Saturday, December 26, 2015

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How Lovely. . .

Yesterday was Christmas day, and we did something we have never done before, and will hopefully never do again.

We took down the Christmas tree.

There are two camps of people when it comes to Christmas decorations.  The after-Halloween-to-December-26th'ers, and the first-week-of December-to Epiphany'ers.  We fall in the latter camp.  I can't imagine taking down the decorations while the kids are still home from break.  Christmas is at full tilt on Christmas day, with many more days to enjoy family, worship, decor, music and the like.

Christmas day is not the day for tree removal around here!

But this year, we had no options.  I actually considered taking it down prior to Christmas, and if you know me at all (or just read the above paragraph), you know how out of character that is.  We decided to wait it out, though, and enjoyed Christmas morning around the tree as we have for the last 17 Christmases we've celebrated in this house.

However, when we got home from church, it was all business.  The tree had to go.  Why, you ask?  Because it was dead as a doornail.  The needles had been literally falling off for a week-and-a-half or so at an alarming rate.  There were needles all over the floor and I had warned the children not to touch the tree under any circumstances.  Sometimes they listened, other times they gently touched the tree and listened to the needles rain down as a cool parlor trick to show their friends.

We had cut the tree down at a really fun family tree farm the first weekend in December.  The tree was beautiful, huge, and smelled great.  I was so pleased with our Norway Spruce.  Once home, it looked gorgeous and filled our space beautifully.  But it was not meant to make merry for the entire Christmas season, no sir.

So back to Christmas day.  My husband and eldest son moved all the furniture and rugs and made a wide berth to the back door (thank goodness we have hardwood!).  They dragged the tree to the door, needles falling off with every jostle.  Within seconds, this was the situation:

I was called away from dinner prep to help get the thing out the door.  My son, my husband and I pulled and pushed the tree into the doorway, only to have it get stuck halfway.  We didn't want to force it through and scratch all the paint on the door and wall, but eventually that was our only option (and thankfully the paint held up!).  With much effort, we shoved the thing onto the deck, leaving piles of needles in our wake:

Truly, I should have taken a ruler and stuck it in the piles to show you just how deep they were.  There were needles everywhere.  

By the time we got it out to the deck, there appeared to be nary a needle left on the thing:

(In case you're wondering, we left the lights on until we got it outside to minimize the mess in the house.  You can see how effective that was).

Yes ma'am.  That is our dead, naked tree, on Christmas day.  Our fresh cut, beautiful tree, brittle and dry.  I admit that watering a tree is not my forte (and apparently not anyone else's strong suit around here either), but I have never been good at watering Christmas trees, and I have never, never, in my 20+ years of having a real tree seen this occur.  One year I recall a tree dropping some needles during the season, but that tree in comparison was a spring chicken to this year's old man.

As my son and husband removed the lights (with gloves on of course, to minimize the pain), my youngest daughter came running into the house with this report: "Mommy, mommy!  The needles aren't all gone!  Two needles are still sticked on!"  Good to know, good to know.  We should have left it up a little bit longer!

And today, I ran to Walmart and outside the store, bound and propped up, were several marked-down Christmas trees.  They had been there the entire season I would assume, and guess what?  They were green and needle-ful.  Moral of this story?  Buy an old, cheap tree at Walmart next year and enjoy it all the way through Epiphany. Or (as my husband has been campaigning for for years), get an artificial.

But I think I'll take my chances on a real one again next year.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bits and Pieces of Family Life #8

  • I went through the drive through at Chick-Fil-A the other day, happily ordering my usual.  The cashier was very prompt and oh-so-polite like always, reminding me it was her pleasure that she feed me the best chicken on the planet.  But when I got up to the window and was given my meal, I heard something I haven't heard in years from a cashier:  She wished me a Merry Christmas.  I have to say, I don't get too enmeshed into the whole Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays thing, but it really brought a smile to my face to hear her say Merry Christmas in a world where everything has to be politically correct.  
  • Changing gears (a lot - remember this is a bits and pieces post - the glory of which is that I don't have to have any natural segue between subjects), I was skimming Facebook the other day when I came across this headline:  Smelling Farts May Be Good For Your Health.  Who knew?  Apparently some smart people in England did a study (who would want to sign up for that research test group??) and discovered that an occasional whiff here and there could reduce the risks of cancer, heart attacks and the like.  My takeaway here:  the seven people in my house are going to live long, long, healthy lives, 'cause we get the occasional whiff all. the. time. 
  • We cut down our Christmas tree a couple of weeks ago at a tree farm.  The tree is huge and smelled so fabulous when we brought it home.  However, it appears longevity is not in its genes.  The tree is falling apart before our eyes.  I admit I am horrible about watering the thing (though I might point out that I live with six other people who are capable of watering it --- and I am consistently awful about watering our tree every year), but the speed at which it is losing its needles is outrageous.  We are seriously worried if it will make it until Christmas, or if it will look like the Charlie Brown tree by then. If we touch it at all, it sounds like it is raining needles.  Here is an example of just a few of the needles it has dropped:

  • My sister's community chorus is performing a sing-along Messiah tomorrow afternoon and my mom and I are going to join her and sing too.  I am over the moon about it!  I haven't sung most of the Messiah since early college, and I haven't sung in a choir with my sister and mom since high school.  I cannot even express to you how über excited I am for the performance!  I've gone through all the sections we will be doing and most of it has come right back to me.  I plan to run through it all again today and hope for the best tomorrow.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bits and Pieces of Family Life #7

I was standing out at recess the other day, wearing my winter coat.  I had only worn it once or twice this season, and as I was standing there, I felt something in my pocket.  Assuming it was an old grocery list, I pulled it out.  Dear friends, it was not a grocery list, it was TWENTY-TWO dollars!  I squealed with delight and told all nearby teachers of my newfound fortune. $22!  One might hope to find a dollar or two in your pocket, but 22?  Seriously made my day.

The beautiful season of Advent is upon us, and with it, we get to enjoy midweek services, full of glorious music and Bible passages reminding us of the glory of the season.  One of my children, however, does not find the opportunity to attend midweek services quite so exciting.  And I quote: "I cannot handle two church services in one week."  Sigh.  On the upside, it turns out he can indeed handle two services in one week, as he is still living and breathing among us.

My eldest son took the placement test on Saturday at the parochial high school he will be attending in the fall.  He has been to the school a few times since his sister attends there, but he knows no one there, and is general unfamiliar with the building.  I walked him into the hallway, checked him in, and watched him walk into the cafeteria with a hundred kids, most of them chatting with their friends.  My heart was in my throat, dear reader.  I have no doubt my son will make lots of friends next year and have a fabulous high school experience.  But on Saturday, it was hard to watch him take those first tentative steps into the unknown.  I would love to pave the way for my children and have them skip right over all the hard parts, but I know those struggles are character-building and they will all be stronger for going through them.  But still!  This mamma's heart!  

I went to Carson's last week, somewhat begrudgingly, with three coupons in hand.  As you can read here, my relationship with the Carson's affiliates has not always been a pleasant one.  Because of my experience in the link above, I marched straight to the cashier upon my arrival and asked for reassurance that my coupons were indeed as good as they sounded.  She looked rather shocked herself, and told me they were.  I then spent the next 45 minutes in Carson's looking for the best bang for my buck, and finally approached the register.  5 minutes later, I was holding $141.50 of merchandise that I had paid (are you ready for this??) just $2.42 for.  Yes sirree!  I "bought" two men's pajama pants, 1 Star Wars T-shirt, 13 paris of socks and one nail polish.  Let me take a moment to reassure you, my dear friend, that I would NEVER have paid $141.50 for those few items, but for $2.42?  Sign me up!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bits and Pieces of Family Life

  • My dear six-year-old told one of the after-school-program workers this gem the other day:  "I can spell ZOO with my eyes closed!"  I always knew she was a genius! :)

  • Son #1: "You bought normal juice?  Who are you and what have you done with my mother?"
    • Me: "It was on sale for 90 cents!!!"
    • Son #2:  "Oh.  She's back." 

  • My elder daughter, musing about how unfair life is, particularly relating to how we make the children pay for their phones and their service:  "By the time you get to K (younger daughter), you're going to give her a solid gold iPhone for freeeee!"

  • Fifteen years ago, when I had a wee little baby girl, our parents bought us a new dishwasher.  For about 13 years, that dishwasher served us well.  For about the last 2 years, the dishwasher has been on my hit list.  It was old and yucky and needed to be replaced.  Today a new era in dish washing has begun in our house -  a new one was installed!  Considering I run 1-2 loads a day, it's an appliance that is well treasured in this house - perhaps you can imagine my excitement!  And when the old one was pulled out, I was able to look behind the dishwasher, and found all our names written on the wall.  When we remodeled in 2007, I had painted our names and the date back there, and seeing it today made me so happy.  I quickly took a sharpie and wrote all our names (including our last daughter, who wasn't yet born in 2007) and the date today.  Someday, this dishwasher will bite the dust and I will be so happy to read the wall once again.

Friday, November 13, 2015

True Blue

Not long ago, I was part of a discussion about friends.  What it means to be a good friend, how to be that friend to others, and how important friends are to us.  And as I pondered qualities of true friendship -- encouragement, acceptance, companionship, laughter, confidence, I  kept coming back to this one basic tenet of friendship:

A true friend would never speak ill of you.

That sounds like a fundamental principle of friendship, doesn't it?  But maybe you'll agree that sometimes that isn't how friends treat us at all.  Perhaps you've been hurt by hearing what a friend said about you behind your back. Maybe you've heard through the grapevine that a friend was putting you down.  Or even on the most base level - maybe someone else was maligning you, and your friend didn't stand up for you.

It hurts.

To me, a true friend would NEVER say a negative word about me.  If I've done the craziest thing imaginable -- something with seemingly no plausible explanation, and my actions are wreaking havoc around me, I hope a true friend would still not put me down.  She might seek to find out what happened from me, and maybe speak hard words to me if they were necessary.  But to others?  I hope a true friend would always try to be positive where I am concerned.

Have I always been this true friend I desire to have in others?  Definitely not.  I have most certainly often and frequently hurt others with my words and actions.  I continue to try, try again when I fail.  In a similar vein, years ago I ran across these questions, which I thought were spot on:

Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

Exactly.  If I am speaking of someone (a friend, an acquaintance, or even a stranger!), I need to remind myself of these questions.  Am I speaking the truth? Am I speaking in kindness?  And the last is just as important - is it necessary?  I often tell my children that someone else's story is not theirs to tell.  Wonderful news of a coworker's new pregnancy?  It is true, and it is kind, but is it necessary?

How do you define a true friend?

A true friend loves at all times.
Provers 17:17a

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tell me about your baby

I was in Walmart.  I had three children in tow, trying to grocery shop.  My youngest child was in a baby carseat, tucked into the cart with his apnea monitor, feeding tube, and oxygen tank.  I'm sure I was a spectacle.

But my baby was quiet and content, and I made my way through the grocery section, my other two young children following behind me.  People noticed us, and sometimes someone asked me about him.

This was eleven years ago, but one comment still stands out in my mind.  A gal about 10-15 years older than me came up to me and said, "Tell me about your baby."

My heart was warmed immediately, and I indeed told her about my baby.  I told her about his birth and NICU stay, and concerns about his future.  And she listened and didn't make commentary, and was loving and compassionate.  As we stood by the frozen foods, she made me feel normal.  Our life felt crazy and scary and precarious in those days, but her listening ear and gentle demeanor soothed my anxious heart.  As we spoke, she shared that she too had a child with special concerns, and she understood our situation to some degree.

I have never forgotten her kindness to me, and her thoughtful phrasing, followed by truly listening to my story.  While I know I certainly don't handle every situation with such grace, I strive to be that kind of person to those I meet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Jeans and Chips and Recorders, Oh My!

The other day the whole family was loading into the burb to go to a small group gathering.  My husband got into the driver's seat last, and as he approached the burb I noticed how handsome he looked in his Dr Pepper T shirt and jeans.  When he got in, I told him he looked good in my favorite jeans.  From the backseat a youngster piped up, saying, "He's wearing your jeans?!"  Good gracious.

After school today as usual, my ravenous children tore apart the kitchen on the wild hunt for junk food to consume STAT.  One of my children opened this bag of tortilla chips (Aldi brand for the win of course!), only to find an unexpected visitor hanging out in the chips:

As Anne of Green Gables would say, "I suppose it was a rather romantic way to die, for a mouse Sonic character".

Our dear Shadow, who most days can be found lounging on our bed like this. . .

. . .is not always as innocent as he may appear.  He is quite naughty in the snatching-things-up-and-darting-away category.  He seems to have an insatiable desire to chomp all toys, socks and the like whenever we are home.  We have tried many a technique to get him to release the objects, with varied success rates.  The other day, however, we seemed to have found our ace in the hole.  My youngest daughter was playing lovely music causing our ears to bleed on her older brother's recorder.  I noticed Shadow nearby whimpering pathetically.  I quickly told her to stop, and after a moment he stopped whimpering.  While the sound was not exactly melodic, I was surprised at his reaction.  Perhaps the high-pitched sound was even more unpleasant to him than to us.  Being the quick thinker I am, I wondered if the recorder would help us remove forbidden objects from his jaws.  Sure enough, he was soon chomping on something an hour or so later.  One of the kids quickly grabbed the recorder and gave one quick toot on it.  Almost immediately, a blue plastic toy came shooting out of his mouth like projectile vomit.  We have used it twice more with the same results.  I have told the children to hold off on all screechy recorder playing (I would assume a euphonious recorder concert would not offend him) and reserve it solely for removal of verboten objects.  I sincerely hope our new secret weapon continues to be victorious!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Parenting Is Not For Weenies

Man.  Parenting is not for the faint-of-heart.  This is not brand-new information to me, and if you have kids, dear reader, I'll bet it's not new info to you either.  We have to make hard, unpopular decisions regarding their upbringing all the time.  And rarely do they understand that these decisions are for their own good (in fact, they grow to hate that expression!).

Several topics lately have reminded me of the title of this blog post.  First, we have PG 13 movies.  I've blogged about this rating before, and the challenges it brings. I fear the frustrations we all feel about this rating aren't going away anytime soon.  Here's how it goes:  we think a child under 13 is most likely too young to watch a PG 13 movie.  Most of our children under 13 feel they are completely mature enough to watch a PG 13 movie.  I have mentioned to the kids that if execs in Hollywood of all places think 13 is the magical age, it should probably actually be much higher, since Hollywood's track record for morality and ethics is not exactly stellar.  We remind the kids that what they see cannot be unseen; that we don't want their minds cluttered with violence, sex, bad language etc.  But of course they don't understand - they are children after all and just want to watch what everyone else (so they report) is allowed to watch.  "We're the ONLY ones who can't watch this movie!" they wail.  Not without compassion, I remind them this will not be the first time they feel this way under our roof.  My husband and I can commiserate - our parents were also careful with what we saw and listened to, and we didn't get it either at the time!  But now we appreciate their vigilance.  God-willing, our children someday will too.

In a similar vein, the word suck is also taboo over here.  I know everyone truly is saying this word, but I really, really don't like it, and I don't let the kids say it.  I think it is crass and crude, and by golly, I just can't stand to hear it come out of their mouths.  Pick your battles, you might say (and I very much believe in that parenting strategy, more on that in another post).  But I'm not kidding you when I say that this a battle I think I should pick.

And finally, violent video games.  Similar to PG 13 movies, this is a hot button subject around here.  One of the boys said to me the other day, "You're not going to let me play it, because dad is a pastor!".  Ummmm, no.  I am going to research the ratings and the violence level because I care about your heart and mind (see above!).  Dad could be an accountant or a Target manager or a CEO and we would still care about what you see and hear.

Sigh.  It's not an easy gig, is it?  We try our best as parents and hope that God's grace covers the rest.  I fail them daily and pray that God uses me anyway,  though my mistakes and shortcomings abound. God chose us to raise these children, gifted us with this responsibility.  We know that He will be with us every step of the way!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Child:  "I'm gonna head to bed.  My phone's at 3% and so am I."

PSA to everyone in a 20 mile radius: Don't hang out on my deck these days.  You can get seriously hurt out there and we can't afford to be sued.  The trees are not simply dropping acorns, they are hurtling them at alarming speeds, and in great numbers.  The dog keeps barking at the pounding, and is afraid to step out on the deck in a stiff wind.  In other news, the many squirrels in our yard are in heaven.

Last week, my husband got gas at Costco and texted me the amount to record on the debit card.  Later that day, I stopped and got gas too.  While it was pumping, I leaned back into the burb to answer a text.  When I got back out, I stopped the pump and as I was putting it back, I noticed the total. Dear reader, it was the same total as my husband's was an hour before. $44.28 for both of us!  I texted him immediately and told him it proved we are mfeo.  Because truly - the same total?  Proof.

Last Sunday we were able to participate in a confirmation rite with our 11-year-old.  During the rite, we made the sign of the cross on his ears, his eyes, his mouth, his shoulders, his heart, his hands, and his feet.  At the beginning of the rite, our son was smiling a bit and feeling self-conscious.  But somewhere around his heart, I started to get choked up (which surprised me at the time, but of course is not surprising whatsoever).  As my husband's and my hands traced the cross on his heart, my mind flashed back to his body in the NICU, hooked up to machines keeping him alive.  It's hard to reconcile those early memories with the strapping, healthy boy he is today.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Big Purple Dinosaur Haters Unite

Our dinner table the other night:

We were eating quickly because we had to head back to church for confirmation, youth group and various Bible studies.  We were trying to do high/lows in quickly, and things were getting crazy.  Before long, several children were singing various renditions of the Barney song, including this gem, sung at rapid-fire pace:  

I hate you, 
You hate me, 
Let's chase Barney up a tree,
With a knife and a sword and stick of dynamite,
Nanner, nanner, nanner-ite.

I gotta say, the rhyme basically falls apart at the end.  But I was really starting to crack up.  The older kids were trying to tell the younger sibs the proper (albeit still inappropriate way) to hijack the Barney song and everyone was gasping for breath.  I looked over at another son who had both red potholders on his hands, cupping his cheeks with what looked like giant lobster claws, and I stepped back from the scene mentally and soaked it in.

It was beautiful.

True, Barney was being blasphemed to make it happen, but I loved the camaraderie and hilarity around me. As the kids age, they are able to interact with each other (and us) on new levels, and sometimes those levels are deep and serious, and sometimes they are uproarious.  Regardless, I love watching our family come together in laughter or even sorrow - rooting for each other and sharing life together.

Sorry this time it was at your expense, Barney!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Overheard Over Here

  • "Get wrecked!" this is from my teenage son.  If someone is proven wrong or makes a general error, this lovely phrase gets shouted in the direction of said person.  I have taken it up myself, and can be heard telling the children to get wrecked when things go awry.  I'm nothing if not versatile! I not only talk like a teenage girl (totes adorbs, for realsies etc.), I like to mix it up and talk like a teenage boy too.  Don't be jelly.
  • "I can't control my taste buds!  God gave them to me!" this from a certain white-headed wonder who just couldn't help that he didn't like dinner.  At the same dinner, his "low" of the day during our high/low sharing time:  "I WANT to like dinner, but I just can't!"
  • "This new fridge-lemonade-holder-thingy is amazing!  I love it!"  Ok, this was from me. But seriously, I bought a new plastic fridge jug thing for like $5, and it's awesome!  It's skinny and tall and takes up no space, and the kids can just pour all the Crystal Light they want and not involve me.  Mommy for the win!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sunrise, Sunset!

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

Cue the waterworks!  That song gets me every time!  My eldest daughter is in a production of Fiddler on the Roof, and I have been humming this song ever since she was cast in it.  
"One season following another, laden with happiness and tears"  --- how true for us as parents!  Each season flows into the next, each full of its own joys and angst.  And before long, the children are on the brink of moving out.  Swiftly flow the days, to be sure!

This is a beautiful time of motherhood for me.  I have a foot in just about all arenas of child-rearing. . .young children, intermediate, middle school and high school.  And it's fabulous.  I get to hold hands with some and hear exuberant proclamations of love, my face wet with sloppy kisses.   I get to enjoy gasping laughter and deep talks with my teenagers. In between those two extremes is everything else - earnest and heartfelt prayers at bedtime, probing questions about life and faith, and quick hugs before friends see.

When we started having children and knew we wanted a big family, sometimes I felt overwhelmed.  How would I mother five little children, I would think? How would I physically be able to do it? Then I would remember that they grow up, and I wouldn't have five three-year-olds at once.  And for me, precisely that has been an unexpected joy in parenting many children.  The spread of ages brings such a diversity to our home - something I had never thought of before we started our family.  The younger children shape the older ones, and the older ones nurture the younger ones.  It's a blessing to see unfold.
Tonight in a small group I was in, we all wrote brief notes of affirmation to our children.  I wrote a short note, then made an acrostic poem for each one with their names.  I shared them all with the kids when we got home, and in the brief few minutes we had during potty/teeth/jammies, my 9-year-old son wrote a poem for me and presented it to me at bedtime prayers.  Here it is:

M  ost awesome (except God)
O  utstandingly awesome
M  ost valuable (except God)

One season following another, laden with happiness and tears.  Indeed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Get-away Car

We'll never make a good get-away car.  If you've just robbed a bank or committed some other heinous felony, please don't ask me and my entourage to hustle you away from the crime scene.  Because dollars to donuts, we'll get you arrested for sure.  A typical carline suburban-loading event goes something like this:

Me:  Hi boys!  Hi sweetie! Climb on over!  Get in!  Get in quickly!  We don't want to hold up the line!"

Kids: (yelling, pushing, shoving) "Get in!"  "Hurry up!" "It's my week for the front!" "MOVE it now!"  "Get your foot off my leg!" "Bye Josh!" "Ouch!" "Get your stuff off me!" "He won't move over!" "Bye Jack!"

Mixed in with this cacophony of beautiful music I hear questions and random excerpts of my children's days.  May I remind you, we are still in carline, and people are still behind me waiting to move forward.  So while there is pushing and yelling and tattling, I also have more than one person saying things like, "Mom, guess what happened today?" "Mom, did you go to the grocery today?" "Mom, can we get McDonald's for dinner?" "Mom, I have tons of homework - do we have plans tonight?"

And it's important to note, that the children are unable to move their bodies while they ask me these urgent questions.  So as we still sit in carline, I continue to try to urge the children to move into the burb and into their proper seats, while trying to smile pleasantly at the teacher loading my precious cargo.  

It's exhausting.  

So if you need to make a quick exit and were hoping we were the ones to provide it for you, look elsewhere.  I don't have time to help you get away.  I'm still sitting in carline.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Twenty Years!

September 8, 1995:  My handsome fiancé took me out to dinner at a fabulous Italian place, and afterward got down on one knee, held out a beautiful ring, and asked me to be his wife.  I grinned madly, probably teared up, hugged him tightly, then remembered to answer.  It seemed too crazy to even have to answer such a question.  Of course I would marry him!  Of course I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him!  Of course, of course, of course! It was a resounding yes!!

September 8, 2015:  My handsome husband and I were driving home from a very long weekend away.  We were rejuvenated and rested and ready to head back into real life (which was going to hit us hard in the form of several commitments the moment we walked in the door).

20 years makes quite a difference!  What an adventure it has been - this marriage, this life!  Almost twenty years of wedded bliss with this man.  I look that back on the girl I was that day and smile.  I was so excited for all that was in front of me.  And here I am now - and so many of those dreams I had have been realized in full. . .a rich marriage, a comfortable home, five beautiful children, a wonderful church family, a rewarding teaching job - God's blessings are immense!

When that young girl said yes (eventually!) to that handsome young man, she had no idea really what was in store for her.  She had no idea that her husband would join her on such an amazing journey.  That he would encourage her to try new things, to be more adventurous.  She had no idea just how fulfilling sharing her life with him would be - parenting, ministry, family life.

September 8, 2045:  I hope on the 50th anniversary of our engagement we are still enjoying our adventure together.  I pray we will be surrounded by our family, which will have grown with sons- and daughters-in-law and many, many grandchildren.  Perhaps I'll think back to the young girl I was in 1995, and all the stages in between and smile.  And then I pray I'll hold the hand of my handsome husband and enjoy the adventure still ahead of us.

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. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ode to Aldi

Oh Aldi.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

You save me thousands of dollars every year.  (I could stop right here and this would be a sufficient poem, having summed up the most important point of all).

You never leave me gasping at the register, shocked at the subtotal (like I do, perhaps, at Target sometimes. . .though I do love you, Target, truly I do).

You ask me for a quarter for your carts, ensuring that no cars are dented by runaway carts, and that prices stay low by not hiring a cart-boy (or girl).

You give me the quarter back at the end of my visit, a pleasant little gesture.

You save me ridiculous amounts of money.  Did I say that already?

You carry very few name brands, and are therefore able to provide deep discounts on the Aldi product line.  Your suppliers, however, are often the very same as the national brands (I had a friend who spotted the Dean's milk truck delivering to your store).

Your checkout process is lightning fast, due to the fact that each product has multiple UPCs printed.

You don't provide bags, we bring our own, therefore cutting down costs and encouraging recycling.

You don't accept credit cards, thereby pay no retailer card fees, thereby saving me more money.

You carry a huge selection of gluten-free and organic products!  Everyone can be happy at Aldi!

Your average store has only 6-8 employees, and you pay them much higher than people in comparable positions in other stores.  Good for you!

You are cousins with the revered Trader Joe's.  Everyone should realize you are just awesome by association!

Your low costs give my family more disposable income, to spend on the important things, like say, the electric bill, or a special broom to sweep up all the dog hair.

Your employees are friendly!  This seems to be a rare commodity these days.

Oh how I love thee, Aldi, you with all your money-saving ways! Thank you for being my weekly destination!

And I close with this wee verse to all of mankind:

Roses are red, 
Violets are blue, 
Aldi saves our budget,
Let it save yours too!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Six Quick Takes

  • Yesterday was my "monkey in the middle" son's 11th birthday.  Every year on his birthday, I reminisce about his birth.  It was rocky, it was scary, it was emotional.  And it was wonderful.  As we gazed down upon his little body, hooked up to more pieces of equipment than I could keep track of, we were overwhelmed with love.  I look back on those early pictures and compare him to the healthy, athletic, strapping boy he is now, and I can hardly reconcile the two images.  God has blessed him abundantly, and He blessed us immeasurably by giving us this child!
  • On the same subject, this certain 11-year-old is at camp this week.  It was very strange yesterday to think about his birth without him present.  He didn't mind at all being at camp on his birthday (possibly because campers get to "kiss the moose" if they happen to be there on their birthday), so I knew it couldn't bother me either.  And I've been fine. . .but I am ready to see my boy today, and to be celebrate eleven years of him!
  • In an effort to eat less, be healthier, and have less of, well, me, I discovered this new way of making a cake.  I think the end result is not much different from a traditional boxed cake - and with way fewer calories!  You simply add a can of diet coke to a cake mix, and voila!  You can have your cake and eat it too! (I couldn't help myself!)  Here's a pic of my girl helping me make it (it took about five seconds - she was disappointed there weren't several ingredients and  measuring cups):

  • Summer is in full swing over here.  Tennis lessons for the boys, cheer camp, baseball (including All Stars for one of the boys), camping, camp, a summer theater production. . .I gotta say, it feels almost as busy as during the school year!  It's all good stuff though, and I'm trying to soak it in and encourage the kids to do the same.  Before we know it, we'll be shopping for school supplies and having our Mommy's nights.
  • Shadow (or The Shads, as he is affectionately called around these parts) loves tennis balls.  I mean, he really, really is into tennis balls.  Today I took him with me to tennis lessons so he could walk with me while my son had his lesson, and every time we walked by the fenced-in courts, he lunged for each ball the zinged by.  Every time, he pulled hard against the harness, attempting to chase the ball (through the fence, remember).  He also is very fond of whichever tennis ball is under the couch.  It matters not if there are three tennis balls near him on the family room floor, it is only the one that has rolled under the couch that will bring him untold bliss.  And so he will bark and whine and whimper at us until we reach under (or move) the couch and retrieve it for him.  
  • One last thing, which perhaps I will write more on at a later date.  Are you shopping at Aldi?  If not, you must.  I feel I would be remiss if I did not tell you how much more money you would have if you simply shop at Aldi.  Try it once (take a quarter for your cart deposit!), and you won't be sorry!  That is all.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

We Are Family!

This weekend, I made a whirlwind trip to my hometown.  I was in town for just over 24 hours, and spent six + hours getting there to spend those 24 hours.  I took all five kids, one of whom vomited overnight during our stay.  It was a crazy trip, but it was worth it.

Why was it worth it, you say?  Because on Saturday afternoon, my kids and I (my husband had to stay home to work) spent seven hours with about 50 members of my family.  We attended our annual family reunion of my mom's side of the family.

This reunion has been a yearly event for as long as I can remember.  I recall being a young girl at my great aunt and uncle's lake house every year for the reunion.  All of my cousins and I swam, we rode in the boat, we ate all day.  We played the player piano with all of our might, pumping our legs up and down whilst wearing our swimsuits and listening to the adults standing behind us singing.  We curled up in our mother's or grandma's laps and rested the requisite half hour after eating before we were allowed to swim.  Sometimes, if we were lucky, we got to spend the night in the upstairs of the lake house - a room with beds in every nook and cranny to accommodate our ever-growing family.  We sat on the upstairs deck and talked to our cousins, and played cards and ball all day.  We listened to the stories of our great aunts and uncles and ate the special dishes which seemingly were only prepared for this event.

It was a wonderful day each year.  Going to the lake -so full of promise and fun and excitement.

Fast forward 30 or more years.  We no longer meet at the lake, but the reunion is still going strong.  Many faces have been added over the years and many beloved members of our family have gone home to heaven.  It's not the same to me now, as an adult.  I have to prepare food to share (though my mom covered that for me this year!), I have to drive a few hours since I married and moved away, I have to watch my children and keep them out of trouble. . .you get the idea.  As an adult, the family reunion is no longer a day full of carefree play.

But it is still a very special day to me.  I am not able to make it every year, but when I can, I relish those around me.  I don't see them often, but it doesn't change the fact that they are my people.  We all share a common family tree, memories of our childhoods together and many of us share our faith.  Going to the family reunion shows my children, and reminds me, that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Our extended family is our story, is part of who we are.  I spent the day catching up with my cousins and watching our children play together.   I had a heartfelt conversation with one of my great aunts about old family stories, and laughed with my second cousins.  We sat and sang with a cousin playing his guitar.

We missed the family members who were unable to make it this year, and caught up on their news from their immediate family who were present.  We looked at pictures and talked genealogy and marveled about how big everyone's kids were getting.

It was good stuff.

We get so busy these days, and we disconnect.  It was so nice to come together with all these people, many of whom have known me since I was born, and reminisce.  We can let down with family.  We can be our true selves and feel confident that we will be accepted.  I thank God that he has placed me in this family.  I thank him for my parents and sister, who provided me with a loving, solid, Christ-centered childhood, and I thank him for my grandparents, cousins and aunts and uncles who rounded out our immediate family in that special way that only family can.

And finally, I am grateful to God that he has blessed me with my own wonderful (not-so-little) family.  My children, my husband - these are my people.

You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you,
 as you are to them.

Desmond Tutu

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Well, hello there!

I don't really watch much actual TV anymore, for lots of reasons.  The older kids stay up later these days, and I can't settle in to watch anything until at least 9:30 or 10.  And then it seems I am always busy working on laundry or school or paying bills or doing dishes. . .the list never ends.  Sitting on the couch by 9 sharp to watch a specific show seems to be a thing of the past.

I don't really mind, though.  We don't have cable, but we have Netflix!  Netflix is a beautiful thing - I can watch a show of my choosing, whenever I want, pause it if I need to leave the room (probs to put the kibosh on a fight or put a child back to bed - again), and then pop it back on when I return.  All for $7.99/month!  It's a win-win, in my book!

On this lovely thing called Netflix, I have watched a few TV series over the last couple of years, mostly while I'm folding laundry (you'd be amazed at how much TV time that affords me, what with seven very-clothed people in my house!).  I've always been a big fan of Law and Order:SVU, so if I can't find something to catch my eye, that is my default.  Not long ago, a friend told me about Blue Bloods, which is a similar show to Law and Order.  I watched an episode and was hooked.

So now, when an errant child (or wandering teenager) makes his way into the family room past 9:30 pm or so, I have to grab the Apple remote and push pause, lest a murder scene causes trauma.  The other day, I paused the show just when Tom Selleck was on the screen, causing his face to stare down at us from the wall.

"What show is this?" asked my 13-year-old son.  I told him the title and he went about his way.  A day or two later, he entered the room and I paused the show once again, with Tom Selleck large and in charge on our TV.

"Are you watching The Crime-Filled Adventures of Mr. Mustachio?" he asked. And it has stuck.  When the kids go to bed, mom folds laundry and watches Mr. Mustachio solve murder mysteries.  It's a good gig.

All this talk of Tom Selleck made me resurrect an old story my kids hadn't heard. . .about the day when I met Tom Selleck.

I was in third grade and my family and I were in Memphis for a volleyball tournament for my uncle.  Tom (as I like to call him) was also there, playing in the same tournament.  We had heard he was staying in our hotel, causing lots of excitement and furtive glances every time we exited our rooms (this was during the height of Magnum, PI, you know).  On this particularly fateful day, my sister and I were heading down to the hotel pool with our grandma.  My sister and I were in our swimsuits; I'm not sure if my grandma was wearing hers.  We were about to enter the elevator, when ----- Tom Selleck himself exited directly in front of us.  He patted my sister's head**, and said hello to my grandma.  To this day, I can hear my grandma's voice as she said, "Well, hello there!"

That was it.  It was over before it started, but we met Tom Selleck.  And for years, we have told this story.  So my son, who couldn't possibly care less about my story, or whoever the heck Mr. Mustachio really is, had to listen to my passionate storytelling about our fifteen seconds of starstruck fame.  And how my beloved grandma, who is resting in heaven with her Savior, couldn't contain her awe.

I'm sure our encounter made an equally lasting impression on Mr. Mustachio.

**Tom Selleck patted my sister's head as we changed places on the elevator.  But for years afterward, I told her that it was my head his famous hand had touched.  I'm not sure if she believed me or not, but I enjoyed tormenting her with my (entirely untrue) version of the story.  I suppose I should call this moment to mind when my children take pleasure out of torturing their siblings.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket!

Depending on how you see it, I either had super bad luck yesterday, or I was super lucky.  I'm gonna go with the latter.

At lunchtime, I was sitting at the island, cutting an apple with a steak knife.  My husband and most of the kids were in the family room/kitchen.  I was talking to them as I got up to put the knife in the dishwasher.  I stepped down and just as I did, I noticed Shadow**  almost directly under my feet.  In an effort to not smash him to smithereens, I tripped, lunged and fell hard on my hip, still holding the very sharp knife.  Amazingly, I was not hurt at all, and did not stab myself or anyone else.  

Later on, during a driving rain storm, I had to take several kids to and fro to various activities (and pick up stranded children from the baseball games that weren't).  I had left the burb in the driveway, not knowing the deluge that was headed our way.  I decided to pull it into the garage to load in the couple kids I had at home.  I stood in the garage for a moment, psyching myself up for the dash I had to make (which included navigating an enormous puddle and a basketball hoop).  When I was ready to go for it, I pushed off quickly. . .and my flip flop slid on the wet garage floor.  My momentum thrusted me forward into the rain and headlong toward the basketball hoop.  With much arm flailing and screeching, I righted myself before I crashed into the hoop.  Then I splashed into the puddle and flung myself into the burb.  It was quite harrowing.

So - I guess I was super lucky.  But I am mostly glad that no one happened to be recording my less-than-graceful movements!

**Shadow.  His tagline should be:  "Shadow!  He's everywhere you want to be!" He is almost literally under my feet 24/7.  Every time I move, he moves with me, and usually directly in my path.  It's a miracle I haven't stepped on him yet.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

In Summer!

Today marks the first day of summer for my three boys, and the fourth day for my girls (and me, although I am still working on things for my classroom).  It was so good not to set the alarm for 5:45 am!  We all slept in a bit and enjoyed the day around the house today.

That later bedtime must have messed with my son's nocturnal clock, however, because he could not fall asleep.  As in, at midnight, I finally caved in and slept with him for a few hours.  I drifted off pretty quickly, because, well,  midnight, but after a few hours of tugging the child-sized-Snuggie I was using as a blanket, I had had enough.  I crept out carefully and climbed into my own bed.  And it was glorious.  The cool, crisp, grown-up sheets felt amazing to my tired limbs.  Thankfully, said child slept the rest of the night without incident.  This isn't the first time this boy has had trouble falling asleep.  I'm seriously hoping it's the last!

We got Shadow groomed today for the first time.  He smells ever so much better, and I'm desperately hoping the shedding decreases some.  He looks like a different dog now that his hair is shorter.  In fact, he really looks like a newborn black lamb his legs are so skinny and long. I would post a pic, but he is as black as night and crazy hard to capture in a picture.  You'll just have to trust me on this one.

Speaking of the dog, he has developed a nightly routine.  Every night when we go upstairs, he jumps onto the bed (where he isn't allowed to sleep) and settles in on my side of it.  When I am ready to get into bed, I shove Shadow a bit and tell him to get down and go night-night.  Every night, he gets up a little and shuffles over a foot or two and settles in to my husband's side.  And then finally succumbs to the floor (to his nice bed I purchased for him) when my husband comes to bed.  This is our nightly routine.  At about 5:30 am, he starts whining next to my side of the bed. . .and I pat the side of the bed and let him settle in at our feet.  We are the people who said the dog would never sleep in/on our queen-sized bed.

So, summer is here.  Lazier days, no homework, family time and a little more rest.  It's good stuff.  And as I type this, I am listening to all of my children play with the Wii Fit.  Giggling, whooping in laughter and having a great time together. And I am reminded of a card my husband recently received.  It said:

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things."

Indeed.  Listening to them play together tonight seems like a little thing.  But in reality, this is the stuff of life.