Friday, January 25, 2013

Before I turn in...

As a teen, it was an amazing and prayer-filled adventure to sacrifice sleep and warmth and meals to go on the bus to D.C. for the March for Life. In college, it was a shorter trip and a guaranteed yearly privilege to join in. My freshmen year I was chosen to help hold the huge college banner... I think I was right about the "M" for March in that 1997 photo... Quite proud, in an awkwardly knotted white scarf.

This year, I'm at home in my own daily march for the lives of my children, the mundane duties of three meals a day, baths, books, and teeth brushing. While someone less exciting, it is very much an honor to be on this side of things too. I could not be more proud and grateful for the gift of motherhood.

Thanks for having me, mom!- TLC

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me....

I just dumped several years of Christmas letters right on your lap in celebration.  I was intending to dole them out to you piece by piece--I'd saved them as drafts back in December--but when I publish from my phone they are dated IN December, and here on the computer they publish the day of.  Too confusing.  You now know more than you ever wanted to know about the past ten years of my life.  :)  All the way from the dawn of my motherhood when hubby and I returned fresh from a year of study in Austria, to the present.  Oh yes, still haven't sent out Christmas cards.  Or taken down the tree.  Or told Facebook friends about this blog... still writing to myself.  I'm absurd. 

Well, a pretty good birthday.  Partied this morning with my parents and 97 year old grandmother, always a good thing.  She made me some nice chunky jewelry.  And carefully fed my baby cake. :)

Got a hug from each of my siblings.  Ginger beer from one brother, a cell phone case from another, and my favorite flowers and chocolates from my sister (tulips and Almond Joys.)  Roses and card from hubby.  Then took a nap (Score!!) Snuck out in the evening to have tea with one of my best mom buddies during the Patriots game, and remain dry eyed at their loss, despite the despair of my friends' husbands everywhere.  I'm actually inwardly dancing with glee, oh wicked, wicked, me.  Sorry Danny.  Just glad to have one less distraction, that's all.  Next time maybe they will get cut out of the playoffs BEFORE my birthday... oh, I am evil...

I thank God for my life today, that my mom chose to have me in a time when she could have legally chosen otherwise.  It's great to be here. --TLC

P.S.  Here's my cake, courtesy of my girls' creativity.  You can see the cupcake blossoms over the stems and leaves on the cake, right?  Kinda?  :)

2002 Christmas Letter

I'm sorry I haven't written in so long. There
really has not been much to say, other than, "We made
it back to the States alive, and yeah we're looking
for a job and apartment like we said we would be. So .
. . how's the weather?" </P>
<P>But, surprise surprise! The big news right now is
not the apartment (we just got a lovely one), or the
job (Dan just quit a yucky one), but the baby! Many
thanks for all your prayers at her unexpected and
dramatic arrival. Of course, Annemarie Christine
(three generations of the Holy Family included in the
name!) was worth every bit of it and I’m absolutely in
love with all 4 lbs 8 oz of tiny, feisty her. Her
prognosis is excellent--she was apparently quite large
for her age–and she should be home (no promises)
sometime next week, when Dan and I can (hopefully)
finally assume some kind of normal family life with
our most thoroughly incubated kid. </P>
<P>For now, the excitement is not at all wearing off,
but it is certainly wearing me out. (Again, though,
she’s worth it.) Her feedings are exactly every three
hours for one half hour in which I have to wake up the
comatose child (drunk with jaundice treatments) and
convince her that eating is almost as nice as
sleeping, and that she must do this both from a bottle
and from me. So, we fuss over how to suck and swallow,
and extricate barbs from her while looking at the
clock and hoping I can get one out before the buzzer
rings, with no time to cuddle or just "be". We will
make this up later.</P>
<P>Hopefully, this does not sound too strongly of
complaining, because God has been so good. She does
all bodily functions on her own (one mustn’t be fooled
by tiny diapers, no sir! :), with only extra vitamins
from an IV and extra warmth from her cube. (She’s been
under phototherapy for her jaundice, and thus lays in
the cube for hours with tiny sunglasses on; it’s a
scream. They call it "the beach," and she seems to
enjoy it, sleeping away as much as possible.) Steroid
shots I received in the 48 hours before her birth
apparently did the job of preparing her lungs to
breathe on their own. </P>
<P>For those of you (women :) who want all the gory
details, I will be brief (well, I’ll try.) I went into
labor while at the movies, June 1<SUP>st</SUP>
Saturday night. But don’t worry, my ticket wasn’t
wasted, because I thought I just was having bad
stomach pains/cramps, and so just bit my lip every
once in awhile. I began to be concerned when this
continued throughout the night, waking me up to squirm
at closer and closer intervals, hoping I didn’t have
the flu. But around five in the morning, things became
a bit more, um, messy. So I looked up my symptoms in
one of my many books, my jaw dropped, and I awoke mom
and Danny. </P>
<P>I was pretty darn sure what was happening at this
point, and was excited but naturally concerned. Dan
arose, threw half my entire wardrobe in a large black
bag (a useful collection of three dresses, several
slacks, four tops, and one pair of socks). He also
kindly packed me snacks, while my sister got makeup .
. . then the four of us flew to Women and Infants
Hospital. </P>
<P>So, they rushed me in, threw a johnny on me, and
helpfully informed me that I was in active labor
(smile) and that the baby was old enough to be just
fine (brilliant smile). But . . . the baby would be
much better off in at least 48 hours, when her lungs
could develop under steroid treatments. In fact, it
would be much better to keep me in the hospital on
medications to stall the labor until my due date.</P>
<P>Well, I could sure see the pluses of this point of
view, at least between contractions. Better for the
baby was the mantra. So, they plugged me into heavy
magnesium, which relaxes all your muscles, and
supposedly your uterus (sorry guys) also. </P>
<P>Well, Sunday was spent getting doped up, getting
nice food, entertaining my mom, sister, and husband
from this really cool bed with a bunch of buttons.
Sunday night was spent rather wakeful, as nurses were
apparently very worried that if anything happened, it
would happen in the middle of the night. So, every few
hours I was hooked up to monitors, pricked and bled,
poked and examined, etc. </P>
<P>Thus, on Monday I was a bit more tired, and a bit
more woozy, and a bit more anxious. Because, you see,
the contractions never really stopped. They just
spaced out by every two hours on the first day, and
ever so gradually became closer together. Still, the
doctors brightly informed me that they were able to
keep some women for weeks in this condition. I was as
happy as possible about this, though I was constantly
being informed that the process of labor was
increasing by the centimeter, and the baby was quite,
quite ready to enter the world, at least from her
point of view. </P>
<P>It was tough to wait, not knowing how many hours or
weeks it would go on. But by Tuesday, the medicine
completely got to me. I lost most muscle control, and
started seeing jungles growing in the room, and really
fuzzy green and purple beetles. The doctors came and
pulled the plug, reassuring my delirious self all the
while that maybe all my body needed was a break, and I
could look forward to another three days of "mag" in a
day or so. </P>
<P>It didn’t take long for my body to decide. Labor
picked up just where it left off, and transition
helped to wake me up a bit. Dan, who had "crammed" on
birth coaching ever since they took me off meds, was
wonderful and it actually was a peaceful, quite nice
experience. I knew nature was taking its course, and I
just relaxed and prayed and stuff.</P>
<P>Apparently, I relaxed too long, because all of a
sudden my water broke (sorry guys) and suddenly
Annemarie was exceedingly eager to leave the womb. We
informed the nurse, who leisurely called the doctor to
"check out the patient in room #, membranes possibly
ruptured." Anxiety somewhat building, I just lay
there, praying, and feeling–um, how to describe
it–tremendous forces of nature? So, when the doctor
finally arrived, (the nurse was busy putting a nice,
tight band around my waist, with many a bump and tug,
to do her routine check on the baby’s heartbeat. I
kind of wanted to bite her . . ), I was engaged in
this whole moaning, sweating, trying not to deliver
kind of thing. He "checked to see if my membranes had
erupted" and basically found the crown of her head. He
made a very funny face, which I appreciated
afterwards, and suddenly there was a great rush of
footsteps, nurses all aflutter. The doctor told me
there wasn’t time for epidurals (duh!!!), and I did
this gritting teeth grin and said, that was fine, my
husband and I were planning to do the Bradley method
anyway, (lol! With our one class, and after three days
of magnesium!) </P>
<P>Knowing what I did know (and wanted) about the
Bradley natural method of childbirth, I was somewhat,
er, "put off" by the realization that I was not going
to be allowed to give birth to my protruding child
(sorry guys :( , that I first must simply transfer my
traumatized self onto this nice stretcher they’d
wheeled in for me, and I would be going on a nice
little trip three floors down. Ha. Apparently the
doctor’s favorite latex gloves were downstairs. </P>
<P>So, with my best straining and several shoves, I
was summarily rolled / thrown onto the stretcher, and
RUN down the corridor. I was literally motion sick,
silent, eyes closed, hanging on to the railings for
dear life, and wondering if this was real. It was like
a 911 movie, and gosh how they took the curves, in
huge, swirling motions! All the nurses were jogging
after, (one said, "I’m so sorry; it wasn’t supposed to
happen this way!") my IV in tow, yapping various
numbers and pulse rates and things to each other.
Then, a moment of silence, as the elevator lurched
down a couple floors. Then more commotion: most labor
rooms were filled, as the month of June is providing a
9/11 baby boom, and a table had to be moved to get the
stretcher in a room that was being renovated. I
vaguely remember a radio blaring, of all songs, "Baby,
come on over tonight." </P>
<P>I had to be moved again, and neither Annemarie nor
I thought that was a great idea. I remember clawing at
the other bed like an animal, with all my muscles
concentrating on the one great effort everyone was
yelling at me not to do. ("Don’t push yet!") I landed
face downwards on what was finally the "right" bed,
involuntarily letting out the most God-awful scream
I’d ever heard, scaring me back into
semi-consciousness and my sister into thoughts of the
convent. </P>
<P>Bradley and I were not pleased at these
proceedings, to say the least. I was turned on my
back, the one position I was trained to strictly avoid
(having read how this was only for the doctor’s
convenience, and the many reasons why this was the
worst possible thing for your back and for getting the
kid to arrive, etc.) </P>
<P>But hey, it worked. Mercifully, in about two
minutes. The moment she made it was probably the best
in my life, despite the out-of-control circumstances.
(To illustrate this latter point further: the doctor
who’d seen me upstairs and brought me down had just
gotten his license. He was replaced at the last minute
by a more experienced female doctor, who literally ran
in.) This was part of the reason for the frantic,
lightning fast coaching I was getting from 8 strangers
at once under the bright lights–"Don’t push; don’t! I
know hun . . . (what’s her name?) Katherine, we’re
going to move you down, pull yourself over here. (Mom:
"She’s Katie.) Katie? Katie, okay, now we’re going to
. . . was she medicated? Oh dear. stirrups . . . what
the . . .Give me that. Susan! Heartrate (numbers
numbers). Position the (technical term for whatever).
I guess I have to. Okay now. Is the ... ready? Push,
c’mon, let’s push!" No kidding.</P>
<P>Quite the atmosphere. Mary (my sister) was pale in
the hall, talking to some expectant father about the
wide selection of pain relievers available in this day
and age. Mom was crying with joy (or some other
Mom-like thing; she was the only cheerful voice in the
room). Poor Dan! Having done a marvelous job coaching
up to this point, all his Bradley knowledge was in
vain in this scenario. All he could reach was my hand,
and occasionally sneak in to lean over, kiss my cheek
and speak in my ear about "how well I was doing,"
bless him! My nails were continually tattooing his
skin during my various shifts in position. Abandoning
his efforts to tell me how to "ride the wave" of
contractions, he decided to counter-coach. "Push if
you want to hun; if your body is telling you too, you
should you know. Don’t listen, don’t worry." Well, I
wasn’t listening to much but my occasional yelps, my
half-tearful requests to "Can’t I just sit up a bit?"
(Dan vocally agreed with this strongly, but I don’t
think anyone could really hear anyone at that point)
and my Mom saying "oh, she’s beautiful!" (Actually,
she was kinda blue and messy, but quite wonderfully
lively. I had one good peak as she was rushed out to
her incubator.) </P>
<P>In my efforts to make all my coaches happy, I tore
myself up quite a bit, despite my little premie. Dan
told me the only useful information during the whole
thing, that he could see the baby. (That was the most
wonderful thing to hear, because at that point I
didn’t know what anyone was doing or why.) And, after
the event of 2:21 pm, I got to see her and play with
her a bit in the evening. Oh wow, it is so
<P>And oh well! So much for me being brief. Discharged
on Friday, I have spent my days in the hospital lobby,
catching up on prayer, reading, and quiet time, in
between feeding my kid. Dan is left to do much of the
moving himself, but still comes when he can. I am so
grateful everything did work out, that she is doing so
very well, and that we have been given such a
blessing, though unexpectedly early. I am so grateful
for all your prayers that made this possible, and for
the emails and cards many of you have sent us. (I will
try to respond to them personally later, when I get
back some computer time.) Please continue your prayers
for Annemarie’s recovery and success at making up for
what she missed in pregnancy. (The best and only real
bet as to why she came early was because of the severe
straining of my back, with my scoleosis and all that,
as I got rounder. Such physical stress can trigger
early labor. Thus, before my next kid, I am going to
go through physical therapy with a watermelon strapped
to my middle, thus preparing my muscles.) She is so
tiny that it seems even more scary to think we will
soon be solely responsible for her welfare. But God
has been so good . . . and He doesn’t stop. :) Love
you guys, and all my thanks for your prayers. Keep in

2003 Christmas Letter

I am currently struggling through several pieces of
salt-water taffy. Struggling, mind you, because, quite
simply, I’ve had enough taffy. But I am presently
entertaining the absurd ambition of trying all 30
flavors of Mermaid brand Cape Cod taffy, and there are
only seven left that I haven’t had. Never mind that I
am currently liking each “flavor” less than the one

This, dear friends, is a segment of my life for your
perusal. Not a usual segment, to be sure, but perhaps
one of my better ones. Baby is asleep, and I am using
my mind while ruining my teeth. (A revelation:
Wintergreen, dear friends, should not exist in the
taffy kingdom. Let us all hope for its merciless

I am annoyed because I cannot get online, and mildly
inspired due to the ingestion of too much sugar. Thus
you are all being granted an email from me. I hope you
are all well, and urge you all to write back before
the end of the year, or at least as a new year’s

News and actual substance to write about. Hmmm. Well,
I still haven’t finished my (snicker!) summer courses;
thankfully, the school is of a generous sort that
allows unlimited extensions. They will doubtless
rethink this policy when they are through with me, 15
years hence. I am duly unprepared and equally
terrified by the unpredictable advent of my second
child. I know this is shocking, but I hate sleep
deprivation while loving babies. Yet the two go hand
in hand, so I find myself looking forward to meeting
my body’s occupant--who, by the way, is becoming
extremely excitable due to mom’s foolish eating habit
of the moment--while dreading her being here. I am
similarly not looking forward to hours of labor,
gratis the curse of Eve, though I am all “prepared”
for my second all-natural birth. It’s great to be a

Yes, I think I shall complain for a bit here. I do not
like functioning as a lesser version of a human--i.e.
ever tired and forgetful-- though it comes with the
ancient honorable noble task of motherhood. I will
certainly be breastfeeding, though I do not like to be
sore and embarrassed any more than anyone else.
(Around here, the very thought of “breast-feeding” is
scandalous to the older generation. La Leche League is
an underground, contentious organization here in
old-fashioned New England. I shall have to be in
hiding for quite awhile.) But fear not: I love little
Claire very much already, and will doubtless feed and
comfort her whenever she requests it, while hopefully
doing the same for Annemarie and unfortunately doing
nothing of the sort for my husband and the rest of my
acquaintances, for whom I will have little left to
give. I will be sure to send you a long, dull, whiney
email at that time to prove this point, and display
the depths to which I will have fallen.

Ah, the last taffy is over with. Lime. Claire is now
hyper-active and punching me sore. Well, I deserve it.

Still searching my brain files for news . . . ah yes.
I have to brag about my kid. She can climb onto
rocking chairs now, and dances enthusiastically to all
types of music (from classical at home to salsa in the
supermarket). She is energetic, sweet-natured, loves
to laugh, enjoys the company of adults and is pleasant
with children, has an uncontrollable mass of curls and
a pretty constant giggle. We love all 30 lbs, 34
inches of her, though she refuses to walk on her own
despite her obvious ability to do so. She loves to be
cuddled and carried.

We are currently on a schedule similar to that of the
rest of the world, which I thoroughly appreciate. Dan
used to actually come home, before this evil time
change, while it was still light, and I am getting so
much more done. (Though not homework, due to my
child’s obsession with the keyboard.) I am now more
tolerant of those souls who think 8 in the morning is
a fine time to communicate by phone. I see more
people, particularly the many and various mother’s
groups I have joined to keep myself somewhat sane with
adult interaction. I go to church bazaars on the
weekend to look for baby stuff, while Dan watches
football and Annemarie all at the same time.

******A month passes . . .********

Part II: The aftermath, with actual NEWS! I had a baby
on Thanksgiving: 6 lb, 9 oz Claire Celeste. After a
day of feeling rather uncomfortable, I finally gave in
and went to the hospital (after my midwife was able to
finish her Thanksgiving dinner; I’m quite proud of
that). Stopping briefly at the family get-together we
had heretofore foresworn, we deposited our original
offspring with my parents and sped over the potholes
to the hospital. We were immediately whisked through
“admissions” where it was determined that I was in
labor. Satisfied with this news, the staff welcomed me
into a tiny curtained room without heat, clothed me in
a johnny, and perched me on a table in front of a TV
where my husband could watch football. !!! While I was
naturally delighted with these accommodations, after a
half-hour of this rapture I sent Dan to request that a
doctor actually check me out. (You see, my midwife
lived a ways away, and was still enroute and could not
be reached.) One was leisurely dispatched for this
purpose, discovered I was at 5 cm, and kindly arranged
for me to be whisked to the official labor room.

Upon arriving there, I was put in a bed, told to
relax, and promptly attached to an IV and several
monitors. I was then told not to move. The nurse, the
anesthesiologist (even though I did not want meds),
and finally the midwife proceeded to ask me a required
list of questions, like “did I drink alcohol during
the pregnancy” (no) etc. So I managed to answer these
between contractions, as they apparently did not trust
Dan to know if I smoked, etc. Grrr! They finally
unhooked me from the monitors, and I was invited to
sit on a “birthing ball.” Whenever you next feel ill,
try sitting on a beach ball. Yeah. Real helpful. At
least it was different. And fast. I was precariously
balanced on this absurd object for about 15 minutes,
at which point they decided they wanted to just check
me. Having gotten me on the bed, they discovered I was
at 9 cm, immediately broke the water and Claire was
out in two minutes. Yes, envy me if you must: I have
very short labors. It was somewhat disappointing
though. I mean, I packed this great “birthing bag”
with cards and games and rosaries and polyphony CD’s
and the bag never was opened. Sigh. I must live with
this disappointment.

Now you know the whole story. Claire was born at 8:45
PM on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they insisted
(despite our protests) upon keeping her for
observation for several hours (no holding allowed).
So, Dan and I retired to my postpartum room and had
Thanksgiving dinner, compliments of my dear aunt who
had packed us the meal so we wouldn’t miss out. Claire
came home, thank God and Dan’s persuasive skills, on
the same day I did, even though she was a month early.
And she has been home, gaining weight and getting over
jaundice, ever since. What a blessing.

So I am home, happy and busy, and tired and trying
desperately to manage diapers and feedings and
bathings and naps. . . let alone housework! But no, it
has not been as difficult, so far, as I feared.
However, tips are always welcome!

Please write me when you have a chance. We miss all of
you and wish to keep in touch. God bless and Merry

Love in Christ, Katie, Dan, Annemarie, and Claire

2004 Christmas Letter

Dear Friends,
> I am counting on chocolate to inspire me in my writing this time around. I
> just finished the last of last year's summer courses (congratulate me!)
> and am ready to soon begin on the ones for the Fall. It is all too
> exciting.
> I hope you all are well. As I hear from you about as much as you hear from
> me, I don't know much, especially since y'all aren't rude enough to write
> absurdly long emails as I do. But based on the expressed gratitude of a
> few, I will continue to regale the masses with my exciting life as a
> stay-at-apartment Mom.
> I am now a mini-van Mom, too! I have fully accepted the stigma, and now
> scoot about in my scratched up, decade old, but proud vehicle. It has a
> working CD player and AC so to me right now, it's the Ritz. As fighter
> planes are marked with the number they have shot done, so do I
> unintentionally mark the number of trips I take every time I back out of
> our ridiculously narrow driveway, and scrape past either the fence on the
> right or the very large, very dead, very "when is the city gonna take that
> thing down" tree on the left.
> I have had a few adventures in said vehicle. Recently, I parked with
> hazard lights on in one of the 21 empty handicapped spots so I could run
> into the store, just inside the door, and grab a circular, or the paper
> with sales on it, whatever. In any case, I had no sooner got out and began
> my dash when I was shouted at by a middle-aged man walking by, "Hey
> missie, you parked in handicapped!" Yes, he was right, but unless 21
> handicapped vehicles entered the lot in the next five seconds, everything
> was going to be okay. Really. When I pretended not to hear, the man began
> to shout across the parking lot, "HEY you! Ungrateful [garden tool]! How
> dare you! You don't look handicapped to me. UnbeLIEVable! etc." By this
> time, I had my paper and was on the way back. One of these days, I am
> going to say, "You know what, people? How 'bout we sacrifice one or two of
> these handicapped spots and make a 'mother with children' spot, eh? So I
> don't have to park at the end of the lot and dash my two children through
> the rain w
> Sigh. I am too meek. And I am getting into trouble! While I am confessing,
> I may as well mention that I was recently summoned to court (and
> threatened with arrest if I didn't) for an overdue overnight parking fine.
> You see, in the great state of RI, if I leave my car on the street
> overnight, I am fined 15 dollars. This is to offset the outrageous
> inconvenience that would be caused if that night, say, were to be the
> semi-annual cleaning of the street night, and the street sweeper would be
> forced to turn a wheel to avoid my vehicle. Dan and I occasionally take
> the risk and leave the car out for various reasons. Well, this fine was
> forgotten for a bit too long, and thus after it was doubled, we suddenly
> were summoned to court and threatened with arrest by letter. Fortunately,
> a phone call with reassurance that the payment was in the mail was all it
> took to dissuade them from carting off to jail this dangerous mother of
> two.
> Claire says hi, by the way. She is currently snacking on my lap,
> popping/ripping off every two seconds to look at me and grin with her two
> new, sharp teeth. She can thank her lucky stars she's cute.
> Annemarie is cute too. We can now have conversations like the following:
> "Annemarie, would you like to go outside?" ("Side!") "And play with Sammy
> and Alia?" (Yaya!) "Let's do it!" ("Duit!") Fun. Almost intellectual.
> Well, we have been to the wedding of Celeste Allen now Sullivan and the
> ordination of Gerard now Father Saguto since last we spoke. For those of
> you who do not know them, these are really nice people that we know that
> invited us to sing at their various ceremonies. Dan and I were honored,
> our kids were confused, and we duly drove to Pittsburgh in February and
> flew to Nebraska in May for these events. It all turned out beautifully,
> despite our out-of-practice singing and our children's untimely yelps.
> And whilst in Nebraska, we survived an F3/F4 tornado in a basement while
> it wiped out a nearby town (Hallam). I don't know why the entire Midwest
> does not live underground on a regular basis. Those things are mean, ugly,
> nasty and scary. I mean here, we can pack up and leave a week before the
> hurricane; there, it's a warning "take shelter immediately" over the radio
> (if you happen to be listening to it), and sirens (if the power hasn't
> already gone off.) Maybe they all just wait till they hear the sound of a
> freight train and, knowing the tracks are miles away, yawn, stretch, say
> to their family, "How 'bout we play ping-pong downstairs for a stretch?"
> And then they come upstairs a couple hours later and arrive outside. Brave
> souls. Unbelievable.
> Fortunately, we were in the basement awaiting death among friends and
> newly ordained priests, and much prayer was said, the kids played, and
> parents silently sweated and smiled, and said useful stuff like, "Man oh
> man" over and over while listening to the thundering hail and admiring the
> pitch blackness outside. Meanwhile, Fr. Skeris stayed upstairs chatting
> with other brave souls. Next day we attended Fr. Saguto's first Mass and
> went sightseeing for cars in trees.
> I must close, as I am almost out of chocolate. In sum, I attend my mostly
> liberal playgroups and miss all of you. Dan works with other people's
> retirement plans. We are reasonably happy and healthy, and looking forward
> to Homecoming. And I am hoping my Easter cards make it by Christmas.
> God bless, love, Katie and the Dancause clan

2005 Christmas Letter

Dear Friends,

I think I last wrote y�all when Claire was born. That would be, as of November 27th, over a year ago. Well, kids are wonderfully time-consuming. And I�ve been rather sick in general. (Yes, I always am well armed with excuses.) And, this summer, I will be getting my Masters of Science in Elementary Education from the University of New England . . . distance learning took up some time too. But now that it�s Christmas, (okay, not anymore really, but still) I am compelled to remember you all by writing about myself for several pages. Enjoy. I do miss you! This, in part, takes the place of a chat, and I�m hoping to hear from you on the other end!

As to actual Christmas cards . . .sigh. I think I sent out ten this year, in alphabetical order, and gave up around . . . B? If you didn�t get one, do not take offense. Simply reply to this email in all Caps, and I will send one out A.S.A.P. If you got two, I�m sorry too. I blame the kids.

The kids. Annemarie, 2.5 years, and Claire just turned 1. Both can talk/communicate frighteningly well. And they move too, fast! And they never, (well hardly ever) sleep at the same time. Generally, I will have just put Claire down for a nap, and sneak to a chore in the next room, and Annemarie will gleefully dash down the hall, open the door (she does that now), stand over the napper and loudly observe, �BABY SEEPIN�!� And an ensuing wail will assure me this is no longer the case.

Miraculously, despite the lack of free time, I have found that I can read again. They actually can amuse each other, even if merely by playing tug-of-war with toys to screams of �Mine!� and just plain screams. I find I can intervene in the more violent episodes of these while still remaining in the halls of Hogwarts. Delightful books; I think I could make some argument that Dumbledore is a Christ-figure . . . Of course, I find most books delightful. (Don�t be scandalized; I�m only reading them because Chris Mirus said they were just fine, and I trust him.)

I have only had one brush with the law this past year, when I dared drive my husband�s car with a license plate in the back but not in the front (a useful RI law indeed.) For this heinous crime, I was pulled over by a cop I fear was younger than me, and charged $75, unless I chose to appear in court to plead �Guilty, with a good driving record.� I did so, and $50 was graciously taken off my ticket. I do feel well protected by this brilliant system.

And I�ve managed to become ill, a quick but ill-advised way to lose baby weight. First, I was told I had a mere stomach virus, which then became a case of food poisoning, which then was proclaimed Celiac disease (I�m apparently allergic to all things wheat and wheatish), and now, several useless bottles of prescriptions, hospitals visits, and invasive procedures later, I have been dubbed a Crohn�s patient. I don�t know either, look it up online if you want. All I know is I have new bottles of pills (LOTS of pills) which seem to be working somewhat, and two more doctor�s appointments to squeeze in before Christmas. I expect to be swallowing a tiny video camera soon so all these dear doctors can have an even better look at my intestines. (Charming, eh?) My mother-in-law has been kind enough to stay with me to help with the kids till what I actually have is sorted out. Your prayers are appreciated; it has been a humbling, frustrating experience for sure!

To all you natural healing people out there, take heart! I am extremely well-supplemented and take my carrot juice faithfully. I have come to the point where I no longer even want chocolate, and am off all sugar and wheat. I expect you all to be jealous of how healthy this will doubtless make me when you are forced by habit to eat dessert this Christmas, sniff! No, really, I�m fine. Got some great-rice-and-potato flour artificially sweetened cookie thingies, thanks. Would you like some?

On to vacations. We went to Maine this summer, and then down to Virginia to see some of you this fall, which was wonderful! This spring, health permitting, we are supposed to go to California for a wedding in Dan�s family. I was mainly excited about this because I had ordered tickets to the Price is Right, and was surely going to win a showcase, when the date they had available turned out to be the same day and time as the wedding. Rats. But there�s still Jeopardy for Dan sometime; we�ll keep you posted.

Dan is well. Working hard. Climbing the corporate ladder. Getting more vacation time. We would happily take more money, but if time is money, then vacation time is the same thing . . . ?

In conclusion, we have been blessed with mostly angelic, very healthy children. To those of you who have them, you know all the antics I enjoy and endure. To those who have them not, sleep while you can! It�s fun. Really.

Agh! Annemarie, who is potty training, has just been successful. Mostly. I mean, not her fault she had on a long skirt, eh? Gotta go.

Write to us when you can. Have a wonderful New Year!

Oremus pro invicem,

Katie, Dan, Annemarie and Claire

2006 Christmas Letter

Dearest Family, Friends, and World at Large:
During my slow journey of knowledge in the ways of the World Wide Web, I have been informed that my characteristic endless--if modestly witty--ramblings about my doings highly qualify me to open my own blog. Therein I may babble to my heart’s content and only those most interested souls will be bothered by my long-winded accounts of life from my most unique viewpoint. Details on this blog will therefore be forthcoming probably around next Christmas, by which time I may make my first entry.
Till that time, I will offer the most pertinent tidbits of Dancause living: starting from most recent history, we have moved a grand total of four streets from our original abode, and have gained several more square feet--a whole house!--with yard and playground across the street in the process! I do have a digital camera, but how to make it give its pictures to the computer and thence to the general populace yet eludes me most of my waking moments, thus my written depiction: white with green trim, a large porch, and lots of flowering plants, trees, and shrubbery. The address for those of you suffering this year from the lack of giving us a Christmas card: 81 Ingleside Avenue, Cranston, RI 02905. Phone number stays the same, 401-941-3949. Open invitation to visit remains to those who receive this Christmas ecard.
The reason all of you most deserving folk have not received hard copy of a Christmas card this year is due to the fact that we ended up moving in the month of December. I would not recommend this.
Moving back to the summer, I must report that I was offered a job--without looking for one--which I accepted. I had been filling up a day by visiting Montessori schools for fun--I love the method but laugh at the expense--and during this time managed to talk about myself enough that I was asked for my resume. ! (Oh yes, I finally made off with a Masters of Science in Education this summer from the University of New England, la dee da! Distance learning. Yes, I did work and paid money to get it, I promise! It‘s legit. Anyway.) So, thinking this was all quite a lark--okay, I confess, inspired by the name of the new street of my beloved house, I have been reading much too much of L.M. Montgomery recently; thus “quite a lark”--I made a two page resume in which I prominently featured the fact that I was a mother who had “mitigated the attempts of her children at self-destruction.” I thus think I was hired more for my sense of humor than for my new degree or small Montessori experience in Austria.
I took the job because my girls could come with me. Thus, I hope to satisfy all the pro and not-sure home-schooling camps by having my cake and eating it too. So I am teaching, which I love. But given that funding for the school is in question, we’ll see how long it lasts.
Dan continues to work hard, Annemarie and Claire continue to age (now 3 and 2), and God is constant in His goodness and mercy. We miss all of you, and remember you in prayer. Thank you for yours!
A Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
In Christ, the Dancauses
*The contents of this letter have been read, corrected, approved, ratified, and concurred with by Dan. The girls request more peanut butter and cantaloupe.

2007 Christmas Letter

Hi there,
This is my latest crazy Christmas letter . . .enjoy if you can.  I am emailing because I a. do not have your address /am not sure of your address and b. am out of time, patience, stamps, cards, etc.   We love you all though, and a blessed 2008!!
Dear Family and Friends,
 It is currently the feast of Madre de Dios de Guadalupe.  And I have one Christmas card.  This card is from our parish church.  After glancing covetously at my mother’s mantle, and sulking and pouting about _all_ the friends I have, and that _no one_ has yet sent me a card, I remembered that I do not send my Christmas cards out till late January. 
 Well, at least I caught myself in this slight imperfection.  Of course, I know you are all waiting impatiently for my missive, and all our news, and I have to disappoint you there: I have not one witty thing left for this card.  Guys, between ISI essays and lesson plans, I am basically all typed out.
 Enough.  How can I waste my once a year chance for a dramatic monologue, after which I may bask in all of you thanking me for my card, and saying how much you laughed, when you are really thinking “She has got to be the weirdest person.  This is a Christmas card, not an opportunity for self-aggrandizement!”  Ignorance is bliss, my friends.  Ignorance is bliss. 
 Let’s see what I have left after a full day teaching, followed by what we call “The Umbrella Song” being blasted on the car radio.  (You see, the Civic’s tape  player doesn’t work, so we must resort to easy listening sometimes.  Thus, my daughters have become acquainted with the lyrics: “You can stand under my umbrella . . . Egg! Egg! Egg! etc.”  And if this weren’t enough to make sanity a dream of the past, my daughters were begging me in the car, “Mom, what are we going to do today?  Can we do three nice things?” (i.e. Make a snowman, have a bath, AND push the button on the blender.)
 Well, here goes anyway . . . okay, news for this year . . . in the spring, I began teaching at Greenwood Montessori school, which has all the positive attributes and none of the negative attributes of my former Montessori teaching job.  My boss is not only sane, but thoughtful.  The school is wonderfully organized, in new condition, and with every material that one could desire for teaching children.  I dream up a lesson, and she hands me the materials.  It’s a beautiful thing, and I am so grateful (if so busy!)  Annemarie will go off to first grade in the fall, but for now both are with me, and enjoying “Miss Katherine / Mom” as head teacher.
 During summer break, my brilliant husband and equally intellectually-endowed moi decided it would be relaxing and oh such fun to drive to Florida in July, see family and Disney, and drive back.  This illusion lasted until North Carolina, when our van’s a/c broke.  Such a great time was being had by all that we drove straight—24 hours—from RI to FL.  There we did see family (which was lovely), and did see Disney (along with tens of thousands of our closest friends), taking comfort in the fact that our tickets were free, since my uncle drives Disney buses.  It was, all in all, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.  I hope.  Next time, we’ll save up for years to take the plane . . . I’m sure my kids will appreciate Disney even more in their 30’s anyway.
 Other travels included a trip to Maine with family on the occasion of my father-in-law’s 70th birthday, and going down to Virginia for my sister-in-law’s wedding.  We three Dancause ladies were in two weddings this year, and have the dresses and pics to prove it.  Now, if only convention dictated that Christmas emails were as acceptable and desirable as Christmas cards, I would include digital pics.  As it is, they are locked in my computer, and to print them out and enclose them would take till late February, as opposed to late January, which is when my cards normally arrive, and we can’t have that.  But the pictures are lovely, really. The other wedding was for my best friend since high school.  I was maid of honor (I refused to be a “matron” on principle; all I can think of when I hear “matron” is a round-faced, apronned dame . . . can’t do it), so I got to give a speech, which was fun.  I seem to like those.  Who knew? 
 Besides being in two weddings, we were also unexpectedly blessed with two godsons this year: Casimir Tobias and Gideon Rhys.  (Each of these adorable little beings were the third son of great Rhode Island Catholic families who do not know each other, and each of these godsons have two older brothers bearing Old Testament names: Casimir’s are Nathan and Jonah, and Gideon’s are Noah and Elijah.  I’m sure this has cosmic significance, though I have not yet figured this out.  Thoughts?)  Caz and Gid are likely to be priests, and surely to be saints. 
 Other than mom and godmom, I have about a million side jobs, primarily teaching and writing . . . currently I am doing the latter for John Zmirak of ISI.   My editing work allows me to live vicariously in academia as I research various colleges across the nation and fight to remain faithful to the tenth commandment . . . I really would love to be a professional student!  But I also (most of the time) love being a working and stay-at-home mom while being the primary educator of my children at a school.  I love most the time I can be in my little house on Ingleside, with dear Bertha and Fred helping me out (who are, of course, my dishwasher and my waist-high steam-heat radiator.)  And for those who knew her, Penelope, my faithful pothos plant, just celebrated her 14th birthday.  I watered her in celebration.
 For his part, Dan regularly leaves at 8:30 on weekday mornings, and returns at 6 pm.  He tells me he works for GPS Investment Advisors in downtown Providence.  Among other tasks, he travels about giving meetings to “talk to various types of blue collar employees about the necessity of using their company’s 401k plan.”  This is highly ironic.  While home, he is commonly seen to do laundry (as, most sadly, my back strain cannot handle that particular task), and cooking (as, equally unfortunately, the idea of combining spices and ingredients annoys and frustrates me to no end.) I do, however, clean, lest my female friends disown me here . . .
 Oh yes, and I have the smartest, most charming, cutest, beautifulest, most exquisitely personalitied,  wondrously behaved, most thoroughly Montessorily-educated children.  But being uncompetitive by nature, when you tell me about how Natasha is the best whirling dervish dancer in her preschool class, has award winning fingerpaint murals, and really is just a whiz at chemistry, I will smile silently and be polite. No, I don’t talk about my girls much, I just know . ..  you know when you “just know”?  Yeah.  It’s kinda like that.
 If you are extremely fortunate (and I can find and purchase suitable photos within the next 48 hours),, you will be receiving a photograph of each of my children enclosed in this envelope.  If you are not so fortunate, send back the “Try Again” slip in 30 days, and I’ll see what I can do for you.
 My children, due doubtless to the modest sanctity of their parents, have great spiritual scope as well.  Recently, they handled—with flying colors—the inevitable topic of death. On the occasion of the demise of a beloved goldfish, my children started asking about mortality.  Claire, with her coloratura speaking voice (it is naturally VERY high-pitched) and lisp sagely reflected, “Weww (Well), some people are died, but we aren’t died!”  I , as casually as possible, noted, “No, but everyone dies at some time.”  Annemarie was disturbed by this, and said, “But how does God keep us awake [alive]?”  Again overcome by inspiration, Claire thought and said, “Weww, He gives us soup.”
 I see we are well past the acceptable length of a Christmas missive.  So I will leave you with a Dancause blessing for the new year: May you have at least three nice things to do today.  May you have friends with umbrellas for the falling eggs of life.  And may God keep you amply supplied with good soup.
 Merry Christmas,
 Katie, Dan, Annemarie and Claire 

2008 Christmas Letter

Hello friends and family!
We began 2008 with a family cruise around the Mediterranean. . . no wait, that wasn’t us.  ;)  We began 2008 with Dan turning 32 and with me turning 30 (celebrated by eating Chinese food out of boxes and staring dully at a Patriots game with male family members while my girls enjoyed ice cream.)  Dan handled his more advanced state with aplomb and adequate cake.  I, on the other hand, may be increasing in age, and possibly in wisdom, but certainly am not doing so gracefully.  Those of you on Facebook have stopped reading by now, being weary of my ramblings already and my all-too-frequent status updates, as when I thoughtfully inform the browsing world when I am tired, desire brownies, or have accomplished a minor domestic task (such as conquering the dishwasher.)  These same long-suffering friends know that I posted my reflections on 30ness on my Wall (yes, on my own Wall) . . . and I have now lost the non-Facebook half of my audience.  Okay, suffice it to say that I tried, unsuccessfully, to gloat about how proud I was to have survived for so long under the harsh conditions of life in New England, and to fashion myself an undying optimist.  
Following this riotous celebration of my significant natal anniversary—I’ve only complained about the method of partying once or twice, really—I decided I wanted to ski for the first time, since 30 is the new 10 and all.  So my parents kindly took the kids, and Dan and I cruised the bunny slope.  I proudly succeeded in stiffly and screamingly sliding down the hill, without crashing into any undesirable objects or persons, very gradually stopping when friction finally overtook my skis.  I only went down backwards once. 
The next landmark event (other than my teaching the rest of the year at Montessori school) we visited family and some friends in Virginia during April vacation, stopping by D.C. to see the Smithsonian and what was left of the flowering cherry trees.  In May, the family trekked up to New Hampshire for our first visit to the delights of Storyland; the rain really limited the lines, and I found that—while I shy away from the real thing—my girls and I really like kiddie coasters and “flying fish” rides.  This summer, we took advantage of the fact that we live in RI, and got to spend plenty of time at the beach with Dels (google it, you non-New Englanders!J )  I also took a course in Child Development; since I’ve already watched my two blossom from babyhood, I thought it would be an easy A.  No, no, I’m just trying to complete my degree in Early Childhood (I’ve been working in primary grades ever since I got my MSed, go figure.) 
Of course, this September I ended up freelancing and consulting from home.  I never usually contradict myself, but . . . I love teaching, but I’m so glad to not be teaching right now.  J  (Well, I teach CCD, but that’s only an eight kid class once a week.) Tearfully sent Annemarie off to first grade (all of one block away) where she merrily has been walking every weekday since.  We all walk her to school of course, and ended up walking to more places than usual because September was also the month that some individuals borrowed our car indefinitely. 
For those who have not had the privilege of first-hand experience, it is very annoying to have one’s car stolen.  And not only did our Honda leave us without a word of farewell from its grimy carpet or crayoned walls, it just so happened (as is truly not usually the case) to contain my purse, safely concealed in the trunk and forgotten after a late night at swimming lessons.  And therein (as is also not usually the case) was my digital camera, containing whimsical shots I’m sure the thieves would find diverting, to be precise, about 97 pictures of my daughter on her first day of school.
I think we handled it well.  One of the first things I did, upon hearing of the car’s absence, was to walk around the driveway waving my arms, saying, “But it was right there!!  Right there!” I went placidly through the stages of grieving, daily thinking it would turn up in our driveway, possibly renovated and with a sympathy card.  Then came anger, as I contemplated the demise of the miscreants . . . Then acceptance.  I went out and started a Neighborhood Crime Watch, and have befriended several local officers. 
Many people were kind enough to pray for us, and sought to console us, mostly by saying one of two things: 1.  It could have been worse.  (Someone even reminded me that my kids could have been in the car.)  2.  Look for the blessing!  (Let’s see . . . I lost a car, but gained a neighborhood . . . ? :)  I eventually concluded that everything we own is being Divinely lent to us, and now the Almighty is lending my 1994 Honda Civic, with the dented hood, to someone else.
Poor saps.
Dan is doing well working in Providence.  His company is weathering the recent fun of the economy pretty well, thank God, which we earnestly hope is the case with all of you!  He also takes voice lessons and helps out with choirs, and plays in a volleyball league. 
That’s about all  . . . to write these, I flip through the old, tattered calendar of the past year (well, what pages are left anyway.)  In the interest of being thorough, the only other items popping out at me are Healthy Kids Day at the YMCA (we do spend a lot of time there), Free Coffee Day at Dunkin Donuts (I do drink a few too many DD beverages),  blueberry picking (I still have bags in the freezer), and The Big Apple Circus (okay, we went there once.)
In conclusion, I suppose I am expected to brag about my girls.  But the fact that they are great swimmers and inspired ballerinas and avid readers will no doubt be of more interest to me than to you.  (Did I mention they are budding humorists and practiced singers as well?  Here are samples of how they sing ABBA [preferable in our eyes to endless reprises of the Wiggles or—Heaven forbid—Hannah Montana]:  “You will be dancing please!”; “Can you hear the drums, Flamingo?”; “One of us is boring”; and “Mommy Mommy Mommy.  Must be funny.”)  But suffice it to say that our children are what one would expect our children to be, only much better.  Frankly, I don’t see the point in going on and on about my own kids.  Self-aggrandizement if you ask me.  Beware of parents who do this.  It’s just a form of bragging.
We remain grateful for the many, many blessings in our lives, particularly for family, health, and all of you!  We hope you find every legitimate happiness in the good things God has placed in your lives.  However, if you happen to have my car, we have to talk.
Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

       Katie, Dan, Annemarie and Claire

2009 Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends:
            I begin this second Christmas letter of the year to the dirge of Jingle Bells, being played on newly acquired instruments by the music class of Blackrock School.  I’m here to wait for my bevested daughters to emerge from Girl Scouts with new iron-on patches earned for breathing at the meeting. 
           Why the “second” letter?  Well, the first was imprisoned by the dying drone of our computer, locked forever as megabytes (?) in a heartless harddrive.  And frankly, on 4.25 hours of sleep, I can’t remember what socks I’m wearing, let alone what happened in March.  (Let me check…. Red and white stripes, with Santa faces.  Excellent.  Goes well with my Hello Kitty bandaid on my thumb and my Twinkle Twinkle little brain cells...)  So, for whatever flashes of genius are lacking here--or if this is “just not that funny”--blame technology. J
            The very technology by which many of you are receiving this Christmas card.  Why an impersonal email?  You ask.  Typed was bad enough.  To which I reply—you are very inquisitive today, are you not?—your address joins my original (and much better) Christmas letter in a similarly dearly departed cyberspace grave.  (And yes, I have heard of pendrives, thank you.)  Please believe that part of me deeply desires to handpen these annual letters with a flamingo quill dipped in chocolate scented ink.  Truly.  However, this is sadly impractical, and cruel to tropical birds.  I suppose I also have a renewed affection for trees this year.  And I save trees by emailing, right?  I was, after all, voted “Most Likely to become a Tree Hugger” in college, and it’s natural to live up to what is expected of me… 
            Although that vote might well have been swayed by my origins in the Liberal North from Whence All Evil and Nonsense Cometh.  This year has seen the exodus of dear friends from RI for that very reason, and more friends planning the migration as I type.  Yes, I bear an unreasonable affection for this politically corrupt state.  Just this week, I ate at a restaurant on Federal Hill from whence the mob was run some decades ago (I would tell you where it is, but I am not enamoured of a personal visit from "Joey Onions" Tagliaferro).  I am used to anyone I vote for losing in elections.  I’m staying to keep the pleasant people company, including my family.
           Speaking of family… there are five of us now, and we are all well.  In case you did not know, I spent most of this year pregnant, a state which less than half of you have been privileged to suffer…  Cecilia is a smiley three month-old bundle of coos and chatter, with a mellow personality.  Of course, life is much busier with her around, though I try to enjoy every irreplaceable minute.  I’ve found, for instance, that babies are really, really cute when they are waking up.  Little grunts and snorts accompany a chubby face going side to side, joined by stubby little arms stretching over an enourmous head—in Cece’s case at least—and then waving around.  Unfortunately, this adorable moment is usually marred by some form of, “Oh crap!  Oh crap!  Oh crap!” from yours truly, whose vain hopes for an early shower just vanished in a storm of squawks.  Or, alternatively, I do manage to sneak up before the baby, only to have her presented to me by my darling mothers' helpers—mid toothbrush stroke—with, “but she was waking up!”
Cecilia is every bit as enjoyable as her incubation was horrible.  In fact, anything I have to say about this year revolves around a pregnancy that led to the worst pain I’ve ever been in.  Severe morning sickness gave way to whiplash—brought on by a seizure-like allergic reaction to nausea meds—combined with back and hip pain, compliments of my ever-faithful scoliosis (i.e. a slightly crooked spine).  I now really know what it’s like to be infirm, having learned how walking from one end of the room to another can be an effort-filled and impressive—at times impossible—achievement.  I spent many days sitting on the coach and planning voyages to the kitchen or the bathroom, staring helplessly as chores piled up, watching my dear husband do twice the work and my children learn to make their meals.  I did get out on good days, my brand-new, shiny red, Lawrence-Welk-watching walker in the trunk of my little white Escort.  I fondly recall at least two instances of loading and unloading my walker—slowly, painfully, while hugely pregnant—while able-bodied men strolled by.  And yes, at those moments, I considered moving away from RI to some mythical Southern state where inherent civility and chivalry would have made such struggles inconceivable (and provided a nice glass of iced tea as well).  Always open doors for the pregnant and elderly, people, always! 
 Oh good, now you’re all pitying me!  Don’t, Cece is so easy she’s actually fun.  I completely intend to repeat this experience; I want her to have a playmate.  Yes, I’m insane.  Let’s move on.
            Of course, my friends and family were supportive.  For instance, they never failed to tell me that I “looked great!” (!!!!!)  You have perhaps never realized that “You look great” is a most annoying compliment.  At least it has been this past year.  (And, oh yes, some of you are guilty of thus annoying me!  I'm keeping a list!)  And for reasons unknown—yes, you DO want to know this—I only gained weight in my stomach this time, when in times past being with child inflated everything from my cheeks to my ankles.  At first I’d respond to the “compliment” by saying, “I would happily trade some fat for feeling better!  I never take medicine, but now Percocet is not enough, my nausea laughs at Zofran, and Tylenol is a joke.”  Eventually I just said, “You’re absolutely right.  Thanks.” J
            This all culminated in a night-long triage experience on September 17/18—rush hour, apparently, for baby delivery in RI—and my first epidural, after I was threatened with discharge if I did not accept medication, since beds were needed for those whom they could medicinally help. (!!!!!)  All’s well that ends well… 
On to other things besides baby… does anything else exist, really?  We did go to Hilton Head, SC in February, which I enjoyed and recall (fondly, dimly) through a haze of morning sickness.  We did see our first “wild” dolphins though.  Dan and I celebrated eight years of marriage in June.  In reckless celebration, we brought out our homemade wedding video (life lesson #65 Never, no never allow your nuptial memories to be captured solely by a friend with a videocam, no matter how dear he or she may be… pay good money for it instead…. Don’t have something you will wince at 'till death…).  I truly did not remember that I had danced to “Wind Beneath My Wings” with my dad (?!?) nor that my first dance was “Could I Have This Dance For the Rest of My Life"…. Rest assured...our whiz-bang 20th annivesery celebration (save the date--Saturday, July 10th, 2021!) will be much more enjoyable.
In August, Dan and I became “Coorporators” of Opus Dei; it helps me to remember to pray through my work, since days of quiet meditation are gone for the moment… Also had my first baby shower—third time’s the charm!--over the summer.  Cecilia now has five times the wardrobe of anyone else in the family.   
This December, Annemarie got to dance in the Nutcracker—as Spring Fairy number 6, but still, pretty cool.  Both Annemarie and Claire are now good readers, and enjoy the little neighborhood public (gasp!) school they attend.  They are known to be very nice children, despite their non-homeschooling (for now) education. 
             I hope this was almost as enjoyable as letters of yore.  (What the heck is “yore” anyway?  Is it quantifiable ["I'll have two yore of jelly beans, please"]?  Is it a place ["Opening this week, in Cinemascope, 'The Man from Yore'"]?  Does is bear a relation to “lang” and “syne”?  Ah well.)  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and New Year—when else can we wish anyone a “Merry” anything, you know?  Neat.  The reason I don’t write more is that I tend to be mostly in various states of semi-consciousness…while cleaning up spills, taxi-ing kids to lessons, and engaging in deeply serious baby chatter with my infant.  It’s so wonderful to have a baby around Christmastime.  It’s miraculous even when it’s not divine.
Hope you all are well.  In any case, you all look fantastic!! J
Lots of love,
Katie, Dan, Annemarie, Claire, and Cecilia Dancause

Monday, January 14, 2013

Christmas 2010

News from 2010: right here. News from today? Yeah, tree's still up. Christmas cards (soon to be Candlemas cards?) still not sent. Yeah I should give up but some have the kids pictures on them and they would be obsolete next year, groan... TLC

It has been over a year since Cecilia was born, a beautiful year full of little milestones,
small tumbles, and “big girl!” praises. Plenty of time for a mother to get back into her
college clothes. I should be writing this Christmas letter, now, easily in single digit
splendor. Right? Of course right! Goaded on by the example of elastic women who
snap back to high school jeans postpartum (oh you SO know who you are!) I have found
my way—irregularly regularly—to zumba class. Now I have explored all the local
YMCAs, tried out all the new machines and equipment (though I leave free weights
alone)… and they work and all. I’m also influenced by the female’s primal fear of
growing spherical from the bonbon-ish life of stay-at-home moms (we didn’t want
to tell you menfolk, but I must confess we spend our days arranged on our favorite
armchair whilst wrapped in snuggie with hot beverage). But there is nothing like dancing
idiotically with a group of imperfect strangers to get you out the door on a frigid rainy
morning, deposit your beloved toddler to acquire the germ du jour from child care and
muster all your false enthusiasm to exercise in a foreign language.
I swear some ladies are only present to show off how perfect they already are. A few
moms too. And some bravely fighting off the onset of the golden years. One such
individual of Neapolitan decent, known for being… er… of an inverted pear shape, (i.e.
gifted in the accoutrements of lactation), has taken upon herself the task of motivating
all those younger than 35, an age she has easily doubled or nothing. In the midst of
executing some especially bizarre native African dance, she will suddenly turn to you
and shout the following phrase: “Youra gonna die! (oh she totally does add the “a” at the
end!) Have fun! Look at me: I don’t giva sheet! (by which she is surely referring to a
type of bed covering. This proclamation is followed by said lady continuing the required
shimmies with an alarming zest.
Other typical mornings for me include attendance at MOPS groups (Mothers of
Preschoolers), writing (I’ve picked up articles here and there for the diocesan paper, The
Rhode Island Catholic), and the eternal task of cleaning the house whilst caring for its
greatest adversary: the resident toddler. I have been experimenting with different mind-
altering drugs since my diagnosis of RA, which goes nicely with Crohn’s in my auto
immune collection; while searching for the most effective, least dangerous meds, I also
am researching whether I should ideally eat anything beyond boiled chicken. Annemarie
and Claire have been enjoying 3rd and 1st grade, respectively, as well as their sports,
theatre, and music endeavors… a usual afternoon scene will have one child dribbling a
basketball in the living room while the other executes pirouettes around her sister, baby
cackling while following behind. Annemarie had her First Communion in May of this
year, a very joyous event. Dan works without incident in Providence, and has now been
with his company for four busy years.
One of my less inspired moments this year involved parading Claire through a (deep
blush) beauty pageant. Somewhere in the middle of teasing the third updo out of my
daughter’s tender scalp while sneaking her into her fourth outfit in a hotel room full of
curling irons, whining girls, and anxious mothers… sanity returned. That and being
approached by moms who, without going through the trial of exchanging names or
hometowns, launched into a litany of the laurels of their little one (Are you alliterated? :)
One particularly painful memory involves a parental figure tugging around a four year
old girl dressed somewhat like a female Michael Jackson (“natural” and “beauty” were
merely hypothetical suggestions, apparently); another was a six year old singing “I’m a
Barbie Girl” for her “talent. How did I end up there? While under the influence of
pregnancy hormones, I had done “baby modeling” with Annemarie… until I realized I
had better uses for my time than hoping my all-dressed-up baby would nap in the car to
be perky for the photo shoot she’d decide to poop during. While I was very much “over”
this momentary madness, Claire felt badly she had not had similar press … particularly
when Annemarie had gotten to be in the Heritage Ballet Nutcracker performance Claire
was not old enough to participate in. So I found a “natural beauty” pageant that touted
building character, and no makeup or outlandish costumes… when it was actually just a
less obnoxious human cattle show, with a panel of judges determined each child’s value.
Hard on both kids and mothers. One poor bewildered pageant mom had chattered
nervously to me about her daughter’s dance routine the entire night, as we shared a
folding chair backstage for brushes and bobbie pins. After the award ceremony, I found
myself patting the back of this stranger as she wept that her daughter didn’t win.
Meanwhile, Claire was behind me, exhausted, in tiara and sash reading “Cinderella Tot,”
carrying a huge trophy and gift bag of prizes, and receiving the glares of disappointed
moms and girls alike. In retrospect, I’m completely ashamed of the whole bizarre
experience. Check my Facebook for all the pictures! J
So this year has not been without its challenges. Dan and I are being stalked by Michael
Buble, for instance. There have been an uncanny amount of times when we’ve been
out at a store, in the car, pumping gas when the radio starts: “I’m not surprised, not
everything lasts, I’ve broken my heart so many times I’ve stopped keeping track…” We
look at each other, say “Noooooo!” and laugh with increasing notes of hysteria. As in
all events in my life, I try to find meaning and purpose…so I ask myself, "What great
meaning do the lyrics 'I Just Haven't Met You Yet' hold for me?" So here we go, let’s
see, what hasn’t lasted this year… infancy. Babies grow so tragically fast. I always
try to appreciate the little moments. Broken hearts… nope, not this year, thank God.
Families are pretty well, grandparents healthy enough, relationships all intact. Perhaps
a paean to the Beatific Vision? I mean this world is great and all, but it's a vale of tears
compared to our hoped-for-afterlife....yes, that's it--it's a song about our longing to see
God face-to-face! That, no doubt, explains his repetition of the word "love" later on
in the song. And they say pop music has no spiritual depth! Next up—a reflection on
spiritual meaning in the songs of Usher--stay tuned...
We are so blessed with and grateful for friends far and near (yep, that means you!)
That’s our overview for this year. We look forward to hearing yours. I’ve been terrible
about keeping in touch, but if you call or write we will eventually respond! Hope and
pray you all are well, feel free to return the favor. :D All things considered, be well, do
good work, and keep in touch. ;) Oh yes, and don’t give a sheet.
God bless,
The Dancauses

Christmas past 2011

For fun, I've decided to post in descending order the last ten years of my Christmas letters (no really, this will be fun. For me at least. :) just in case my Christmas letter readership missed one (always possible, as I think I send cards out to different people every year. In late January.) Or my new readers could just learn a bit more about moi. Or I'll just have a handy place to look up these for myself, whichever. :) Have a good night!-TLC

Dear Family and Friends,

As we close our last full year on earth (according to sensational Hollywood and Mayan predictions), it occurs to me that, all-in-all, prison may be the best place to spend it.  The prospect of a location where I am left alone to read and sleep, brought multiple meals each day, and given exercise time seems paradisial.  And though I am only a serious diaper-shoplifting spree away, alas, I have no time for crime.  And yes, after my initial 24 hours of solid sleep, I would really miss our four—yes four!—children.  Since last Christmas, we’ve gone and had the 2011 Dancause addition:  Felicity joined us on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which despite this dolorous feast day was a very happy event, though we had somewhat wished a more male addition.  Still we wouldn’t—in the end--trade any of the pink for blue.   Or Cinderella dolls for Transformers.  Or ballet slippers for boxing gloves… you get the picture.  I still have this adorable little blue cap that I can’t let go of yet though…

I scowl every time I have to say “I don’t work” on an application… it is so abundantly unfair and untrue for stay-at-home moms, despite our freedom to attend great mothers’ groups and theoretically take a very occasional nap….I mean, I research solutions to night terrors, and study the progress of teething…  I do greatly miss having more purely academic pursuits, but I am told Dan and I have the most important job on earth.  And I do get to freelance a little sometimes….currently for Rhode Island Catholic; if you Google my name, you will be treated to a couple stellar articles on teens in cardboard boxes, for instance.  Dan does “actually” continue to work for a Financial Advisory firm in Providence (which is doing quite well—they won a national award this year!), and we are both boldly continuing our formerly pretty social, somewhat intellectual, occasionally stimulating existence as parents of four pre-teen young ladies.  

Most recently, I braved a shhhwanky restaurant for Dan’s company party avec infant seat as an accessory to my (relatively) little black dress and (rarely used) tall boots.  After having our war-torn blue minivan valet-parked, we made our family way past coat check to the bar, greeting the members of Dan’s small company, for whom those who had kids have them comfortably in higher education, with the baby days no more than a hazy memory of cute gurgles gone by.  We were asked for our drink order…  “A Manhattan,” said Dan.  “The same,” I smiled, thinking how very classy it all sounded, and wondering what the name could mean.  (For those of you who do not have alcohol as a second language, a Manhattan is a pretty dark reddish drink in a pretty cone-shaped glass whose taste is pretty similar to kerosene.  An extra shaker of this liquid is provided in the event any nearby hurricane lamps need refilling.)

So now, I’m elegantly putting the drink to my lips, hoping no one is noticing that its level is not going down.  Glass in hand and infant seat in the other—bracelet jangling over it—we find our way in the dim light to the candled, cloth-napkined table.  And I act completely unsurprised by the $26 appetizer menu, and of course, thank you, I’ll have cabernet, too.  I arrange the wine glass carefully beside my other glass of combustible liquid, and wonder dolefully how much money I’m wasting.

Meanwhile, Felicity’s need to join the party grew stronger, and her movements and noises increased apace.  A waitress very helpfully presented me with a delectable mash of carrots and sweet potatoes salted with anchovy tears, tickled with turnip leaves, and sauté-boiled with a reduction of parsnip seeds and alpaca butter… okay, something like that anyway.  I thanked her profusely.  She came back in two minutes to see how my barely-three-month-old “enjoyed it.”  I didn’t have the heart, nor the desire, to explain the nutritional needs of infants to the dear “I-have-only-seen-two-infants-in-my-16-years” waitress.

Felicity, however, was keenly aware of her true nutritional needs, and took that moment to politely remind me that, generally, I nurse on demand.  Now, I am very pro nursing.  I have been to La Leche League meetings.  I have nursed for almost six years of my life already, in a variety of environments.  But this table—where the discussion had sauntered into the aesthetic benefits of copper-metal gutters--would not be one of them.  So I gracefully rose, delicately extracted the snorting infant from her blankets, and proceeded to—where else?—the ladies room.  Therein I found no corner chair as I had hoped, but merely two elegantly appointed but merely practical stalls.  And the maitre-de, prepared to be helpful.  “Oh!  What an adorable baby! Em… would you like me to hold her while you use the facilities?”   

I sighed.  With no changing table in sight, it seemed honesty was the only policy.  “Thank you, but actually I’m just going to nurse her.”  “Oh!” she said, seeming taken aback by my mammalian proclivities.  I was tempted to say, “Would you kindly show me to the salon du lait?”  But I did not say that.  Instead I smiled, gulped, chose a stall, and gingerly perched my bedecked self on the only seat available for the feeding business at hand, and the solicitous attendant departed to spend the rest of the evening giving me odd looks whenever she passed. 

I was not alone long however.  Soon, the empty bathroom boasted a line.  A quiet, patient, polite line, thinking I know not what as my daughter entertained them with most un-bathroom-like noises.  (This was to be her loud feeding of the day.) Gulp.  Slurp.  Slurp.   Smack.  Sigh.  Belch.  And I died a thousand deaths to pride, pondering if I should make some sort of announcement, like, “I’m sure you are all wondering what on earth is going on in here, but actually I’m just feeding my kid on the toilet.”  

But I lived to tell the tale!  J And most of my life is not as embarrassing, as I tend to keep to circles where spit up is not greeted with panic…The highlights of our year definitely included lots of time spent with other young families.  And Dan got to usher in two weddings of dear friends and godfathers of our kids, both down south, in mid July!  I got to attend one and waddle my dance moves in my maternity best.  I was also a (pregnant) brides-matron in the spring for my brother’s wedding.  After four years of no weddings, I got to attend four in one year, each with a baby bump.  Now I have lots and lots of casual and professional pictures of my plumpest self.  Very funny, people—Very funny.  
Despite the recurring loss of vanity, we are so grateful for the many blessings in our lives.  Materially, we acquired the aforementioned mature (yet almost presentable) blue minivan this year, and also a new roof for our house, courtesy of a gang of helpful-if-amateur teens.  A full week of prying and pounding and some picture re-hanging in late-June left us with a leak-free upper storey, ready for finishing, so that the six of us can someday stretch out a bit beyond our current 1,000 square feet of house space.  Most of all, we are grateful to our God for our children: a very tall 9-year-old violin-scratcher, who is equally enthusiastic as a little mother to her baby sisters and as a basketball player; a similarly-sized 8-year-old aspiring harpist whose social charms and expansive vocabulary have many teachers and friends wrapped around her little finger; a toddler with infectious laughter who blesses herself in every puddle; and a peaceably pudgy infant whose gummy smiles light up our world.

We hope you all are doing well too!  You are all in our thoughts and prayers; thank you for yours!  A very Merry Christmas and blessed 2012 to you all!  

Yours truly, from the land of little women and one big guy, 
Katie, Dan, Annemarie, Claire, Cecilia, and Felicity

Friday, January 11, 2013

I've seen better

So I'm sick again, like most of the Northeast right now. When I'm not alternately hiding from my toddlers under the covers and checking to make sure they haven't made significant mischief, I go to patronize the local doctor's office. Both babies in tow.

"Oops she dropped her cracker. Your strollers about to run over it. Oh wait, it did. There's a tissue box over here." Ah, beloved helpful elderly patients in the waiting room. I'm always a huge fan of cleaning up after oneself, but when one is a. nauseated and b. with a one and three year ok in tow, bending to pick up immediately after each and every article they shed from their stroller is quite inadvisable. Like really. But when you have sweet, well meaning older folks trying to coach you into perfect parenthood in the doctor's office, you try to oblige. "Oops, she lost a mitten over there. And excuse me, she's eating her sock." At least no one attempted my favorite senior phrase, the final proof of parental amnesia: "Make sure you enjoy these times. Best years of your life."

At the moment I can categorically state these are not the best years of my life I'm waiting for Zofran to work or unconsciousness at the moment, whichever can get here quicker. So take vitamin c and d dear friends. Enjoy the sun if you've got some. Sleep if you can. Oremus pro invicem! -TLC

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas 2012 / Epiphany 2013

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a married women in possession of four children must be in want of more. So I gather from being continually asked by ever-well-meaning family, friends, doctors, cashiers, and passers-by:  "Are you having any more?" When I had my third, it was kinda "the new two," and I didn't get too bothered.  But now, society has apparently stamped "breeder" on my forehead.  And few remember that I am a temporarily retired teacher, student, traveler, writer, and... well, mostly a rather rational being.  Most mothers are actually.  And, as a species, we don't necessarily believe (in any way) that a sleepless, privacy and free-time-free life of childcare, dishes, and laundry is an ideal permanent existence.  But whenever I try to joke when filling out medical forms or something, writing, "I work, but I don't get paid" and they say "What do you mean?" and I say, "Oh, I work my tail off but I get no money for it" and they say "So you don't work" I just sigh and say. "No. I don't. But I get unbelievable benefits, really!"

And they don't believe me.  So I figured I might as well humor them. This year, the Dancause family welcomed its newest member, which happily replaced the previous member that was old, annoying, didn't pull its weight, and required too many major organ transplants.  Okay no, we "just" have four kids, and no, both my 96 year old grandmother and 88 year old grandfather are doing fine and worth their weight in gold. The new baby in our lives is a 2013 Toyota Sienna mini van, our first lease, our first attempt at a new car.  Okay, "love" is a strong word.  Well, not too strong for the sheer awesomeness of power windows and doors, remote locks and alarms, and a sweet mirror to spy on the kids from the front seat.  But very strong for a car that lied to us about itself.  It said it was Cypress Pearl.  More like Swamp Mud Green. We now drive a non-descript, sorta greenish colored car; you know, the type that you can't imagine anyone ever willingly buying because the color is so ugly. Okay fine, the type _I_ openly voiced was the ugliest shade of car ever.  Best not to make fun of people's choices, really.  Turns out we mud-colored car drivers have just all been duped by "Cypress Pearl" advertisements.

But we love everything else about our new addition, and do not (at all) mourn the demise of our old mini van, which required not one but two replacement transmissions within a year. And it preferred family vacations for these ministrations.  Last year, I welcomed in the New Year at the side of "Riley" in the front of a tow truck, with baby in a bucket seat in the middle, celebrating the dawn of 2012 with the regaling tales of Riley's AAA adventures, estranged girlfriend, low salary, and his obscene conversations with his GPS system, which it seems he despised.  Forsaking their champagne, my sisters-in-law drove over an hour from our Virginia destination to rescue the rest of my family in Pennslyvania where our van gave up the exhaust; they could not all fit in the tow truck, and thus missed the tales of Riley the disgruntled towist.  That was the first transmission replacement.  The replacement transmission died six months later in Boston, again eerily close to our destination, but not close enough, the day after our van barely made it to the top of Mt. Washington. At least this time, it was after our vacation to Storyland/Santa's Village in NH,

and occurred on the way home.  The former male Dancause owner of the van still claims no connection between the highest point in Northeast and the demise of our vehicle.  

Our new van favors no such shenanigans: we have driven it back and forth to Virginia and throughout DC, one of two family trips to the southern home of my inlaws this year.

If you are from Virginia, yet didn't see us while we were down there, do not be offended: we did not see you either.  But please be assured we wanted to!  There is absurdly limited vacation time available and much time is spent with getting our dear extended family acquainted with their grandkids and nieces.  And either I'm getting old or my family is getting big but I'm finding all these long van rides a bit much.... Oops, forgot to mention we did a double trip to New Hampshire this summer as well: once for vacation and once to drop our oldest off to her first full week away from us (gasp) at an Opus Dei camp... Therefore, I'm determined to stay in the New England area until next Christmas letter.  We'll see how long this last before wanderlust sets in again.  I used to like to travel, like before potty training and naptimes and screaming teething tots and overly energetic tweens.  Maybe I will like it again someday and come to see you.  Meanwhile, it's y'all's turn y'all!!!  Come on over and pull up a.... tent. 

Sigh.  Wish I could put you up in our guest room, but we do have a concrete challenge in that regard.  Well, a wooden one anyway.  Our house sports 1000 square feet, two cute bedrooms, with adorable matching closets, and one bathroom/breezeway connecting the two.  As our house's value has an underwater view, moving isn't feasible at the moment... and between dearth of time, childcare, financing, materials, know-how, luck, and lack of sufficient caffeine, we have still. not. been. able. to. renovate the attic. Meanwhile, we contemplate the lives of the Pilgrims, pioneers, and communist Poland while experimenting with advanced adventures in sleeping arrangements: currently I have both oversized girls in a queen loft, with a crib and toddler bed tucked underneath.  No, this is not a cry for help, just the antidote to Christmas letters detailing cruises you've been reading from distant relatives.  This is the new complaint section of the Christmas letter, which I suspect you will find oddly refreshing.  I merely mention this in case you are getting rid of space, are tripping over dry wall you don't know what to do with, want someone to nominate for Extreme Makeover Home Edition, or are an incurably bored contractor: bring it on down to us!  We are near, fortunately, a lovely playground, tennis and basketball court, and baseball field.  We have much to be grateful for. Meanwhile, I will continue to bravely resist taking a sledge hammer to the wall near the driveway while using "Concrete Block Houses for Dummies" in my non-spare time.


Ah.  After that refreshing bit of realism, I'm behooved to go back to bragging: Dan was happy to have realized his dream of again renting a convertible, this time enjoyably and for a New York excursion with a friend.  Last time he rented a convertible, I was 20 and it was our college spring formal.  Traveling with another couple of friends, we concluded a romantic meal of take-out Long John Silvers in the woods (in heels) (without bug repellent). My female companion and I then held our gowns up daintily over the brush to enter the convertible, treated our coiffed hair to the experience of a  topless car at speed, and were then assaulted by a suicidal deer on the way to the dance. This somewhat reduced the fun had there by the renter of said vehicle.  But naturally, I'm over it and no longer remember the gory details as though it was yesterday. More like it was last week now, really.
I have amused myself this year by being the subject of mommy makeovers provided by my dear sisters-in-law.  I have made a part-time job out of the wild and wonderful sport of research studies by guinea pigging myself and my children at the many and varied hospitals in the area.  I have continued mystery shopping, most recently enrolling in a massage therapy program (no, they don't let you actually learn anything, sigh.)  I've continued writing occasional articles and taking pictures for the diocesan paper.  I have used my walker only one day this year, which is really excellent.  I confess I have used my handicap parking permit wayyy more than that.  But a woman with small kids in sleeting rain is, in every sense, handicapped, so I do.  If there are more spots of course; I try to be just.  I have also been trying to break into the local theater scene.  Well, they've successfully kept me out so far, but I'm still breaking in.  I've been auditioning for various (clean, traditional) roles in the area, and have gotten everything from, "We can really use you; this is wonderful!" followed by... nothing, and "You obviously have a cockney accent," followed by more nothing.  I did however land the role of choral supervisor of singing urchins in a local Christmas carol.  I turned this down because my own thespian offspring were dancing in the Nutcracker (Claire) and starring in Alice in Wonderland as... Alice. (Annemarie) In Wonderland. 

 And most recently, blogging.  As some of you can see.  And it is you, oh faithful readers of the Dancause Christmas letter, that I have to thank / blame for this triumph / atrocity.  Took me years to work up the nerve to do it--because the knowledge that I am, inevitably, sometime somehow going to annoy, or shock, or offend people pains me very much.   I have now worked up the courage to tell everyone except my family that I am blogging.  That is probably not healthy or authentic, but there it is.  It's taken me months to kind of practice it and... in the end, I have no idea if it's worthwhile. However, if you tend to like this sort of disorganized attempt at humorous writing, peppered with occasional quasi deep thoughts emerging from years of severe mental retention filled with mommying, no studying, and little reading, then do feel free to read/ follow my blog.  So far for me it's a bit like going into an empty auditorium and giving a speech... an odd feeling.  But at least it's making me write more than once a year.  :)   Anyway.  Hopefully I will come out making sense in the end.  Thanks for listening; I half-heartedly approve this announcement of my blog.  And oh dear, now I am feeling shy.  Yet I do, really, want constructive advice and criticism.  Along with chocolate.  Maybe money, but I'll settle for chocolate for now.


As for my kids, Felicity is fifteen months old and walking.  And running.  And smiling and babbling.  And dancing, wiggling her bottom like a puppy while waving her arms like she is lost in space.  It's as funny as it sounds. 

Cecilia is a dominating force of nature with a stunning vocabulary, and equally stunning volume to go with her stunning stature for a three year old.  Her main downside is that she looks five, and is really and truly in every way three.  The kind of three that is not very amused by potty training, but looks wayyy too big for a pull up.  Too big looking to knock down block towers and get away with a casual, "Oh.  I so sowwy."  Too young but too tall to know that she shouldn't get on the counters and in the sinks and heft open the freezer and fridge to gift her little sister with, say, an open container of cottage cheese or frosting, sans spoon.  She is as artistic as she is generous; all my walls bespeak her unstoppable urge to express herself in color and smiley faces of every shape.


Claire, now nine, is the type of kid I would not want to be in class with (being the competitive soul I was then, as she is now.)  But fortunately she is so absurdly friendly and talkative that everyone knows everything about her (and her family) and likes her very much.  She seems to excel at everything she's exposed to, which now includes harp, singing, ballet, and basketball. 

And Annemarie is really the dream oldest child.  She is so good with children, and has such natural maternal instincts.  She's ten, but her maturity with caring for babies and her height (she wears my shoes and some clothes) makes her seem much older, but then she gallops around the playground with the rest of the kids and seems younger.  She is one of the most loving people I know, sensitive and sweet.  Her smile spreads off her face.  She is witty and insightful and can easily get lost in a book.  I can't wait to homeschool her.  (Tune in next year to see how our first quarter went. :)

That being said, and in the interest of not being one of those parents who brag about their children, they can all be pains in the butt somedays, absolutely.  But they're worth it.

I think I have a few things figured out at the end of this year: I'll be a homeschooling mom next year, God willing, while Claire wants to finish off the next two years and graduate with her class, and I see no reason not to let her do so.  Other than the fact that as a homeschooling mom and a public school parent, I will be neither fish nor fowl as Fr. Skeris would say. :) That suits me somehow though.  I also have figured out that we are called to be the parents of daughters.  That God saw that I'd be really good at raising girls.  I like to think of it in these terms as opposed to the good Lord saw that Dan and I would absolutely stink at raising boys.  No, I like to think instead, I'm a girl expert.  Now, barrettes, now headbands, now pink-colored objects!  On mood swings, driving permits, on sanitary napkins!  Come college apps, come boyfriends (scratch that), come well-arranged marriages!  Dancause women are growing, may God help us all!


May the little Boy of Bethlehem bless your lives with all good things this Christmas, this new year, and always.


With love, from the Land of Little Women and One Big Guy