Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Toilet Paper Tubes

I keep a large craft box in our home, ready to be used whenever the creative juices flow.  It contains construction paper, beads, craft foam, paper lunch bags, stickers, etc.  I also have a collection of toilet paper and paper towel tubes.  Tonight, Cucumber took two toilet paper tubes to make a telescope.  As she was collecting supplies, Sweet Pea swiped the tubes and took off running.  Cucumber screamed, "Stop her!  She took my potty sticks!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We Wait In Darkness

Happy Advent!  I love this Liturgical Season, but really, who am I kidding - I love them all!  Advent is a time that I take FULL advantage.  My family does not rush into the hype of the season.  As much as we look forward to Christmas, we also understand the importance of Advent.  This past Sunday, our priest encouraged us to wait with our decorating and busyness of the season, in order to grow in anticipation of Christmas.  Our kids have been asking to put the tree up and hang their stockings.  Monkey Toes and I explained to them why we are waiting.  Advent gives us the opportunity to prepare our hearts for Christ.  As a sacrifice during this time of preparation, our family has agreed to limit our "screen time". 
The focus in our home right now is our Advent Wreath.  The wreath (typically circular and evergreen) represents God's everlasting love.  Each candle represents a Sunday, leading up to Christmas.  Purple symbolizes repentance.  One of our previous priests explained that the purple represents the color on the horizon before the sun rises.  We are waiting in darkness before our great light comes (Jesus).  The pink candle symbolizes joy and hope.  As the wreath grows in light, our wait in darkness decreases.  The Light of the World is drawing nearer and nearer.

I am really proud of my kids during this time.  They have demonstrated such positive attitudes.  Each night before supper, they take turns leading our Advent prayers and lighting the candles.  They haven't fussed about limiting their use of the the WII or computer.  All in all, we do this in order to keep Christ in the center of our lives and in the center of The Season.  Hopefully it will lead to a richer prayer experience in our home and within each of our lives.

Blessing of the Advent Wreath
God of Wonder, send down your blessing on our family's wreath.
May all of us who use it prepare a special place in our hearts for Christ's coming.
May this wreath and its light remind us of Christ's promised coming.
Send down your many blessings on our family during this holy season.
We ask this in the name of Christ, your Son and our Brother.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Day to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving, hands down, is my favorite holiday of the year.  The entire day is centered around family and togetherness, sprinkled with good food, a little football, and possibly some physical activity.  It is not an overly-hyped up holiday (in my book that is a bit unfortunate), and although there is much planning that goes into the meal prep, the day is always a satisfying success, which demands little mental recovery from the festivities.

Monkey, the kids and I have two days of Thanksgiving, which allows us to spend ample, rushed-free time with both of our families.  Thanksgiving Day is spent with Monkey's side of the family, and the Saturday after is spent with my relatives.  Both serve traditional meals and both are very fun get-togethers.  I always leave these celebrations with a full tummy and a happy heart. 

Last night on our drive home, the kids had fallen fast asleep, allowing me time to reflect quietly on the day. Home has more to do with the people who surround us, than the walls that contain us.  At the top of my list of blessings this year, I am thankful for our home, which canopies my family and loved ones.  No matter what life deals me or where life takes me, home is where my heart will always be.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

39 and Holding

My 39th birthday was November 11th and today my sisters decided to take me out to celebrate.  The only problem - they forgot to pick me up.  So here I was, waiting outside in our driveway and nobody showed.  Sister 1 went to Sister 2's house and apparently they looked at each other and asked, "who was suppose to pick up Sissy (that would be me)?"  They both hopped in the car and came to pick me up.  We then went to the movie, The Help, did a little shopping and out for dinner.  Despite the wait, I had a wonderful day.
"Blessed is the woman who has a sister, and thrice blessed if she has more than one"
A few months ago, I expressed to Monkey Toes that I did not want a surprise party for my 40th birthday and I really didn't want any of the "over-the hill" themed gifts (such as black roses, etc).  He decided to throw me a surprise party this year to compensate.  He was successful in doing so!  On 11/11/11, Monkey gathered our families and a few friends to help us celebrate.  He pulled it off beautifully!  (Thanks also to Silly - his cohort).  Monkey Toes and I spent the entire day together, while Silly came to babysit.  We were audience members at the Twin Cities Live show, then we went out to dinner, and then out for ice-cream.  I was itching to get back home (it was 7pm and I wanted to see the kids before they went to bed), but Monkey said we should just enjoy being out while we had a sitter.  True, but I still wanted to spend part of my birthday with my kids.  While we were driving home, Monkey received a phone call saying that a private party at the Country Club needed his assistance in fixing their PA (something he does frequently in the area, so I didn't give it a second thought).  I was a bit annoyed with having to turn the vehicle around.  I was soon humbled as I discovered the party was for me.  It turned out to be a really fun night - and I was truly surprised. 
There were a number of people at the party who assumed I was turning forty - probably because of the surprise factor.  I even received a "40 is a magical number" birthday card (by far the most entertaining card of the evening.  It contained $40, to which I mailed back $1 in the Thank You card).  Growing older doesn't bother me, nor scare me.  My birthday isn't something I dread each year.  I don't lie about my age and "over-the-hill" jokes are wasted on me.  I have the beautiful women in my life to thank for this outlook.  My grandmothers aged gracefully, as is my mom.  Vanity was never part of their character.  Age, to them, was just a number.  And so it is to me.  I may be almost 40, but those around me keep me feeling young.  Next year on 11/11, I won't be burying my head in the sand, I will be thankful for another year on this amazing journey we call life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kindness Still Exists!

This morning, I was the recipient of two very thoughtful and generous acts of kindness.  Both were very unexpected.  It is days like this that I am reminded of the goodness in others.  I am reminded that it is in the simplest of gestures that I tend to find the greatest treasure.  I am reminded of how God uses each of us to show His presence, His love, His grace, and His mercy everyday.

I attended morning Mass at my children's school.  It was the 2nd Grade Class Mass and Honey Bunches read one of the Prayers of the Faithful.  After Mass, I was flagged down by the dad of one of Honey's classmates.  He said he noticed that I have been driving the last few weeks with a burnt-out headlight.  In his hand he was carrying a new headlight.  He changed it for me - right on the spot.  I asked, "Can I please pay you something?"  He said, "No.  I just ask that you pray for me and that my business will pick up." 

Before returning home, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some apples.  As the cashier rang up my order, I was .20 short.  I had no change because I had just cleaned out my wallet and put all my spare change in the kids piggy banks.  So I asked the cashier to take a few apples out to bring the price down.  She said, "No, no.  I want you to have these apples."  She dug in her own pocket and payed the difference. 

I am so greatly touched by the genuine thoughtfulness of these two individuals.  I am humbled and I am blessed.  Now, I pay it forward.  What do you have planned today?  Be vigilant on opportunities to be Christ to someone.  Let His light and His love shine!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things Part II

Cucumber wanted to play WII this morning.  I gave her permission, but said I would put the timer on so that her sisters could take a turn as well.  The littlest ones were very impatient and began to push the buttons on the T.V.  I commented, "you girls need to sit down.  It's a zoo in here!"  Cucumber responded, "Well welcome to my world!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stolen Identity

As I approached a STOP sign this morning while taking my kids to school, this was the conversation that took place:

Sweet Potato:  So and So are behind us.
Honey Bunches:  No, that's not them.
Sweet Potato:  Yes it is.
Honey Bunches:  It can't be.  That doesn't look like their Mom or their Grandma driving.
Sweet Potato:  That's because it's their Dad!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

My kids like to make me laugh.  Some days they try to be sillier than the last.  In their attempts at comedy, they usually ask the question, "Is that funny Mom?"  And I usually answer, "It was a little funny."  Last night, Sweet Pea was dancing around crazily and asked, "Am I funny Mom?"  As usual my reply was, "You're a little funny."  To which she asked, "What do I have to do to make it a lot funny?"  Well talking like that is one way!

Playing "wedding" is still a big hit in our household.  This past weekend, Peanut Butter stayed with us and Cucumber claimed that she was going to marry him.  She dragged encouraged him to go outside with her to re-enact a wedding.  As I was checking up on them Cucumber said, "I'm charging people at my wedding, so if you want to watch you have to pay."

The kids and I were cleaning out our DVDs and we found The Berenstain Bears - one we haven't watched in a very long time.  So this morning, the girls asked if they could watch it.  After awhile I asked, "How do you like this show?"  Sweet Pea responded, "I'm getting a kick out of it!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Near Heartattack

We keep the garbage can under our kitchen sink.  Today, as I was changing out the bag, I noticed some scraps had spilled over.  So I cleared some things out from under the sink and began to clean up the mess.  Then I touched something that forced me to look twice.  It was a small, grey mouse lying with its feet up.  I jumped back and began to scream, except that I lost my voice last night and so no sound was coming out of my mouth.  I was jumping up and down hysterically, trying to scream when Sweet Pea walked into the kitchen.  She thought I was trying to be funny and began laughing and saying, "mom, you're so silly!"  I rushed to the sink and began to wash my hands profusely.  Then I brought my vacuum in and sucked everything up, including the mouse.  At this point, my heart was racing, my face felt hot, and my hands were trembling.  I am a complete wimp when it comes to rodents.  Our vacuum has a clear canister, so I investigated what I cleaned up.  I definitely had a mouse in there, but I discovered that it wasn't real, it was a rubber toy.  I am still recovering at this time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

School Girl Crush

As I was checking my son's homework a few days ago, I found a note wadded up in his backpack.  It was from a girl in his class, declaring her crush on my son.  My gut reaction was, "who is this hussy girl?"  I was pleasantly surprised that Sweet Potato was willing to talk about it. "She's just this girl who likes to be by me and tries to hug me at recess," he so innocently explained.  I had to ask, "Do you like her?"  "Well yeah, because she's my friend."  Whew.  I'm not ready for "relationships" yet!

Since finding the note, I have, of course, tried to catch glimpses of this girl while picking my kids up from school.  Actually, I didn't have to be very sneaky about it, as the child approached me yesterday and asked, "Can you tell Sweet Potato to wave at me when you drive by?"   Brazen little bugger, isn't she.  I complied and told Sweet Potato that "girl" wants him to wave at her.  "Give me a break" he replied.  I reminded him to be nice.  "Well I'm mad because she got in my way when I was trying to play football at recess.  I'm not waving at her!"  Well prioritized my son.  Well prioritized.

Enunciation Please!

Poor little Sweet Pea is battling a cold.  She has lost her precious and innocent little voice to one that makes her sound like a lounge singer holding a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other.  This morning as we were playing, she approached me with a notebook and a pencil.  "Mom, can you draw Clifford umming?"
Me:  What do you want me to draw?
Sweet Pea:  Clifford umming.
Me:  I am so sorry sweetie, but I don't understand what you're saying.
Sweet Pea:  Mommy pleeeeeeease draw Clifford umming.
Me:  O.K.  I understand you want me to draw Clifford. (This would be Clifford the Big Red Dog).

After a few minutes of this conversation, Sweet Pea began to run around the kitchen.

Sweet Pea:  Now do you understand what Clifford is doing?  He's umming!
Me:  Yes Sweet Pea.  I understand that Clifford is running.  I'll draw him for you.

I drew her a picture of  Clifford running and she said, quite disgustedly, "you drew Emily Elizabeth."
I give up!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Good Ol' Days

Recently, Monkey toes and I tackled the job of cleaning out our storage shed.  Our goal is to park our vehicles (well at least mine) in our garage.  A novel idea, I know!  We began by making piles.  One was a "keep" pile, one a "trash" pile, one a "donate" pile and one a "family members" pile.  In the very back of the shed were three boxes with my name marked on them.  What I unveiled took me on a walk down memory lane.  These boxes were originally stored at my parent's home, and once we bought our own house, my parents gave them back.  I haven't seen many of these items since High School. 

Box number one contained my Letter Jacket and my first Bible - it was given to me at my First Communion.  Box number two was filled with items from my dorm room in college - one of which was a Lego set that Monkey Toes gave to me.  It was a gift that he mailed to me at college my freshman year.  I had shared with him a long time before then, that one toy I had always wanted as a kid but never received was Legos.  To this day, it is still one of the most thoughtful presents I have ever received.  The third box really brought me back to my childhood.  It contained notes from my elementary crush, Homecoming buttons, letters from Monkey Toes, birthday cards from my parents and grandparents, and a note that my friend Rhea gave me in 7th grade.  I spent HOURS scouring through these boxes.  I brought them all into our living room, poured myself a glass of wine, and started reminiscing.  I also brought along a garbage bag, thinking that I would condense these items into one box.  What I discovered, is that it was more difficult to throw items out than I had imagined.  Why is it so important for me to hold on to a Homecoming button from my youth?  Why am I holding on to an old prom corsage?  I'm not sure where my internal struggle stems from, but I wound up keeping the 3 boxes and placing them back into storage.  Maybe they will be a project for another day.

As I was looking through the boxes, I had a smile on my face from the many wonderful experiences I've had in my life.  Although some of those keepsakes are over 30 years old, the memory seems like just yesterday.  What I've learned is how short life is, how fast time passes, and the impact simple gestures and acts of kindness imprint upon my life.  Maybe that's why letting go of the past seems so difficult.  It is a reminder of how blessed I truly am, with my faith, family and friends.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I know this post is well past October 31st, but better late than never.  We began the tradition last year of meeting up with Silly and her family on Halloween.  They live in a development and it makes Trick or Treating very easy!  We start with supper, then get into costume, and then hit the streets.  Halloween isn't exactly my favorite holiday, but having a plan and getting together with family makes it much more fun for the kids and bearable for the adults.

This is Sweet Potato who fell asleep on the way to Silly's house.  



Peanut Butter
The Loot

The title of this entry is credited to Sweet Pea.  Halloweenie is how she pronounced the Feast of All Hallows Eve.  It put a smile on my face each time she said it.  My favorite moments of the evening were watching Pumpkin gallop to and fro at each home.  I thought it funny that both my boys were ready to leave after visiting just 4 homes.  Cucumber insisted on wearing these hard, plastic shoes that came with her Belle costume.  I packed tennis shoes for her, but she declared that she loved her sparkly shoes and was not going to spoil her outfit with sensible shoes (well she didn't actually use the word sensible, but that's the gist of the situation).  I found it endearing that the head to Sweet Pea's Tigger costume continued to fall lopsided.  And Gummi had an unceasingly amount of energy.  She probably would have continued long into the night had we allowed her.

The candy is quickly dwindling, the costumes are packed away in the closet, and once again we have sweet memories of a fun filled night.