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf that's already evil as a human.

Just in case you still don't believe me about Fenrir Greyback being evil, here's his wanted sign.

And just for fun, Rees found this for me.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stupid Cookie

Do you think it does any good to yell at a one-and-a-half-year-old to eat the stupid cookie because if she doesn't get back up to her growth curve, she'll have a feeding tube placed in January?

Probably not. But I did it anyway.

Here's what we're looking at.  She's on antibiotics again and refusing anything but drinks; add that to all the coughing and she's been dropping for the past three months. It's going to be a long six weeks...

Eat, Addie, eat (Although she seems to be as maddeningly stubborn as her sister, so I don't see it happening.).

January 15th, I already hate you.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Luke

Luke is seven, our chubby bunny turned skinny minny whom we try to fatten up by allowing CF kid food!

How can he stand that drool drop right on the edge of his chin?

Even though he eats like a bird (with CF, that is), he must be growing, as evidenced by the high-water  jeans.

My favorite thing you've ever said was to your godfather visiting the hospital after Joseph was born: "Come see Baby Jophus; he's all pushed out!"

It was a wonderful birthday, Honey.
We love you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jerkhood Forgiven

I am a judgmental jerk. For all the progress I thought I'd made here on the world wide web learning to double check my posts and comments, making sure that they are true to who I am and what I believe while being polite to others, the realization of jerkhood hit me twice yesterday. Once by an apology and once by a story.

I was embroiled in a mommy conversation debating television, parking lots, and potato chips where I was certain of my total right-ness and irritated with my typing opponents' arrogance. I left the conversation because I'd said my piece and because the vegetables were burning and I had to get back to suppertime prep. I told and retold the story to my poor husband and a non-FB-addicted friend with far too much glee over my wisdom and verbal prowess.

Then I received an apology.

I stared at the words for many minutes, finally clicking away without responding. A day went by with several uncomfortable reminders of it. I knew that I should respond (Peggy Post politeness and all) but I seemed to be paralyzed. It took two days for me to realize that I didn't want to kiss and make up. That I liked my high horse. That it was easier to keep my nose in the air. That forgiveness, even on a small FB scale, is harder. Well, I did write back and became filled with affection for the good lady who took the time to write to me and with humiliation for my prideful hesitations.

I am also distant FB friends with a perfect couple. You probably know the type: gorgeous, great house, beautiful children, no problems, too too. I hardly took them seriously because really, if you don't have kids with chronic, serious illness and don't have tight finances, then your talk about loving God and carrying crosses and being a SAHM don't carry much weight with me. Then they told their story. And I cried all day. I cried for their pain; I cried for my gaping prideful sin; I cried for them again. What I jerk I'd been.

I hope and pray for forgiveness from these strangers. I hope and pray that this will have burned a permanent, unhealed hole in my heart as a reminder to love first. Because even immovable rules like Church doctrine are spokes of a wheel that are centered on the Gospel: tough truth, yes, but it begins with God's Love. "Love God; love others; upon these two rest all the law and prophets (Matthew 22:36-40). We're talking about created, loved people here. I think this is what Pope Francis meant.

I haven't decided if I should take a break from FB yet; I'm thinking of it for Advent, like a Lenten preparation...

Love to all,

Monday, November 4, 2013

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

We are pleased to announce ~

The Summer of the Garage is over.

Stuff's hooked up and works and there's room for a vehicle.

Winter of the Apartment has begun! What happened to Autumn, you may ask? Me too.

Rees wants to move out there just as badly as Ken and I want to move back into our room and as John wants to move into the den, getting out of the bunkbed room full of little brothers (although he leaves just as many legos and clothes on the floor as they do!).

I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage families in small houses: it works. Don't be afraid to downsize to save money, work less, and gain time together. It's easy to trash a small house but it's quick to get it all put back together. It's fun to see the teens roll their eyes when Ken and I feign impatience (kind of) to get a real bedroom back. It's charming to shuffle around in the early morning and see that kids have migrated into each other's beds or the couch or the living room floor. It's nice to be able to swing through a drive-through and have an extra $20 to surprise them with a hot chocolate or ice cream cone. And it's quietly exhilarating to live with something you built yourself because there's not that much extra money to hire someone.

On trashing and cleaning, Ken and I had a long talk this weekend about cleaning ~ the mother's yelling/hand-wringing/fainting about the children's cleaning/distraction/disobedience. He reminded me that all they know is the here-and-now and that it stinks to drift off to sleep after getting in trouble. So I promised that the last word they will hear from me will be the story I read and to calm down about most of their work and give them a focus for a few important parts like dirty clothing coming downstairs and small toys off the floor (Lordy, they'll probably tuck stuff under the beds ... but I promised to be cool.).

Oh, and this is what became of the hall space emptied by the washer and dryer:

Pretty doors broken off another closet by the naughty fairies.

Where laundry lives now (Not in their drawers upstairs, which those naughty fairies tossed around and mixed up in the costume box or dirty pile). The kids aged 1 to 12 come downstairs in their PJs so it's easier to grab outfits here.

Here's to a new week and a quieter mother in the evenings!
Love, Allison

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Autumn Wrap

I think it's been raining for a month. Could be six. There are no leaves left on our trees but the ground isn't frozen yet so the tiny bit of snow we had melted right in. Tough days, waiting for snow, but we've had some bright spots.


Ian, 9, went with Ken to Denali National Park for some backcountry  fun last month. The scenery is pretty, yes?

I tagged along with Ken for one of his bear hunts. We spent the entire day up here. No bear, but  Denali watched us the whole time. Super-pretty!


It is finished and we are all happy. On to the apartment...

Joseph sporting his new shirt from Nana and Papa. He is very happy to be four!


Joseph would. not. stop. kissing. me. I was laughing so hard when Clare snapped this one. 

She's funny, all right. Stinker.

I was preoccupied (probably on this computer. Ahem.) and told them to find something to eat. So they did. Took the entire pan of what was left of Clare's B'day cake and helped themselves. Cavemen. But it's real.

WHY? Why would someone take the time to unwrap it, get it started, and nicely place it on the ground, like, 24 inches away from the hook? It just slips on with no manual dexterity required. Real Howells.

Well, friends, have a visit over at Like Mother, Like Daughter for more Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real.

Happy Friday!
Love, Allison

P.S. ~ Rees is feeling great and his PFTs are getting better (Remember?)!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We'll See

Rees just drove away for a 7AM appointment at the hospital, where he will receive his first fistful of Kalydeco and VX-809. After months of preliminary screening exams and waiting on recovering stability from a tough spring, he will swallow down brilliance. Even if he receives the placebo, in six months he will get the real thing, so the march has begun. He is paid for offering his body to science (as he says), which is always attractive to an eighteen year old!

I don't even know the names of the scientists, doctors, researchers, and whatever other job titles who are involved; but I love them. I hope they are paid well (and this is why we happily support the CF Foundation and aggressively oppose socialized medicine ~ ambitious, talented people should be paid.). I hope they keep working. I hope there is a way to express my ... thanks, love, respect... all of it and more.

We've been crushed with disappointment so many times over the years that I'm OK with smiling, but never allow giddiness. It is a trepidatious hope. The first seven years or so, even though he wasn't healed, we were going to take control and have him be the healthiest CF kid in the world. I cooked right, cleaned right, exercised him right, did his lung chores right. But CF is still CF and he still needed hospitalization after hospitalization. Then I was introduced to the World Wide Web and learned that some kids had never been hospitalized at all (It truly takes its course differently in every body without prediction, even with similar mutations.). Disappointment after disappointment, CF controls. Now, aside from skeletal management (lots of butter, ice cream, and gravy; stay away from hot tubs and dripping, sneezing noses), we live. Everywhere. Because remaining in a filtered home with none of us ever leaving (and bringing home bugs) or knowing other people, even with CF, is not living.

Here's a possibility that a handful of pills can unfold the CFTR protein, and, well ...

We'll see. We'll just have to see.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Home Organization Response

I recently read a post on home organization from which I gleaned a few good ideas (brown wrapping paper with ribbons and clear, over-the-door shoe holders), but overall, it was far too rich for my blood. After 23 years of small houses and our now nine-person family, I've become a great organizational hack. So if you, like me, do not have a linen closet, a laundry room, a mud room, a garage*, or a smart phone; can neither travel with your children nor hire a carpenter; and the thought of a $62. bra (which would keep us in potatoes for months) gives you hives, not joy . . . maybe you'll like some of my ideas.

Here's where Ken and I keep much of our clothing (under the futon where we sleep) because there's no closet in the den. Since there's no closet, no marvelous organizing ideas.

This is right next to the futon, four of those things from Walmart, filled with Addie's clothing, DVDs, and my unmentionables. Closet, I guess.

This is my "linen closet" downstairs** that holds a few books, extra TP, and four towels (Very important to keep on top of the laundry, with only four towels!).

My laundry room is a piece of the hall with a small counter and shelves. Not big enough for  sorting or folding, so I dump laundry onto the futon ~
~ and I'm not sure why the baby's up there, but  we usually fold in the afternoon with a short  DVD, then the kids trot around and put it all away. Perfectly, of course.

One of the ideas was to sync your calendar with your smart phone.  Don't have one, so I sync my calendar with my steel trap of a brain.

This table bench Ken built himself. We cannot hire a carpenter and he is not one, but we want stuff, so  he picked up a DIY book and tried. Viola! Three or four kids sit on this at our table and it opens up for me to toss pots and pans ~

~ which they wanted to illustrate better for this post!

Our vacations do not involve restaurants, hotels, or attractions, so  a travel journal is unnecessary. We  use tents, sleeping bags, hot dogs, marshmallows, and porta-potties (because I require some civility in the middle of the night). And look at the double duty this $20 beaut can handle: morning coffee cart!

*This is the summer of the garage so by the new year, we will have a garage to organize and Rees will move out into the efficiency apartment on the side. 

**Ken did build another shelf-thing in the upstairs bathroom along the back wall. It's a rectangle box with doors that I put more towels in (the ones too crummy for the nicer bathroom!). I could not locate the camera at the time of this writing to show you (I guess I don't have much of a steel-trap brain...).

Happy weekend ~ laugh with me!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

PHFR ~ Farm Resurrection

After a year off from backyard hobby farming in order to redo and repair, we've tossed a few animals back into the yard. Still need to save money to fence in an acre of the field for goats, but the garage gets all the money for a few more months. The PHFR order is wrong, but I don't have time to rearrange the pictures (I'm at a 1st grade level, tehnologically.) and I told the kids it's just a few minutes before morning prayers, so ~

She's a little sad because her friend was sold at the AK state fair.
Sunning the bunnies (Today is the due date for one of them; please God don't let this happen again.).
Rees fenced off a large section of woods behind the house and they're happy (I think.).
Cleaned out barn is a perfect reading and cat-cuddling place (Life of Fred math, in case you're interested.).

We are already enjoying fresh eggs and look forward to adding domestic meat to what my men hunt and catch. We will have arrived when we have fresh milk again (Funny how my idea of success has changed over the years...).

OK, time to get out that catechism...
Hope it's a happy day; Our Mother's Daughters will help!
Love, Allison

Monday, September 2, 2013

Uncle Walt, Bill Federer, and the Bishops on Labor Day

               Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
                       I Hear America Singing.
    I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, 
    Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe 
              and strong, 
    The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, 
    The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off 
    The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck- 
              hand singing on the steamboat deck, 
    The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing 
              as he stands, 
    The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morn- 
              ing, or at noon intermission or at sundown, 
    The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, 
              or of the girl sewing or washing, 
    Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, 
    The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young 
              fellows, robust, friendly, 
    Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Hope it's an encouraging, wonderful day, friends!
Love, Allison

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Addie's Eats

I picked up a few items for Addie this afternoon and asked Clare to unpack, which she did with her usual artistic flair, then snapped this photo:

Did you know that Reese's Puffs, along with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, has 3 grams of fat per serving? Highest I've found, excepting granola, which she can't eat yet without any masticating molars! And that the "grabber" pouches with yogurt have fat (only 1 gram, but we'll take it to get enzymes swallowed)?

If you have kids without CF, they will be mad at you for not buying donut sticks and peanut butter cups for all of them and they will orbit the highchair like sharks, waiting for the baby to offer tidbits.

She also really likes the boxed "very high calorie" drinks from Boost that our CF clinic gives away. I, however, don't like her diapers when she drinks them, so they shall remain on the shelf for a month or so before we try again.

She's doing fine, though, at just about 18 months. She's needed antibiotics three times and steroids once, and weighs in at 19lbs, 3oz. Small but thriving, especially in the dirt.

(Rees is OK, too, gaining strength after a crummy few months and raising his lung function, even though the doctor said he wouldn't.).

Happy weekend, friends,
Love, Allison

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Crunchy Love

I have plenty of half-baked ideas for upcoming posts: Addie and Rees updates, important battles unit studies that we're putting together, CF food issues, and our 23rd anniversary.


I really don't want to publish partial ideas just to say I got in the 7th post. Then I was putting away some groceries Ken picked up this afternoon and saw that he'd gotten an extra box of cereal that happens to be one of my favorites (covered with an insane amount of cinnamon sugar). And I noticed something extra:


So I can't top those precious words with any post of mine, no matter how perfectly constructed. Yes, we married young (20 and 22) and yes, Kenny still loves Allison. And I love him.

Good night, all, and God bless.
(Post #7, yay)

(Thank you to Jen for this blogging challenge that I don't think I will ever again attempt!)