Tuesday, June 28, 2011

file under: things that hit close to home

gaffaw- n. a loud and boisterous laugh; a burst of deep loud hearty laughter

I have noticed that it takes above-average intelligence to possess a wonderfully quick wit that catches me off guard and tickles me absolutely to my soul.

As a handful of friends and I were recently disturbing the patrons of a local eatery with boisterous peels of laughter, I was reminded of how much I truly appreciate people who have such brilliant senses of humor. 

Sadly, I don't take enough opportunities to laugh like that at home. 

Being a parent is such a nose-to-the-grindstone act of love, but without laughter, it is hard to feel the joy.  I do laugh with #1 on the rare instances when it is just the two of us.  And #2 is starting to be "in on the joke" most of the time as well.  I rejoice in the fact that the three youngest are quickly on their way to maturing to the point that I don't have the mind-numbing job of monitoring each mundane moment of their lives. which is sometimes a desert, void of fertile opportunities for much laughter. 

Upside of it all:  if possessing a razor-sharp wit takes uber smarts, it's lucky for me that I am surrounded by children who are well-equipped!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

short takes

Did you ever notice that when you go to Ruby Tuesday, that for the most part, it's only the overweight people who choose that scrumptious salad bar?  It's the twiggy lightweights who stay in their booths eating meals described in the menu as "Breaded chicken breast served over al dente penne tossed in Parmesan cream sauce, then finished with marinara and melted Swiss."  
Food pyramid indeed.  Me thinks we are being lied to by the FDA.
What. Ev!
Upside for Capitalism: All this rabbit food is helping all the plus size clothing stores stay in business.


The three older kids are all gone this week.... one is off at summer camp, the other two are in Louisiana at Steubenville South, a life-changing Catholic retreat.  It is the first time any of them have done anything like it, and I am so excited for them.  No doubt King and I miss them, but not as much as # 4 and #5...........Well, actually I am not sure if it is "missing them" as much as it is the fact that

"Three fifths of their wait staff is missing."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

countless blessings

I've already learned the lesson that if I volunteer for something like "chaperoning for a High School Leadership Training Overnight Retreat" that I will be blessed beyond measure.  Still, for awhile there, as I was scrambling around to find a couple of different someones to watch my two youngest children during two days (and their coordinating with King for the night in between) I thought I had been a little too hasty in offering to help. 

Once all my own child care was planned, a well-choreographed ballet, I was on my way to what proved to be time spent in the presence of 27 Amazing Teens! 

The location for the retreat was our local Catholic High School's "Grand Dining Hall" (that'd be what you and I used to call the lunchroom).  There was a wonderful mix of students. Most all of them, I would guess, made good grades. Some were outgoing. Others weren't. Some were the athletic type. Others weren't. Some were popular. Others weren't. Most knew each other. A few kids knew no one. Throughout the presentation part of the retreat, although I was in the same room, I hung back, since I had also been asked to orchestrate the meals.  I stayed busy making sure that the food areas were clean, planning for the next "food drop",  and organizing so that that everything was effortlessly streamline during mealtime.  But make no mistake, I was able to watch these very special kids interact. 
What I saw happen was purely and simply the Holy Spirit at work.

These kids spiritually embraced each other, they opened their hearts and shared with each other.  During down times, they didn't just stay in their "cliques", they moved about and played games with each other: a badminton court was made by stringing a net between two chairs which were set upon tables, a football and a volleyball were each thrown around, and the beanbag toss was popular, too.  Many balls were thrown, but not one single insulting word.  After dinner they had an impromptu talent show.  They cheered one another on, each "act" received a standing ovation.  The camaraderie was a joy to watch.

3 hours of sleep and back at it.

After a full morning of taking part in dialogues, they reach the last activity of the retreat: Witnessing.  It was an amazing, emotional, and intimate time where the kids, any who felt led to, shared how God was alive and at work in them.  The Retreat Leader suggested ways that they add details to their stories to go out and be an even more powerful witness and Christian Leader throughout their lives.  And then, the Closing Mass.

Origin of the word Mass - from the Latin missa (also spelled messa): to send; to commission. 

Anyone who knows me also knows that I have a bad case of "Watery Eyeballs!"  Why, even just typing the words "watery" and "eyeballs" makes me well up with tears.  At the close of the ending Mass, each child came up individually and, along with the priest, all 5 of us adult leaders laid our hands upon the teen's head/shoulders and prayed for blessings over him or her. 

Uh oh, here it comes.

Throughout these 30 hours together, I have taken notice of the way Christ's Light is shone by each of these awesome young adults.  During Mass, I offered prayers of thanksgiving for the way each of these kids serve as the hands and face of Christ.  Then we get to the Laying on of Hands.  Well, let's just say this is where the rubber hit the road ...nose hit the kleenex!  I thought I had it all handled just wiping the few tears away after we prayed over the first couple of kids.  And then I remembered their witness, and the way they interacted with each other, and what a powerful impact they were each going to make on the world.  "Lord help them keep their lights shining." I prayed.  "Their beautiful light.  Each so unique.  Each so eager.  Each so joyful." 

I sobbed.
The Ugly Cry.

"Oh Lord, this isn't about me.  Oh. Dear. God." I begged for help getting control over my emotions.  "If they didn't already know it before, I have just sealed these kids in the knowledge that I am the world's biggest goober-head."  I know my face was red because it was on fire.  If only the steady stream of tears could put out the flame.  "Thank you Jesus that no one is pointing and laughing.... I guess?  Course, who can see through these blurry eyes."

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Mush!

And then, do you know what those amazingly powerful, incredibly awesome, beautifully unique kids spontaneously suggested after the last wonderful kid received their blessing?   They asked if they could lay their hands on each of the six of us.   Yelp. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

There may have been only 27 kids praying over me, but the blessings I received from this retreat were countless.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

this morning

Me to King: Happy Father's Day honey.
#5 to Me: Happy Father's Day mommy.


#5 to me:  Mommy are we gonna die on the last day?
Me:  Hmm, I dunno.
#5:  Yeah we will.  I'm not gonna grow up.

Friday, June 17, 2011

a letter to my 90 year old grandfather

Dear PawPaw,

First of all, Happy Happy Birthday! I dearly wish we could be there to celebrate with you. You are in our prayers and I know your special day will bring countless blessings.

My favorite memories of you include your fantastic wit. Many times I remember you telling a joke and getting right in the middle of it and giggling so hard you can barely finish the punch line. You have so many rich experiences and you tell a story like no one else. Jim and I both love to hear them. Your memory is incredible and when you tell a story about something that happened many years ago, all the details are still there, as if it was just yesterday.

In today’s world qualities like yours are rare. You come from an era when times were not easy, but your ability to make sacrifices, your incredible strength, and unfailing work ethic proved to be what was needed to get through it. You live by the code that that truth is king and that doing the right thing is not “just an option”.

When I look at your hands and think of all they have accomplished, I am in awe. How many times have your hands flipped through the pages of your Bible? Or the song book at church? How many seeds have your hands planted so that your family could eat? How much sweat has the back of your hand wiped from your brow? Just how many babies have your hands held? And how many fish hooks have your hands baited for your grandchildren? How many cuts and bruises have your hands had to endure? Those same hands that have done so many things have also given an immeasurable amount of love over the last ninety years.

You are a man I truly admire. I love you, PawPaw!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

father's day

This is a picture of my dad in high school.
I think his junior or senior year.
I'm sure my know-it-all sister can set me straight.

As I grow older, I find that my eyes sting when I think of him.
There is a painful ache in my stomach.
Sometimes I only miss him a little. 
Sometimes I miss him so much that I have to think about something else right quick otherwise it would hurt too much.  And the kids might be frightened by my heaving sobs.

He used to play this game called "You Can't Get Away".  He'd be sitting in the big club chair in the living room and I'd climb up in his lap.  He'd hold me real tight and say "You can't get away."  Then I'd squirm and wriggle and he would loosen his hold just ever so much.  He'd pretend like he had nodded off and then after my Houdini-like escape, I'd say "ta-daaa" from the other side of the room.  He would "awaken" with a snort and be "surprised" that I had gotten away.
Oh, how clever I thought I was.  We laughed and did it all again. 

He was a great dad.  I am thankful he was mine.

This father's day, if yours is alive, go wrap your arms around your dad and tell him how much you love him, k?  Promise?

Monday, June 13, 2011

salve for a frazzled soul

When healing happens,even if it is just a small step on a long journey, I crave solitude.  I can hear His voice and I know I am on the right path.  Breadcrumbs.

When all gets still with my soul, I notice little things.

Groovy Kind of Love.  Phil Collins songs are often piped in on the sound system at the local grocery store. 
The bagger asks, "Do you need help getting these to your car?"  I say "No, thank you."  Because I don't need the help.  Not this time.

When things are quiet, like a stolen moment to return last week's books to the library and to pick up a few more for this week's bedtimes, I love to look at the spines of books.  Especially the older books for middle school-aged kids.  The books from the 50's and 60's possess something of my soul.... can't quite describe it, but they, like many things from that era, draw me to themselves somehow.  Inanimate little devils.   

Vintage sheet set handed down from my grandmother to use for sewing projects.  Little did she know they would end up fitting my bed.  Just. Perfectly.  Gauze dressing for the heart.  Cheery little flowers.

The beautiful sound of a friend's voice.  Water to the parched earth.

Small things that keep me sane.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

what happens in the dining room stays in the dining room: aka somebody better warn vegas

So King decides to teach the kids how to play the many versions of poker. Five Card Stud, Texas Hold Em, etc.

How sad is it that the 5 year old swept up?!?! 

summertime, summertime sum sum summertime

So far we have been keeping the kids busy this summer.  They have:
  • gone to the mountains and enjoyed the crisp, icy waters of the lakes and streams there
  • worked hard at football, softball, and swim practice during the week
  • logged in 6 hours at the pool (would have been much more if I hadn't have gotten a major sunburn the first time we went)
  • been tormented at the orthodontist (#1 to get braces at the end of the month.  She's crushed.)
  • ridden all the rollercoasters at the park
  • gone dancing at the Elk's Club
  • played tons of card games

Sunday, June 5, 2011

three guesses

"Mom, is it ok if we be nice to ants?"

Friday, June 3, 2011


If you are having trouble leaving comments like I was for a couple of weeks now, it's because you have to (razzlefrazzin') update to Explorer 9.

the good old days

I love summer for its simplicity. There is only one goal: to relax and have fun. In an effort to avoid having the children sit in front of tv for hours on end, like they are inclined to want to do, we have decided to utilize the local library's incredible collection of audiobooks. We will start with Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events.

As we sit in the living room, listening to the first in the series, The Bad Beginning, I imagine we are like the families in these photos where everyone is well-dressed, and content.
I love living in a fantasy world.

photo credit

"The good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems." Billy Joel Keeping The Faith

these years need to come with a warning