Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Vacation

This morning I was afforded the luxury of sleeping-in until 8:00.  It was the first, official day of summer vacation and the kids woke at their usual time, however they kept themselves occupied until I rolled out of bed.  I decided to make them a hot breakfast - a huge batch of scrambled eggs, toast and orange juice.  While we all sat around the table eating, I was struck with a bit of anxiety.  I looked at each of my children and wondered what I was going to do with them over the next 94 days. 

We do have our kids enrolled in a few activities over the summer.  Already, next week, they will be attending Vacation Bible School.  The following week, the boys will attend a 3 day football camp.  In July, the 4 oldest will be taking swimming lessons.  Finally in August, we will be camping at a Christian Music Festival, and then traveling out west for a Family Reunion.  So when I look at the summer in terms of "events" it certainly looks busy.  But the day to day happenings is what concerns me.  I do not want to see my children laying around, watching t.v. or playing video games the majority of each day.  So I am left with the challenge of finding balance for us all - a little learning, a little physical activity, and a little relaxation.

After breakfast, we rode our bikes to a nearby park.  We played for about an hour.  Then we rode our bikes back home, ate lunch on the deck, and then had quiet time.  The 3 youngest took naps and the the 3 oldest read books.  Later in the afternoon, we headed back outside and the kids played a variety of games while I mowed the lawn.  Gummi Bear helped me make supper, which I don't like to toot my own horn, but "beep, beep-beep, beep, beep" (Alvin & The Chipmunks Squeakquel reference).  I made a new hotdish recipe (diced potatoes, sausage, onion, seasoning & cheese) and rhubarb up-side down cake.  Even my pickiest eaters thought it to be o.k.  Honey Bunches said, "Mom, I think you're the best #2 cook."  Of course I had to ask, "Who is #1?"  He replied, "The waffle maker at the hotels where we eat breakfast."  In all honesty, who can really compete with a continental breakfast?

Tonight we are all gathered together watching the NBA Finals.  Sweet Pea is feeling a little under the weather and is curled up on my lap, watching my fingers type.  I was going to put my computer away, but she said she liked watching my fingers.  So I am multitasking for the time being.  Only 93 days left.  If they all go as well as today, this summer thing will be a piece of cake!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Celebration Weekend

We have had a very eventful last few days.  Since Friday, we now have a third grader, second grader, and first grader in our home.  Gummi Bear graduated from Kindergarten on Thursday and received the Young Christian Award.  Monkey Toes and I are very proud of her. All three kids received Outstanding Performance in proficiency in all areas of study.  So another successful school year comes to a close and we are ready to begin our summer vacation.

Saturday morning we had Gummi's Annual May Tea Party.  We began this tradition three years ago when there was a conflict in celebrating Gummi's birthday.  The Tea Party was a great alternative, and so we have continued this each May.  We had a table full of goodies and wonderful company (grandma, aunts, friends from school).  I look forward to this party each year.  Gummi and I work together planning, cooking, and decorating.  All the girls wear their prettiest dresses.  I hope it is a tradition that we will continue for a long time.

Later that evening, at the 5:00 Mass, Monkey Toes and I renewed our wedding vows.  The idea was given to us by our priest, who said that more young, married couples should receive a marriage blessing.  Since Monkey Toes was willing to do it, we took advantage of the opportunity.  It was beautiful and touching for both of us to recite the vows we made to one another and to God ten years ago.  What touched me the most was how living out these vows makes them even more prevalent to our lives.  They hold more meaning to us today.

Following Mass, we had our family and a few friends gather at our home for a birthday BBQ, celebrating Gummi and my brother-in-law.  It was such a lovely evening.  The food was delicious, the company was delightful.  By the time everyone left and I cleaned-up the kitchen, I was certainly ready for bed.  Once again, I had a smile on my face and a thankful heart.  Now, I look forward to the next day and a half, relaxing and enjoying my family.  Happy Memorial Day weekend.  Be safe and remember to give thanks for the freedoms that make our country great and the men and women who have sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice for us all. God Bless!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Everyday Blessings

As I was getting out of the shower this morning, Sweet Potato called out, "mom, I made your breakfast."  I walked into the kitchen and there lay two slices of cinnamon toast.  Something didn't look right about them and so I asked, "How did you make this?"  He said, "with the margarine."  I knew that could not be right because I don't have any margarine in the house.  I asked him to show me what he used and he pulled out the Crisco shortening.  Thank goodness I was awake enough to catch this!  On the way to school Sweet Potato began digging in his lunch bag.  He pulled out a fist-full of paper.  He told me he kept all the notes I gave him last year in his cold lunches.  Yep.  The tears started coming and I couldn't hold them back.  That small gesture blessed my day.

Yesterday, my neighbor, and friend, K stopped by un-announced.  She said she had been reading my blog and felt the urge to stop by and give me a hug.  I was so touched by her gesture that my heart truly felt joyful.  K blessed my day.

More than once I have been on the receiving end of someone's kindness.  Sometimes it is as simple as a smile when I'm crabby or upset, and other times it has been a lovely phone call from a friend.  I'm amazed at how often I have been blessed with exactly what I have needed at that moment.  I could share numerous stories about that!

Each day I am given the opportunity to make a small difference in someone's life.  Do I take the time to be "nice", or do I rush about my day, giving little thought to others?  Somedays, this is definitely more challenging than others.  But my whole point is that with a little effort, I too can bless someone's day, even if I think my gesture may seem insignificant.  At this point, I'm trying to come up with a really profound way of wrapping this entry up.  Monkey Toes is sitting with me and just said, "You don't have to be Oprah.  Just quit."  So I'll leave with these thoughts.  Be nice.  Take time to reverence life.  Bless others and be blessed.  Enough said.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

American Idol

When I was pregnant with my first baby, my body changed almost immediately.  I started retaining water within my first trimester, forcing me to remove my wedding band and begin wearing flip flops as my feet were beginning to grow too large for any of my other shoes.  I gained a total of 37 pounds.  During my ninth month, I was so uncomfortable, that all I wanted to do was put my feet up.  While resting during this time, I began watching American Idol.  I think I had to give this introduction as a type of justification for obsessing about a piece of secular culture.  To be perfectly honest, I really do enjoy the show and look forward to Competition Wednesdays and Result Thursdays.  As a family, we sit together and cheer on our favorites.  This year, we are all pulling for Scotty McCreery.  My boys even try to sing like him - funny stuff!  So my little secret indulgence puts a smile on my face.  And now, the baby I was carrying while AI season 1 was airing, is just as big a fan as I am.  These days I put my feet up for other reasons as well.  Life really does come around full circle!

Monday, May 23, 2011


For my nieces' shower, I decided to read something from scripture.  I looked in a booklet called, "Together For Life", by Joseph M. Champlin.  It was given to Monkey Toes and I during our wedding preparation from our priest at that time.  It contains scripture specifically for weddings, along with an explanation as to what the readings mean.  Monkey and I spent many hours deciding the scriptures that would be shared during our Wedding Liturgy.  We both liked what we called the 'good ol' tried and true' readings (The Creation Story, Husbands love your wives - wives be obedient to your husbands, Love is patient and kind  - etc.), but we wanted something different - something that really spoke to us and represented our relationship.  The readings we chose had the themes of Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-32), Reconciliation (Colossians 3:12-17), and Life (Matthew 7:21-29).  As I was reviewing these scriptures once again, I was really struck by the reading from the letter of Paul to the Colossians.  It talks about the importance of forgiving one another, just as Christ has forgiven us.  In the reflection it says, "In true reconciliation, the healing goes beyond the hurt, the reconciling is more joyous than the suffering was painful.  Couples then reach a deeper degree of acceptance, love, and understanding."  Wow!  Those are powerful and inspiring words that still move me when I read them.

This was the scripture I decided to share at the shower.  As so many people seemed quipped with marriage advice, I can only think that this is one of the most important lessons of all.  To me, marriage isn't about keeping score (50/50), just as life isn't really like that.  I believe it is recognizing and reverencing the dignity of each other.  When I fail to do that, I hurt the ones I love the most.  Learning to forgive and asking for forgiveness is ongoing.  Once we learn how to do those things, the rest seems to fall into place. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Busy Weekend

Whew!  My goodness was this a busy past couple of days.  Saturday morning I helped to "spring clean" at church.  With a few helping hands (including my 3 oldest, my sister, my mom and two ladies from church)  we spent a few hours collecting cob webs, cleaning windows and organizing the kitchen.  Later that afternoon we went to our first graduation open house of the season.  Then today, I co-hosted a bridal shower for my niece.  I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend, but I am exhausted.  Just before bed tonight Sweet Potato saw a rainbow.  We all went to the window and stared in amazement for just a moment.  It seemed like an appropriate way to say farewell to this weekend of hard work and celebration.   

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guardian Angels

Cucumber woke up and ran into the kitchen.  "Mommy, mommy.  Look what I found in my bed."  She was holding a tiny pillow feather.  She asked, "where did it come from?"  I answered, "It must have come from your Guardian Angel when he (and of course it could be a she) visited you last night."  Cucumber delighted in this idea.  Then, when we went for a morning walk, she found a feather on the sidewalk and shouted, "What was my Guardian Angel doing out on the street?"

I grew up reciting the Guardian Angel Prayer each night before bed.

Angel of God, my guardian dear
to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side,
to love, to light, to rule, to guide.
Sometime in my life I stopped praying to my Guardian Angel.  I don't like to admit it, but I think I forgot that I actually had one.  A few months ago, our priest talked about Guardian Angels in one of his homilies.  He taught us that from beginning until death, human life is surrounded by watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd.  He encouraged us to name our angels (he named his Mark) and have a relationship with them.  I thought about this and decided to name mine Mary, although I haven't done much "relating" to her since.  Now that my kids are learning about angels, I think it's time to resurrect this prayer and ask Mary for her protection, prayers and guidance.   I will delight in the collection of feathers my children are keeping - an innocent reminder to them that they never walk alone in this world.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Beginnings

I had so many thoughts today that I wanted to record, but they were all trumped by my frustration earlier this evening.  Honey Bunches and I had a really "off" night.  In my anger I yelled at him - excessively - and it has taken the wind out of me.  I felt as though I was having an out-of-body experience, the whole time thinking I should give myself a Time Out.  When it was all said and done, I felt terrible.  I gave myself a few minutes to calm down and then at supper, I apologized to all of the children, saying that I should not have acted the way I did.  I then apologized to Honey Bunches.  He told me he forgave me and then apologized for what he did as well.  It was a very humbling moment for me.

As I sit here tonight, I feel like today I failed as a mom, especially when I place my troubles in perspective to those who have real struggles and challenges.  I love my kids with all of my heart and want to do right by them.  I don't ever want them to doubt the love I have for them.  Whenever I struggle with being a wife and mother, I ask my Blessed Mother to pray for me.  I know she understands my frustrations and intercedes for me daily.  It comforts me to know that I am not alone in my experiences.  Tomorrow is a new day and a chance at a fresh start.  I am thankful and grateful for new beginnings.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paying Attention

SIGH. . .This is what I discovered when I walked into the living room from the kitchen after I had washed the dishes.  Pumpkin Pie was sitting in the middle of the floor, amongst all five of the other children, eating a tin of lip gloss that her sisters had received in their Easter basket.  I ask, "was anyone going to tell me about this?"  to which they all turn their heads to look.  Gummi Bear made a face and asked, "ewwww.  What is that?"  Sweet Pea screamed, because she is in this stage where she just screams at almost everything - and I mean everything (flies, bugs, a piece of hair on her shirt, her own poop, etc).  I wasn't upset, just puzzled as to what the other children thought of this.  I have narrowed it down to two ideas.  1) They really weren't paying attention, or 2) They found nothing abnormal about their baby sister eating lip gloss. 

I believe one of the most popular anthems in our home is "Pay Attention!"  I know our children are young and are still learning about things like spatial issues, but from eating to walking, talking to playing, often they have little regard to what they are actually doing.  We have a child who is old enough to know better, but will hold a fork in his hand while he uses the other to put food in his mouth.  The little ones are notorious for turning around to see if we are watching them and then walking into the wall.  Last night, as we attempted a whole family bike ride, one of the kids hit a parked car.  No worries, both he and the car are o.k. 

I guess this is simply just part of life and growing up.  Although I need to be careful.  A few days ago I was caught putting the ice cream in the microwave and the microwave lid in the freezer.  The kids were quick to yell, "Mom.  What are you doing?  You should pay attention!"  A good lesson for us all.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Gummi Bear!

Today my oldest girl turned 6 years old.  As I approached her bed this morning to wake her up, she sat straight up and declared, "I am 6 today mom!"  She had a smile on her face the entire morning.  As I sat and looked at her today, I could hardly believe how quickly time has passed.  As with all of our children on their birthdays, I talked about the day she was born and what made her birth unique.  But let me start with how we learned we were having Baby #3.

My sister had been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in August of 2004.  As a precautionary measure, my other sister and I were told to get tested.  At my appointment, they did a blood test and then had me go to radiology for an abdominal ultrasound.  It was here that the technician found a tiny beating heart.  I was stunned.  My sister was in for the fight of her life, and yet Monkey Toes and I would now be in preparation for welcoming a new life.  As I drove home from the hospital that day, the scripture passage from Jeremiah 1:5 entered into my thoughts.  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."  I didn't know I was pregnant and I didn't feel or look pregnant, and yet I had a brand new life within me that my Creator had loved into being.  I was overwhelmed with emotion.

I was a little nervous expecting my third child in less than 3 years.  I questioned my capabilities of juggling such a life.  Monkey Toes was amazing.  He never doubted this path for our lives - at least he never vocalized as much to me.  The next months were a sea of ups and downs.  As I watched my sister suffering and battling through chemo treatments, I was also anticipating the birth of my baby.  On May 16, 2005, I went into labor in the morning.  I'm sorry to say that I don't remember many details of the day.  I do remember sitting on the birthing ball as much as I could.  I remember T - a friend from church who was a nurse at the hospital, coming in and rubbing my back and holding my hand through contractions.  I remember breaking down because there was a time when we believed that our baby had possibly swallowed meconium and I feared the consequence.

What I clearly remember was when my doctor announced that she could see the head.  I asked, "does my baby have hair?"  She laughed and said, "you have no idea."  I remember the doctor announcing that it was a girl.  I was amazed and a little in shock - I thought for sure I was having another boy.  I remember the nurses taking her from me to complete her measurements and Gummi sharply screaming and the nurse saying, "Oh boy does she have an attitude already."  I also remember my sister coming in and taking Gummi into her arms and rocking her and then saying, "I'm sorry but she doesn't look like a Gummi Bear to me." 

Gummi Bear was such a good baby.  I actually would call her Gracie, because the transition of going from two to three children was easier than I had anticipated.  She was content and hardly fussed.  But when she did fuss, she had a piercing scream that would make anyone wince.  On June 11, 2005, Gummi Bear was baptized.  We asked my sister and her husband to be the Godparents.  My sister hugged me that day and shared with me that she didn't believe she would be here celebrating with us.  It was a beautiful day in which we celebrated new life.

Now, six years later, Gummi is a beautiful girl who loves life.  She enjoys school, playing sports, tea parties, and crafting,   And her Godmother (my sister) is cancer free.  Gummi will always be a reminder to me of the beauty of the circle of life.  Gummi - I love you.  I want nothing more than for you to find true happiness in this life.  May you continue to know God's blessings in your life and to always keep a gracious and humble heart.  You are my Sunshine!  Happy Birthday.

Opposites Attract

Today, Monkey Toes and I celebrate 10 years of marriage.  There are days when it feels like just yesterday we said, "I do," and then again, there are days when I don't remember life without him.  We have known each other for 20 years, being a couple for most of them.  In the beginning, when we were dating, many people told us that we weren't a good match for one another.  We seemed too opposite or we didn't have enough in common.  Truth be told, I simply loved spending time with Monkey.  Yes, we were different, but that was part of the attraction - at least for me.

The first few years, we were very immature.  We would be dating, then we would break up, and then we would get back together again.  We "worked" this way all through my college career.  Then after I graduated, we broke up - the best thing that ever happened for us.  I spent those 2 years really finding myself.  I know, it sounds cliche, but it is true.  I learned how to be by myself and be comfortable with that.  It was very liberating.  I discovered that I was missing out on life, waiting for someone to show up to do things with me.  So I began living my life.  I went to dinner by myself.  I went to the movies, by myself.  I walked along  Lake Superior by myself. I lived my life, learning to be comfortable with me.  I also prayed at this time that I would be open to living out God's will for my life.  I told God, that if I am meant to be single, then I will graciously accept His will for my life.  But then when I would fantasize about being married, it was always Monkey Toes face that I would see.  Then one day, Monkey Toes and I literally bumped into each other at Wal-mart.  Crazy - I know.  But being a woman of faith, I believe it was God's hand.

After the "bump-in", we became friends - no strings attached.  Once again, I realized how much I enjoyed being with Monkey Toes and I was content leaving our relationship at being friends.  We had tried to be more in the past and it didn't work.  I accepted that. Soon it became apparent how much we both had grown.  And once again, others were quick to give their opinion - "Are you sure you want to go down that road again?"  The turning point for me was when my grandmother became ill.  I was living 3 hours away and I received a phone call to come home.  Monkey Toes took some time off of work to just sit with me while my grandmother was dying.  I will never forget the day that he came to her room to sit with me.  My grandmother was sleeping and I was sitting by her bedside, crying.  Monkey Toes just held my hand.  Grandma woke up and saw him holding my hand and told me that she liked Monkey Toes very much and that he was a good man. In some way, I felt as though grandma had given her blessing on the two of us.

We were now a couple.  The moment I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, was when he called me one afternoon at work and said he had signed up for the RCIA program at his church.  I cried, knowing that God had answered a prayer.  I prayed for Monkey Toes daily to have a relationship with Christ.  I looked at my parents and their marriage and knew that the key to their relationship was faith.  I wanted that too for my life and whoever God placed there with me.  At the Easter Vigil  in 2001, Monkey Toes and his sister were welcomed into full communion in the Catholic Church.  I cried and rejoiced with them, all at the same time.  The following December, Monkey Toes asked me to marry him.

10 years of marriage and 6 children later, it has been a wild ride.  Life is certainly not dull.  There are still people who look at us and wonder how we work.  Yes, we are very different.  We do have different interests and we have opposite methods of how we function individually, but it when it comes down to what really matters in life, we are on the same page.  We share the same moral convictions.  We share a faith that is the glue that holds us together.  We have come to share the same political beliefs.  Faith and family come first in our lives.  We adore our children, but also know when we need to take time for "us".  So despite what others may think, we know that we are meant to be together.  God has a plan for us, and it began with our "I do's."

If I had it all to do again, I wouldn't change a thing.  Each step of the journey has led to this point in my life, which isn't too shabby.  It actually is a gloriously chaotic kingdom on earth, and I thank God everyday that he chose Monkey and I to share in it together.  I look forward to what the future holds for us.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Las Vegas

Monkey Toes and I returned this evening from a trip to Las Vegas.  Monkey had been out there since Monday on business.  His company bought me a ticket to join him on Wednesday, so we could spend our 10 year anniversary together.  It was a fun trip, although short.  It was my first trip to Vegas.  I'm still processing my thoughts about Sin City.

I haven't flown by myself in over 10 years.  I use to be a very confident traveler, usually enjoying my experiences.  But since 9/11, air travel leaves much to be desired.  I had some anxiety, but thought to myself, "how hard can this be?"  All I can say is that if Monkey Toes had been with me on my trip out to Vegas, his eyes would have been rolling!

We decided that I should drive the van and park it at the airport, so we (Monkey Toes, me, and co-workers) could all ride together when we returned.  I went into General Parking, swiped my Debit card, and drove into the parking ramp.  Somehow, I decided to take an immediate left turn, instead of staying straight, and wound up in some lot that one cannot escape.  My guess is that it is where rental cars get inspected and washed.  Honestly, there is no EXIT.  So I sat in my van, clueless as to what to do next.  A non-english speaking gentleman approached me and I tried to explain that I took a wrong turn.  He communicated to me to follow him.  He led me through an Emergency Only Exit and motioned for me to keep turning left.  I made it out, but had to go all the way around the ramp and once again had to enter through the main gate.  So out came my Debit card again, however this time, the machine rejected it, saying I was already in the system and couldn't use the same card.  Well, it is the only card I have.  I was forced to take a ticket, praying that I wouldn't be charged twice.

I eventually made it inside, checked-in, and awaited my flight.  People watching is one of my favorite things to do, and this trip did not disappoint. There are as many colorful personalities as there are colors of the rainbow and then some.  It truly fascinates me.  Vegas did not make a very good first impression on me, as even the billboards are a bit risque.  My first thought was that I would never bring my children here, but my own personal experiences were great.

Out of the generosity of Monkey Toes company, they treated us to a suite at the Palazzo Resort.  We stayed on the 47th floor and the suite was comparable in size to the main floor of our home.  There were two bathrooms, a dining room, living room, bedroom, vanity room, and workout room.  The views from the suite were impressive.  While Monkey Toes went to work, I stayed in the suite - ALL DAY and absolutely was content.  I had no desire to leave and explore.  I blogged, I swam in the tub, I napped, I prayed, I read a magazine, I watched t.v.  I felt like Pretty Woman, without the hooker storyline. Then later that evening, we went to dinner at Carnevino - one of Mario Batalli's restaurants.  The food and ambiance were amazing.  In celebration of our anniversary, they gave us complimentary champagne (it was delicious) and wrote in chocolate sauce, "Happy Anniversary" on our dessert plate.  After dinner, I took 5 dollars that was given to us and played roulette on a slot machine and tripled my winnings.  Yep - I came home with $18.50 more than I left home with.  Impressive to me - someone who is not a gambler by any means of the word.  We went back to our suite and Monkey Toes was snoring my 9:30 P.M.  I followed shortly.

On the return trip home, it felt as though I had been gone for a week, instead of just 2 1/2 days.  I welcomed the "break from reality" I was given.  I had a little time to relax and rejuvenate and celebrate with my husband.  Las Vegeans, Las Vegasans - you know, the people from Las Vegas, were all very nice and hospitable.  If I were ever to go back, I would love to have a similar experience of staying in a resort, maybe adding a spa treatment, taking in a show and just one more day to relax.  All in all, it was a special treat and I am thankful to have been on the receiving end of such generosity.
Door to our room
Fountain on main floor of our hotel
Entry & Dining Area
Living room                                                              

Jacuzzi Tub (t.v. on wall to enjoy while swimming)


Night View

Day View

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Mom

I wanted to post a tribute to my mom on Mother's Day, but found it more difficult to write than I had imagined.  How do I sum up my relationship with my mom?  She is an incredible woman and caretaker.  She was an amazing wife and continues to be an amazing mother and grandmother.  If I had to use one word to describe her, it would be Rock.  She has been the glue to hold our family together from the beginning.

I am the youngest of 4 children.  I sometimes feel like I was an only child, as I am 7 years younger than my next sibling.  For years, my mom and dad would work opposite schedules, in order to take care of the family.  When I was born, my mom left her job as a nurse to stay home and raise me.  It was surely a sacrifice for both of my parents.  I have such fond memories of those years.  My mom took me everywhere with her - errands, visiting neighbors, coffee with her friends,volunteer opportunities and countless visits to my grandparents.  I feel very blessed to have been given that time with her.

Throughout my life, my mom has always stood by me.  She is usually the first person I turn to for advice or simply to ask for prayers.  In her retirement, she has become a prayer warrior for our entire family.  Being married to my dad for almost 49 years, she has also set the example of how to be a loving and supportive wife and caretaker.  When my dad passed away last year, mom was the rock that stood solid for all of us.  As much as she was grieving, she never quit being the caretaker. 

In faith, my mom was the one who taught me how to pray.  She taught each of us to turn to God first, in any situation.  I sometimes would get frustrated as a young person, when I would go to her for advice and she would ask, "have you prayed about it?"  But what I learned, is that when I begin with God, my heart is being prepared for whatever the journey holds.  My mom is very wise.

Although this has been a meek attempt to sum up the love I have for my mom, I will never be able to express fully my appreciation for her.  I feel blessed that God gave mom to me to be my mom.  So, Happy Mother's Day mom!  You are my rock and I love you very much and will hold you in my heart forever!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I was up early this morning - before anyone else.  I wanted to bask in the silence and enjoy at least one cup of coffee before everyone awoke.  I had just made the coffee and sat down with the paper when I heard the first round of little footsteps.  Oh well.  Today was a pretty incredible day.  We began by going to church, which was beautiful.  Father called all of the mothers forward for a special Mother's Day Blessing.  It was very emotional for me and I couldn't fight back the tears.  When I returned to my seat, my kids gave me a hug which just encouraged more water works.  Afterwards, I thanked Father for a wonderful Mass.  He told me it was moving for him, especially when he saw me crying.  I think my tears were mostly ones of thanksgiving, however I was also thinking about the amazing mothers in my life that are no longer here - my two grandmothers and my mother-in-law.  I miss them very much, especially on Mothers Day.

 When we returned home, Monkey Toes made lunch for the kids while I snuggled up on the sofa, sneaking miniature Butterfingers (my favorite candy bar).  When the kids went down for a nap, I did too.  I slept for 3 solid hours.  I probably could have slept longer, but Pumpkin's cries woke me up.  Monkey then took all of the girls to his office.  He leaves tomorrow for one week and needed to do some preparation.  The boys and I stayed behind.  They went outside and played basketball, while I mopped the kitchen floor.  I actually enjoy cleaning when I don't have children climbing on me, around me and under me.  Then Sweet Potato asked if we could go out to eat for supper.  I told him I didn't have money to do that and he generously offered to pay with his First Communion money.  What a kid!  So Sweet Potato, Honey Bunches of Oats and I went to AppleBees for supper.  Sweet Potato told us we could order whatever we wanted since he was treating.  We had a lovely dinner with no distractions, just great conversation and good food.  I paid Sweet Potato back by sneaking money into his piggy bank.  I really enjoyed the evening with my boys.  Now, I am tackling the mountainous terrain of clothes that has accumulated on my laundry room floor.  Monkey Toes needs clothes for his trip and I fell a little behind this past week.  Looks like it will be a late night.  Thank goodness for the 3 hour nap!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


For the last few years, I have wanted lattice on our deck.  We have a small deck on the front of our house and I just feel that lattice would really give it a finished look.  Today, as a Mother's Day present, Monkey Toes worked on the deck.  He started at about 10 AM and worked straight through the day until 6 PM.  Then we headed to my sisters for dinner.  If the weather is good, he'll finish tomorrow.  So far, it looks beautiful.  I am a bit shocked at how time consuming this project is.  I had no idea it would take this long to complete.  In my mind, you measure, cut and staple???  I thought a couple hours. . .tops.  Monkey dug a trench around the deck first so the lattice would be anchored and less likely to bend.  He then had the boys crawl under the deck and push rocks against the lattice from the back.  Thank goodness that job was given to my boys.  There is no way I would have crawled under there.  It is small and dark, and I have myself convinced that there are probably critters living there!

When I think of all the things my family could have been doing today, but instead worked together to honor a request I made, I feel very proud.  I love that all of my "boys" stuck it out together, got their hands and their knees very dirty and worked hard.  Right now, all the kids are in bed and Monkey is asleep on the sofa.  He had intentions of watching t.v., but that did not amount to much.  To show my great appreciation for his efforts, I gave Monkey Toes my full blessing to golf tomorrow - on Mother's Day.  He deserves it.  Thank you Monkey.  I love you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Day Begins. . .

A plugged toilet is a daily occurrence in our household.  Literally - every, single day, either me or Monkey Toes is having to plunge the toilet.  This morning I declared that if we ever build a house, there will be a giant hole in the bathroom for people to poop in.  Sorry if this is gross, but seriously, EVERYDAY???  As I was plunging this morning, Cucumber walked into the bathroom and said that Honey Bunches couldn't be her boyfriend anymore.  "Why?" I asked.  "Because he plugs the toilet too much."  That's understandable.

Now, onto breakfast.  I know. . .not a very appealing transition, but this was the order of our day.  Sweet Pea asked for a bowl of "Honey Bunches umb Boats."  Thinking I would be funny I repeated her order back to her.  "So you want a bowl of Honey Bunches umb Boats?"  "NO MOM.  I want Honey Bunches umb boats!"  I seriously considered continuing this conversation for awhile, but Sweet Pea definitely was not finding the humor in this. 

As the girls were eating breakfast, I was looking at each of them thinking how delicious they each looked.  I know that probably sounds like a strange word to describe them, but it's the only word that comes to mind.  They all looked so fresh having just awoken, and their chubby cheeks looked absolutely adorable that I wanted to nuzzle their heads.  I walked around the table and kissed each one and told her I loved her.  After breakfast, I had my "nuzzle" time with each.  It really was delicious!

Today is grandparents day at school.  My mom and Monkey Toes dad are attending.  I'm looking forward to hearing how the day went.  There is usually a great tale or two to be told from Grandparents Day.  Three years ago, Sweet Potato claimed that Grandparents Day was the "worse day of my entire life."  That year, the day began with a school Mass and Sweet Potato was suppose to bring up the gifts at offertory.  He missed his queue and someone else brought the gifts up instead.  Then at lunch, someone took his chair by mistake.  Being dramatic as he is, he truly believed that life could not get any worse.  Unfortunately, he recalls this incident each year.  Then last year, neither set of grandparents could attend due to physical ailments, and Honey Bunches somberly got into the van after school and said that he was the only one in his class that didn't have his grandpa or grandma there.  My heart actually felt heavy for him.  A few days later, we had an ice-cream party at our house and invited the grandparents over to have our own celebration.  It was a decent alternative.  Hopefully this year, everyone will be all smiles. 


This morning at breakfast, Cucumber made the declaration that she is the smartest in the family.  Well, that just instantly fueled a debate among the other children.  Sweet Potato told her that she absolutely was NOT the smartest person in the family.  Honey Bunches said, "If you are the smartest, then what is 2 hundred million thousand fifty four plus 5 gazillion jillion?"  Cucumber looked really sad and I think Honey Bunches must have felt a little bad because he came back to ask, "o.k.  then what is 16 plus 16?"  Cucumber replied, "42," and Honey Bunches looked at me and said, "how did she know that?"  I just smiled and said Cucumber is a really smart little girl.

Once the older kids were at school, the little ones and I decided to go for a walk to the post office and grocery store.  Even though we have a double stroller, Sweet Pea insisted on walking, so our "stroll" took a bit of time.  On our way to the post office, I told the girls that I expected them to behave.  Cucumber replied, "I always behave."  As I walked up to the counter in the post office, the girls decided to push the stroller into the wall to which Pumpkin (who was buckled inside) belly laughed and the clerk behind the counter had a look of horror on her face.  So I turned around and hooked my foot between the wheels and gave my sternest look I could muster, while writing out a check.  We then went out into the lobby so I could stamp my mail.  The girls began running around in circles.  I told them that if they didn't stop, I would find a way to put all three of them in our single stroller.  Sweet Pea took this as an invitation and decided to crawl into the basket underneath.  Her attempt flipped the stroller back, onto her, leaving her screeching that she was stuck.  At this point, I debated with myself if we should continue to the grocery store, or simply head home.  Apparently I was up for the challenge and we continued with our errands.

In the store, I put Pumpkin in the grocery cart and told the other two that they needed to hold onto the cart at all times.  They actually did pretty well, until I discovered 4 jars of Parmesan cheese and a banana in my cart - items I did not place there.  We eventually made it up to the check-out and of course there would have to be a big bucket of suckers on the counter at the girls eye level.  "Mommy, pleeeeeeeeease can we have one?"  "No, not today."  "But mommy, we want one."  "No, I am not going to buy candy today."  "Pleeeeeeeeease, I WANT A SUCKER."  By this time, I began feeling a bit embarrassed and I have no doubt my cheeks were red.  I tried to distract them by inviting them to each carry a bag to the stroller.  It actually worked.  I went to pick up Pumpkin out of the cart and one of her boots caught on the cart and fell to the ground.  As I bent over to pick it up - with Pumpkin in my arms - I hit her head on the cart handle.  I tried to race out before her cries erupted.  I'm sure we were quite the spectacle.  Our walk home, although very slow, was enjoyable.  The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and it felt wonderful to be outside.  The fresh air actually did all of us some good.  The girls took long naps, which allowed me some time to work on laundry, prep for supper, and actually put my feet up for a bit.  All in all, it was a good day.  I worked hard, the kids played hard, and now we are all ready to rest well.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Floppy Fish

It is rare that I post to my blog twice in one day, however, we had a very eventful weekend and I didn't want to postpone my thoughts.  Yesterday, May 1st, Sweet Potato made his First Holy Communion.  It was an awesome day.  But let me begin way back to the day he was born.  The first time I held Sweet Potato in my arms I cried and laughed and simply rejoiced for the miracle of this precious life.  One of my first thoughts was "how soon can I get him baptized?"  I was so excited to begin our life with him, which largely included our faith life.  I was moved during his Baptism when Father asked Monkey Toes and I if we were willing to raise him in the faith.  It is a vow that Monkey Toes and I took, and continue to take, very seriously.  After the baptism, I remember thinking how excited I would be when his First Communion Day arrived.  Although at times it seems like it has taken a life-time, in reality, it seems more like yesterday that I was holding my first born in my arms.  These last 8 years have passed quickly and now I have a little boy who received Jesus into his heart.  I am a mother who is truly joyful.

Sweet Potato is a child who when excited, becomes very easily distracted.  Monkey's sister calls him a floppy fish.  It is quite befitting of him - both physically and intellectually.  So pretty much all weekend long he flipped and flopped from one thing to the next.  I would tell him to put his clothes away, and on the way to his room he would get distracted by the kid's folding table and wind up playing Mass (not a horrible thing, but certainly off task).  Or I would ask him to go pick up toys in the yard and he would end up swinging a golf club, completely forgetting why he was outside in the first place.  And so trying to get our home in order for a party was a daunting task, but well worth all of the effort.

On the way to Mass, I noticed that Sweet Potato frequently giggled nervously.  Once in the church, he was hesitant to take candid pictures with his classmates.  As we were lining up for the procession, he started tapping my leg without realizing he was doing that.  While we waited on the steps to enter the church, Monkey Toes gave Sweet Potato a hug and told him he was proud of him.  I had a major lump in my throat after that.  Once we entered the church and began walking down the aisle, I was moved by the number of people present who were there to lend their prayers and support for all the First Communicants.  Monkey Toes got a tear in his eye, right before we went up for communion.  I got a tear in my eye when we returned to our pew after communion.  I gathered Sweet Potato in my arms and just took in the moment.

Sweet Potato was elated on the way home.  He could hardly wait to start the party.  His first question was if he could skip the meal and just have a piece of cake.  I figured that was a reasonable request.  Sweet Potato had a grin on his face for most of the day - a reflection, I believe, of his heart.  With a house full of family and friends and a truly celebratory atmosphere, it was a joyful day for all of us.   Sweet Potato didn't want the day to end.  He begged to stay up late last night.  He fell asleep reading his new Children's Bible.  As we were going to bed last night, Monkey Toes said, "Today was a great day."  I couldn't agree more.


One of the things I love the most about being a mom is witnessing to the true individuality of each of my kids.  Some days it is hard to wrap my head around the idea that we are all part of the same family.  Certainly each child shares characteristics of both Monkey Toes and I and some days that is more evident than others.

Last Thursday when I picked the kids up from school, a sweet aroma entered the van with them.  I asked, "who smells fruity?"  Often times they are munching on treats they received from classmates.  Honey Bunches said, "that would be me."  I asked, "why?"  "Because I'm hot and sweaty and I smell sweet!"  We all had a great laugh.  That is also an example of Monkey Toes influence - always joking and quite witty.

After homework that same day, we were all outside playing.  Sweet Pea was standing at the bottom of the slide.  For some unknown reason, Sweet Potato decided to roll a baseball down the slide, which jumped up at the end and hit Sweet Pea in the chest.  I told Sweet Potato he needed to apologize.  As he approached her, he tripped and landed directly on Sweet Pea, flattening her to the ground.  Monkey Toes is convinced that Sweet Potato received his gracefulness from me.  That is debatable.

I enjoy watching my children grow and develop their own personalities.  It is also equally fun to have them discover their gifts.  Gummi Bear is naturally athletic.  Cucumber surprises me with her intelligence.  Sweet Pea is picking up a large vocabulary and is a good climber.  Pumpkin is being influenced by everyone and has mimicked each here and there.

As much as I am anxiously awaiting to see them grow up, I also am trying to remind myself to live in the here and now.  Pumpkin is at a stage where she likes to cuddle with me.  Being the baby and uncertain if we will be having anymore children, I try to relish those moments when she nuzzles my neck or wraps her arms around me.  So many have told us that time flies by.  We are first-hand witnesses that it does.  And so, I continue to record memories here, in hopes that I can remind myself of the preciousness of each day if ever I forget.