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January 2014

All Hands ...

 One of the benefits of homeschooling, is that when somebody is sick, there are usually plenty of hands around to help out ...

O and j 2

O and j 1

Little Bear is a very lucky boy to have big brothers who not only love him so much, but who are around a lot, and therefore really know him. What he's like, what he likes ... how to soothe him when he's feeling under the weather and Mama has run out of hands. This is a blessing to Little Bear's mama in ways both practical and profound. 

My friends, a nasty cold virus has invaded our home and so things are not "running on the regular" right now. Nights are particularly tough, meaning there's not so much sleeping happening as "cat napping."

All this to say, I'm taking a few days off to nurse my family back to health ... but I will be return just as soon as I can ... and I do hope all of you are staying well - and safe with all that crazy weather!

MM: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 4

Da season 4

As usual, I am behind! The children are sick with a nasty cold and so "downtime" has been hard to come by. We went to bed early last night and it's a good thing we did because Little Bear and Earlybird were both up from 2 a.m. onwards!

But please get the conversation started! And I will join you with my own comments just as soon as I can ... for now, it's back to bed!



I've watched the episode and have added my comments below! Hope you'll check in and join the conversation!

Have a nice Tuesday, my friends ...

Also ... it's National Handwriting Day!


Interesting article about handwriting here ... a little holiday fun to explore on National Handwriting Day, otherwise known as John Hancock's birthday. Loops, dots and slants all say something about us, apparently ... so some of it's crazy - but still fun!


My friends, do you enjoy writing at all? And by that I mean, the physical act of putting pen or pencil to paper as opposed to composing a report or letter. I loooove to hand-write things, and I write in my journal/planner every single day. Without fail. (Except for the handful of times I was in the hospital - having babies and a gallbladder removed.) It's more than a habit, it's a bit of an obsession - don't get me started on paper weight and pen flow - but I figure it's a fairly healthy one.

I write down things that seem (are) completely random, but to me, these thoughts/notes/lists/memories make up the fabric of my life. Journaling helps me process and it keeps my wheels turning ... and it's kind of fun to read these words again years later. I have a post around here somewhere that goes a bit deeper into my handwriting vs. typing opinions, but I'm not in a position to dig it up right now ...

(Meaning, I'm very tired and I'm turning in to bed!)

Have yourselves a good night, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

❄ Snowflakes for St. Agnes ❄

Tuesday was the Feast of St. Agnes, a day that is special to my family, so on a frigid "snow day" at home, we took some time for a craft and some cake. May I share a few pictures from our day?

St. agnes 1

This is my Crackerjack (who is just getting over a wicked cold), sketching an image of St. Agnes for the craft. We usually honor this feast day with some kind of snowflake-themed craft and/or treat, because snowflakes are known as "St. Agnes' Flowers."

After CJ finished his sketch, we cut it to fit the inside of a wooden snowflake ornament (leftover from Christmas). I added some sparkly "snow" (mod-podge + kosher salt) to the plain wood. (Still haven't found my acrylic paints and glitter!)

St. agnes 4

  I think it came out quite nice just the same ... :)

And since cake is always a treat on a feast day, I set to work in the kitchen. It had been a while since we'd had cake ... I never did get around to making those Patriots cupcakes on Sunday ... for obvious reasons, lol.

St. agnes 7

I chose to make an orange cake - honoring Our Lady of Altagracia who shares this feast day with St. Agnes and using up an old mix I had on the pantry shelf. For Saint Agnes, it's topped with a thick snow-cover: homemade buttercream frosting and natural snowflake sprinkles.

While we enjoyed some cake, I pulled this beautiful old Catholic dictionary from the liturgical shelf to show the boys ...

St. agnes 5

It belonged to my dad growing up! Though I fear it's not in the best shape - the binding is loose and frayed - so we have to be quite careful with it. I plan to use this dictionary with Earlybird as part of his faith-at-home program. He was thrilled to learn it was once his Papa's.


In the late afternoon, while Little Bear "chilled" in his happy little playspace ...

St. agnes 11

I kicked back with a cup of (decaffeinated) tea ...

St. agnes 13

Midwinter is a harsh time of year in some parts of the world ... it's cold (often very cold) and snowy/sleety/slippery or just generally hard to get out. Cabin fever is just around the corner it seems. So it's nice to indulge in some pastimes that make Winter more of a friend than a foe. Crafting, baking, enjoying books & tea ... looking a bit of joy in the every day, whatever that day might look like outside!

You know, I went back through my archives to refresh my memory on how we've celebrated St. Agnes Day before, and it was a little bittersweet. Simple crafts and seasonal "teatimes" were once a big part of our weekly routine, but with Bookworm off to college and Crackerjack in (homeschool) high school, our routine is quite different these days. I'm glad those times were a part of my boys' childhood, but I miss those days dearly ...

Happily I find I am still able to weave many simple seasonal activities into our family calendar ... and of course with our Little Bear, I will have plenty of chances to revisit those "younger" crafts and activities in the years coming up. In fact, I'm currently re-organizing my planner for these types of seasonal/liturgical things. I've been a little lazy on that front lately, and it feels good to get my ideas and materials in order. (You can be sure I'll be posting more on that subject just as soon as I have more to share!)


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me "ramble on" and reflect on my day. And thank you again - still! - for all the wonderful replies regarding Little Bear's sleeping habits ... I'll keep you all posted on that subject, too.

Many blessings on your day, and see you all here again very soon!

Advice on Baby Sleep, Please?

O and daddy sleep

Nothing like sleeping in your Daddy's arms ...


My friends, I could use some advice on baby sleep - or specifically, getting my baby to sleep better at night. Has anyone had an older baby revert back to constant waking through the night? And if so, how did you handle it?

Little Bear used to sleep pretty well (waking every 3 or 4 hours to nurse) but over the past several weeks he's developed a habit of waking within an hour or perhaps two to fuss until he's held/rocked/nursed back to sleep. Some nights I'm waking at least once an hour! And you can just imagine how this is affecting my energy and mood the next day ...

When Little Bear wakes, he's usually only awake for 10 minutes or so before he conks back out. First I'll try to just soothe him without picking him up - humming softly, giving him his binky and resting my hand on his chest. On rare occasion this works and I can slink off back to bed. More often than not he starts to fuss - really fuss after a few moments - and I end up picking him up to soothe him in a more active way. This is usually through nursing, though sometimes I can rock him back to sleep on my shoulder.

So then I'll put him back in his crib, he's (seemingly) sound asleep, but he's awake again in the same manner within the hour or perhaps after 1.5-2 hrs. if I'm lucky. If I've been getting up a lot with him before midnight (as in the case last night) Bill will get up with him and perhaps give him a bottle so I can get a little more rest.

He's not hungry I don't think - he nurses well through the day and has three meals (cereal + fruit or veg), as well as a bottle before bed with Bill. He's got comfy pajamas, the room is warm enough and we run a quiet fan for soft white noise ...

We're trying to work on putting him down for naps (and eventualy bed for the night) before he's fully asleep because we think possibly he's waking confused - he was just in our arms and now he's alone in his crib so he fusses for us. It's hard to do that though, because he's not a fan of soothing himself to sleep!

Also, his crib is still in our bedroom because he's waking so often it's a more convenient position, but it's possible his sleep is being disrupted by our sleeping sounds. So we are also working on getting the nursery cleaned up and ready for his crib (and him)!

Aside from the sleep issue, Little Bear is truly the easiest baby, and I'm very pleased to say I've nursed him longer than I've ever nursed before! At first I worried maybe my milk wasn't filling him enough, but he's gained weight on track and as I mentioned above, is eating well otherwise.

So any advice would be most welcome! Even just to say, "I've been there too!" Lol. I know these early days are brief  ... and anyways, sleep is overrated right? ;)

Thanks so much in advance, and have yourselves a very nice day!

MM: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 3

Da season 4

Good Monday morning, my friends!

And here is where I would be sharing my thoughts and opinions on last night's show, only - as predicted - I just could not stay up to watch! I was out like a light by 9 p.m.

Have I mentioned that Little Bear's been waking every two hours at night for the past couple of weeks? And that Earlybird's been rising each day before four?


But I wanted to get this post up early so that the conversation can begin ... I plan to watch the episode this evening and will type up my reaction just as soon as I can. Please feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts on the latest DA developments ... I won't peek till after I've watched!

Enjoy your day, everyone!


Ok, I have watched the show and have added my thoughts in the comments box below. It was a very good episode, I thought, leaving me a little dissatisfied with, yet understanding of, a couple of characters' decisions ...


A Slow, Snowy Sunday

Snowy sunday morning

Well, after that very brief taste of Spring, we're back in the clutches of old man Winter once again ... it's another snowy Sunday here in New England! I hope you're all having a nice weekend ...

It will be a quiet, homey day for us ... I'm doing my "mid-year review" of our curriculum and some lesson planning for the rest of the winter quarter (with an eye towards spring). I do this every year, looking back at the ed. plans I submitted for each child and then seeing where we're at/how things are going. I make adjustments and then plan out lessons and activities for the next several weeks. We tend to get off-track around the holidays so it's a good idea for me to take stock about now. The process always starts out a bit sobering, but usually I feel pretty energized by the time I'm done.

But speaking of feeling "energized" ... we're also anticipating a very BIG GAME here later today! GO PATS!!! Whatever the outcome, this should be an epic re-match between Brady and Manning, two amazing quarterbacks in the prime of their careers. And since a snowy "Patriots Sunday" always calls for a hearty supper, I'm making a rich beef stew, to be served over potatoes, and shhhh don't tell the boys but I'm also making some "Patriots" cupcakes for dessert.


So, just popping in to say hi and share that snowy picture with you all ... I'm sure I need not remind you all that Downton is on tonight ... followed by the much anticipated return of the simply amazing Sherlock! I am going to try very hard to stay awake for DA but I can pretty much guarantee I'll be catching Sherlock tomorrow online ...

Either way I'll have a chat post up tomorrow morning so we can all share our thoughts on the latest Downton developments!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Organizing Our Liturgical Shelves

Lit shelf 4

Some of you might remember that in our old house we had a huge bookcase in the family room that held, amongst other things (namely, a fish tank and monster trucks), our liturgical shelf. This was my main spot for storing and displaying those items we use for celebrating the Faith at home: books, candles, rosary beads, figurines and prayer cards, etc.

And books. Did I mention books? :)

Well, we've been in our new home for several months now, and the unpacking is still slow going. But I finally got around to setting up our liturgical shelf, and I thought you all might like a look ...

Lit shlf 1

Now, this is a much smaller, unfinished wooden bookcase, and it still needs to be painted - we always held off because we were not sure where we'd use it. I think it would look nice here in a soft white to match the living room's woodwork. That will be a future spring weekend project.

Lit shelf 11

The top shelf holds a small candelabra. I forget where I bought this (TJ Maxx?) but it was very inexpensive. I thought it would serve nicely for intentions. I have a supply of "real" tealights that were blessed on Candlemas, so I wanted these candles kept out of reach. 

Lit shelf 3

The next shelf down is dedicated to our family patron, Saint Francis. I plan to use this as our nature shelf, as well. For me, there is much crossover between the liturgical and natural seasons, and I like to find ways to tie them together, and celebrate them both with my family.

{For instance, I love finding Michaelmas daisies along the roadside in late September, just before the Feast of Archangels ... we search out pussy willows for Palm Sunday crafts ... "catch" snowflakes for St. Agnes ... and on Pentecost we explore the elements of fire and air. I find these kinds of simple, repetitive actions really appeal to children and help them remember what happens when ... and why.}

Lit shelf 6

(Oddly enough I also have my collection of Everyday Food magazines here and that's just because they fit perfectly and I figure they add a nice colorful backdrop.)


The next shelf down holds our main Catholic book collection and is graced by a pair of beautiful sheer curtains. These liturgical valances were a gift from my dear friend Debbie and the set also includes a pair of purple-trimmed sheers for Lent/Advent. I had Bill help me set up the valance rod.

Lit shelf 7

Aren't they just lovely? 

And then of course we have books ...

Lit shelf 8 

Lots and lots of books!

Lit shelf books up close

Liturgical idea books, children's storybooks (arranged by season) and bibles, Catechism, etc. I have many more books still packed - these will be stored in the cupboard at the base of this bookcase.

Bottom shelf ...

Lit shelf 5 

The brass crucifix was made by my maternal great-grandfather, and the Marian statue once belonged to my paternal grandmother. A pretty ivory (led) candle stands in front of the crucifix as well as two beautiful board books for Earlybird (and Little Bear) to peruse. The art print is part of a monthly picture-study program.

Lit shelf 2

 I like the way the shelves fit here, and it feels good to have our special things all set up again! As you can see by this picture, I spend a good bit of time in this room (note the baby's play zones!) and it's become a sort of haven for me. The soothing colors, the pretty glass door (that can shut, lol), my desk and comfy seating ... Bill calls this "Mama's Room" and I have to agree.


Well, thanks so much for stopping by today, and allowing me to share a little corner of our home. I'll post more on this room as it all comes together ...

But for now, enjoy your Thursday, my friends, and I'll see you here again sometime soon!

Signs of ... well, not spring exactly, but ...

 With all the snow melting this week - thanks to the January thaw - we've discovered a vernal pool in the front woods! (Or what we hope is a vernal pool - there was definitely no water here last summer and fall ...)

Icy creek 2

Icy creek 4

 I am so excited to think we might hear peepers in our front yard this spring!

How's the weather where you are? Are you, like me, pining for spring? It's dangerous to start "pining" in January ... we really have quite a ways to go.

Another quick nature note: be sure to look for the Full Wolf Moon tonight - interestingly, it's a "micro-moon" as explained here. It will be the smallest full moon of the year.

Well, I hope you're all having a good week ... see you here again very soon!


On Grandma's 100th Birthday ...

Do you ever wish there were visiting hours in heaven?

Longtime readers of my blog will know how very close I was to my maternal grandmother ... "Gram" or "Damee" (as my boys called her) would have been 100 years old today! She passed away several years ago, but I miss her so much, and especially so at this time of year, when we would share our "January birthdays" celebration.

Gram, matt and me

My brother Matt and I with Gram - I think I was maybe 12 or 13?

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share some of the things I remember best about my grandmother. She was a huge part of my life, every step of the way ... 

We read Anne of Green Gables together.

We shared a Victoria magazine subscription for years.

(How she would have loved Downton Abbey!)

 We enjoyed a beautiful dollhouse together for years - first mine and then later, hers.

In the summers she took us to Concord & Lexington where we immersed ourselves in the local history: the Orchard House and the Revolutionary War.

We'd visit family and friends up in Maine - often returning with delicious lobster (her lobster stew was THE best) ...

From the time I was a little girl, she'd take me with her to her weekly "hairdresser appointment" and what fun I'd have there ...

Grama and Grampa traveled a lot and on every return trip they had a doll for me, one that reflected the country's culture ... 

She grew up one of the older children in a large Irish Catholic family ... and she loved to share stories. I loved to hear her talk about her family members, their home, and her life stories ... long afternoons sitting in her den, sharing tea and conversation.

When we'd go out to dinner she always let me have the cherry from her "amaretto sour." ;)

It was Grandma who took me out for my driving lessons ...

She taught me about making lists (she was the most organized person I've ever known) and about staying on top of household chores ...

She was the BEST homekeeper you can imagine ... her home was neat and clean but always so welcoming.

She was always on top of the current news and very politically minded (and opinionated!). She read a couple of newspapers every day - checking off articles to return to ...

Her pantry at the foot of the stairs was filled with everything you could imagine, all organized and well maintained.

She was thrifty (living through the Depression taught her that) but knew the value of quality ... no "mongrel" brands for her family! She and my grandpa were also the most generous people you'd ever know ...

She was the one who broke the truth to me about Santa ... she was that kind of confidante, a dear friend as well as a grandmother ...


 All of these things make up my memories of my grandmother, and it's fun to reflect ... but sometimes I get sad too, because I wish I could go back and just have a little more time with her ... how I'd love for her to know Little Bear.

But when I look in the eyes of my children, and as I look around my home, at how I live my life now ... I know her love lives on in me. As I carry on being the best mother and wife I can be, giving all I can for my family - in this way I keep her alive in my heart.

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!

MM: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 2

Da season 4

Good Monday morning, my friends ... 

Well ...

I'm still trying to digest last night's episode ... still in shock about those final scenes ... did not see that coming. (Though I could tell Mr. Green was not the most savory of characters from the get-go.) I had a rough night with Little Bear so I'm getting a very sloooow start this morning ... my thoughts are below, but they're a bit scattered!

Plot points to discuss ...


~ Mary and her budding "friendship" with Lord Gillingham, who seems like a genuinely nice guy with some solid estate-related advice. Though he's engaged, he seems pretty interested in Mary ...

~ Gregson trying to win Edith's family's approval - mostly being ignored, but then saving the day by winning back a whole bunch of lost (i.e. gambled away) money. He was able to out-cheat the cheater though, eh ... ?

(Why wasn't it found odd that he was there as Edith's beau - and he's not only much older, AND her boss, but also still married?)

~ Poor Tom feeling out of place, and missing his Sybil ... and then that nasty Braithwaite getting him liquored up, preying on his fears, and then sneaking into his room ... UGH. I'm just really not happy with that. AT ALL.

~ Poor Isobel finding it hard to adjust to life without Matthew ... watching Mary move on (potentially).

~ Robert just generally continuing to be his pompous self. Loved Cora's line about being the only one living in the 20th century - leave it to the American, lol!

~ And then there was Anna's horrific attack ...

I just feel sick by what happened to her. It was briefly shown, but brutal. But what can Anna do? This situation really underscores the vulnerability of lower class women at that time. Who can she tell and what will this mean for her marriage? Poor Mr. Bates - I'm so afraid to watch this fallout. She'll obviously be in distress, physical and emotional after this. And what if she gets pregnant?


Ok, well there are my brief and rambly thoughts on last night's episode. If you'd like, and if you have the time, please leave your own thoughts below ... and I'll catch up when I can later on.

Have a good Monday, my friends ...

A Lovely Birthday Breakfast

My friends, I am blessed indeed! This very morning I was treated to a lovely birthday brunch right here in the comfort of my own home - my mum did all the cooking and the boys did (most of) the cleaning! You know, whether we're turning 4, 5 or 45 (eek!), I think birthdays are truly special, and I hope I'm always able to spend mine with the people I love. What greater gift can there be? Life and love all around you!

So if I may, I'd like to share some pictures from our morning ...

Dawn's birthday 1

Here I am with my boys ... the three that would help with the candles, that is!

Dawn's birthday 4

And now with my photo-shy Earlybird ...

It's hard to tell (because one of us, ahem, is wearing his shirt backwards), but Earlybird and I are sporting "matching" t-shirts - from King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont. My folks got them for us, knowing how much we love to "bake" together.

Dawn's birthday 5


Dawn's birthday 7

Pretty pink candles (stuck in a lemon-crumb cake) ...

Dawn's birthday 9

... and pretty pink and gold packages. :)

(We have a saying in my house - if it's pink, it must be Mama's!)

Dawn's birthday 8

 Papa and Earlylbird enjoying a train video together ...

Dawn's birthday 10

 Our Little Bear "catching up" with his Uncle Matt. I think he was fascinated with the cap.

Dawn's birthday 2

 My beautiful Mum, scrambling up eggs in my kitchen. (She makes THE best eggs!) We also had bacon, ham, scones and biscuits with jam, and lots of freshly brewed coffee!

Dawn's birthday 11

Little Bear with his bib and his Daddy - ready for his breakfast, too!

Dawn's birthday 6

Nothing in this world makes me happier than spending time with my family ... and so this has been a very happy day, indeed.


Well, I hope you've all enjoyed your weekend, too! Are you all ready for Downton tonight? I can't wait ... I think the new season's off to a great start!

See you all here again very soon ... thanks so much for stopping by!

Shout-Out to Little Bear!

O in dragon jacket 1

This little guy has been such a trooper through all these long car rides and hospital visits. Sleeps in the car, chills in the waiting room, charms all the nurses ...

I think God knew we needed an easy baby this time around.


This cutie-pie "dragon" hoodie was a Christmas gift from Little Bear's Mama and Daddy. His Mama spied it months ago in a favorite baby shop - when she had to restrain herself from paying full price - only to find it again later, reasonably priced, on a clearance rack! She thought it would be especially cute for her Little Bear, roundabouts early spring ... when a cozy jacket like this is just perfect for kite-flying weather ...

Something to look forward to, yes?

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Earlybird's MRI was today ...

R mri 1

And now, Thursday evening, we're finally home ...

It was a tough day - a loong day - but he did well. We spent several hours at Children's Hospital in Boston (I wish everyone had this hospital local to them) and both EB and Little Bear (who tagged along of course) were as good as gold. EB was sedated for this exam and once he was "awake enough" in recovery, we were allowed to take him home. He was cranky for sure, but as we left, each and every doctor/nurse's station we passed got a "Thank you, doctors!" from EB. :) The ride home was long and he threw up a couple of times, but he seemed to relax once we were home. 

We will talk to the radiologist tomorrow but so far the MRI showed "no abnormalities that would indicate a seizure disorder." There does seem to be an issue with his corpus callosum, which may actually shed some light on his challenges ... we'll learn more in a follow-up appointment.

Bottom line: Earlybird's ok, we're home and it's over! And I'm so glad to have this day behind us. Thank you again for all your support ... reading all your messages - knowing so many dear people were thinking of and praying for my Earlybird - it means so much, I just can't express it. But please know how grateful I am, deep in my heart. I will continue to keep you all posted, and of course, keep you all in my own prayers.

A peaceful evening to you all ... see you here again very soon.

Another Update on Earlybird

So we've been consulting with Children's Hospital (via telephone) in preparation for Earlybird's MRI tomorrow. I've spoken at length with both a nurse and a behavioral therapist ... now I'm waiting to hear back from the anesthesiologist. The test itself is at noon Thursday (or thereabouts depending on wait-time). He can have nothing to eat after midnight tonight because he will be sedated for the exam, and that might be our greatest challenge - he'll be pretty cranky about that!

(As most of you know, he's always up before the sun and ready for breakfast right away!)

EB and me

Funnily enough, EB is all talk this week of "going back to Disney" and so we've been looking at pictures from our trip. I especially love this picture of the two of us (though I'm not generally fond of pictures of my backside, lol). It was taken on our last day in the park after we had just spied an alligator floating by the edge of a pond. What an amazing sight to see! We were torn between curiosity, excitement and fear! But Earlybird got nervous, so he and I left Bill and big brothers behind and walked back to "safety" (i.e. the golf cart) - hand-in-hand, talking it out the whole way.

So much of life is like that, isn't it? Sharing the good times, enduring the bad ... helping our children navigate the inevitable bumps in their roads, whether they be skinned knees, bruised egos, wildlife encounters or medical tests. It's what were here for: to provide comfort and confidence when they need it, to be their unwavering champion throughout life ...


My friends, to be honest, I'm nervous. But I'm trying very hard to stay positive, to let go of my worry and be the center of peace and support EB needs me to be. Any prayers and/or good thoughts you can offer on our son's behalf would be deeply appreciated!

I''ll let you all know how it goes ... but for now, thank you so much, and have a good day ... see you here again very soon!

Am I right ...

Coffee sign

Or am I right?


I found this clever sign in my stocking and boy did it make me laugh ... because every morning after Bill's gone downstairs with the ever-early-rising Earlybird (we're talking 4 or 4:30 here, folks) and after the not-one-for-sleeping-so-much Little Bear has woken to nurse (usually a few minutes later) I use my handy-dandy iPhone, and whichever thumb is free, to text one word to Bill, and one word only ...

I bet you can guess what that is.


Well my friends, I hope you're all having a good week so far ... anyone else simply exult in that first cuppa coffee each morning?

See you here again very soon!

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey Season 4 Premiere!

Da season 4

Well, it's finally here, my friends! We made it! Downton is back!

So what did you think?


Well, I thought it was wonderful, though I must confess, I fell asleep during the last 20 minutes so I'm a bit short on all the facts. I thought it was only a one-hour show last night, so it was a bit of a struggle to stay up for two! I'll need to catch those last 20 minutes online sometime today, but here are some of my thoughts on last night's show. Warning: They're fairly jumbled (as it's just 5 a.m. and I've only had 1/2 a cup of coffee) and perhaps a bit random - so please excuse any typos and rambly run-on sentences!

The new opening to the show caught me off guard - I wanted familiarity! But I think the darkness fit the mood of the new season - things are different now, everyone is in mourning. And I thought it a clever way to deal with O'Brien's leaving ... I thought it interesting how quickly the news spread among the staff and the family. 

(Jumping ahead here, but I think Cora's new maid - Edna, I think? - is the new O'Brien in more ways than position. She cozied right up to Thomas like two snakes in a den. Trouble with a capital T and I sincerely hope she stays away from Tom. But I don't trust her for a moment.)

Was it me or did some of the characters appear quite aged? Cora, Isobel and Mrs. Hughes especially.

Mary - it was so hard in the beginning to watch her scenes. Of course I felt sympathy for her because of her tremendous loss, but the way she neglected George was eating at me! (I almost woke Little Bear just so I could hold him and love him all up!) Also, she was so cold and much like the Mary of old I was afraid this was the direction she was heading, so it was wonderful to see her "wake up" by the end of the episode. I missed those last scenes, but I'm hoping there was one of her bonding with George.

(All that said, I know ladies didn't interact with their babies as we do nowadays, but still. My heart was aching for poor "orphan" George!)

And how neat that they went with the name George when this is the name of the new Royal Prince! (And a fond family name for me as well.)

I loved observing all the scenery - the town, the countryside, the house. The beginning of the show set in stark winter was perfect. Dour and dark. When the cart of spring flowers arrived I knew we'd turned a corner. (Also when Mary came to that luncheon wearing a purple dress - no more mourning.)

Robert seems pretty much the same, but I was curious about his intentions with keeping Mary out of "the circle of life." I know he wanted to protect her in her grief, but was he also serving himself selfishly? He seemed fairly amenable to the change once Matthew's letter was exposed - but that jab at Mary pointing out her ignorance on farm matters was cruel. Robert has never been my favorite character ever since that near-affair debacle. I'm curious to see where things go with him this season, as Mary and Branson team up and carry on with Matthew's vision.

Cora can be so gullible - heeding O'Brien's or Thomas's insinuations - but I'm glad she caught the nanny and threw her out. Wasn't that scene in the nursery awful? Gah, it made my stomach turn the way she hissed at Sybil's little girl. I guess we owe Thomas for the reveal, but I think that was just coincidence. I think he didn't like how she held herself apart/above from the rest of the staff. (Though he could be accused of the same ...)

Not a fan of Jimmy's though I do think he's perhaps starting to feel something for Ivy. Alfred though, ugh. He's aware of Daisy's feelings and just rubs it in. He needs to move on - Ivy's just not that into him! Same goes for Daisy. I wish someone new would show up and whisk her off her feet. She deserves some happiness!

Edith - I've never really warmed up to Edith but I'm really not pleased with her this season. I'm all for her gaining confidence and finding love, but for goodness sakes - this affair with a married man leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. And he just seems like such a letch! Or maybe I'm reading this whole storyline wrong - are we supposed to be cheering them along? I want to like her, honestly, but she keeps making all these poor choices ...

Branson - love him, still. He's such a sweet man and so good to this family. I look forward to watching his storyline unfold.

The Mr. Griggs storyline was a bit confusing - maybe I just need those final 20 minutes to clear it all up. What his history with Carson was all about. I was glad to see Isobel take such comfort in being herself again - reaching out to help where she could.

Alongside the "waking up" theme, there also seemed to be a thread of kindness and helping others in this episode. When Anna offered money to poor Mr. Moseley - I just loved her character all the more. And Mr. Bates showing up to get that signature - such a sweet, funny scene. 

Lady Violet remains true to form - witty and grand and such a protector, so generous in her own way. Loved the scene with Mary. Love all her lines. Love how she tried to help the bumblng Mr. Moseley!

Rose is a bit of a wild card, isn't she? I thought at first perhaps she'd been tamed but after the "night out" at the dance, perhaps not. Can't wait to see what kind of mischief she gets up to ... though I felt badly for that young man who came to see her. I think it was perhaps a little mean not to be honest, to dress up as a maid to carry on the charade. But maybe that was just my tiredness talking last night - I think that was meant to be sweet.

Final thought (for now) - did Mrs. Patmore break that mixer on purpose? ;) 


Ok, my friends, that is the best I can do for right now ... but I am so looking forward to reading your thoughts! Please share your opinion on last night's show if you have a chance in the comments below ... and I will jump into the conversation as I can throughout the day.

All in all, I think the season's off to a great start! And boy does it feel good to have Downton actively part of our world once again!

Have a great day, everyone ... see you here again very soon!