Thursday, March 31, 2011

At My Witts End

Either cabin fever has hit an all time high for the season, or there must be a full moon coming.  My kids are absolutely irritated with one another and with me.  They are fighting, whining, testing limits.  This has been going on now for over a week.  I'm at the point where I would like to send them outside and lock the door.  I won't, of course, at least not to the babies.  Sweet Potato was sent home from school today due to an ear ache.  He didn't have a fever, but complained of a sharp pain in his ear.  He whimpered most of the afternoon.  I gave him ear drops and tried to massage his ears, but it didn't soothe him.  I took him to our chiropractor who adjusted him and rubbed his sinuses.  The whole time we are at the chiro, Sweet Potato seems just fine.  The minute we walk into the house, he starts to whimper again.  I know he's tired and I don't doubt that his ear hurts, but the whining is difficult to listen to.  I've tried to snuggle with him, hoping that he would fall asleep, but he jumped up and said he couldn't sit still.  If he were the only child I had to care for, I probably could handle the situation better.  Instead, I have a baby who's pulling hair, a son who is trying to get a reaction out of his sisters (which he is very successful at doing), and another daughter who claims she is starving to death because I won't let her eat ANOTHER O'Henry Bar which we made earlier today.  Guess what?  I sent the 3 youngest to the basement to play, I let the 3 older ones watch t.v., and I'm typing this blog, with fork in hand, eating the O'Henry Bars.  Yep, today is all about survival and mine is calling for some peace and quiet and lots of chocolate.  Hopefully after a good nights sleep I'll be ready to tackle the day tomorrow with a renewed sense of calm, patience, compassion and fruit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Day of Fashion

Gummi Bear and I spent a fun day together.  My friend MM, has her own clothing line and asked if  Gummi could model some of her fashions for her spring and possibly fall catalogs.  We headed to Como Park Conservatory to meet a photographer.  It was an absolutely beautiful day and Gummi was bursting with excitement.  When we arrived, MM went to the main desk to purchase a photography permit.  For $25, you get a 25 minute permit.  It was at this time that we found out the Conservatory's photo policies, which include "no clothing changes on the premises."  So MM explained that I would be taking my 5 year old daughter into a bathroom stall to change her clothes.  The employee said "no, that is against policy."  We were told that if Gummi had to change her outfit, then we would have to do so in the parking lot, within our vehicle.  A bit stunned, MM warned that our permit time "better not begin until we are back in this building, ready to photograph."  This must be a government run institution with the complete lack of common sense enforced. 

Now, before I continue with this tale, let me explain one minor detail.  This morning as I was getting ready, I decided to "dress-up" a little.  It was nothing too formal, just some jeans, a sweater with a silk scarf, and my brown, suede, heeled boots.  Let's just say I didn't dress for comfort (referring to the boots).

So now Gummi and I have to walk out to the vehicle (which, by the way is a pretty healthy hike), to change into the first outfit.  We get back into the Conservatory and start walking - very quickly - to the flower garden.  Right away, the photographer grabs Gummi and starts shooting.  I was told to watch all the bags, which I welcomed, since I wanted to stay out of the way.  About 20 minutes later, Gummi and I are running through the building, towards the parking lot for clothing change #2 (we only took a wrong turn in the Fern room - twice!).  We threw on the next outfit and jogged back, weaving in and out of all the visitors.  At about this time, my feet were screaming at me "you crazy lady - what have you done to us?"  I had total boot remorse, wondering why I just didn't wear my tennis shoes.  We made it back into the garden in record time, or so I like to think, with sweat running down my back and the side of my face.  Once again, the photographer grabbed Gummi and they went to work.  In the meantime, the Como Nazis were making their rounds, checking the time and monitoring the bathroom, making sure we weren't breaking the rules.  An astounding 200 pictures were taken in the 25 minutes.  I won't get the chance to view the photos for awhile, but Gummi looked great and the gardens were beautiful, that I'm confident there must be a few good photos.

After a quick bite to eat, we headed home with one of the dresses that Gummi modeled - a sweet pink and brown "Paris" peasant dress, along with pink goulashes.  At this hour, my toes are cramping and my back is aching.  Either I'm too old and out of shape for heels, or I accept that fashion comes with a price.  I think I'll just stick with the comfy mom look.  I guarantee it's pain free.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Then There Were Two

Diapers have been a part of our household for 8 years and counting.  We have had multiples in diapers for the last 5 years (and counting).  Each time one of our kids become potty trained, I think to myself that we are one step closer to being a diaper free home.  I have cause to celebrate this week.  Cucumber is FINALLY out of diapers.  Yes, she is four years old.  Yes, there are days when she has a broader vocabulary than me.  Yes, she is fully in control of certain areas of her life.  Yes, Monkey Toes and I have tried every trick, tip and bribe known in order to persuade her into big girl underwear.  Basically, one day she told me no more diapers and she has not gone back.  She even stays dry all through the night.  Not only am I a proud mom, but I also have a very proud little girl.  So to celebrate, Grandma, Auntie and I took the little girls out-and-about in town this morning.  We stopped in the occasional shops and ended at the local coffee house. 

The first shop we went into had lots of collectibles and breakables and pretty much called out to my girls around every corner.  I carried Pumpkin in my arms throughout the store, Sweet Pea held Auntie's hand, and Cucumber tagged along with Grandma.  On our way out of the store, with the door open, Cucumber's hood caught on a shelf and a planter came crashing down.  To be honest, it wasn't the most attractive planter I've ever seen and was a bit shocked to see a $17 price tag on it.  I could see maybe $5, but $17?  Come on now.  Well, Auntie felt responsible and so she bought the planter, claiming that with a little Super Glue and maybe some artificial flowers,  it would look pretty good.  We'll see.

Our next stop was at Jilly Bean.  It's a retro clothing store for your sassy girl.  It has amazing designs and I could spend lots of money in there if I had money to spend.  The owner was asking how old the girls were and Cucumber announced, "I'm 4 and I am potty trained!"  The owner gave her a thumbs up and a sucker. 

We ended our outing with smoothies.  The girls were sooooo good and loved being outdoors in the brisk air, "shopping" with us adults.  When we returned home it was lunch time and the girls asked for Raman Noodles.  As I served up the bowls, Cucumber commented, "These noodles look like the curls in your hair mom."  That upset Sweet Pea because she didn't want to eat "mommy's hair."  She had peanut butter toast. 

Lots more happened within our day, but I'll save some of those experiences for another post.  As a result of  our newest potty trained family member, Sweet Pea has started asking if she can sit on the potty.  Is it possible that a diaper free household is in the near future?  Just one child at a time with two left to go.  I think I'll treat myself to a sucker.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Spring???

Today is technically the fourth day of Spring, however, school was closed due to a snow storm.  I am longing to freshen up our home by doing some spring cleaning.  I've begun by sorting out the kids artwork.  It is difficult for me to toss their creations, but it simply isn't manageable to keep everything either.  I've taken down all of the winter themed crafts and those that have been hanging for 3 months or longer.  One of the pictures is a pink pig that Gummi Bear made.  On the top are some letters smooshed together.  When she gave it to me, I assumed she was trying to spell something.  Wanting to encourage her attempt at spelling, I proudly read it aloud.  "Piss for pig."  Gummi just stared at me with complete confusion on her face.  I smiled at her and said, "Why don't you read it to me sweetie?"  She said, "P is for Pig." 

I've also replaced my snowmen table runner with this bright colored, "lift your spirits" table runner.  I purchased it at a local, occasional shop.  It is one of the cutest, inexpensive, and charming little places we have in town.  It's called The Little Red Hen.  They have another sale this weekend, which I will probably have to check out. Even if I don't buy anything, I still come away with some good ideas.  However, implementing these ideas are another story.
 Lent is going pretty well for our family.  We have had a few snags along the way.  A few days ago Cucumber yelled that if I didn't let her watch T.V., she was going to go to her bedroom for one year.  At least 3 different reactions came to my mind, all very sarcastic.  I made the decision to keep my mouth shut.  She did go into her bedroom, but was only in there for about 20 minutes, and then she was already on to the next activity.  Sweet Potato has shed a few tears, exclaiming the difficulty of giving up two things he really loves. . .his computer and PlayStation.  I actually felt bad for him.  So I shared with him a thought that was shared with me by our former parish priest.  Father explained that Lent is suppose to be challenging for us.  It is not meant to be an after-thought to our day, but rather on the forefront of our minds.  Father suggested that we carry a nail in our pocket during this season.  When we feel like we can't continue with our commitment to alms giving, fasting, and prayer, then we should take that nail and press it into the palm of our hand, just to give us an idea of what Jesus did for us.  From my own personal experience, I guarantee that it puts my small sacrifice into perspective.  I'm not sure if Sweet Potato absorbed all of that, but I know it has him thinking.  And to be honest, none of us have perfected our Lenten promises.  We all have flubbed up already.  But what I want to instill in my children is this:  Start and end each day with Jesus.  Never forget His ultimate sacrifice and selfless love for us.  And let all we do, glorify God.  One of my favorite quotes is from St. Augustine who wrote, "God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love."  What a lovely and powerful thought on this "spring" day.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Madness

Currently, I am totally enthralled in basketball tournaments.  I even filled out the college bracket this year.  For as long as I can remember, I have loved this game.  I credit it to my Dad.  Basketball was one of his passions.  He played in his younger years, for both school and the National Guard.  He was a talented player and led his team to many victories.  As I was growing up, my Dad was my first coach.  We had a hoop in our driveway and almost nightly, my Dad, sisters and I would head outside to hone our skills.  He would stand under the hoop and feed us balls.  He eventually would wander out and play one on one with us as well.  Being a little younger than my sisters, I would have to move in closer to the basket while we played.  I actually remember the first shot I made.  My Dad had to run over to the neighbors for a little while.  He drew a line in the driveway and told me to keep practicing from that distance and he would return home soon.  I'm not exactly sure how long I was working on this, but I eventually made one of the shots.  I couldn't wait to show my Dad.  As I saw him driving down the road, I started shooting as quickly as I could, just trying to make one more shot so he could see me.  As he turned into the driveway, I did it.  I made a basket from the line he had drawn.  His reaction is stamped into my memory, still to this day.  He gave me a fist pump from behind the wheel and one of the biggest grins he had.  I ran to the car and he stepped out and gathered me into his arms and told me he was proud of me.  That is one of many favorite moments I had with my Dad.

This time of year, my Dad would also be hooked on watching the tournaments.  He would probably call and say, "did you see so and so?  That is some good ball playing!"  He liked seeing the coaches get worked up over plays that were questionable.  Most of all, he loved seeing the heart and will of the players.  We both enjoyed highschool and college games the most, because of the raw passion of the game at those levels.  These young people aren't playing with dollar signs in their eyes, but for the love of the game and desire to represent their school, working towards a championship.

Now that my Dad is gone, I watch the games and try to imagine what he would be saying and who he would be rooting for to win.  Each year he would comment on how it would be nice to see one of the Catholic schools win it all.  I have to admit that I would like to see that too! 

Since having kids, I haven't been as faithful of a basketball follower as I have been in the past.  But no matter how much of the season I miss, there always seems to be this underlying enthusiasm for the game.  My Dad instilled so many things in my life.  As trivial as basketball may seem, I am thankful he passed on his passion to me.  It feels like one more way I can honor him and keep him close to my heart.  Let's dance!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beautiful Day!

I woke up this morning to lots of "shhhhhhhhhs."  When I opened my bedroom door I was met with my girls saying they had a surprise to show me.  The kids were making breakfast - oatmeal (the real stuff, not instant) and brewing my coffee.  As I sat down, I smelled something burning.  Sweet Potato was at the stove with smoke rolling from the pot.  He said, "Don't worry mom.  The timer hasn't gone off yet."  Luckily at about that same time the timer beeped and he turned the burner off.  He filled my bowl with the hot cereal, added sweetner and cinnamon and poured my coffee.  I took my first sip of coffee.  Wow.  I asked how he made it and he said, "with two scoops of the measuring cup and 8 cups of water."  Let's just say that I had a cup of creamer with a splash of coffee!  The oatmeal was tasty and warmed me through and through.  I sat down with my heart overflowing and a few tears in my eyes.  I felt so proud and so blessed.  As I ate my breakfast, Honey Bunches came in with the computer and said he made a video for me to watch while I ate.  The slide show was all about him and I couldn't have loved it more.  After breakfast, Cucumber did the dishes.  Such a treat!  Then Gummi Bear and I took a brisk walk through the neighborhood.  No matter how long winter becomes, I never tire of the beauty of the season.  The trees were frosted this morning - absolutely gorgeous.  I thank God for my beautiful family, His beautiful creation, and for another day to live this beautiful life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I know it's a day late and I had every intention of posting last night, but I was caught up in an Ugly Betty marathon.  I'll post about that later.  Yesterday was a great day.  The older kids didn't have to wear their uniforms to school, so they wore jeans with green shirts.On the way out the door, Honey Bunches asked what was for lunch at school.  I told him TatorTot Hot Dish and he groaned.  I said, "I wish you would learn to eat."  (He by far is my pickiest eater).  He replied, "And I wish life was a game of Candy Land!"  Say whaat?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
 We're not Irish, but I love to take advantage of any themed day.  I find it fun to craft and bake with the kids.  It also helps to break up the monotony of the long winter. The girls and I baked Irish Soda Bread, which turned out to be a great after school snack

The vote for supper was Spam and green rice.  If I may add - that is truly a labor of love for me, as I really don't like Spam, but the kids love it.

Gummi Bear, Cucumber and I made little Leprechauns out of toilet paper tubes and pipe cleaners.  I do not consider myself to be a very crafty person, but give me an idea with instructions and I do alright.  The girls loved the craft.  To top off our day, we had Shamrock Shakes from McDonald's.  They're probably not exactly Irish, but they sure were good!

May those who love us, love us.
For those who don't love us, 
May God turn their hearts.  
And if God can't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping!
An old Irish proverb                                




Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just a Daily Report

My children attend a Catholic school, and so today, to celebrate Ash Wednesday, they began their morning with Mass.  I decided to go with them and brought Cucumber along.  Cucumber and I walked with Gummi Bear's class over to the church.  For the entire walk, Gummi Bear had her arm wrapped around Cucumber and was telling all of her classmates that "this is my little sister!"  I don't think I have ever seen Gummi Bear demonstrate such pride over a member of her family.  We get inside the church and I have to separate the girls, to which Cucumber begins to cry.  She thought she could sit with her sister's class.  I assumed she would be able to pull herself together as we entered the narthex (a 4 year old can demonstrate self-control right?)  On the contrary.  Not only were tears streaming down her cheeks, but they were accompanied by very loud "whaaaaaaaaaaa (deep breath) whaaaaaa!!  This church isn't as large as a cathedral, but it has similar acoustics, so you can imagine the amplified sound of such a tantrum.  After we genuflect, I turn us right around and go out the door in order to gain some composure.  Feeling quite angry, I look Cucumber in the eye and say, "you will stop crying now or we will go home and you won't get any ashes!"  Surprisingly, she stopped crying and asks, "what are ashes?"  Ah-ha.  Situation remedied.  I urge her back inside the church, we find a seat, and we get through Mass with no problems.  Cucumber was fascinated with the ashes and could hardly wait to show Grandma her forehead. 

Today was the first day of no t.v., computer, Wii or Playstation for the kids.  We have decided that we may watch a little t.v. before bed, but otherwise, we are turning them off.  What I discovered was that the kids worked slower on their homework, which resulted in less mistakes.  They weren't tempted to rush through it in order to play video games or watch t.v.  They also played with toys that they haven't played with in a long time.  We pulled out our play tent and tunnel and all 6 kids played together and had a great time.  So day number one was successful.  However, I was reminded by Sweet Potato that we have 45 days to go.  Such the optimist!

Now to report on our brownies from last night.  They actually were pretty good.  All the kids ate them, except for Cucumber who (and I quote) "they feeled funny in my mouth."  The texture was cake-like.  I think they would have been better if they were a bit more fudgy.  I may try them again, but will just make the recipe as is and not double it.  I put the remainder brownies in the freezer for now. 

In other news, Honey Bunches of Oats has lost his front tooth.  He is very excited and could hardly wait to put his tooth under his pillow.  I overheard Gummi Bear telling Honey Bunches, "you should give the money to mom and dad since they don't have a lot of money in the bank." Oh my sweet, motherly little girl!  Anyway, the missing tooth has temporarily altered Honey's speech, which I find absolutely endearing.  I think the Tooth Fairy will be generous tonight.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let the Journey Begin

Today is Fat Tuesday - the last day of Ordinary Time before Lent begins.  When I was a child, I use to think that Lent was just about giving up candy and eating fish on Fridays.  As I grew older, I still didn't embrace the Lenten Season, but out of obligation, I always gave something up - usually sweets and thought it a plus if I dropped a few pounds in the process.  As an adult, I now look forward to Lent each year.  I view it more as an opportunity - not an obligation - to DO something that not only can make me a better person, but can also strengthen my relationship with Christ, by entering into His Paschal Mystery.   I still give something up (some habits are just too hard to break), but I also challenge myself to intensify my journey with Christ.  It usually is increasing the amount of time I spend in prayer, attending the Stations of the Cross, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation more frequently, etc.  To do this, I try to increase the silence in my life.  I turn off the t.v., I turn off the radio when I'm driving, and I give up FaceBook.  By the time Easter comes, I hope to truly celebrate, not only the Risen Christ, but a deeper and renewed relationship with Him. 

So tonight, to celebrate Fat Tuesday, I let the kids vote on our supper menu.  The winner:  Chicken nuggets and Macaroni & Cheese, with brownie sundays for dessert.  Monkey Toes and I will be eating our favorite pizza - Top of the Line with saurkraut from the Pizza Factory.  DELICIOUS!!  Just an added note on the brownies (referring back to my post of Deliciously Deceptive cooking).  They are made with pureed carrots and spinach.  They look fantastic, but the real test will come tonight when I serve them to my family.  I will post the results.