Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our Paczki Aventure

Our spot in line at the New Martha Washington Bakery 

Last Fat Tuesday, my cousin Paul jealousized me with a picture  a buttercream frosting filled paczki from the New Martha Washington Bakery in Hamtramck. I had never gone to Hamtramck for a *real* paczki before, and after eating my sad little paczki that came from an italian bakery in St. Clair Shores, and then reading about his BUTTERCREAM paczki that came right from Detroit's little polish town, I decided that the kids and I would make the trek to Hamtramck the following year. Today was Fat Tuesday, and so after listening to my Polka Star husband on the Paul W. Smith show on WJR, the kids and I got geared up and ready to go.

The kids were pretty excited at first, but then when we arrived and they saw how long the line was, they were a little less excited.

Don't they just look thrilled?

Well, it started off well. They weren't thrilled, but they weren't whining either. A couple of guys in line joked with me about how we were fighting the elements for our paczki, and then when Rebecca started to cry, I said that I suddenly felt like a bad mom, and they started saying things like "we could pile it on thicker for you, like point out how you didn't even bring any toys or anything." LOL. The line moved along and I really thought that we were going to make it, but then Rebecca started to cry uncontrollably, saying "I can't handle this. I can't handle this" and then suddenly I felt REALLY bad. She was complaining that her toes were completely frozen and she needed to get inside somewhere warm, so despite the fact that we had already waited 30 minutes and were near to the front door, we got out of line. I didn't think it was *that cold* but Rebecca wasn't exactly properly attired either, as when we were getting ready to leave home this morning, she couldn't find her boots, so I believed her when she said her toes were frozen.

As we walked back to the car, different bakeries were running through my head. We had to get something since we had taken the time to drive out there and stand in the cold, and I actually even called my mom to see if she would be willing to watch the kids while I stood in line again, and she was willing (Thank you mom) but in the end, I decided to forgo it. Simon had slept in his stroller wonderfully during the first wait, but I didn't really have any hopes of him doing it a second time, and it would really be a shame to have waited in that line twice, only to have nothing to show for it, so we headed to the butternut bakery, about 5 minutes drive from my house.

I have driven past this bakery many, many, many times while living in our house for the past 11 years, but I have never once been in it. Otherwise, I may have noticed that it was a cash only business.

I got all 5 kids out of the car and into the bakery, where I snapped this picture of happy kids who were getting their paczki's.

Then, when I went to hand her my debit card, I saw the CASH ONLY sign on the cash register. Oy. I got all 5 kids piled back up in the van and we went across to the street to our bank, got our money out, and headed back to bakery, where I again, got all 5 kids out of the van and we went inside to pay for our goods.

At last, we had our paczki's. And I must say, they were very good. Probably not as good as the fresh ones from the New Martha Washington bakery though, but that's okay. We're pretty happy with how everything turned out.

At last!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lent and the Liturgical Year

Pastor Rutter teaches the children about the season of Epiphany

I don't know how I grew up Catholic without learning about the liturgical year, but I did. I remember as a child seeing on my father's church bulletin something about "5th Sunday in ordinary time" or something like that, but I never knew what ordinary time was. I was right in that I figured it wasn't Advent or Christmas or Lent, but beyond that, I didn't know what was meant by it. I am sure that it was probably covered at some point during my elementary school years because I attended a Catholic school, but as a child with attention deficit disorder, I didn't remember any of it-though I have a very clear memory of being taught about the order of Mass.

Anyhow, the liturgical year is awesome. It was one of the things I was very excited about returning to and learning about when we were becoming Lutheran. I am very excited about teaching my children about the liturgical year as well. It is something good for even protestants and other types of christians to learn about because certain aspects of it come into play for them as well.

Anyhow, these seasons occur over the period of a year.

  • Advent
  • Nativity (or Christmas)
  • Epiphany
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Lent
  • Easter
  • Ascension
  • Pentecost
  • Assumption 
  • Ordinary time

There are actually many little special days that occur within that framework, but those are essentially the seasons.

The traditional mainline churches follow something called a lectionary, in which each week, certain scriptures are read. There is a 1 year and a 3 year lectionary and different churches use either one of these lectionaries. By using this, we get through a good bulk of the bible each year, and the readings line up with whichever liturgical season we are in. So for instance, during Advent, the scripture readings are taken from the books that talk about the coming Christ, both in preparation for Christmas, and also for the second coming. During the Nativity season, all the scriptures pertain to, well... Christmas. During Easter, all of the scriptures pertain to the resurrection. And so on and so forth. It is a wonderful educational experience. I am learning so much more about Christ and who He is and what He did through this format. It is rhythm that you go each year and it blends so well with the life of Christ. From Advent (waiting) to Nativity (He is born) to His circumcision to His baptism to His ministry and all through His life all the way to His last Supper, crucifixion, resurrection, and assumption. Each year cycles, and just as Christmas and Easter are special parts of the year for almost all Christians, there are other parts of the liturgical year and the traditions that come with that and are held dear to us.

Each season has a special color, and there is a feeling of great joy when our family walks into the sanctuary and sees the candles lit and the color has changed, especially on Christmas when the color is white or on Easter when the color is Gold. It is very exciting, and to know that Christians have done this and kept these traditions for hundreds and hundreds of years.  The traditions of course have no saving power or anything like that, and we don't believe that Christians *have* to follow these traditions, but one thing about traditions, is that they can help set our hearts towards a certain thing. Like Christmas lights and a nativity scene can help us to think about Christ's birth, the gold color when we walk into the sanctuary on Easter morning can help us to remember that He is alive! It is a wonderfully joyous thing.

Anyhow, Lent is beginning this Wednesday. Lent is a season of penitence and self-denial (that is why we "give things up" for Lent)  Lent lasts 40 days (because Christ spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted) and begins on Ash Wednesday.  It is different for different churches, but in general, in the Lutheran church, we give up something (such as facebook) and replace it with something that will bring us closer to God. (I plan on reading more scripture, praying, and doing more devotional time with the kids). It is true that this should take place all throughout the year, but Lent is a special time where the church does it all together. And it has great meaning for those who keep it.  Some churches give up meat and dairy and other things during Lent, but Lutherans typically don't, although almsgiving is something to consider, where you eat less, and then give what you would have normally given to the poor.

This year during Lent, I plan on spending considerably less time on the internet, giving up my facebook addiction completely, which will be so hard, but so good for me. In years past, we have also given up tv as a family, though we will not be doing that this year. This year, my kids will choose what they want to give up (if anything-though it will be encouraged). Traditionally, the lenten fast breaks on Sundays, but Sunday's are our family day and I don't get on the internet much on Sunday's anyhow, so I may break the fast on Saturday's instead in order to check email and update my blog or livejournal, so I should still be here in a very limited way. It will be so good for me though. I have seriously been lacking in my daily reading and prayer life.

And with that, I end this entry. Tomorrow is paczki day, and we plan on going to Hamtramck for the real deal!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


A couple of days ago, I did something a little crazy. I took all 5 of my children rollerskating. NONE of them had ever gone before. I have happy memories of rollerskating as a child and I picked up on it rather quickly, so I figured that maybe my kids would as well. I don't remember anybody actually teaching me to skate. I learned just by putting the skates on. I knew it was going to be a little challenging because I was taking all 4 plus a baby by myself, but I knew a couple of other homeschoolers who would be attending and so I figured that they would help me a little by watching the baby while I helped my kids out. Its not usually too much of a problem to get somebody to hang out with Simon for a little while. He is rather sweet.

Anyhow, it was a bit of a catastrophe. I don't think any of them really skated. They more or less kept falling and then getting up again. At first, the baby was screaming as well, and I started to write the whole thing off as a waste of time. This picture pretty much sums up our time there.

Here is Matthew, Rebecca, and Sophie all falling. This happened over and over and over for the entire hour and a half we were there. None of them wanted to give up though. None of them wanted to leave. I was so proud of them for sticking with it even though I would have definitely given up.

Ahh.. finally, the baby fell asleep. I took him over to my friend Melissa who was just sitting and chatting with some of the other moms. She had offered to keep an eye on him while I helped my other kids out.

I got my skates on and was surprised that I had to learn how to skate all over again, and let me tell you, it was much more difficult as an adult than it ever was as a kid. I managed to not fall flat on my face, but I came close on several occasions.

The kids didn't really get much better while we were there, but they made me so pleased by their unwillingness to give up. As we piled into the van to go home, Matthew and Andrew both proclaimed that they can't wait until the next homeschool skate. Maybe when this comes around again, I can get Barry to come with me. It might have been just a little too crazy to do all by myself.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lots of babies

I really really love my children and I really really love babies, especially MY babies. There is just nothing else like having a new baby.

Matthew was my first baby, and upon coming home from the hospital with him, Barry declared that that was the most awesome experience he had ever had and he wanted to do it again right away. I was right there with him! I had an amazing pregnancy (even if I was sick) and I was completely taken with little Matthew. He was so tiny and sweet and perfect. How could I not want TEN of these precious ones? In fact, I have always told my babies and still say it with little Simon"I love you so much, I want TEN of you." So, needless to say, we really didn't try to avoid getting pregnant with another baby.

Andrew was born 20 months after Matthew. A second born child is in some ways even more exciting than a firstborn because the new baby changes your own firstborns role from "the baby" to "the big brother" and you are walking through that with them. I had another excellent pregnancy, and while everything wasn't as new and exciting as it was with my first pregnancy, it was a very comfortable pregnancy and I enjoyed it very much. Andrew was a beautiful baby and I was thoroughly enjoying life with my two boys.

At some point in my early adult life, I assumed that we would only have 2 children, and I thought that they would be boys. I remember looking them over and thinking.."This is it.. we have arrived. This is where normal people would stop." I wondered if this would be where we would stop. My heart longed for a baby girl though, so I hoped we would have another baby.

We did. Rebecca was born 21 months after Andrew was born. I was SO excited to get my baby girl. At the ultrasound appointment, when my tech told me she was a girl, tears immediately welled up in my eyes without me even realizing it. It was such wonderful news. I spent the second half of my pregnancy on cloud nine waiting for her arrival. I bought pink clothes and got to get a girl nursery ready, which was something I didn't have to do with Andrew, since he just went in Matthew's bedroom which was already a nursery. Having Rebecca was just such a dream come true right down to her name. I have written down girl names on paper ever since I was a little girl, and Rebecca was always one of them. Her name is music to my ears and she is even more delightful than I imagined having a little girl would be. The first 8 months of her life were spent living away from our home near Detroit. We lived in Mid-Michigan in a little duplex and it was such a sweet peaceful time in my life. I loved having 3 little ones.

After Rebecca, I think we thought for a while that maybe we were done, but it wasn't long before baby fever struck again and shortly after, we found out that we were expecting again.

Sophie was born 20 months after Rebecca was born. We didn't find out the gender of our baby when I was pregnant with Sophie. I was hoping that it was another little girl because I wanted Rebecca to have a sister close to her age. When the time came and they presented Sophie to me and Barry said "We have another little girl", I was so happy. Two boys and two girls. Each of them 20-21 months apart from the next sibling down. Amazing. Symmetrical. Beautiful.

Emily: Are we done now?
Barry: Yes. I think so

So we get to the business of raising our 4 children. Soon our littlest is one and we were not expecting another. Then she turned 18 months and we were still not expecting another. I started to get the baby itch.

Emily:Do you want another one?
Barry:Do you?
Emily:Sort of. Maybe. Yes.

More time goes by, and life happens. Some joyous things. Some sad.

Around the time that Sophie is 2 and a half, we found out that we were expecting again. It was not exactly planned, but it was not exactly a surprise either. Barry and I had a reserved joy during that pregnancy. It was taxing for a couple of reasons and both Barry and I are sure that we don't want to do this again. Number 5 will be the last. For sure. Period. End of story. We talk about taking steps to make sure this is the case.

Then our little Simon Barry was born. Matthew was 8, Andrew was 6, Rebecca had *just* turned 5, and Sophie was nearly 3.5. It had been a while since we had a newborn baby. He was so tiny and beautiful and angelic. True to myself, I hold him and tell him over and over that I want ten of him. I just love him so much.

While we were still in the hospital, Barry told me as he was holding his newborn son....."I could do this again."

I smiled and thought to myself...."Me too."

Will there be more?

Time will tell.

Here are my babies

                                                              Matthew 2003

                                                              Andrew 2004

                                                                   Rebecca 2006

                                                                      Sophie 2008

                                                                    Simon 2011

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Big brother Matthew ADORES baby brother Simon. After changing Simon's diaper on my bed, I left for a moment and when I came back in, I found Matthew tickling him and making him smile and laugh. He does this everyday. Matthew has a soft spot for babies and I think he will make an excellent daddy one day. Anytime I need somebody to keep the baby busy for a minute or two, he is my first volunteer, although all the kids love to help. Now if only he would change diapers.

Anyhow, precious moments shared between siblings is definitely one of the reasons why we homeschool. I want my children to be best friends.