Welcome back to another exciting episode of Family Friday! In this week’s episode we will talk all about gardening.
We have a great showing of spring flowers at our house. We spent a good deal of money last year (a good deal, that is, for plants that don’t bear food) on expanding our mid-summer flower palette as well. The trick is to find perennials that are drought resistant, reliable, and low maintenance. Bonus points if they spread and cover an area to keep down the weeds.
Dude’s Garden is coming in nicely as well, and her orchard is starting to fruit.
We went up on Saturday to pick raspberries. Evie did a great job, and covered the bottom of her little bucket twice. The first time she ate them all, the second time she dumped them in the family bucket.
Sunday was a good day at home. It was super hot (by Washington standards), so we decided to fill up the pool.
Daddy had to go around the front to turn the water on, and when he came back, the spray head was doing its best impression of Old Faithful.
But we got it filled eventually. It was nice, for a little while.
And it provided a great opportunity for an impromptu science lesson.
Then the kids decided to fill it with dirt from the mole hills that have been popping up in our back yard. Because dirt soup is more fun.
And that’s all for this week! Please pray for us, and remember to pray for Papa who has been transferred to a rehab hospital and is doing amazing with his physical and speech therapy.
Welcome back to another episode of Family Friday, in which we have officially crossed the line into Summertime!
And the livin’ is easy!
At least in the five minutes you can grab here and there between work, diaper changes, breastfeeding, teaching, cooking, cleaning, etc.
Hey, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
The cleaning frenzy continued last week, as Daddy realized time was short. He had to go back to work on Monday. So Friday he finally turned his attention to the last bastion of disorder… The tools in the cupboard, and the pile of military gear on the floor of the garage.
The girls decided to help…
We got the tools squared away, but then the military gear…
Well, after shuffling it around here and there for an hour, Daddy made a very decisive and prudent decision…
To start procrastinating.
I am proud to say he didn’t wait around but acted on that decision immediately. Shoved the gear under the stairs and poured himself a beer.
On saturday we picked out tile for the new granite countertops Kathleen has been wanting for years. We figure, probably ought to put them in now, increase the resale value of the house, in case we decide to move next year or something.
Then on Sunday we got to go to Mass together as a family for the first time since March 1. (We all went to Mass on March 8, but it was a drill weekend and we all went separately.)
It was so beautiful, despite the few people, the meagre singing, and the masks, and having to stay separate from everyone (who desperately wanted to hold the Seppi). It was the Mass, we received Our Lord in the Eucharist.
For Evie it was like she had never been to Mass before, and she was asking questions and watching and paying unusual attention. Ellie was happy and snuggly and watched everything.
Oh, yeah, the Saturday night story. Mommy woke up with some breast-feeding tenderness on Saturday morning, and we kind of watched it and managed it throughout the day, but it suddenly got worse after we went to bed , and Mommy spike a little fever. So she ended up having to go to the Urgent Care, and didn’t get back until 1:00 AM. Meanwhile, Seppi was gassy, and then hungry, and didn’t think Daddy with a bottle was much of a substitute for Mommy, although he’s too much of a boy to turn his little nose up at any food.
He just woke up and insisted Mommy feed him at 3 AM.
Then Ellie had bad dreams at 5.
So between the two of us, we got about seven hours of sleep that night, when we were scheduled for 9:00 AM Mass.
By God’s grace we pulled through, and received the grace of the Sacrament. Then we headed up to Uncle Adam and Auntie Maryanne’s for a long overdue visit.
So that was an excellent Sunday. You may ask, “But what about masks?! And Social Distancing?!”
Well, they were quarantined (working from home), and we were quarantined (off work) so…. Two closed systems meeting up. Science.
Daddy went back to work on Monday, and has been doing his best to remember all the medicine he learned…
Actually, the medicine is the easy part. The hard part to remember is the computer systems and work flows, because they change all the time.
But the rest of the time we are busy trying to hang out together as a family.
And that’s all for this week.
Oh, another gift from Aunt Renee’. She’s just the best!
Keep her in your prayers as well, she was recently diagnosed with cancer and is going through chemo.
God Bless! Remember to pray, especially for families, to the Holy Family.
So here we are, in the very last week of Daddy’s paternity leave, which is also the very first week of his paternity leave because he has been busy the other weeks. So we decided to spend this week doing all the projects we didn’t do in the last three weeks. We started with the inside of the house.
Chores take longer to do these days, what with having a Seppi who insists on being paid attention to from time to time.
But most of the time he is a pretty chill baby. He wants to be fed at regular intervals, to sleep at regular intervals, and to get his diaper changed when it’s dirty. He eats, he sleeps, he poops.
He does more of all three than either of the girls did. At two weeks old he is now starting to look around, make eye-contact, even smile once or twice, and make little cooing noises. All perfectly ordinary baby stuff…
But always perfectly wonderful.
There is also a lot of outside work to be done. The garden is mostly back under control, and we are getting some delicious lettuce.
The sugar snap peas are going to be ready very soon. We will need to stay on top of those, since they get tough and bitter really easily.
On Sunday Uncle Adam and Auntie Maryanne came over to have pizza with us.
The working continued with work in the garden, pruning, weeding. Daddy didn’t take time for a dedicated, formal workout, so he ended up taking lots of breaks to do exercises with the kids.
We spent hours and hours and hours catching up on projects, and you know, for the life of me, I can’t remember all of them. I just know that the garden is looking really nice, and the house is looking really clean.
And there are a ton less baby clothes in the garage.
Yes, we did sort through all that chaos in a single day.
I do know we got irrigation lines put around the string beans, melons, squash, and volunteer tomatoes (with any luck they will turn out to be romas). I remember because I took a picture of the girls helping me find out where the leaks were in the hose.
And that’s all for this week. We continue to muddle on as Daddy gets ready to go to work, and Papa is still in the hospital. We call him up at night to FaceTime with him and say the rosary. This Friday he was fitted with a trach and a PEG tube to get him ready to move to a long term care facility.
So we still pray for God’s will to be done, and offer up this sacrifice for those who need it most.
This week has been the very devil of a week. It has been an emotional roller coaster. And it has been a long week, with lot’s going on. Who knows if we’ll even get to it all.
Let’s start where we left off. Last week Ryan’s Dad (a.k.a. “The New York Papa”, a.k.a. “Papa Doug”) fell from a ladder at work. The ladder was leaning against the face of a mow (which is a stack of hay bales) and the stack gave way, the ladder toppled and my dad fell and struck the one spot in the floor that wasn’t covered with a thick layer of loose hay. Trust a Kraeger to find the hardest thing around to crack his head against.
And he literally cracked his head. He has bilateral skull fractures, broken ribs, bilateral collapsed lungs, and his pelvis is fractured in four places. Since then he has not regained consciousness.
My Dad is still unconscious, still in ICU. The care team meeting was a rather emotional event for all of us, but the plan remains essentially unchanged. They did the surgery today (Thursday) to repair his pelvis and it went perfectly, better than they thought it would. It may seem strange to repair his pelvis when he hasn’t even regained consciousness, but it was such a minimally invasive thing, and in the event that he ever regains function, this will give him the best chance for whatever mobility he is neurologically capable of.
The chest trauma seems to be healing really well. The collapsed lungs are re-inflated, the drainage from the chest tubes is minimal, and those will be downgraded in the next few days to weeks.
The real question mark remains his neurological status. He still has diffuse axonal injury (DAI), with several areas of stroke. He has not regained consciousness, but now that they let my mom visit once (don’t get me started on that bureaucratic nightmare) he has begun to show signs of increased responsiveness. He briefly opened his eyes yesterday.
We simply don’t know what the outcome of this is going to be. The neurological insult was pretty intense, and medically speaking there is no way to predict whether he will recover, partially recover with some deficit, minimally recover with profound disability, or never recover at all. As far as I know, there is nothing we can do, medically, to influence the outcome either way. We are looking into Skilled Nursing Home options, since we anticipate he will be at the limit of what the hospital can do for him some time in the next couple weeks.
The most important thing is, thank-you all for your prayers. They have supported and strengthened and guided us. Whatever neurological progress we make in the future I attribute specifically to prayer. The family has begun the novena to Joseph the Worker yesterday, as St. Joseph was always my Dad’s favorite saint. Please feel free to join us in that if you feel so led (today would be day 2).
And now, on to the pictures. Let’s just do a gallery, since that’s the easiest way to get through them.
Why were we moving hay? As the oldest brother, Ian, said, “Because that’s what Kraegers do. We work.”
It’s ironic, in the hay moving pictures, we were all there because of an accident that happened to our dad while moving hay, but Ian needed us to come help move hay on the farm. He explained that whoever it was that built the face of the mow that collapsed under Dad, it wasn’t my Dad. his faces never collapsed.
It was odd to watch Ian working, like a very slightly stockier version of Dad, carefully setting the bales, interlocking them, gently building his mow from the outside wall in, all the while explaining the peculiarities of this particular cutting, from the soil it grew in, to the seeding, the weather, the mowing, baling, and mowing (the first mowing is pronounced to rhyme with “rowing” and the second is pronounced to rhyme with “plowing.”)
Then Daddy flew home. It is good to be home, although the whole family still has a long row to hoe.
And that is all for this week. Please keep us in your prayers.
This Family Friday is going to be a bit rushed, and I will explain why at the end. But first, let’s start at the beginning of the week, with…
The Calm before the Storm.
I remember as I took this picture, wishing that everyone could have as beautiful and as peaceful a Saturday as this. Daddy and Evie drawing, Mommy and Ellie sewing, Seppi patiently awaiting his birth. I remember thinking that the tragedy of this picture was not this picture, but the fact that everyone cannot, in fact, have this. Not because this is a privilege that has been granted to some and not to others, but because this, peace, security, love, the pursuit of civilization in all its forms, is a right that too many have been denied. Remember this, going forward.
Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel. The girls find the altar railing with its gate endlessly fascinating.
We dropped the girls off at Deedee and Papa’s house.
And then went and checked in at the hospital…
The Birth! Of the Seppi!
There he is! Joseph “Seppi” Leopold, 19 inches, 8 Lbs 8 Oz. A full pound heavier than either of his sisters, with a powerful cry and a good strong latch. A little more chunky in the upper body than the girls were, less inclined to push with his legs, probably gets that from Daddy. He also has a very serious, ponderous brow.
Kathleen did not want me to post this picture, but I want to because it shows courage in one of its least understood forms. It has been less than three days since her abs were sliced open from one side to the other, yet here she is, putting one foot in front of the other, preparing to go up into our house and sit down for weeks of feeding a hungry, hungry baby boy, day and night, what seems like non-stop.
And there’s the baby on the kitchen table.
We are home. We were really looking forward to having the girls come home tomorrow. They had been having a blast ad Deedee and Papa’s house. Fortunately the weather turned out nicer than was forecast, so they had all kinds of adventures.
Unfortunately, that reunion will be delayed, now.
Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, that is, as I am typing this on a Thursday)my Dad (Ryan’s dad, a.k.a. The New York Papa) fell from a ladder at work, roughly twenty feet. He is currently in the hospital with broken pelvis, broken ribs, collapsed lung, bleeding around his aorta, broken neck, and a closed head injury. He is sedated, critical but stable, the surgery to repair his aorta went well. I am flying out today to be with my family. Adam will be flying with me, and his family may follow in a few days, if needed. Kathleen and the girls can’t come with us, just due to everything.
Why am I ending FF on such a downer? Because that’s life. That’s family.
Our Aunt Renee’ was diagnosed with cancer late last week and is starting chemo soon. We talked briefly on Facebook chat, and it was unbelievably wonderful to know someone to whom I can say, “The world needs your sacrifice” and she understood what that meant, and was already making her list of intentions.
My Dad is the same way. My dad’s injuries are extensive. They could easily kill a much younger man, but he is undoubtedly the toughest 67-year-old I know. Regardless of the outcome, his life is changed for ever. Even if he survives he has a long, painful recovery ahead, and will never be able to work like he used to. I have never met a man more totally abandoned to the will of God, to the point where sometimes it almost seems as if he has no will of his own, anymore. He simply says “yes” and does whatever God asks him to do. He sees the hand of God in every circumstance of life. Less than a week ago he sent me one of his exhortations, on email.
pray that they choose to pray for the graces to seek, more and more, the things that pertain to heaven, loving all with a sacrificial love and giving thanks, rejoicing, that in some way, their (voluntary) sufferings and afflictions make up what is lacking in the infinite, voluntary, afflictions of Our lord Jesus Christ for the sake of His body, the Church (Col. 1:24)
Douglas Kraeger, June 2020.
Family Friday, generally speaking, is a happy blog. We try to live a happy life, we try to give our girls, and now our boy too, a stable, peaceful, loving, environment. Even in the midst of crisis, we welcome Seppi as a sign that God is good, He loves us, He wants more life and to share His goodness with more life.
But Family is sometimes sad as well, because that is the inevitable result of love in a fallen world. If you love, your heart will be broken, sooner or later. Family Friday will not hide that reality. Instead, we triumphantly proclaim, it is is worth it.
I have to get on a plane. Love you all. Do not waste time. Right now, do what you’ve been meaning to do for that person you love.
Welcome to Family Friday from a time near the end of the world! We have viruses (although you don’t hear about them as much), riots, landslides, chaos in every sense. It is a world gone mad.
But at least the gas is cheap.
It can get discouraging, the constant barrage of bad news. In times like these it is important to remember what is important.
Family is important.
Gardening is important.
Daddy continues to work on his bowyery skills…
You may wonder what the point of all this bowyery is, in an age of gunpowder? Well, it’s not as loud, for one thing. For another it’s something we can do with the little girls. For another, making and using bows and arrows is a more peaceful, meditative experience.
Even when Evie is doing it.
She actually slows down and concentrates, and works at it diligently and carefully for 10 or 20 minutes at a time. She isn’t too bad, for a five-year-old.
On Sunday we took a break from St. Mary’s in Greenville, SC, to Our Lady of Good Counsel in Verona, NY.
Now that Mommy is in full-on nesting mode, she wanted Daddy to pick up his books that he is in various stages of reading. So we moved all the furniture and stacks of books and prepared to put books on shelves.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, once we tried to put all the books on shelves, there was not even close to enough shelf-space. This led to an online order, and a trip to our local furniture store to pick up shelves, and then a few hours of work fastening them to the wall (Daddy had to modify the shelves slightly to make them fasten-able.)
Then came the fun part…
Moving books, organizing books, stopping to reacquaint ourselves with long-lost books… It took us all day, and Ellie loved it. She is her father’s daughter!
She is also her mother’s daughter.
When all was said and done, the back area of the living room, the once-verboten “behind the couch” area (forbidden because of the risk to Daddy’s precious books) is now opened and inviting to all the small people…
As a delightful reading nook, full of books down at very reachable level, including an entire set of encyclopedias (Daddy’s favorite thing to read as a child).
On Monday we zoom chatted with Uncle Adam and family while we joined Pope Francis praying the Rosary for an end to COVID.
Then on Wednesday we went on a bear hunt.
Daddy had to cut more staves for bows, and the girls came along to protect him from the bears.
Not unexpectedly, we did find a cave, and a bear with the requisite two big goggly eyes, etc… So we ran home as fast as we could. Ellie actually ran over a quarter of a mile non-stop, yelling “Bear! Bear!” over her shoulder.
And then on Wednesday night we had ourselves a little bonfire to get rid of some brush and wood shavings, and of course, just to enjoy some fire.
Evie fanned the flames for a little bit, until it got too hot. Then she sat and toasted her toes.
Meanwhile, Ellie ran around the yard collecting all the sticks she could get her little paws on to throw in the fire.
Wow, I still have a lot of pictures left. It’s amazing how much we do together as a family while Mommy and Daddy are both home all week.
That’s all for this week folks. Remember to pray for our country, for our families. Please pray for Ryan’s Aunt Renee’ who was diagnosed with cancer of some unknown type this week.
Welcome to another Family Friday, this time with lots of outdoors. Last weekend was an outdoors kind of weekend, unlike this coming weekend which looks like we plan on getting about an inch of rain. The garden will love it.
We have some very exciting news! Back in February 2019, we got a concord grape root from Deedee and Papa. Kathleen’s grandpa Joe had transplanted it from his dad’s farm about 60 years ago, then Papa transplanted it again some 30 years ago to their house. Two years ago Daddy and Papa dug it out to make room for the new addition he was planning on adding to his shed. We dumped the root ball in a tub of cow manure and covered it with water, and then drove it down to our house. Uncle Adam helped Daddy lug the tub around to the back and put it in the dirt.
The sign of life we found in Spring 2019 proved illusory. By the end of summer 2019, it was still just a dried out old twig. Over the winter, Daddy read several pruning books, and brought a book about grapes (he has yet to do more than skim this one, time being what it is, but having bought it he expects to absorb some knowledge by osmosis). In keeping with their recommendations, he hacked this grapevine back to nothing but a couple of one-inch stubs in March.
It was rather like the parable of the barren fig in Luke 13. After letting it sit and soak up rain and manure and enriching the soil for a year and a half, just last saturday, while weeding the back fence, we found this!
Never give up on a concord grape. In a few short years we will probably be getting fruit off of it. Just in time for us to move to another house.
Evie was also busy in the garden, weeding among the peas.
We’ve been having issues with a pesky rabbit chewing the tendrils off the peas before they can reach the wires, but a few of them got through and reached the wires, and not they are starting to take off.
Mommy and Ellie went shopping, so Daddy and Evie hung out in the garden.
Later in the day we filled the pool, even though it was cloudy and quite chilly. Ellie was so excited to go in it that she got her own bathing suit on all by herself (over her clothes).
She will go in the water no matter what the weather.
Sunday was little gray and rainy, and we are still staying home, but we all dressed up for Mass anyway.
We have really been enjoying the liturgical beauty at St. Mary’s in Greenville, SC. It’s a pity we don’t live closer there.
Then we sat outside for what has become our family tradition of “coffee hour” with tea, hot cocoa and snacks after livestream Mass.
The bow that Daddy made for Ellie last week broke, so Daddy started work on another. After two hours, three broken staves, and a tension headache, he finally got one green stave (cedar, from the tree in our yard) bound to a form in a decurve-recurve configuration.
We’ll take it off the form this weekend, or maybe next week, and finish the tiller and stringing. Right now it is entirely too heavy for Ellie to pull.
So that was the weekend, and the week crept by somewhat slowly with work and such.
Mommy had Monday off, but Daddy had to work. So Mommy sent him pictures of the girls “practicing being tough, so we can be an army someday.”
Evie decided this hat was more her style.
And that’s all for this week. Y’all have a good weekend, we’ll see you next time.
You know you are growing old and responsible, or perhaps just plain boring, when your idea of an excellent Saturday is a day when you managed to get caught up on all your tasks. But this was indeed, just such a remarkable Saturday.
Mommy canned 20lbs of potatoes, with a little help from the Ellie.
That turned into twelve quarts and a pint.
How were they, you might ask? Well, just to see how they turned out we opened up the pint, and roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper. They turned out delicious, at least to the adults. The girls do not like potatoes, and were not fooled by us diplomatically referring to them as “dirt apples.” They didn’t like them, but they did eat them, so that’s a win!
Mommy also got a whole week’s worth of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away.
Daddy also knocked out a list of smaller but still numerous tasks, including rolling the new front lawn, caging the peonies, weeding the front flower bed, thinning the remaining apple tree, shredding a tote bag of newspaper to add to the compost,
put together an outdoor cupboard, and installed the new blinds.
So that was a productive day, despite the rain.
Next weekend we plan on getting the garden weeded, and the lawn mowed (again!).
Speaking of gardens, ours is doing quite well.
Sunday we tried, successfully, to do no major work. We watched Mass on Facebook again, then had coffee hour on the back deck.
Daddy continued his practice in bowyery, this time with a bow for the Ellie-child. She was ecstatic!
Of course we did some coaching, and she actually launched a couple of arrows partially by herself. But she mostly just wanted to play Merida, (from the Disney movie “Brave”). She would shoot the arrow out into the lawn, and then run out and pretend to search for it for a minute, even though she knew perfectly well where it was. Then she would find it, and start to run back, then get distracted and run off in a different direction following “will-o-the-whisps,” and finally run back to us all breathless and exclaim, “Oh! I saw a whips!”
Then she would shoot another arrow and do it all over again.
This lasted until her bow broke. It is amazingly difficult to tiller a green stick bow light enough for a two-year-old to draw, without developing a hinge that weakens and eventually breaks. We’ll keep at it, probably try again this weekend.
Our efforts to attract bees have been quite successful. These gentle fellows are all over our yard this year.
They especially like the rhododendrons out front. Those bushes are practically humming with bumble bees and mason bees.
We also bought another order of worms to replenish the worms that we dug out of the composter when we emptied it out to spread on the garden. The garden is loving the compost, but the compost pile is feeling a bit neglected.
Then Evie and Ellie helped spread the rest of them on the front lawn, to help continue breaking down the leaves in the under layer.
And that’s about it for this week. We hope you all have a great holiday weekend. We’ll see you next week.
We discovered this week at the end of our #RosaryRuck that making people seem like they are close together when they are actually far apart is harder than it seems. Apparently unless you are a skilled photographer, you actually have to work at it.
That was our Saturday Morning #RosaryRuck. We got started a little early, covered a little extra distance, and Ryan sang “Regina Coeli” at the top of his lungs as they hiked through a residential area in Tacoma. Good times were had by all.
After that it was FAmily Breakfast at home. After Breakfast, Daddy tried to find his hat so he could go out and give the back yard its inaugural haircut for the year. It wasn’t in its usual place, which usually means…
One of the girls has it.
I tell you, that clover comes in THICK! We mulched half of it into the grass and still filled six lawnmower backs, which are all now in the composter. Since that shifts the C:N ratio drastically to the right, Mommy brought a whole bunch of old newspaper home from work, and we will try to get that shredded and mixed in this weekend. Since we emptied out the compost this spring, it is very important we start refilling it right away.
We are having a great mix of rain and sun these days, and the garden is loving it. Although, we can definitely tell that the ollas are working. the plants planted in a ring around them have a head start on everything else planted at the same time.
Mommy is feeling very pregnant these days, and very ready to get Seppi on out of there. She spent Saturday catching up on laundry, which means washing all the gender neutral newborn-through-three-months clothes we have, and hanging them all on the line.
Then, while Daddy finished the last half load, she took a few minutes to cool her feet in the pool. Being 8 months pregnant in 85 degree weather is not fun.
The water was nice and cool on her feet, and Seppi liked it, apparently, because he woke up and started stretching.
Daddy busied himself with setting up a tent for the girls to play in, although we did not get around to sleeping in it.
Unfortunately, after six days straight of getting up before 4 AM, Daddy was somewhat fatigued by the time evening rolled around, and did not want to spend the first few precious hours of the one good night of sleep of the whole week, trapped in a tent with two over-excited little girls. He did not trust them to fall asleep on their own in a timely manner, promises to the contrary notwithstanding, and so declined to camp out last weekend. Later on this summer, when we aren’t working so much, maybe.
It was still fun to play in until we took it down on Sunday evening, so it wouldn’t get filled with rain all week.
Meanwhile, we looked over at the pool and saw no Mommy in the pool, so Daddy went inside to check on her. He found her like this.
If she sits up too long, her feet swell. If she lies down, her heartburn flares up. So she improvised this sort of banana variation of right lateral recumbent position. Adapt, improvise, overcome.
Pregnancy is not for wimps.
On Sunday, while watching live stream Mass at St. Mary’s, Greenville, South Carolina, Evie and Ellie complained that we could not go to coffee hour. So after Mass we had our own “coffee hour” on the deck.
We had tea, cocoa, and stroopwaffles. The girls actually didn’t care for the stroopwaffles, which Mommy and Daddy found somewhat strange. How can you not like stroopwaffles, especially if you heat them up by resting them across the top of your tea mug until the caramel turns gooey?
And since it was mother’s day, we gave Mommy her Mother’s day gift.
Cow Pattern Wellingtons! Perfect for picking up what the cows are puttin’ down, if you follow me.
Happy Mother’s Day!
And that’s all for this week. We hope you have a restful weekend. Pray for us, and God Bless!
“Chivalry is only a word for that general spirit or state of mind which inspires a man to heroic and generous actions and keeps him conversant with all that is pure and beautiful in the intellectual worlds.
— Kenelm Henry Digby, “Maxims of Christian Chivalry”