Wednesday, August 29, 2007

chugga chugga

Today is number 4's birthday. He is two. He is head-over-heels in love with trains. You can hear them in the distance from his bedroom and he never misses one.
"Nnn-nnnn-nrya" he says when he hears the sound of the horn from far away.
"Yes. Choo-Choo train," I reply, vigilantly listening to his garbledy-gook.
After my mom and I took him to his two-year check up at the pediatrician this morning (no , he didn't have shots on his birthday!), we went downtown and hunted trains. King said when he thought there was a 10 o'clock train. So, off we went in search of it. No luck. We drove down a little further and saw a Norfolk-Southern office. I pulled into the gate and asked the young man if there was a train that would be coming by soon. Just as I asked, I heard the sound of a train whistle. (I could also hear the sound of an excited gasp from the back seat.) He showed me where to park to best see it. We got out of the car just in time to wave to the engineer , who tooted the whistle especially for my newly two-year old boy.
Number 4 waved and the engineers both waved. I wondered if they were crazy over trains when they were his age. His little body was frozen, barely breathing as he watched that enormous engine rumble by. And another. Then, so many that we couldn't count them all, boxcars filled with gravel rolled past. Finally, as the last one passed by, he took a big breath and smiled.
When the older kids got home from school, and King got home from work, and "Poppy" came over bearing gifts, we had cake and ice cream. The cake had a little plastic train on top. And lots of candles for him to blow out. (We've been practicing!)
As I type this, he is safe and sound in his bed totally zonked after a jam-packed, way too much fun day. I wonder if he is dreaming about today...his very HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Monday, August 27, 2007

like sands through the hourglass are the days of our lives. And so go the cells of my brain.

Today I got dressed, then got #4 and 5 ready and out the door to the pediatrician's office. I was met with very little traffic, found the perfect parking spot, and got into the waiting room with ten minutes to spare. I did think it was odd that there were no other patients waiting, but then, it was 8:50 and their office opens at 9:00, so I mentally rationalized it.
When the receptionist came to the check-in window, she asked which doctor I was there to see. When I told her, she said, "She's not in this office today". (They have two office locations.)
"Oh, no, don't tell me I came to the wrong office."
"Well, let me just check. What is your son's name?" (looks something up on her computer) "Oh, yes, here it is. His appointment is Wednesday."

When I got home, I checked my calendar. Hrm, I had it written wrong. We'll just call this the "dry run". And like a cat who had an unplanned fall from the couch after a really good stretch, I will retreat to a corner of the room and lick my paws. And I'll try not to feel so stupid. Or old.

Friday, August 24, 2007

y'see, stuff like this doesn't help

Yesterday I took #4 to meet his Mother's Morning Out teachers and let him play in his new classroom at Open House. There were a lot of 2-ish year olds running around, testing out the new toys, fighting over the cars, (there are a lot of boys which will be in his class) putting odd stuff into the little washing machine and dryer (what do boys know about washers or dryers?) and scribbling with crayons on color sheets that the teachers had out. Fun, right? Yes. It was for him. For me it was a different experience. I picked up on the slightest difference between the
OTHER MOTHERS ........................AND MYSELF.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

just call me puddleglum

In about month, I turn 40. My body is falling apart.
If the day just comes and goes with no fanfare, I think I would like it better.
I don't want anyone to call me that day. I don't think I will want to answer the door either.
I don't want to hear anyone say "Happy Birthday" because it won't be.
There is a slight possibility that my eyes will be swollen from crying.
I loved 30.
Everyone I know who turned 40 in the past few years makes it look so easy.
Everyone I know who is older than that even makes it look easy.
Wonder if they held up in their house like a hermit on their 40th?
Then emerged the next day and bravely got on with life.
I don't think I will be so gallant.
As childish and infantile as it sounds, I may have to "have a spell".
To quote (as best I remember) my cousin who was once 3 (or thereabouts) and very tired one day:
I don't want it. Don't look at it. Don't think about it for me. Don't put my name with it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

we should all be so creative

Check out this clever solution to when the kids try to "pull one over on Mom".
I have giggled all morning reading from her blogspot.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

a series of unfortunate events

While on the phone with hubby listening to why he will be late tonight, here's what happened:

  • I had to tell #1 and #2 for the millionth time to stop playing and get busy on their homework
  • #4 descended the stairs after having been up there alone for 20 minutes or so with the toilet brush in one hand and a wad of something unknown in his mouth.
  • Oh great, it's a wad of toilet paper! (and to think I figured he was just up there creating a nuclear diaper)

At this point, I hang up the phone and #1 and #2 run upstairs to assess the damage. Number 1 does it because she is wanting to minimize the number of decibles with which I will scream at finding an enormous mess. Number 2's reason for going up there is to be witness to a delightful mess created in the toilet and surrounding areas. And to wallow in the hilarity of the moment, wishing it had've been him who had all that fun and mirth. He is banking on it being something to tell his friends on the playground.

  • #2 descends the stairs in a hurry and takes back up with him a garbage bag.
  • I slowly go up to find #1 has done all that she can do by standing at such a great length away from the toilet, which is sitting in a lake of toilet water.
  • I "take over" which involves a lot of antibacterial spray and paper towels and being on my hands and knees for about 20 minutes (in which #4 is downstairs making a new mess and #1's and 2 are again avoiding homework) From upstairs I yell "dadgummit, stop playing and do your homework!"
  • I make my way backward down the stairs so that I can more easily clean up the wet toilet paper which is littering the floor (think Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail so that they could find their way back).
  • Then, in a rush to get dinner (spaghetti) ready so that#1 can eat before dance lessons, I shake the parmesian cheese to break up the clump inside. I discover that the last person to use it left the top open (need I say more?).
  • This is about the time I hear #5 crying because #4 is being way too loud.

I'm thinking Lemony Snicket must be in a dark corner taking notes or something.

Monday, August 20, 2007

whether i wanted to or not

The VCR we have had since before #1 was first born entered the death process earlier this year. I went through the five stages of grief you've always heard about.

Denial came first: "THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING! Honey, where is the tape head cleaner? Did one of you kids mess with this thing?"

Next, came anger: "WHY ME?!?! How come this stupid machine won't work right?"

Bargaining: "Oh, pleeeeze work. Please, oh please, oh please? Come on. Ugh. Please? Cherry on top?"

Depression: *sigh* "Great. Just great. The kids will never be able to watch Winnie the Pooh or Toy Story again. We've got a whole cedar trunk filled to the brim with VHS tapes that will just sit there and rot, I guess. Hmmph. They don't even make plain VCRs anymore. We don't need a VCR/DVD combo, we've already got a DVD." *sigh*

Acceptance: "OK, I guess when I think about it, you have served well. You have gotten us through countless hours of rented movies, our Disney movies, Veggie Tales, and our own precious home movies. For over a decade you have been steady as she goes. Only needing your silly little heads cleaned every so often. I guess I will let you go, my sweet little VCR."

Yep, the 20 some odd minutes I spent this morning trying in vain to get Winnie the Pooh to play, I finally hit the last phase and have accepted it. Shortly thereafter, I packed up #4 and 5 and headed to Best Buy.

And actually, there is a bright side: This new VCR/DVD combination thing will record our movies onto a blank DVD. That means that all those movies will now take up much less space! Hey, this just might be a good thing after all.

Friday, August 17, 2007

on the use of kosher salt

I have seen kosher salt called for in enough recipes that I finally decided to buy some.


I "sprinkled" some on some cauliflower that I had at lunchtime. Blech. I might as well have licked a New York highway after a blizzard. Or perhaps drank the brine from the ice cream maker.

Let's just say that I know a lot more about kosher salt now than I did an hour ago. I guess the fact that it is used in cooking should have been a dead giveaway, but I swear I heard Martha Stewart say that she uses it as table salt. Maybe it was sea salt that she said she used. I thought they were basically the same thing.

Hrrummph. Being wrong never tasted quite so bad.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

hallowed 'grounds'

Gosh. Today has been a whirlwind of activity. Except for the fact that I had to take two showers due to the extreme heat, it was quite a pleasant day.

A friend of mine came over for coffee after dropping her kids off at school. T'was great to sit and enjoy a cup o' joe with a friend. Yep. That ranks on up there as one of my favorite things. Coffee with a friend. Yum.
After she and I got nearly half-way caught up on all that has happened since we saw each other last, she, King, #'s 4 & 5, and I went to Mass. Today is the Feast of the Assumption. It is the day that the Church celebrates Our Holy Mother, a faithful servant, being assumed body and soul into Heaven. What a fantastic reward for saying "yes" to God when He really needed her the most! Not only that, but going along with the rest of His plan, which was no doubt the hardest part.

I often wonder what it must have been like to have been Mary's friend. No doubt she was a true friend, as evidenced by the generous gift of time she spent with her cousin, Elizabeth. But, I wonder what they did together. I wonder if they spent time chatting over a cup of... well... whatever they drank, talking about pregnancy and feeling babies moving (my personal favorite thing about being pregnant). Wonder if they laughed about Elizabeth's bellybutton as it turned inside out? I wonder, too, if Mary had a deja-vu moment when she heard Elizabeth say, "Blessed art thou among women", since she had heard this very same thing from Gabriel. I wonder if this visit with her cousin helped reassure her that she had done the right thing instead of saying, "Hmmm....hey, Joseph, just what was in that hummus we had for dinner?!?! It gave me nightmares! You're not going to believe this dream I had..."

It is a given that each woman had her faith in God strengthened by the other. Such beautiful scripture is Mary's song, the Magnificat. I am sure that they must've spent a lot of time discussing God's plan and rejoicing over how magnificent He is. Good friends do just that - they strengthen each other's faith. They lift you up - a gift, of sorts, that is exchanged each time you are together. Helping each other get to Heaven, our goal. Paradise. Home. Where there is endless rejoicing and unbeatable java! mmmm...!

Monday, August 13, 2007

pass the butterflies, please

The first day of school is officially here!

We woke up extra early. Everyone got dressed without complaining about being sleepy. I got their hair all coiffed so that they could make a good "first impression". After everyone ate breakfast and got their teeth brushed, I pulled out my ever-handy camera (duct tape holding its battery door closed) and snapped the traditional "pose in the kitchen" before heading out the door. (Why do I have a case of the butterflies?!?)

We loaded up the car.... er...truck, no... hmm what DO you call this thing I drive now... SUV! and headed to school. On the way I asked if anyone was opposed to me taking their picture in their new classroom (read: too cool to be seen with a camera-toting mom or proud/ smiling dad). To my shock, all were willing. After walking each kid to class, snapping several shots, then milling around chatting with other excited parents, King and I came back home to get our Monday morning started.
It's quiet. Number 5 is down for her morning nap. The only sounds I hear are the hum of the dryer and number 4 in the living room playing with his toys and watching Sesame Street (gosh, I despise the sound of Elmo's voice!).

So, here I am. Just as the kids are launching into a new school year where they will make new friendships and acquire more knowledge and experiences, so too am I launching into the hustle and bustle of the season, which has a hum all of its own.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

and there was much rejoicing

Well now. All our perserverance has finally paid off, well for an hour at least. Number 4 has reached an important milestone in his little life: sitting through Mass without having to go out into the Narthex! Whoo hooo!
Although he didn't actually "sit still" and, in fact, only had moments of "sitting", he did not get out of hand so much so that King had to scoop him up and rush him out of the sanctuary.
Not only that, but, after the reading of the Gospel, when the congregation responds, "Thanks be to God", he said "dit'n" (which in his little vocabulary means "thank you"). King and I both looked at each other and giggled.

It will be a long time before we see the results of our sweat equity in these little people. But, for a moment this morning after Church, hubby and I just had to give each other a "high five" for this miniscule yet momentous occasion.

Friday, August 10, 2007

sounds like a troup of monkeys

I just announced to the masses that it is time to drive up to the school to see what teachers they are assigned for this school year. There is much rejoicing.

I like how this is gently and without their realizing it, getting them excited for Monday morning.

Here's hoping we all get the teacher we want (or need!).

sad, but true

Today is the last day of summer vacation. We have had a blast. No, we didn't get to go camping like we had wanted and we didn't get to the beach, but we DID get to do a lot. In fact, we did way more than I thought was possible for a family with 5 children, one of which is still an infant, one of which is a monster.
Yesterday, as we were stuck in the car running a million errands, I asked each of the kids what was their favorite thing we did. Not one of them could narrow it down to one thing. So they each gave me their top three. The two big family reunions we went to ranked big with all three kids as did getting to spend time with their cousins. Swimming with friends was high on #3's list. The glass blower was part of #1's list. When they thought back over these past 10 weeks, and we reminded each other of just how many opportunities we've had for fun, they were amazed. I was too. (Gold medals in the "effort" category for Mom and Dad!)

We did not sit idly by, whining about having nothing to do. My favorite part was the fact that (except for that first week) I did not once wish that school was still in session

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

my kind of bargain

Tonight King and I did something we've never done before. We worked out. Together! Thirty minutes on the treadmill, ten on the elliptical, and then we did ab crunches on one of those oversized ball thingies. (I'm sure they must have a more formal name.) Finally we stretched those muscles that haven't seen activity in awhile. It's been a few weeks for mine and then 9 months before that. Hubby's haven't seen this kind of activity in quite awhile, despite his royal slimness.

It sort of dawned on us about the same time this afternoon. I was lamenting not working out lately and he was agreeing that "yeah, I really wish I could get some exercise too". As simple of an idea as it is, it hadn't been feasible before for various reasons. So, I put in a call to the "Y" and found out that for an extra $16 per month, we could upgrade to a family membership.

Life with 5 kids and one income ain't cheap, but if a little over $200 per year can not only give us the opportunity to achieve better health, but can also give us quality time together, it's a very good thing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

someone's getting a good laugh

I was just flipping through the channels and saw that Oprah (second airing of today's program) had Al Gore on as a guest. Whoever is feeding him information on this whole Global Warming scheme must be sitting back laughing his rear end off.

If anyone actually remembers anything they learned in Physical Science class in the ninth grade, they will question the concept that melting ice in Antarctica is creating such chaos. If the Earth were not so unfathomably enormous, perhaps humans could make a difference by changing a light bulb. But, when you consider that you can fit all the humans on the entire planet in the state of Texas and still have plenty of "personal space" left, I just don't see it.

You can argue with statistics. (Since it was one of the few courses in college that I aced, I know that you cannot trust statistical data. It is so easily manipulated.) You can cite all kinds of research on both sides of the scientific spectrum. However, it all boils down to a simple truth for me.

Why in the world would God create such a wonderful place for us to live, with its overwhelmingly beautiful landscape, fascinating animals, and breathtaking botanicals but yet make it so delicate that a lightbulb can lead to its destruction? This planet we are on is ever-changing. Always has been, always will be.

I think these wacko extremists with gargantuan egos are not content. Their souls innately cry out to answer to a higher power. Their minds have convinced them that they ARE their own god. And then, sadly, they use scare tactics to bring people over to their way of thinking.

Here's something to think about.... so what if the Earth were to be destroyed tomorrow. If I can put my head down at night with no regrets, what's the big deal? I'm thinking that folks like Al Gore must not be able to do that. They are so unhappy with their lives that they want to be immortal ... living forever in a world that never changes.

Monday, August 6, 2007

when things are found

I don't know if he reads blogs or not, but we are indebted to St. Anthony!! With the help of his intercession, hubby's keys have been found! What a light feeling "relief" is. No more gloomy black cloud. No more worrying that a stranger will find the keys outside and have not only a key to our home, but keys to three cars, one for himself and two others for friends.

After thanking God for the nagging feeling that I should look on top of the tv cabinet (thought we had looked there) I went to Google and once again searched for a prayer. This time I looked for a prayer of thanksgiving. King and I prayed it together and then let out a huge sigh of relief.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
St. Anthony, God has helped me abundantly through your prayer and has strengthened me in my need. I thank God and I thank you. Accept this prayer and my serious resolve which I now renew, to live always in the love of Jesus and of my neighbor. Continue to shield me by your protection and pray to God for the final grace of one day entering the kingdom of heaven to sing with you the everlasting mercies of God. Amen.

a peaceful moment

For just a moment, no one was thinking about how oppressive the heat and humidity was. We were just marveling at this beautiful sight.

at least

On Friday we were excitedly packing for a trip to the mountains. We had such wonderful expectations for our last little hoo-rah before school starts. Our main goal was to attend a family reunion on Sunday. However, since it is a three hour trip from here, we thought we'd venture up on Friday night and enjoy the surroundings. Perhaps it would be cooler than it is here. Perhaps we'd enjoy meandering through the quaint little downtown, poking our heads into the neat little shops. Maybe we'd be able to dip our toes in a mountain brook under the shade of the dense forest canopy. If we played our cards right, the little ones would nap long enough for us to splurge on a nice family dinner somewhere. These were our expectations.

Here was the reality:
The cooler temps we were hoping for... well, let's just say that upper 90's and extreme humidity weren't what we had in mind.
We did meander through downtown.... in the car.
Poking our heads into neat little shops turned into me running through a thrift store while King waited in the air-conditioned car with the kids.
Splashing in a cool mountain brook was not realized, though we were teased by watching the river run through the protected land of Pearson's Falls.
The nice family dinner ended up being burgers at Wendy's after an hour of riding around trying to find a restaurant whose wait time for being seated was less than 45 minutes.

Expectations. Kathy from Lessons from the Laundry writes about them this week too. She so eloquently paints the image: "When a day doesn’t live up to the pretty little picture we’ve painted then we feel like a kid the day we found out our mom throws our art in the trash." So true. So true.

But, I refuse to let the reality of it all to get to me. We did have some fun moments. Like when the kids were all sitting on a boulder, watching the massive amount of water tumble down . Perhaps the picture we took can become the photo we send at Christmas. King and I got to go down to the lobby both Friday and Saturday night after the kids went to bed and have a glass or two of wine. We got to unwind with the one of the owners of the inn. And we had a great time visiting with relatives we don't get to spend as much time with as we'd like to.

I choose to see it as "that trip to the mountains" where nothing seemed to go right, but at least we never gave up trying to make it as great as it could possibly be.

Friday, August 3, 2007

when things are lost

For the past two days we have been tearing up the house and yard looking for hubby's keys. He (or #4?) lost them when he was detailing the van to get it ready to sell.
I'm sure everyone has gone through this black-cloud-over-the-head feeling when they have lost something fairly important. My sister reminded me to ask for the intercession of St. Anthony. I have heard the little sing-songy "prayer" which goes "Dear St. Anthony please come around. Something is lost and cannot be found." But I thought I would do a Google search and find something a little more respectable. I found this on a site that has many more beautiful prayers asking for the intercession of St. Anthony.
Dear St. Anthony, you are the patron of the poor and the helper of all who seek lost articles. Help me to find the object I have lost so that I will be able to make better use of the time that I will gain for God's greater honor and glory. Grant your gracious aid to all people who seek what they have lost---especially those who seek to regain God's grace. Amen.

Man, it's gonna feel good to be able to say we found those things.... and shake this feeling of doom.