Thursday, December 20, 2012

An excruciating evening. . .for one of us!

Last night was the Christmas program for our two older children.  50 minutes of listening to band, choir, chimes. . .you get the idea.  It was quite nice, with lots to listen to and watch.

Not to my six year old.

You think we'd asked him to go all day without eating.  Or to clean the entire house by himself.  Or (gasp!) live in a world without Sonic the Hedgehog.

It was apparently an insurmountable task.

Before we even left, he start fussing about it.  Once we got there, he wiggled in his chair, frequently turning around to show one of his buddies a few rows back the wound on his wrist (which was still bright red and not all that pleasant to view).  He made paper airplanes out of the program and switched between our laps with the speed of, well, Sonic.

At one point, he turned to my husband and said, "This is SO not manageable!!"

50 minutes.  That's it!  And this kid is accustomed to sitting in church at least once a week for longer than that!  Not sure if it's Christmas' imminent arrival or what.  But this kid struggled last night.  Yet, even amid our annoyance and frustration at his behavior, my husband and I looked over his head more than once, silently laughing.

It's a good thing he's hilarious!

Monday, December 17, 2012

When I put my 3 year old to bed each night, I can count on one of the following happening:

"Mommy, tell me a good dragon story!"

"Mommy, let's play friends!"

"Mommy, tell me a bad dragon story!"

"Mommy, can you seep wif me for a few minutes?"

As I lie down next to her, sometimes I snuggle so close that we're cheek to cheek.  I breathe in her sweet scent and my heart feels like it will explode.  These days are fleeting, and last week that was brought to our attention in a heartbreaking way.

Dear Lord, thank you for the precious children you have entrusted us with.  Comfort those whose lives are devastated.  Give them the hope that only You can give.  Come, Lord Jesus!  Amen.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stink is in the nose of the beholder

Me:  (getting a whiff of unpleasant air)  Son, I think your armpits are a little smelly.

Son: (leaning over to give each one a hearty sniff)  Aaaah!  Like a fresh summer breeze!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Santa Story

Because I always enjoy an extra parenting challenge, I headed to the mall on Saturday with all the kids in tow to see Santa.  Much to my surprise and delight, there was almost no line!  On a Saturday!  (This is not always true for my family).

My six year old was eager to go first.  He scrambled up on Santa's lap and after he told Santa what he would like please, Santa asked him if he had been good this year.

Ever honest, he couldn't answer that one quickly.  He scrunched up his little face and asked slowly and seriously:

"Weeellll, hasn't the Elf on the Shelf been reporting to you??"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Elfish Activity

My six year old son came home from school, full of excitement about his friend's Elf on the Shelf.  "It's so cool!!  You can't touch him, he's magic, he watches you and reports to Santa, he comes every morning and you have to find him when you wake up!"  Whew!

I had thought about getting one for a year or two, so now seemed like the right time.  After much deliberation, the kids came up with his name:  Hedgy Miles Maximilian.  If you know my kiddos, you can see who had the most influence with the first name.  (For the record, when Miles was suggested, this same child seriously added "per hour" to complete the name.)

Hedgy has been seen on the tree, reading a book about Jesus' birth and in a few other places, including this one:

The kids are getting up way too early to find out where Hedgy will be each day.  So far, Hedgy has not disappointed and forgotten to return; hopefully that trend continues.  Though I haven't tried to push "The Elf is watching - be good!", if that happens on its own, I won't complain!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The man your man (or boy) could smell like

Says the six year old, as he pulls his shirt off:

"MOM!  Can I have some man spray for my dumpsters?"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How deep is your love?

This morning as I was taking my six year old son to the allergist, we somehow got into a deep discussion about how it was my job to protect him, no matter what.

"I protect you because I love you more than anything", I said.

After a long pause, my son replied, "Even more than rice cakes??"

Um, yes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kids say the darndest things

Me:  picking a piece of lint off the laundry

K:  What is that, Mommy?

Me:  It's a fuzzy.

K:  Sometimes fuzzies are nice, sometimes they're naughty.

Me:  How do you know if a fuzzy is nice?

K:  He smiles.

Overheard after dinner last night:

Boy:  Clearing the table.  Slowly and seriously:  If it's called hot sauce. . . (long, thoughtful pause). . . why do we keep it in the fridge?

Monday, November 12, 2012

On how to acquire a beautiful velvet box

A 40% off coupon at Family Christian Bookstore.  Valid only on the weekend, when I have multiple children.  A 25% off coupon, valid on the weekdays, when I only have one child.  

What to do, what to do?  

Calculate the difference between coupons on the item I need.  About $6.  Okay, worth it to go on Saturday, since we were going to be near the store anyway.  And bonus - I only had three children after all!

En route to store.  Reiterate the importance of not touching the many breakable things we would be encountering.  Stay close to mom and don't touch.  

At check out.  Kids have been relatively good and we have made it through the process unscathed thus far.  

Crash!  My head jerks up as I hear glass shatter into a million pieces. . .in the vicinity of one of my children.  

I step the few feet to assess the situation.  I see a beautiful velvet box sitting on a table, empty. I hold my breath as I flip it over. 



After coupons, I have purchased a lovely burgundy box for $18.  Actually, the offending child has paid for it.  And I have to say, though many tears were shed, and sorrow and apologies expressed, that soft little box has been quite loved and cherished thus far.

But I can't quite say the whole event was worth it.  If you're in the market for an exquisite velvet box, I suggest you buy the ornament too, in the customary way.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A penny saved is a penny earned!

The other day, I was enjoying one of my favorite activities: shopping at Target with little K.  She was chatting in her sweet way as I got into line and I was drinking it all in.

Suddenly, the merchandise on the conveyer belt in front of me caught my attention, and my conversation with little K stalled.  The gal ahead of me was piling item upon item of name brand, individual-packaged, convenience packs onto the counter.  I watched, fascinated, all the while thinking how much I could save her if she would give me her list.  Even at Target I could have saved her a bundle!  But if I could have shopped at a few other stores, the savings would have been even greater.

I held my breath and tried not to look like a stalker as I ignored K and strained to hear her total.  $395!  I nearly fell over.  She didn't buy anything large - all small items that added up to that crazy amount.  She didn't look concerned by the total and paid in cash, so she must have the means to shop that way.  But still - heavens!  I know I am cheap, frugal, whatever you want to call me.  But aren't there other things you could spend that money on?  I can think of more than a few!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

School ain't what it used to be!

My convo with my youngest daughter on the way home from preschool today:

"Hi sweetie!  How was school today?"

"Well, Minnie Mouse came to our classroom today!"

"Really?  Like a stuffed animal?"

"Nooo, like a person."

"Oh.  Someone dressed up as Minnie Mouse?"

"There were two Minnie Mouses and three Mickey Mouses. . .(unintelligible mumbling). . .in the Bible story."

"Mickey Mouse was in the Bible Story???"

"Jesus loves you!", followed by a quiet rendition of Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just the two of us

My husband and I just returned home from a beautiful trip to San Diego.  A few thoughts from the trip:

1.  The beaches are uh-maze-ing.  Gorgeous and enormous.  We walked, relaxed, read and just plain took it all in.

2.  San Diego offers many and various kinds of fish tacos.  I think it is safe to say that we sampled each and every one.  We literally had seafood at every single meal.  And we didn't feel like it was repetitive. So either we are incredibly monotonous, or the chefs were all unique.  I'm going with the latter, whether it's true or not.

3.  My husband is marvelous.  Spending so much time together without the constant interruptions we have at home was priceless.

4.  My parents are troopers.  Five kids, countless activities, a few minor meltdowns, a semi-sick child and five days.  And they survived!  And said they'd do it again sometime - but not for a little while!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall combo

I had to (read: got to) run a bunch of errands today.  On shopping days, I am in my element.  I feel that all is right with the world.

How sad is that?

Anyway, it was an enjoyable day for me and my little assistant.  The sun tried to shine much of the day, and the trees were ablaze with color.  As I drove, I glanced down and saw this:

And it just made me happy.  The color combo shouted out, "It's fall!"  And crisp, cool air, fall colors, leaves a-changin', and shopping all together made for a lovely day.

How beautifully leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days. 
 ~John Burroughs

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mammamilk - The Morning Edition

Here's a rundown of our morning.  Enjoy.

6:50  I come downstairs in plenty of time to start breakfast, so I decide to make pancakes.  All is good, all is smooth, everyone is happy.

7:00 Pancakes on the table, kids shuffling in to start eating.

7:10  My husband comes in and we remember that he has to take my van instead of his car to school today (all five kids can't fit in his uber-cool Sportage, so they must take my not-so-uber-cool Astro van).  Rapidly we realize this causes problems - he needs to keep it all day because of a field trip he is going on - and his car doesn't have a car seat for K for her midday pick up.  We resolve this crisis.

7:12  Child going on field trip complains that the Sportage will not be the mode of transportation.  I attempt to point out the Astro's fine features.  Child does not buy it.  The Sportage is cooler - no getting around it.

7:13  I divulge that my van doesn't have enough gas for the field trip.  This puts my husband into high gear and me into drill sergeant mode with the children.

7:18 I continue prodding the children - "GO, GO, GO! You have to get gas before school!"

7:23  The kids are almost ready to get in the van. . .except one.  I go to the stairs to tell him to come down, to hear --

7:25  "I fell into the toilet!!", followed by hysterical crying.

7:26 Suppressing the urge to bang my head against the wall, but permitting the urge to roll my eyes and sigh, I go upstairs to investigate.

7:27  Sure enough, the boy is soaked - entire uniform must be scrapped.  I help him-who-is-still-hysterically-crying clean up and change into new clothes, while saying things like "I am 39 years old.  I have never fallen into a toilet.  How did this happen?"

7:28  I listen to his explanation ("I was going to sit down!  I didn't know it was open!") and try to be understanding.  I may or may not have succeeded in this.

7:30  Get the child in new clothes (after trying two different pairs of undies and two pants, because the first set was bunchy) and send him downstairs and into the van.

7:32  I go turn on the van to see just how much gas there is left.  Report to my husband, who says, "Oh, that'll be enough to get us there - I can get some after I take the kids to school."

7:33  Watch them drive away, shut the door and have a drink.  Oh, okay.  It was a drink of water.

So!   How was your morning?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Musings at the foot of the cross

Today while waiting for my children to get out of school, my little three year old and I sat in the office. Soon she was looking at the brochure about our church and school, which had a picture of Jesus on the cross.  She spent several seconds looking at the picture thoughtfully, then --

"Mommy, why does Jesus have blood?  Why does he have owies?"

"Jesus needs a bandaid, Mommy!"

"Is he all better now?"

"Poor Jesus!"

"I am here for you, Jesus!"

"Jesus is in my heart, Mommy."

I answered as best I could, in terms she could understand, but truly, I was more caught up in just listening to her faith, growing by leaps and bounds.  She gets it - at age three, that Jesus loves her and lives in her heart.  


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Tervis nation

My mom and dad decided to introduce our family to The Tervis Cup.  Over the course of a year, all of us have received one for our birthdays.  Son number one just received his last week, making our Tervis nation complete.  We have been Tervis-ed!  We have many Tervi.  Have you tried one yet?  They keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.  Seriously.

Thanks mom and dad!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Seven Things I'm Lovin' Right Now

In no particular order:

7.  My oldest son, who turns eleven on Friday.  What a blessing he is in our lives!

6.  The crisp, fall air and wearing jeans and sweaters.

5.  Our crazy, busy schedule that is constantly keeping me on my toes.  I'll admit this is a love-hate relationship.  BUT - in general, I would rather be busy than bored.

4.  Our gift of eternal life.  Of late we have witnessed several saints go home to Jesus.  What a blessing to know they are with their Lord and that we will be with them again someday!  Praise God!

3.  My six year old's gap-tooth smile.

2.  Vacuums with no clogs.  I currently do not own one of these.

1.  This:  When I am walking with my children, if I place my hand at my side with my palm facing backward, it will be filled with a little hand.  Each time the little (or not so little, sometimes) hand grasps mine, my heart jumps for joy.  Bliss.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Life has been hairy around here lately, leaving me little time to write.  School schedules, soccer, piano, doctor's appointments, and a lovely trip for my husband and me to northern Michigan has occupied much of my time.  Slowing down doesn't seem to be an option!  I don't fully mind, though.  I'd rather be busy than bored.  So I am trying to enjoy these mom-as-taxi years of homework and lessons and chores and practices.  I know they will pass by very quickly!

Here's a little gem from one of my young'uns (it shouldn't be hard to guess which one!):

"Hey mom?  Is there a book called The Hideous Hedgehog??"

Sadly, no.  But I suggested he write it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays!

My six year old son, as he opened up his Diego umbrella in the rain:  "Take that, rain!"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

All by Myself!

Today is an epoch in my life.  I have spent the last two hours alone.  As in no children with me.  None. Nada.

My littlest started preschool today.  It has been 12 years in the making, this solitude I am now experiencing, and will be experiencing twice each week.

I'm not sure what to make of it.  On the one hand, it is nice to do what I want or need to do without worry or concern about a little one's needs.  On the other hand, I feel a bit lost.  I'm not quite sure how to best use this long-coveted time.  I must admit that this morning, after I dropped little K off, I went to Menards and Walmart.  Disappointed?

So, what does one do when one's children are no longer at home during the day?  Read, watch TV, sew, scrapbook?  Clean the floors, the bathroom or the kitchen?  Shop for groceries, toilet paper, or new shoes?  I'm just not sure yet.

I'll have to keep pondering it.  For now, I have to go pick up my little girl.  Enough alone time for today.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pump up the jam!

Things are about to get loud over here.  Okay, okay, it's already crazy loud over here.  If possible, it's going to get even louder.

Why, you ask?

Because we are getting Rock Band for our Wii.

I know I'm certifiable for allowing it to happen.  But I have to say, I'm excited too!  It's going to be a karaoke party!

Wonderful people from church are giving it to us because their boys are grown and moving out.  Their mother is happy to be losing all the large equipment (while I am trying to figure out where we will store all the stuff over here).  Our boys are thrilled to be on the receiving end of such a generous gift.

So - anyone up for a little Bon Jovi or Aerosmith?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A new era

Two weeks from today, four of my five children will be starting school for the fall.  My fifth child will be starting her preschool class the next day.

Yes, dear friends, you read that right.  I will be on my own on a regular basis this school year.  For the first time in twelve and a half years.  For 6 hours per week, not that I'm counting.

I'm a little excited.

You might be thinking I'm a terrible mother, one who does not love her children.  Not so!  I still get sweet baby K (who is obviously not a baby anymore!) for the rest of the week, and I adore spending time with her.  She is so much fun.  And I have grown accustomed to the other kids going to school everyday, so it will be a matter of settling in to the routine again.  

Several people have asked me, "What will you do with (all) that free time?"  I don't really know yet.  The idea of regular time alone is so foreign to me, that I think it will take a little figuring out.  I imagine I'll sort it out and it might include some shopping.

However, all this anticipation aside, for those of you who know me well, you know that no matter how much I am looking forward to some free time,  I will still be weepy when we leave her at school.  It is completely inevitable.  My baby!  My last child, in school!

I think I might cry all the way to the mall, where some retail therapy will ease the ache a bit.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Things A Five Year Old Would Say

Do you remember the show $25,000 Pyramid?  (Or in later years, $100,00 Pyramid - inflation, you know.)  Do you remember the final round, where the contestant and his or her celebrity partner went for the Big Money?  I do, because I loved that show.  And there was always a category called "Things A _________ Would Say".  Below, thanks to my resident five year old, our take on the category.

"Can dogs read?"

"Who is gonna be the last person to die?"

"Can people live underwater?"

"Mom - I made up a song about God.  'God is the best!  The number one best!'"

"Mommy!  I know you're so glad you have me!"  Yes, I say.  "Because if you don't want to clean up, I will!"

"Was there trash when Jesus lived?"  Yes, I say.  "Wow!"

"Dad?  Do skyscrapers really scrape the sky?"

My celebrity partner (Nipsey Russell) and I would have aced this one right away.  Dick Clark would have been impressed.

Monday, July 30, 2012


The Olympics!  Swimming, gymnastics, cycling, diving. . .spare change!

Yes, my children are very interested in the 2012 games.  They love watching the sports on TV, each rooting for his or her own country.  We drew countries out of a hat (in full disclosure - out of my hand, because how many hats are really laying around?), and each child received a new home country.  We made a huge chart on the wall and each time their country gets a medal, they get a coin taped onto the chart.

The plan was that a gold medal would get a quarter, the silver a nickel, and the bronze a penny.  Until I got smart (luckily just before the games started) and realized the good ol' Olympic games would bankrupt me with five kids cheering for the top five medaling countries!  So - I downgraded the gold to a dime.  Pats on the back for mommy, all around.  Close call.

Each child is enjoying watching his or her country receive medals, and they are noticing just how rich they might be when it's all over (my middle son especially, who drew the US of A).  For my part, I'm enjoying the kids' interest in the games, no matter the reason.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Colorado, Part Two

We drive an awesome van.  Yep, we are the envy of our friends.  Not everyone has a fine, classy, 2005 Chevy Astro.

But we do.

Okay, okay.  So it's not the coolest van in carline.  But that has never bothered me.  While it would be awesome to drive a new suburban or Odyssey or 12 passenger van (I know, I'm weird), this van suits us well.  It's paid for, has plenty of room for all of us and our stuff, and it has that "lived in smell".  The new car smell is way overrated, in my opinion. 

So, on our trip to Colorado, we were dismayed to see it begin to overheat.  Parts of Colorado were experiencing the intense heat wave, and the van's radiator and two other parts (you don't think I actually remember which parts, do you?) had to be replaced.  

We were staying in a gorgeous home with breathtaking views at this point of our vacation.  Our plan was to just hunker down with our family and enjoy the home, the scenery and each other.

Did I mention this home was in the middle of nowhere?  We had to drive about 20 minutes from the main road to get to the house.  On dirt roads that wound up and down, left and right, with a couple of switchback turns thrown in.  It was a beautiful drive back to the house, but it wasn't a quick or easy one.  

For three of the days we were staying in this house, the van had to be driven into Colorado Springs, a four hour round trip, to be fixed.  My husband and his father were returning from the springs on the second day with four of the kids, after the van had been "fixed", only to have it overheat again on the side of the road, about a half hour from our house.  My mother-in-law had to shuttle everyone back and forth to the house, where my older daughter and I were anxiously waiting.  Twice, in the dark, she to drive her rental car to our van and pick up our family.  Twice, I stood at the door, watching for her return.  

Oh, it was scary!  First I had visions of her and the children, broken down on the side of the road, with no cell coverage and no one near to help her.  Then, as the time passed (slowly), I had visions of them teetering on the side of a steep hill in the dark.  I prayed and prayed for their safety and was so relieved to see the headlights in the driveway.  God was surely watching over all of them as they drove back to the house.  

The van has since been given a clean bill of health by our mechanic, so we have decided to keep her.  Aside from this "little" problem on vacation, she has served us well these last several years.  So - if you see us in our Chevy Astro, try not to be too jealous.  Not everyone can have such an uber cool van!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wedding reflections

This week marks the 16th anniversary of my marriage to my wonderful husband.  As I am wont to do every time one of my children has a birthday or we have an anniversary, I am remembering lots of details from our wedding week.  And in so doing I realized I must share this story.

The Friday a week before our wedding, my fiancé and I had a disagreement.  He was staying with his parents and I with mine, about 2 hours apart.  I think we patched things up that night, but it was still a bit bumpy as I recall.

The next morning my fiancé came to visit me as planned.  As he came up the walk of my parents' house, I realized he was carrying a bouquet of roses.  Certain he felt bad about our argument, I rushed out to meet him.  Though we were both sorry about our disagreement, the roses were a part of something bigger.

A gift countdown to our wedding.

As our wedding day grew closer, my dear fiancé followed those seven roses with a small gift each day, somehow tying in the number of days left.

The next day I received six chocolates.  On T-minus 5 days, he wrote out five meaningful Bible verses.  With four days to go, I received a T-shirt commemorating the Chicago Bulls' four championships (he was a diehard fan, and we always watched their games).  At three days till the wedding, he gave me three bags of chips (he knew me well, even then).

Sadly, the gift on Thursday (2 days before the wedding) has escaped both our memories.  Why, oh why, didn't I blog then?  Oh yeah.

The day before our wedding, I opened my last present.  One strand of pearls.  I admit being a bit choked up.  We didn't have much money and I was overwhelmed that he would buy something so extravagant.

The day of our wedding, July 13, 1996, I received the best gift of all, my husband.

Thank you, Lord, for these 16 years of marriage!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A glimpse of the future

The scene:  Camp, immediately after leaving my (happy, smiling and excited) 8 year old son for the first time.

My oldest son:  (walking ahead of me, without once looking at me)  "Mom.  Don't cry.  You're only leaving him for three days.  It's not like you're taking him to college!"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Colorado, Part I

We returned home late last night from a near-three-week trip to Colorado.  We spent a week and a half with my husband's parents in two houses in different parts of Colorado.  Then we were off to the YMCA of the Rockies to spend a week there while my husband took a class in the mornings.  We finished off the journey with some friends at their home in Nebraska. I'll try to highlight a few parts over my next several blog posts, the first being:  


Sounds benign, yes? 


We embarked on an 18 mile round trip between Breckenridge and Frisco.  Already, does it sound like a bit much to bite off for a family of seven mostly non-bike riders?  Yes, yes it was.

This was the sitch:  Our three oldest would ride alone, my husband would pull little K in a trailer carrier, and I was to have a tag along bike with our 5 year old.  Our adorable, white-haired, non-pedaling, 45 pound child.

Off we went, on the paved bike path, adjacent to the road.  I quickly realized the tag along bike was loose but a wonderful good Samaritan tightened it for me.  (My son wanted to give him a reward - in the amount of fifty cents).  Once that was fixed, it was smooth sailing.

Until the road got a little, then a lot, hilly.  It veered right away from the road to hide all those beastly hills from unsuspecting folk like us.  It would have been exceedingly difficult in the Midwest, but remember, dear reader, we are at 9,000 feet.  If you haven't been that high, I encourage you to try it.  You might find that walking up a flight of stairs has you panting slightly.

These hills were a tad more than a flight of stairs.

Finally we made it to Frisco.  We regrouped for a bit, then headed back.  We had a couple of hours to return to Breckenridge and turn the bikes back in.  Soon, my non-pedaling son and I were way behind. I began to look at my watch, fearful we would not make it back before the store closed, causing us to rent the bike for another full day, somewhere in the amount of $100.  I pushed on as fast as I could, feeling with each mile that I might soon die, or at least vomit.  After awhile, I didn't care if the bike got back on time, I was just praying, "Let me live, Lord!"  Okay, I was perhaps a bit dramatic, even to myself.  

After what seemed an eternity, I saw a beautiful sight.  My husband, in the van, was doubling back the remainder of the ride to save us.  He traded my son and me the cool of the van for the bike.  He raced off, making it to the outfitter with ten minutes to spare.  

We spent the rest of the vacation gloriously bike-free.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

A literal grounding

Me:  Son, you need to be good for the babysitter.  If not, you will get a punishment when I get home.

Son:  I don't think a punishment is going to work.

Me:  Oh?  What would work?

Son:  I think I should be grounded.

Me:  What does grounded mean?

Son:  (with a quizzical look)  You will put me in the ground??

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

There's no such thing as a free lunch

If you know me at all, you know how I adore a deal.  So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled when I received a coupon in the mail for a local department store - for $10 off a $10 or more item.  That means something for $10 will be FREE!

What joy in my heart!

I adore these coupons - simply find something for $10 and it is yours.  For nada.

Oh, if only it were that easy this time.  At Kohl's, JCP, Old Navy, it's a cinch!  Pick something up, take it to the register, and voila!  It's yours - no questions asked.  Enjoy your new item, and thank you very much!

But this store does not play by these rules.  No, the back of the little coupon states that there are several (thousand) restrictions and basically nothing you see in the store will ever work with the coupon.  I trudged around the store with my five children, picking up several cute tops, only to realize that the sale sign on the rack was green - or orange - or said Every Day Value - or said "You!  With the red hair!  You cannot use your coupon with this item!"

Thwarted at every turn, I ended up with white work out socks.  Blech.  While needed, they are not very exciting.  However, I was ecstatic when I happened upon them and saw that their sale sign was acceptable with my coupon.  I grabbed them, the children, and ran to the checkout.

Upon coming home, I emailed the store a complaint, polite but frustrated, about their policy.  We'll see what happens next.

They'll probably send me a $10 off a $10 coupon.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I sleep like a baby

Oh, you might say with a smile.  How lovely, that this gal with five children gets to sleep like a baby!  You might be happy for me, or depending on what you're going through with little ones yourself, you might be envious of my sleeping habits.

Let me set you all straight.

The phrase "sleeping like a baby" and all the visions of deep slumber with a peaceful smile it conjures up is hooey.  Completely preposterous.  As most of you know, babies don't sleep for long periods and wake up refreshed, ready to tackle their to-do list!  No, they sleep for small amounts of time, wake up and demand attention.

That's me, except I don't demand the attention, I must provide the attention.  To one sweet baby K, who is almost three and not really a baby anymore.  Ssshhhh - don't tell her - she doesn't know yet.  She still thinks it is perfectly acceptable to demand mommy be present no matter the hour.  She is unaware that sleeping alone in one's beautiful princess bed in one's beautiful princess room could bring untold joy.  She thinks that sleeping on the floor or chair, getting up repeatedly throughout the night and crying when she needs to go potty is the stuff of life!  Sleeping for 10 hours straight?  Where's the fun in that, people?

Well, her father and I disagree, and the gauntlet has been thrown.  It's do-or-die around here, with the end result being K sleeping in her bed the whole night.

I'll keep you posted, dear readers.  In the mean time, get some sleep.  Like a grown-up.  Just not this grown-up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I almost forgot. . .

Two more things about SOM (as we lovingly referred to The Sound of Music around here) that I neglected to mention in my last post.

Have you been looking for an effective diet plan?  Look no further!  Simply land a role in a production whose theater seats almost 1700 people, get a scratchy throat, and commence the no-eating-out-of abject-fear-diet!  It worked quite well for several days, as I ate barely anything!  Results will vary.  Turns out over here the results lasted only until after the show.  Sigh.

And also, I have to share this funny, provided by my 7 year old son.  My family sat in the second row of the mezzanine when they came to SOM.  My husband had bought me a large bouquet of roses (see previous post, re: rock star).  During the show, my son asked him, quite seriously, "Dad, are you gonna throw the roses on the stage to mom?"

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Life as the Reverend Mother

Well, I have taken my sweet, sweet time to blog about The Sound of Music.  I'm not sure why, but it may be fear of getting the words out right.  Of expressing just how amazing the weekend was.  Of not doing it justice.

To put it simply, being in the show was incredible.  Oh, don't you worry, for those of you who know me well, it was also scary.  Terrifying at times!  But in the end, it was incredible.  A few things I have to say about the whole thing:

1.  My husband is a rock star.  He encouraged me from the get-go to try out for the show.  I dragged my feet out of fear, guilt, habit, you name it.  Still, he patiently encouraged me to go for it.  "What if the kids get sick?"  I said.  "What if I can't do it and ruin the show?"  Go for it, he said.  We will make it a priority.   And a priority it was.  Just prior to the show I was gone about 10 nights straight, and he was out of town for two of those nights!  But when he was home, he was all about making my life easier.  He insisted I sleep in almost every morning of show week, made all the kids' lunches, told me to rest whenever possible, and just generally was awesome.  I can't tell you how much I appreciated all he did.

2.  About a week before the first performance, my voice started to get hoarse.  I think it was from overuse, combined with stress.  Regardless, I sang a high note the Sunday night before opening weekend that was not all that good.  And it paralyzed me.  Monday I was a jumbled ball of nerves.  I was petrified I was going to be hoarse for the show and sing terribly, ruin the show, embarrass myself and everyone would pity me (my family and friends) or hate me (people in the show).  Once again, my husband stepped up to the plate, talking me down and encouraging me to go to the doctor/rest my voice.  By Tuesday I was calmer, though still hoarse.  I grew less hysterical as the week progressed.

3.  My family and friends were humbling.  I was overwhelmed with the number of people who came to the show (some from several hours away!).  Everyone was so kind and full of love - I didn't know what to say!  I received flowers every night, and felt covered in love.

4.  We took a million pictures, including this gem below.  It caused a lot of talk!

5.  Being in such a well-done production was oh-so-rewarding.  The caliber of people I was working with was top-notch - I couldn't have asked for a better situation to make my grand entrance (ha!) back into theater.  I hope to try my hand at acting again sometime in the future, and look forward to working with all of these talented people in another production.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Those voiceless kernels

I was tooling around Target the other day with my little gal in the seat of the cart.  I stopped perusing the shelves when I heard:

"Say cheese, popcorn!"

And saw her snap this picture with my phone.

"Did the popcorn say 'cheese'?  I asked.

"No, Mommy", she said matter-of-factly.  "He can't talk."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

true love

My husband loves me.

Not a great revelation, you say?  Perhaps not, but how often do I take it for granted?  This morning I was pondering how blessed I am to have his love.  So, indulge me for a moment, while I consider the the ways he shows me he loves me.

He encourages me to try new things.

He does an elaborate bedtime routine with the kids (one I quickly lose patience with) without complaining.

He is always dreaming of vacations with just the two of us (and often making them happen).

He listens to me.

He would never complain, demean or belittle me to others, no matter how much I might deserve it!!

He has shouldered more of the family burden so I can do The Sound of Music.

He prays for me and our children daily, fervently.

He is driving 7 hours today (round trip) for a doctor's appointment for one of our children, since this is such a crazy time for me right now.

He loves my extended family.

He provides for us capably, and loves his vocation.

What a blessing his love is to me and our family!  Thank you God for this gift!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The hills are alive!


I have been cast as the Reverend Mother in our community theater's production of The Sound of Music.

Opening night is only 2.5 weeks away and I haven't quite had the courage yet to blog about it all, though it is quite the big deal in our house.

I can't exactly say why I haven't blogged about it yet, but here are my best guesses:
  • I am freaked out about not doing well.
  • Because I am in The Sound of Music, I have little free time to do anything else, such as blog (and dust my living room.  Okay, fine.  That might have nothing to do with the show).
  • I am freaked out about messing up and letting everyone down.  Oh - did I already mention that?
I tried out to be a nun in the chorus and was asked to play the Reverend Mother.  Aside from the fact that she is WAY OLD and I am but a mere spring chicken, I was honored and shocked (and possibly in shock the day I got the cast list).   I debated about saying no, no, I can't possibly do that role, thankyouverymuch. I have five kids, a busy husband, and have I mentioned I haven't acted since high school?  I said as much to my husband, who told me I was crazy (in a very loving way, of course).  "Why wouldn't you go for this?  Why wouldn't you try it?"  he reasoned in his very reasonable way.

So, as you already read, I went for it.

And I have to say, it's a lot of fun.  I have actually memorized the lines and songs, and am praying fervently they will not escape me when we perform.  I am acting with some amazing people, and our director is great with lots of encouraging advice.  The vocal coach has been oh-so-helpful in teaching this old dog new tricks, since it has been in the ballpark of twenty years since I had a voice lesson.

Might I suggest you follow every rainbow, till you find your dream?  I'm kinda living one right now.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Forty is FINE!

April 12th marked my husband's 40th birthday.  To celebrate, the kids and I gave him:

  • a small baggie filled with rocks and sign that said "40 ROCKS!"
  • 40 words to describe him in a word collage from wordle (which I highly recommend - go check it out!)
  • 40 beers for 40 years. I know.  Hokey title.  I had to call a friend to help me with the beer selection. I think my dear hubby is set for awhile now in the beer department.  And also we are broke.
  • a fire pit, which has nothing to do with 40 years, but hopefully will be enjoyed (for 40 fires?)
My husband took the day off and he and I went to two wineries for the afternoon.  We ate gourmet food, we lounged outside in the sun, we finished our sentences, we drank fine wine, we enjoyed a rich dessert,  we took a long leisurely walk through the vineyards, we had a marvelous time together.  

If this is what being 40 is like, I can't wait till I join him in the 40 club - one year from today!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A lullaby to Jesus

As I was working in the upstairs bedrooms, I heard my little daughter softly singing in her room.  I peeked oh-so-quietly into her room to find her sitting in her glider, rocking her Little People Jesus figurine.

She was cradling Jesus in the manger, while singing him a lullaby.  She doesn't fully understand Jesus yet and gets confused when we say He is here, since she can't see Him.   But she does understand that He loves her, and that we are blessed to love Him in return.

Praise God!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Look ma, no diapers!

A funny thing has happened in the household of mammamilk.

We have no children in diapers.

Perhaps this seems small and insignificant to you, dear reader, but over here, it's big stuff.

My eldest daughter turned twelve last week, and about the same time, my youngest daughter dumped the diapers for good.

With the exception of a 4 month stint just prior to my youngest's birth, we have been in diapers for 12 years. TWELVE YEARS! Kinda makes my head swim when I think about it.

I did some highly scientific research (don't ask me for my methods - I don't want to intimidate you with my procedural prowess) and determined that the average child uses about 5,000 diapers. That means I have bought, stored, applied, removed and thrown away 25,000 diapers in my lifetime.

Good grief.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Humor a la Chuck

In honor of Chuck Norris' birthday yesterday, here are a few of my kids' fave Chuck jokes:

Chuck Norris doesn't breathe, he holds air hostage.

Chuck Norris can drown a fish.

Chuck Norris makes onions cry.

Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.

Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear rug in his room. The bear isn't dead - it's just afraid to move.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


As I was cuddling with my youngest daughter tonight, she says with a big smile:

"Mommy, you're my best friend, aren't you?!!"


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Can you say. . ."Sucker!"

So the other day I was sorting through the mail, in my favorite position to do so, over the trash can. After tossing several pieces of junk, my hand was poised over the trash can to drop the next offender in, when I paused and looked at it more carefully.

It was a flyer from a local car dealership, with one of those little scratch off circles to see if you've won something. I decided to scratch it off just to see. Lo and behold, the interior pages assured me that yes, yes indeed, I was a WINNER! A winner, I tell you! I had won one of the following: 1) A new Ford Focus 2) A flat screen TV 3) Up to $1,000 4) A $25 Walmart gift card. I called my husband over to see if there was any fine print I was missing. He saw none. I thought wow - a $25 Walmart gift card is worth a little effort, right?? Wanting to be sure, I called the dealership to verify that I was a winner. After reading her my number, she assured me I was a winner, and I just needed to come in and collect my prize. Her word for the whole process was "painless".

I was able to go by myself to the dealership (a small miracle) and found "painless" to be a bit incorrect. I had to meet with a salesman, who was very nice, and give him my address, make and year of our current cars, name of my firstborn, you get the idea.

After about 10 minutes of small talk, he leaned over and said, somewhat apologetically, "You are a winner. You have won $2."


Apparently the category "Up to $1,000" is a nice little way to include every other monetary option lower than the $25 Walmart gift card.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Me and my (littlest) girl

My dear readers, I must shout this to the blogosphere:


I feel compelled to blog about this, because today my love is overflowing for my youngest child (and also because I have posted about many a trying moment with this same child).

Spending the days with this sweet girl gives me joy. She walks around saying things like "I like you, Mommy!" and "I'm your preh-shus guhl!" and "I'm your punkin pie!". I recently got her a princess pillowcase and as I put it on her bed, she said, "I love it Mommy! It's so beautiful! Thank you so much!"

I registered her for school next year. Two mornings a week. This will be the first time in 12.5 years of parenting that I will have all the children in school at the same time. Two mornings a week when I will be on my own. As in, alone. After 12 years, you grow rather used to having little people around! That being said, I know it will be nice to have some time to run errands and clean the house without "help"!

But - this morning as I kissed my baby's cheeks, I felt a bit sad for those two mornings next year. I will miss her for those six hours a week, as I have missed all of my children when they began venturing out of the nest. But it is time, and she will be ready.

I hope I will be too!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Worship musings

I was able to sing this morning with our worship team, a luxury I don't often get to enjoy. It was last minute - I was filling in for another singer who had strep. After a few rapid texts, I got all the younger children farmed out to sit with friends and got a sub to fill in for me for nursery duty.

While it didn't go exactly smoothly (after communion I spotted my older two children trying to corral my youngest while she attempted to scale the bleachers), for the most part, it was a success! Singing with the choir or worship team brings me such joy! I am so thankful to those who helped me this morning.

On a normal Sunday, I am in the back row, keeping the kids in line. I have a bulletin in one hand and a child in the other. I am instructing, reprimanding, singing, listening, redirecting, usually with my head half bent down. While I participate the best I can, it isn't a full worship experience. During this season of life, our children's faith formation is the highest priority.

But today, I was able to participate fully. As I worshiped, sang, prayed, listened and communed, my heart was full. I looked out at the congregation from my vantage point up front and I thanked God for this family of faith. These brothers and sisters in Christ have blessed us so richly these past many years.

I smiled as I sang - in part because my daughter was a runaway in the back and there was nothing I could do about it, and in part because my heart was singing with love for these people of God in this place.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My toddler, the budding fashionista

"NO!" yells my 2 1/2 year old daughter.

"I don't want to wear those pants! They don't make me happy!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A fair representation?

So I've been wanting to buy the little family stickers for the back of our van since a few children ago. I like our big family, and thought they would look cool stretched out across our oh-so-trendy Chevy Astro. But I hadn't had any luck in stores, and I kept forgetting to look online.

But the other day I was wandering through Christmas Tree Shops (side note here - if you have one in your area, go, GO! It is awesome and provides lots of thrifty options for everything from toothpaste to lamps to dishes to toys!!) and suddenly saw the stickers on an end cap. I was so excited to find them that I might have paid exorbitant prices to make them mine. Imagine my shock and awe when I discovered they were only $0.69 each! For a cheapskate like me, that's not bad!

So I got down to business picking through all the different kinds of figures. I quickly discovered there weren't too many different kinds (remember the el cheapo price tag?). Determined to make it work anyway, I forged on. Soon I had a suitable figure for my husband and me. The kids were slightly more problematic. All the boys were the same size, and the girls were either exactly the same size as me or the same size as the boys. To make a long story short, I settled on this combo:

I'm not really sure it does our family justice. My oldest daughter is the same size as I am, and could pass for a sister wife. My three sons are all the same size, when in reality they are most definitely not. My youngest daughter is the same size as the boys, which is also not the case. Sigh.

I have considered removing them, but they do bring me happiness. Perhaps I'll find replacements soon. Until then, this modified version of our (not-so) little family will have to do.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 29th

January 29, 1995

I was flying along, driving between Milwaukee and Chicago. I had ABBA Gold blaring from the little speakers in my 1990 Ford Tempo. I was belting out all the lyrics, smiling and thinking life couldn't get any better than this. The day before I had had my first date with a man I thought was "the one". We had been courting long distance for several weeks and finally were able to meet at a basketball tournament our schools were participating in. The day had been wonderful, and now I was speeding back to Chicago, where I was going to meet my new boyfriend's parents. Life was full of possibilities - everything was ahead of me.

January 29, 2012

I was awakened this morning at 3:35 by a crash. I leapt out of bed to see what had happened. I methodically checked all the children's rooms. The three boys were sleeping soundly in their room. My 2 1/2 year old was sprawled on her bed, snoozing, an act I don't take for granted with her! My almost 12 year old was propped up on one elbow in her loft, half awake. After a brief exchange, I determined the crash must have come from her room, and I went back to bed.
But I couldn't sleep. Though in its perpetually exhausted state, my mind wouldn't shut down. It began to wander, and I realized it was January 29th. I certainly don't remember the anniversary of our first date every year, but for some reason it clicked. My mind replayed the excitement - the anticipation- of that day 17 years ago.

Though the thought of marriage and children had certainly crossed my mind, could I ever have imagined five children and a husband whom I love more with each passing year? I don't think my mind was capable of truly visualizing what my future could possibly hold. I dreamt of those things - a husband and many children, but try as I might, my imagination wasn't really up to the job. There was no way for me to know then, at 22 years old, with my whole life ahead of me, just what joys were to come.

There have been many moments over the last seventeen years when I have not felt thankful. Or I have been too tired or frustrated to realize my life is full of blessings. But this morning, as I took stock of my life for the past 17 years, I thanked God for all He has given me.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A temp change

It's a winter wonderland where I live. Snow on the ground, in the air, on the trees, the streets. It's everywhere. I suppose it is January, and this is what's supposed to happen. And we've had hardly any snow this winter. Still - I'm longing for warmer temps.

Just over a week ago, we had those warmer temps - in Orlando! Yep, we visited the mouse at his house! For six lovely (also exhausting) days, we saw the sights - Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and The Magic Kingdom. We rode all the rides (well most of us did), we saw all the shows (which are amazing!), we ate all the food (it felt like it anyway), we walked all the miles (not sure the miles counteracted all the food intake!) and we had all the fun. It was a great trip. We hated to leave, though 7 days at Disney seems just right. We had seen everything we wanted to, swam in the pool, met numerous characters (both in costume and out!) and had a wonderful time together.

So, I guess I can't complain about the snow. We had a brief reprieve and it is mid-January. Not much longer before spring, right??

Monday, January 16, 2012

A little gem in my fridge

I found this today in our fridge, presumably left there by someone who was hoping for a tasty snack later. (It's a whole wheat tortilla, which is now quite hard and unpleasant).

In related news, I found a bag of craisins, unopened and apparently just out for a field trip, on my 2 year old daughter's bed.