Thursday, November 29, 2007

six a.m.

Having worked the "late shift" last night with #1 and her crazy dance schedule, I didn't get to bed until after midnight. This morning to my chagrin, the baby decides 4 a.m. is a great time to awaken for the day. Goodie.
Fast forward to 6 a.m. and I have just brought the dirty laundry downstairs to get it started in the washer. Number 4, (bless his little "NO, David!" heart) was eager to help out. I was trying to be as creative as I could about having him help. But his eagerness to be helpful outran his mother's ability to find something to have him do. Then it happened.

I was forced to use his whole name... All. Three. Names.

Each said with such clarity so that there would be no mistaking the fact that my gentle ("no, that doesn't go there, don't push that yet, etc.") reminders weren't just meaningless utterances. Secretly, I did get a little tickled, because, even though, believe it or not, this was the first time I had to Use. Three. Names., he knew exactly what it meant to hear them like that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Number 4 (the only one of any of my children to be so clever) decided tonight at dinner to take two kernels of corn and tenderly place one kernel up each nostril.
Logically speaking, of course, they are the perfect fit. Perfectly shaped for such an orifice.

Note to self: Keep the carrots on the top shelf of the fridge until he gets a bit older.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

risky business

There is nothing that will make a toddler "soil" a diaper faster than just having had a new one put on. Also, the frequency with which this happens is directly proportional to the number of diapers you have left.

Moral of the story: The Pampers Rationing game we sometimes play until hubby comes home so that we can run out and "pick up a couple of things" (bread, milk, diapers, 15 minutes without kids) will occasionally come with risks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

thankful lists

On Thursday morning, when #'s 2 and 3 were the only "big kids" awake, things were fine. Then when #1 was added to the mix, things got a bit septic.
Still trying to make lemonade from the lemons we were presented with that day, when the fights broke out, I made them all sit down at the dining room table and make a list of AT LEAST 25 things for which they were thankful. Big or small or both, it didn't matter, it just had to be at least 25.
They took turns reading them aloud after we ate "dinnuh". They were all thankful for their parents (whew), siblings (double whew), and extended family.... for their home, and for their Church and school. But each kid had a couple of really unique items. Here are my top three favorites for each:

My ten year old son is thankful for:
  • being healthy
  • having books to read
  • having a good back and front yard

My oldest daughter.... who I should really call Violet (from the movie "The Incredibles") because it is written all over her face that she wishes she could disappear and have a force field around her and all that jazz.... is thankful to have:

  • Jesus
  • intelligence
  • enough money to live

Finally, my tender eight year old, who has just begun to enter that very awkward, gawky time of life between, oh, eight and 16, give or take a year or so, is thankful for:

  • her birthday
  • her guardian angel
  • love

We are going to make a paper chain out of all the items on their lists and string it on our Christmas tree to remind us during the Advent and Christmas season how rich we really are.

i'd even wait another whole year for a perfect moment like this

First and foremost, we are smack dab in the middle of my very favorite time of year. Hands down. You can have spring break and summer break. It's Thanksgiving and Christmas break which has my heart.
Thursday could have gone so many different ways. We had a lot of invitations to go many different places. We were even considering surprising my grandparents, which would have been a blast. But, we stuck with our plan which was to hole up in the house and not let anyone in or out. Our plan was to have NO PLANS.
Waking up at 5:30am, thanks to two beautiful, but early-rising, children, we decided to make lemonade with our lemons. King made a big pot of coffee and I got breakfast for #'s 4 and 5. (Or was that the other way around? Oh well, it was so early, who the heck knows!?!?!) We sat down at the dining room table and made the final decisions about our menu for the day.

Pecan coated chicken breasts
Homemade (aka not from a can) sweet potato casserole
Broccoli (hey, you've just got to have something green, right?)
Pecan Pie
Tea ~ Coffee ~ Milk
Then we worked on getting breakfast for ourselves and everyone else, who were finally descending the stairs in dribs and drabs. After all the dishes were cleaned up, we started on the big meal. Got the chicken all soaked in buttermilk and then coated in pecan meal. Got the sweet potatoes all diced and into a pot of boiling water, mashed, mixed and covered with marshmallows, etc., etc., etc.
We decided we'd eat at 1pm. At 12:30 I decided to try to get #4 down for a nap. He couldn't hold out for a 1pm dinner date. So he had a peanut butter and nutella sandwich about noon. When he started to get cranky, # 1 took him to the front porch swing to calm him down. I went out there to get him and he was all smiles and giggles. Though I needed to take a shower and get dressed for "dinnuh", I decided to sit on the rocking chair and watch him giggle.
Just as those dribs and drabs descended the stairs oh so much earlier in the day, so they started arriving on the front porch. All the kids decided they needed to be on the porch swing. Uh-oh, this is the recipe for disaster. However, this time, no one was fighting. No one was whining. All five children had smiles on their faces. They were all happy at once.
You have to understand, this is more magical than when my grandmother puts all the food out on the table that will feed 80 or so people and it's all hot at the same time.
I couldn't move. I was paralyzed. I couldn't breathe. It was the moment I had been planning for weeks. For months. Maybe even a year!
"Oh, honey, can you come out here to the front porch a minute?!" King came out there and sat in the other rocker and we just rocked and held our breath. We drank the goodness of the moment into every pore of our body.
This moment is one that I will remember as long as my brain cells will let me. It is a moment that I will tell people about for as long as they will listen. I am so excited that I was there to witness it. But mostly, I am glad I was able to appreciate it.
When we sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, a bit later, we had yet another item for our Thankful List.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

religious persecution

For quite some time now I have had this secret guilt: that I have not had to endure persecution for being a Christian.
I was reminded of that as I was reading the scripture for Mass this past weekend during a rare moment that I took for myself to actually prepare to hear the Word of God. It is nice to be able to reflect on the scripture beforehand. I am not always organized enough to make it happen. Ennyhoo... I digress.
So, here I am carrying around this guilt. I have never had to go through a holocaust. Or a nightmarish hostage situation where my life or my death depended on my answer of "Yes, I am a Christian." Others have had to endure such hardships because of their faith. I have not. That doesn't seem fair.

Fast forward to Mass on Sunday.

King was chasing number 4 through the narthex and I was holding a very squirmy number 5 for quite some time before I decided to just let her crawl. Our other three children, who have outgrown this "you can't sit in 'big church' if you cannot behave" stage, were sitting in the Sanctuary so sweetly. They even looked to be paying attention. The whole while King and I were going through a hellish nightmare of kid-chasing.

Then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks right between the eyes. I am being persecuted for my faith. I believe in Christ. I believe all that has been handed down from the apostles which are the beliefs of the Catholic Church. And I believe in handing down to my children their heritage of Christianity. It ain't easy!

Actually, chasing a toddler for an hour or so during Mass is the easiest part of it. The real hardship is explaining to the children why we don't listen to just any ol' music on the radio and why we have to limit what they watch on tv and why King has to turn to the Weather Channel during the commercials of a Sunday afternoon football game so we don't have to explain what genital herpes is. We have to define abortion and gently break the news that they can't just ride their bikes to the park by themselves, and give them reasons why they have to be cautious of strangers, what a sexual predator is, the list goes on. All sorts of ways that humans have profaned God's Holy Design. Having to explain all of these things... difficult topics, different levels at different times... five times over.

The most annoying part of it is that we can't let our guards down. Ever. I am called to be a model of a Christian ALL the time. Not PART of the time. There is no time off for good behavior. Besides, what would "time off" mean anyway? I can only imagine it would lead to sin... can't you?
So, I shan't feel guilty about the fact that I have never been in a concentration camp or in a Columbine-type situation. I am being persecuted each and every day for my beliefs. Sure, there is no gun in my face. But I am looking down the barrel of the future. Raising five souls who will, in turn, pass along to their children such a rich, beautiful inheritance.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

nothing sweeter

This afternoon, we were invited to the 91st birthday party of #3's Godmother. She was widowed nearly 5 years ago and now lives in a personal care home.
While we were there, the baby was due to eat. Luckily I had remembered to pack a jar of food and a bottle. I sat down and began feeding her. Shortly afterward, a bright-eyed, cheery woman, came over and smiled at #5. She knelt to the baby's level and spoke in soft tones trying elicit a beautiful, gummy baby grin. She wanted to know how old she was, what her name was, how many children I had, etc. She cooed and played with her and then told me that her own mother raised 7 children (5 boys, 2 girls). We marveled at how busy her mom must have been. Cooing again, she said, "There's just nothing sweeter than a baby." I agreed.
I then got distracted with the antics of #4 and came to sit back down after a bit. The lady came back up to us and began ogling over the baby again. We spoke for awhile longer. "There's nothing sweeter than a baby," she crooned. I agreed.
She then went over and helped show #4 the fish tank which kept his attention for a good, long time. (whew!) Walking back over and catching the eye of the baby she asked how old "he" was and was surprised to learn that I was holding a baby girl (I had dressed her in navy after all). My elderly friend was also surprised to hear that she was 8 months old and that she was the youngest of 5. By this time, my suspicions from the second encounter were confirmed. This gentle soul, who adores babies, has absolutely no short term memory. "There's nothing sweeter than a baby," she said with a smile. I agreed then thought to myself, "There is also nothing sweeter than a dear, old lady with bright, sparkly blue eyes who doesn't remember meeting my little girl for the first time, so many times, in less than 30 minutes."

Friday, November 16, 2007

pass the ibuprofin

Ok, you know how every week that you are a mom one of your children is on your nerves and can do no right. The other kids are rolling along smoothly which makes the "booger" kid even more obnoxious. Every once in awhile, if you have enough kids, you might have two that are playing hopscotch on your last nerve.
Well, tag! #4 is it for this week.
This morning I awoke feeling chipper and ready to start the day. Then it started. Whine whine whine. Cry cry cry. Whine some more. Ditto with the crying. Ad nauseum.
At first I just felt a twinge of something in my neck. Then after a bit I felt a little tightness in my shoulder. Now I can barely move my head. The term "crick" doesn't even come close. Totally stress related. A true pain in the neck!

Now if I could just track down the origin of this tailbone pain.....

monograms anyone?

Guess who got the embroidery machine that she has been wanting for at least a decade? (me)
And guess who is going to get gifts with their monogram, or perhaps one of the thousands of embroidery designs I now have, on them? (you)

it really wouldn't be plagiarism, would it?

A friend of mine has to write a persuasive speech. I helped her come up with the topic: An Argument for Organ Donation. Let's help her come up with some reasons why you should sign up to be an organ donor. I'll start.

1) It's easy to sign up. Here you can do it when you register for your driver's license.
2) You get $$ off the cost of your driver's license.
3) What will you need those things for after you're gone anyway?
4) Organ Donation: The Ultimate Recycling Program
5) Part of you will live on after you're gone, giving much comfort to your grieving family.
6) You will be remembered as a thoughtful, unselfish, generous soul.
7) Dude, you have the potential to save a bunch of lives! I mean, hello? Is this thing on? What? Were you born without an ego?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the squeaky wheel and the grease

Why is it that the child who is the most trouble... (the one who is constantly getting into something he shouldn't, the one who is always doing something dangerous, the one who you chase all day and when he finally goes to sleep, you heave a huge sigh of relief and absolutely fall into bed from exhaustion, only to be awakened at O'dark thirty by a raring-to-go, well-rested toddler) is also the one that makes your heart melt the most when he comes up and wraps his sweet little arms around your neck and practically squeezes your head off?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

whirlwinds of activity

I have just blown back home and am about to be swept away on another whirlwind of activity. Since the week of Halloween, so much has happened. Number 4 "ran away from home" ... toddled off following a neighbor's cat and ended up on the front porch of a house two doors down. It is a whole post in itself, and perhaps one day I will want to revisit it... but not today.
He also decided to finish off a bottle of homeopathic teething tablets... his first attempt at overdosing. God, help me keep this boy safe! (But send a protective army of angels just in case I need to turn my back!)
Number 3 turned 8 on All Saints Day. What a wonderful day to have a birthday. My mom came down, as she always does on each of their birthdays, and took her shopping. I am thankful that I have once again squeaked by without having to build a stall for a pony which the overindulgent grandmother has threatened to purchase many times.
We squeezed in hours of dance lessons, trips out of town for Irish dance competitions, a science project, a couple of football games, fiddle lessons and a workshop into the few short days of the beginning of November. The sad news is that our calendars are full from now until December 3rd. At that time, I think I will close the blinds, lock the doors, and not let the children leave the house for at least 48 hours. There will be no getting dressed, no eating fast food, no chores. Nothing but climbing up into Mommy and Daddy's bed, reading stories, telling funny stories, laughing, and taking naps. We will make hot chocolate and watch movies. No one is allowed to say: school, homework, dance, ball practice, fiddle, or "costs too much".
Yeah. Then I'll awaken to the ice-cold wet rag of reality smacking me right in the tushie, right?

Monday, November 5, 2007

the hard way

One of my children (who shall numberless) had to learn the hard way that you cannot eat the entire contents of a bag of candy and then be normal the next day. As in, "oops, that wasn't gas pain."

Friday, November 2, 2007

learning to be gracious

I got a phone call from a friend of mine this morning. She had made two batches of lasagne and wanted to share one with our family. She said that her mom started this "Lasagne Ministry" and she has carried on the tradition. Her family says a little prayer for the family they have shared the meal with. What a beautiful thing! I love that idea.

What I also love is how wonderful my kitchen is smelling right about now. As soon as she brought the dish into the house, the aroma of the lasagne, despite the fact that it was covered with foil, wafted through the downstairs.

Y'know sometimes it is hard to let other people do nice things for you. Why is that? Do I think I have to always be the one who does the "doing"? There may be a fine line between love and hate, but there is also a fine line between humbleness and pride.

Do you have a hard time letting others do nice things for you? What about when someone pays you a compliment? What is your reaction? Do you disagree and tell them they surely don't know what they are talking about or do you graciously say "thank you"?