Thursday, May 24, 2012

Throwing Caution to the Wind

The last two days it has rained. . . a tremendous amount.  I was thankful for the rain yesterday, as it was an excuse to stay indoors and complete a basement project I wanted to finish.  I had been putting it off with the beautiful weather we have been having.  I feel too guilty staying indoors (keeping the kids inside) when the sun is shining.  However another day of rain caused my children to go stir crazy.  So first on the agenda was to let the girls do my hair.

Sweet Pea took the picture.  Each girl put in one binder.  I don't have much hair to work with, so I was a bit impressed with what they could accomplish.

Next was playing in the rain.

Then we ate lunch, napped, and headed back outdoors.

After some major puddle jumping (or rather puddle swimming), it was time for some. . . . . . . .

sloppy kisses.  Yeah - it was a pretty great day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Facing Fears

As of last night, the 2011-2012 piano season has concluded.  Gummi played in her last recital of the year.  She performed marvelously.  A twist to the evening was that her and I played a duet together - "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."  As I awaited our turn to perform, I was recounting how I found myself in this position.

A few months ago, Gummi brought home a duet book from her lesson.  She asked if I would play her teacher's part, in order to help her practice.  That one day turned into a daily routine for us.  Apparently Gummi told her teacher that I had been helping her out at home, in which I received a note inviting me to play with Gummi at her upcoming recital.  My immediate reaction was "no."  But after some sweet talk from Gummi and few "please, please" pleases, I couldn't find it in me to reject the offer.  So as graciously as I could, I agreed to play with my daughter.

Going into the evening, I was feeling pretty confident.  It is a beginner's song and we had faithfully practiced it daily for many weeks.  However, as our names drew closer in the program, my hands began to sweat and my knees trembled a bit.  All the nerves and agony of my own childhood recitals came flooding back.  I tried to make light of it as I looked about the room and saw these young kids.  I mean come on - I am almost forty in a room where the average age of the performers is probably 8.  Why should I be second guessing my ability?  Well, because that's who I am and I realized that I have never outgrown the recital nerves.  I leaned forward and asked Gummi, "are you ready?"  She smiled and nodded her head.  As we approached the piano I became very self conscience of people looking at me.  Silently, I briefly asked St. Cecilia to pray for us.  We sat down, counted out the start and began playing.  I was able to picture us in our living room, playing our own piano.  I was calmed by Gummi's confidence as she played.  She never faltered as she moved across the keys.  At the conclusion of our song, she flashed me a smile and then stood up to take her bow.  At that moment, all eyes were on her and I was filled with pride.

Did I overreact?  Probably.  My anxiety, however, was real.  Afterwards I asked Gummi if she was nervous.  She responded very matter-of-factly, "no."  I marveled at that.  Who's kid is this anyway?  I am now hoping that I have done my time and won't be asked again to perform.  I much prefer sitting in the audience, cheering on my daughter and the other young musicians as they showcase all of their hard work, effort, and talent. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gummi is Seven!

My little Gummi Bear turned 7 years old today.  When I woke her up this morning, she wouldn't budge.  So I whispered, "Happy Birthday!" to which she quickly sat up, her hair mustered, and a grin on her face.  The first words out of her mouth were, "did you remember to order cupcakes for my class?"  Uh oh.  Nope, I did not remember.  I sent her on her way to get ready and went into panic mode.  I had to quickly rouse the troops and attempt to get them loaded in the van and on our way, at least 15 minutes earlier than usual so we could make an unscheduled stop at the bakery.  We did not meet our deadline and were on the road at 7:30 (usual time).

I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and told Gummi that we needed to hurry.  We rushed into the store and headed straight for the bakery goods.  In their cooler they had a variety of cupcakes, but not enough for her entire class.  So I then suggested a sheet cake (there were at least 5 to select from).  Gummi picked two of them out, as they were quite small.  It was then that I noticed their price tags at $22.99 a piece.  No way was I going to spend that much money for each kid to eat just one piece of cake.  So I suggested donuts, to which Gummi crinkled her nose.  We were running out of options and time.  Gummi then noticed a display of frosted sugar cookies.  She thought they looked good and there were enough for all of her classmates.  Whew.  Thank goodness.  As we walked to the check-out I apologized to Gummi.  I told her I didn't forget it was her birthday.  I just forgot that she needed treats for school.  She said, "It's o.k. Mom.  I like cookies."

Her response to my forgetfulness is typical for Gummi.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Gummi has a very charitable heart.  For being so young, she is quite in tune to others and their needs.  She has a strong desire to be of service and to help others.  A few weeks ago, the kids' school packaged meals for "Kids Against Hunger."  It impacted her so much that she is still talking about the experience.  Yesterday we heard on the radio that it was National Police and Peace Officers Day.  Gummi asked if we could bake cookies and deliver them to the Police Station.  We don't even have a police station in our community.  Knowing that I was going shopping today, Gummi asked me to buy large yard bags so she could pick up trash that had accumulated across the street, near the railroad tracks.  This past Lent, I found Gummi in her room, emptying out her piggy bank on her bed.  When I asked her what she was doing, she said she wanted to donate all her money to the Rice Bowl (Catholic Relief Services).  Her actions and her attitude greatly humble me.

Yesterday I caught Sweet Pea telling a lie.  I told her that until she tells me the truth, she could not participate in a craft activity with the other girls.  Feeling sorry for her, Gummi wrapped an arm around her little sister and softly persuaded her by saying, "Just tell mom the truth and you get to play with me.  I really want to play with you so please tell mom the truth."  Gulp.  Tears welled up in my eyes at that.

I have countless stories of Gummi's generosity and sweet disposition.  However, I also have stories of her tom-boyishness and fights with her brothers.  A few years ago, she went through a rather sassy stage.  I'm certain she rolled her eyes at me more than once.  She also used to talk non-stop.  Her and I would be alone together - maybe driving somewhere, and she kept herself company by how much she gabbed.  When she ran out of words, she would sing, "La, la, la, la, la."  No lie.  It was entertaining and a bit exhausting to listen to, all at the same time.  As I kissed her good-night this evening, that moment in time seems so long ago.

Gummi, I hope all you wish for comes true.  Most of all, I wish for you all the joy and happiness that will fit in that great big heart of yours.  I love you forever!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Defending Big Families

I am accustomed to hearing lots of comments about big families.  Many take the liberty to share their unsolicited opinions with me.  Some find it fascinating.  Some think we're nuts.  Some believe us to be blessed.  Very few comments surprise me anymore, as very few people use "filters" when they speak.  Many make grand assumptions about us.  Last fall the 3 little ones and I headed to Wal-mart.  We held hands as we navigated through the parking lot.  There was a woman standing by the door of the store who said, "What lovely adopted children you have.  Are any of them twins?"  I smiled and corrected her, "These are actually my biological children and none of them are twins."  She replied, "Oh" with raised eyebrows. 

At ignorant comments, I generally just smile and walk away.  I do find some of the people who make such comments amusing, because they tend to think that they are ever so clever.  I have heard, "Have you figured it out yet how this keeps happening?"  Some have even mocked our decision to use Natural Family Planning in saying, "How's NFP workin for ya now?"  as if somehow NFP has failed us because of the number of children we opened ourselves up to having.  Little do these folks know that Monkey and I desired a large family before we were married.  We didn't set out to have exactly six kids, but we did prayerfully discern what God's plan for our family life to be. 

About a month ago, I found myself in a conversation with a protestant pastor's wife.  I only share that fact because I would assume that she would have more sense.  I have given too much thought and energy into this situation, so I am hoping that by writing about it I can put it to rest. 

I was at a gathering where I found myself talking with this woman.  She was asking lots of questions about me and my family.  When she discovered that I had six kids, the conversation turned awkward.  She shared her concern with large families.  Although she found them to be lovely, she was concerned that large families were using up the earth's renewable resources.  If it continued, what would be left for future generations?  She concluded by saying, "Maybe consider adoption instead of another biological baby."  Completely stunned (I'm pretty sure I had a scowl on my face) the woman just turned away from me.  Of course I couldn't think of what to say in reply until I returned home that afternoon (the perfect response always comes to me a little too late!)

What I wanted to ask her was this:  Which child should I not have had?  Sweet Potato?  With his memory and his smarts, he is going to make a difference in this world.  Honey Bunches?  He has such passion and creativity that he will greatly influence, and possibly even change, many lives.  Gummi Bear?  With her charitable heart, I have no doubt that she will lead a life of service.  She desires to help others and care for the earth.  Cucumber?  Her sense of humor and outlook on life will help others put their own lives into perspective.  Sweet Pea?  She has so much concern for others and so much love to share, that people will feel valued in her presence.  Pumpkin?  Although she's only two, she is confident.  In some degree she will be in a leadership position.  And if you want to look strictly through secular lenses, then Monkey and I have given our country six future tax payers.

I will never regret having my children.  God loved these souls into being and I can't imagine my life without any of them.  And if it is willed for our lives to have 10 more kids, then we will joyfully accept that plan without apology to anyone.

I've stated my peace.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


As I was looking through pictures on my camera, I discovered many memories I tried to capture with the intent of writing a little something to accompany them.  As that didn't happen, I decided to post a few random photos here.

Pumpkin spilled cereal in the living room and tried to help by using her toy vacuum. How lovely it would be if the thing actually suctioned!

Sesame Kale - my new favorite indulgence.  Thank you Pinterest!

Again with the vacuum.  This time it's Sweet Pea showing me how to multitask.

A favorite Easter photo.

The men after Easter Sunday dinner.  Those are Monkey Toes feet to the right.

Gummi Bear and her sewing machine.  Grandma is giving her a few pointers.

Sweet Potato working on his golf swing.

Cucumber and Sweet Pea enjoying orange smiles in the sun.

Pumpkin with her stylish sunglasses that Grandma found in a junk drawer.

The little ones working on a craft project.

Paint and pasta create lovely artistic expression.

Raindrops made from glue and glitter.  Once dried, they peel off the wax paper and can be hung in a window.  Very pretty!

Monkey and Honey working on the First Communion Banner.
Sweet Pea showing off her drum skills

Pumpkin in her Fourth of July dress, rain boots, and winter hat on a sunny, 70 degree day in April.
Honey Bunches with one of his many Lego creations.
Someone is always doing something in our household.  Thanks for taking the time to look at the randomness of our lives. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Honey Bunches First Communion

Sunday, April 29th, Honey Bunches received his First Holy Communion.  It was a beautiful day and a beautiful celebration.  We were all a bit worried if this event would take place, as days leading up to it a nasty virus spiraled through the elementary building.  Three days before, 1/3 of the student body was home sick.  Out of my three children who attend school, Honey Bunches was the only one who contracted this ugly virus.  With much rest and much prayer, he made a full recovery in time for Sunday.

Waiting for the signal to load up the van

As I've written in the past, Honey Bunches is a man of few words.  I couldn't detect his emotional state leading up to his First Communion.  Then about a week ago, he began a countdown.  "5 days until my First Communion Mom!"  I would ask him, "Are you getting excited?"  He would simply smile and nod his head. 

Monkey Toes and Honey Bunches walking towards the church

There were 41 First Communicants (22 from the Catholic school).  One could just feel the excitement among the kids as we gathered in the wings, awaiting our cue to process in the church.  The boys were very handsome and the girls darling.

I wanted to embrace the moment that Honey Bunches received the Eucharist.  I was moved by the experience, knowing that Honey had taken one of the most important steps in his Catholic faith.  As we knelt down after receiving the Body and the Blood of Jesus, I was thinking about the day of Honey's Baptism.  This day of First Communion seemed so far off at that point in time, and yet, here we were with our son. 

To me, faith is an equally important basic need as food, clothing and shelter.  The Eucharist is gift and it is one that will sustain him the rest of his life; through good and difficult times.  My hope is that his love and understanding of this Sacrament will only grow and increase over time.

I am proud of Honey Bunches.  I am overjoyed at this place in his faith journey.  I am humbled at Christ's love for us and His gift to us in the Eucharist.  I am grateful that Honey has been entrusted to us.    I will remain vigilant in my prayers that Honey will hear Christ's voice and choose to follow Him throughout his life.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.    John 6:35
A very proud mama!
Yummy chocolate cake, made by our good friend Donna.  It's a miracle that no fingers had poked at it before it was cut!