Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Five Quick Snippets

True quote, from an unnamed offspring of mine:  "Mom!  My poop smells minty!"

My sweet daughter, when asked who she sits by in kindergarten:  "I sit by one of the twins.  I don't know which one it is though - they have the same heads!"

I think I would like to be a dog.  What a great life.  Shadow lays on our bed, basically all day long.  He sleeps all sprawled out, leaving mass amounts of dog hair in his wake.  He arises when the mood strikes him, and also if he hears a loud car outside.  He poops 3-4 times a day (who can ever dream of being so regular?) and his biggest frustration is when his favorite tennis ball goes under the couch.  (Never mind that he is always the one who just shoved it there.)  The one drawback to being a dog is only eating two times a day.  That pretty much ruins it all.

Tonight in the bath, my 6-year-old daughter presented me a bubbly cup of bath water and proclaimed, "Aaaaand, here's a coke zero in styrofoam!" Think I have a not-so-secret addiction?

And finally, I have to tell you all something Super Duper Important.  Target has new carts.  And they are nothing short of uh-mazing.  They are the greatest carts in all of the land.  I am not a cart expert or a cart engineer, and I have no idea how they work and why they usually make such horrible rattly noises and vibrate one's hands until they ache, and in general do not cause a person great happiness.  But I am a shopping expert, and I can tell you this:  the new carts at my Target are sheer bliss.  Whilst pushing these heavenly carts, I felt as if I could run a marathon.  With this cart in front of me, gliding along, I truly felt as if the world were my oyster.  It was smooth, it was quiet, and it brought me great Joy and Happiness.  And I am aware that the Target cart engineers are not marketing morons, and these carts of beauty were not created by chance or without reason.  And I am okay with the fact that as I floated behind my glorious cart it is slightly possible that  I spent a few more dollars due to the euphoria I was experiencing.  Those few moments of cart-induced bliss were well worth it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Week in Review

Today marks the end of the first week of school, and man am I tired!  I only worked two of the four school days, but I still feel rather like I've been hit by a mack truck.  Our last two weeks have been pretty crazy - one child was pretty sick, another had a procedure and is recovering, my husband was out of town, and we had a revolving door of grandparents in our house (that part didn't exhaust me - that part was awesome, and helped tremendously!).  But all in all, we've had two weeks of cray to the cray.  And I'm feeling it!

I just finished feeding my children the dinner of champions (brace yourself, health nuts): fish sticks, corn dog nuggets, tator tots and french fries - oh and also apple slices to ease my guilty conscience. And then I made the mistake of sitting down to eat my own (slightly healthier) dinner, and now I don't want to get up.  After sitting a moment or two, I began reviewing the week.

I have an oh-so-lovely class of three-year-olds.  They have been quick to listen and learn routines, and have each been able to tell me how much Jesus loves them!  I can't wait to get to know them all better as the year progresses.  I also have some opportunities this year to work with the four-year-old preschoolers, many of whom I had last year.  What a joy to be able to work with them again!  Their smiles and hugs made Wednesday so sweet - I am blessed!

My eldest child is a sophomore in high school.  How that is humanly possibly is truly a mystery, because about ten minutes ago, I was in high school!  But here we are, and I am the mother of a fifteen-year-old sophomore.  A smart, funny, loving sophomore - and I am blessed!

My eldest son is almost fourteen and in eighth grade.  He has grown so tall so quickly and now if I see him out of the corner of my eye, I can't be sure if he is my son or my husband.  He makes me laugh, is becoming so helpful with his siblings, and takes his school work so seriously - I am blessed!

My monkey in the middle is an eleven-year-old fifth grader.  He is on crutches for a few weeks and wows me daily with his perseverance, positive attitude, and determination.  He inspires those around him, myself included - I am blessed!

My youngest dude is nine and in third grade.  He takes the world by storm with his passion for wildlife, Sonic, and the White Sox.  He is a white-haired dynamo and he makes his daddy and me laugh all the time (often while we are disciplining him!).  I am blessed!

And finally, my sweet little K is not so little anymore!  She is a six-year-old kindergartener, and I can't believe how old she looks in her school uniform!  She lost two teeth this week and has aged about 3 years in 3 days.  She is in love with kindergarten and asks daily when she will learn how to read - I am blessed!

What a week!  A week full of changes and crazy and challenges and joy.  And also laundry (massive amounts of khaki pants with all five in uniforms this year!). I am so grateful for this often exhausting, but ever beautiful life God has given me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Vacay

A few thoughts on our recent vacation, in no particular order:

1. Shenandoah National Park is really beautiful.

2.  The Outer Banks are fabulous, and I could watch the ocean all day (and the back of my eyelids when need be, whilst sitting there lulled by the waves).

3.  16 people in one house is not too many, when they are all awesome family members!

4.  The sound of 10 kids playing together in the waves and sand never gets old.

5.  Cupcake Wars, family-vacay-style, is a hilarious and tasty competition.  And a close contest!

6.  Using a drone to take about a zillion family pictures is a great idea.

7.  Renting a 1912 former life-saving station house was super cool!

8.  Cool people do not write Outer Banks.  They write OBX.  I am working on becoming cool.  Don't hold your breath.

9.  Leaving all the kids home alone in the capable hands of the five teenagers and going out to a relaxing seafood dinner was spot on.

10.  Celebrating 50 years of marriage for my mother- and father-in-law was amazing.  They are such an inspiring example of Christian marriage!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

My husband thinks I’m beautiful.  

I’m not sure why, exactly, since I often see the extra padding I carry for emergencies, the lines that have cropped up around my face, and the gray hair which has been reproducing at alarming rates lately.  

I look in the mirror and see imperfections.  

My husband seems to look at me and see more than that.  And I am grateful.

We were camping in northern Michigan recently, and we were at a restaurant on a beautiful vista looking over Lake Michigan.  My entire family was milling about the area, kids running around and adults chatting and trying to keep order.  I didn’t spend much time with my husband while we were there, busy as we were with the family.  But later, at the campsite, he told me that he had looked over at me during our time there, and thought, “She is beautiful”.

As you can imagine, my eyes teared up.  How often do I tear myself down, quickly find all my flaws and assume that is all others see as well? He has seen me at my best, but more often he has seen me at my worst.  He has seen me when my face is contorted with frustration, or sadness.  He has seen me in the throes of childbirth – five times over.  He has seen my body change over the years, and my face age.  He sees all these things, and loves me in spite of (and sometimes because of) them.

By worldly standards, I am not beautiful.  But who cares what the world thinks?  I’ll take his opinion any day.  And I’ll cherish the love he has for me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Five Quick Takes

A few oh-so-special moments from our house to yours:

My dear five-year-old daughter asked me the other day, ever-so-seriously:
"Mommy?  Is there such a thing as a plain-bow? Like a rainbow with no colors in it?"

My eldest son recently finished his baseball season, and was awarded the only trophy on his team:  for Most Improved Player.  It was engraved with his name and everything!  He was very happy to receive it, and my husband and I are very proud of him.  He was iffy about playing baseball this year, but happened to meet his coach on evaluation day, and that sealed the deal. His coach made this year great for him, and our son learned so much - about baseball and about life!  He enjoyed his teammates as well, and most of all, really was able to enjoy the game this season.  Home run!

I was driving my two youngest children to DQ the other day to pick up an ice cream cake for their brother's birthday, when the driver behind me laid on his horn and dramatically sped by me.  I didn't think I had done anything wrong, but apparently he thought I had.  After a moment, I stopped thinking about the incident and went about my merry way.  Until I stopped for a red light several blocks away - and the man pulled up next to me, leaned out of his window and yelled an angry sentence complete with an obscenity.  I was rather floored and just looked at him.  Luckily, the light went green and he sped off just after he yelled at me.  But my two young children heard him, and the whole thing bothered me.  I don't particularly care what this man thinks of me, but to be yelled at with such rage was not especially pleasant!  Boo!

For birthdays at our house, we go around the dinner table and have everyone give a heartfelt sentence or two about the birthday person.  Examples are "I really like how nice you are to me, and how you play with me!" or "________ is really funny and always makes me laugh".  You get the idea.  Sometimes it's hard to come up with something, and we have to allow for a little more thinking time, but everyone comes up with a compliment or two for the birthday boy/girl.  On our 11-year-old's birthday last month, his older brother wowed us with an amazingly heartfelt testament to his brother.  My eldest son is not prone to flowery words and compliments, so our hearts were greatly moved when he told his brother how much he admired how he's handled all he's been through (he's the child with some medical issues).  He told his brother how he respected his ability to rely on his faith during his challenging times.  It was really moving.  I was proud of my eldest son for going out of his comfort zone and voicing his thoughts, and also proud of my middle son, because the things his brother said are true.
After the moving moment passed, I reminded everyone what my youngest son said about his oldest brother at his last birthday dinner.  You can read about it here.  We all cracked up.

My monkey-in-the-middle son recently wrote me the following poem for a Mother/Son night.  Enjoy.

I am a fart,
but you are a pop-tart!

I am a toot,
but you are a fruit!

I am a poop,
but you are a loop-de-loop!

And he read it to me with great expression and love.  And I loved it!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jesus Take the Wheel

We're entering into uncharted waters over here at our house.  Friday afternoon marked our first trip to the BMV for a Learner's Permit.

For our child.  Enabling her to get behind a wheel and drive a car.  Legally.  

I'm tellin' ya, this child was just in preschool the other day.  Seriously, she cannot possibly be old enough to operate a moving vehicle.  But the state says she is, so it's all legal-like now.  Time flies, and I've gotta hustle to keep up with it.

So Saturday afternoon, I figured I should let her give driving a try; after all, we must start logging all those hours sometime.  I told my husband I was going to let her drive around our very quiet block a couple times in the Suburban.  He wisely suggested she drive the Astro instead (duh?  what was I thinking?).  I'll tell you what I was thinking - that she would be a driving expert on her first try.  

That is not exactly how it went down.

We got in the ol' Astro (fondly nicknamed the Deuce), and I realized I better tell her a few things before we started moving (are you shocked at my naivete about this?  Obviously I needed to show her things before we started moving - what was I thinking?).  After I gulped down my fear when she suggested she use her left foot for the brake, I gathered my wits and showed her all the basics on the dashboard.  With my feet firmly planted, my hand on the dash and my heart in my throat, I suggested she put the van in drive and ease off the brake.

We were moving.  So far, so good.  After about 10 seconds of driving, she overshot her first turn.  She got to practice putting the car into reverse in the street (something I reminded her to never do again!) and tried again.  We made it this time, and she began to accelerate.  She floored it. . .to about 10 mph.  Dear readers, 10 mph never felt so fast!  It felt like we were going 70.  "Slow down!" I yelled  calmly instructed.  "We have to turn again in just a sec - and there are several parked cars you have to navigate around!"  She slowed, with an exaggerated sigh, and managed to drive between the parked cars, with nary a fender bender.  We made it home and then did it again, this time slightly slower, and with no missed turns.  

Later, we ran to 7-11 to get our free slushies (did you get yours yesterday?), and she (jokingly) suggested she drive us there.  I practically fainted.  

Apparently I am a control-freak as well.  What if she panics and pushes the gas instead of the brake?  I was sitting helplessly in the passenger seat.  She's a very responsible girl, logical and smart.  She actually did just fine for her first attempt -it seems I was expecting perfection right out of the gate.

When our youngest gets her permit, I'll probably be reclining in the passenger seat with a coke and texting pics of how cute she looks.  I doubt if I'll be freaking out like her older sister experienced.  My husband and I will know what we're doing in this category on the fifth go around.  My poor first child - getting to pave the way for her sibs.

So if you see my daughter driving the Astro, and you see me in the passenger seat, white-knuckled, say a little prayer.  Not for her - she'll likely be doing fine.  But for me, a control-freak mamma who can't believe her daughter is old enough to be licensed!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Vacay, Camping Style

Fourteen people, two tents, one pop-up and a giant canopy/kitchen complex.  Eight days and nights of family time with my whole family.  Countless memories.

We had a fabulous time camping, hiking, walking, beaching, shopping and eating.  I am thankful for these times together.  As the kids get older and busier, finding time to schedule such vacations is harder and harder, but still ever-so-important.  I’m grateful I have such a wonderful extended family!

On the front end of our camping trip, I took a Mother/Daughter trip with my oldest girl.  We were able to head north a day earlier and spend time shopping, exploring, and laughing.  I’m telling ya – I can really laugh with this girl!  Nobody else laughs at my ridiculous sense of humor like she does.  We were both doubled over in laughter more times than I can count (slightly problematic while I was driving!). What a blessing she is to me!

And at the end of our trip, my husband took a Father/Son trip with our oldest boy.  They backpacked on a remote island and ate freeze-dried food and beef jerky and did lots of boy things.  They enjoyed the time together as well, and I am often reminded lately just how mature my son is becoming.  Personally,  I would take my girl trip of shopping and hotel-sleeping over backcountry backpacking any day, but I guess that doesn’t sound very appealing to dudes.

And now we’re home again.  The remainder of the camping laundry is still sneering at me from the laundry room floor.  My to-do list is long.  But it was all worth it, for those memories made sitting around the campfire, working together at the campsite and playing at the beach.