May 31, 2010

A Soldier of Christ

Last Sunday wasn't just any Sunday.

It was the day on which our oldest daughter received the sacrament of Confirmation, the day on which the Holy Spirit gave her the graces to be a soldier of Christ.

We pray that Anna Marie, our pride and our joy, takes advantage of this sacramental grace and lives her life in accordance with God's will and as a witness to all.

We love you, Anna Marie. We are so proud of you. The signs of greatness are already there. Seize your potential and live your life for Christ. We will be here for you in love and in prayer.

Anna Marie (second from left), with some of her homeschooling girlfriends, just before Confirmation:
Anna Marie (front row), with the Bishop and the whole Confirmation class, just after Confirmation:

Birthday Smores & Sleepover

Kathleen's bonfire birthday sleepover was postponed due to rain, so it happened later in May than originally intended. But what fun those girls had!

Kathleen invited her friend, Heather, to spend the night. The girls made pizza, roasted marshmallows, and got in some good girl-talk before they conked out for the night. They even joined in praying for my nephew, Seth, who as born prematurely that evening and needed some help from above.

Good girls that they are, they included their younger siblings in the evening's festivities.

Too Cute for Words

Electric Omelette

Anna Marie and Kathleen had the opportunity to form a rock band through Rhapsody Arts, their music studio. With Kathleen on keyboard and Anna Marie on vocals, their five-member band, Electric Omelette, recently rocked out to "Life is a Highway" at the Scatz nightclub in Middleton.

With our friend and lifesaver, Grace, babysitting the three youngest munchkins at home, we had a perfectly civilized evening jamming to tunes on the way in "Dad's car" (always a step up from Mom's sporty twelve-passenger van) and jamming with the girls at Scatz.

Electric Omelette's next appearance: The pre-show for the Verona Hometown Days parade.

Finger Curls

Inspired by my friend, Rebecca, I decided to try finger curls in Marguerite's hair. The "puffs" which I'd done previously seemed a little hard on her hair, the elastic pulling on the hair shaft more than I would have liked.

These finger curls are not as numerous as they could have been, but since it was my first time, I'm giving myself a little pat on the back.

Since this first finger curl attempt, I have not been able to get Marguerite to sit still long enough to go a second round. Since she is starting to eat finger foods in her high chair now, perhaps that would be the best location for my next finger curl effort.

In spite of my amateurish efforts, that is one beautiful baby, eh?

A Couple 'O Cuties

Old Mother Hubbard Syndrome

Visitors are usually stunned when they see our chock-full refrigerators and pantry. Coming from big families, Joe and I have it in our blood to have a well-stocked larder at all times.

But something happened this May.

Life got crazy.

In the midst of Anna Marie's preparations for Confirmation and Eighth Grade Graduation, not to mention the myriad normal spring activities, we got juuuuust a little lax on the grocery shopping.

Let's just say, Old Mother Hubbard would have had a rival one fine day in mid-May, much to William's dismay. (For the record, our 'fridge is chock-full once again.)

Battle of the Books

If there was ever a role for our bookworm, Kathleen, it would be to participate on a Battle of the Books team.  And that's just what she did this spring, in a program put together by one of the moms in our homeschool group.

Kids were divided into teams and read books all semester long, in preparation for the end-of-semester battle. Going head-to-head in the Battle, the kids answered trivia questions regarding the assigned books.

The battle was exciting, and Kathleen is already talking about next year. Here is Kathleen (in ivory jacket) with her teammates battling it out in the heat of competition.

Our Preschool Player

Not to be outdone by her thespian sisters, Therese decided it was time to make her stage debut. At the ripe ol' age of four, Therese landed a plum part in our local library's "Preschool Players" program. [Actually, all these cuties got plum parts. Shhhh...]

In case it wasn't altogether clear previously, we can state now, for the record, that Therese does not have a shy bone in her body.

See her here in all her glory, singing and acting her little heart out.

Sibling Love

I could write post after post about sibling rivalry. Oh yeah, the rivalry [such a sanitized word, eh?] runs thick around here.

But every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of candid, unbidden sibling love. It makes all the breaking-up-of-fights worthwhile.

These two were best buds all day on this particular Saturday...

Bean Turns Twelve

Kathleener Beaner (aka: "the Bean") turned twelve in early May. TWELVE! How is it that our children are getting so old, while Joe and I stay so young?

Last year, our resident bookworm sheepishly told us that she was disappointed she didn't receive books for her eleventh birthday. Definitely a first, and an oversight to be sure. So this year, on her twelfth birthday, we loaded Kathleen up. She received no fewer than nine books (which she read in less than a week). And she received a much-coveted inflatable ball, large enough to hold a human passenger.

Suffice it to say, Kathleen spent the next many days, either curled up with a good book on the front porch or rolling down our hills inside her inflatable vehicle. Or curled up with a good book in her inflatable book-reading ball.

It's good to have a spring birthday.

And it's very good to have our beautiful Kathleen gracing our existence.

She Crawls!

Marguerite has entered a new world of crawling.

It's great to see her scooting around the house--sometimes on her belly slithering snake-style, sometimes up on all fours.

For certain unnamed family members it can be even more entertaining watching Mom trying to keep up, darting like lightning, collecting "chokies" in front of our now-speedy bambina. Or trying to save Nellie the Cat from some wicked tail pulling.

As a mom of six kids, I will say that I disagree with parents who warn how hard it will be when the baby starts walking. To me, the crawling stage is the most challenging. Pray tell, how do you keep a floor pristine for a crawling baby with six children and a hubby in the house?

Will you join me in praying for an early walker?  ;)

May 21, 2010


On a random Saturday in the Leone house, we...

Sport cute headbands on cute heads...

Hide out in forts made by big sisters...

Show off our buzzed heads, courtesy of Dad and his clippers...

Read from the comfort of our front porch perch...

Play ball with Dad...

Play roll-the-ball-to-one-another and giggle hysterically with each roll(?)...

Catch baby turtles and suffer a broken little-boy heart when Dad eventually tells us the little guy has to go free...

Show remorse while Dad does rocking horse surgery. Oops!  :)

Twelfth Night in One Day

Could you and your friends put on a Shakespearean play, with memorized lines, fabulous props, and amazing stage presence—all in the span of one day?

If your answer is anything like mine, that answer is probably, "I don't think so."

And yet, our girls, Anna Marie and Kathleen, together with their friend Heather and cast-mates, managed to do just that.

Through First Act Theatre, our kids produced an amazing rendition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, all in one day. Amazing!

May 8, 2010


Joe's a patent lawyer and former Chicago-boy. 

Not a farmer.


Not so fast...

If this photo isn't evidence of Joe leaving the city behind, I don't know what is.

Oh, and this:  Joe's newest batch of 40 chicks (layers and roasters)...

Kathleen Undergoes Surgery

Last month, Kathleen underwent a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, in an effort to determine the cause of her chronic stomach problems.

The surgery, under general anesthesia, revealed nothing abnormal. That's good, of course, but it still leaves us, together with her doctors, scratching our heads. Besides the weight loss and discomfort during and after meals, Kathleen has endured blood tests, stool samples, barium swallows, dietary elimination trials, and now general anesthesia. And we have found no answers. We have been told that many patients with celiac disease and Crohn's Disease (both of which she was tested for) don't have positive biopsy results. Yet, with drastic dietary changes, their condition improves, and in many cases the symptoms entirely disappear.

Two suggested diets for those with stomach issues are the GAPS Diet and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. We are preparing to begin the Specific Carbohydrate Diet with Kathleen, to see if she feels some improvement. If she does not experience improvement a month after beginning the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, we will move into the GAPS Diet, which is stricter. Here's hoping that we come to some resolution for sweet Kathleen who just wants to enjoy her food and be comfortable again.

Below, Kathleen stands in the lobby of the hospital, an hour before surgery.

Kathleen speaks with her anesthesiologist just before she is wheeled into surgery. (Yes, that's baby sister, Marguerite, in Kathleen's arms.)

Kathleen, ready to go home, post-surgery. She was SO glad to have the surgery behind her.

May 2, 2010

Another One for the Baby Book

Marguerite had her four-month well-baby checkup scheduled the other day. On the way to the pediatrician, I get busy lecturing Andrew and Therese about appropriate, quiet, calm behavior in the doctor's office. Maintaining decorum in tiny offices with multiple little ones seems always something of a challenge for me.

In my great desire to have a good experience at the doctor's office, I resort to bribery:  "Milkshakes for all of you if you are good at the doctor's office today."

Voila! Milkshakes are like magic. Therese and Andrew exhibit stellar behavior and earn their reward.

On the way home from the appointment, Therese, getting anxious, asks when we will get to the "milkshake store" (aka: Dairy Queen). I tell her we'll be there soon.

Moments later, Andrew asks the same question.

Before I have time to answer, Therese responds, "Andrew [eye-ball roll], we're in a neighborhood. You know there are no stores in a neighborhood."

Cute. And perceptive.

For the sake of conversation, I say, "Therese, how do you know there are no stores in neighborhoods?"

Therese's four-year-old response:  "Look, Mom. We're in the woods, for goodness sake." [yet another four-year-old eye-ball roll.]  "There are no stores in neighborwoods, Mom."

Self-assured silence from Therese.

Mom continues driving, trying to stifle her laughter.

Silly me. All this time I thought it was a "neighborhood."

(For the record, we were on a tree-lined, residential street which I would not consider to be "woods." Guess things look—and sound—different to a four-year-old.)