Thursday, July 25, 2013

Life's Lessons

This week has provided us with a very full and busy schedule.  Honey Bunches, Gummi, Cucumber and Sweet Pea had swimming lessons in the morning.  We would return home for lunch, afternoon routine (reading and rest time) and then Sweet Potato and Honey Bunches attended Football Camp in the evenings. This camp resulted in very late suppers and late bedtimes.  Through it all, the kids and I have fared pretty well.

There have been a few exceptions.

While the Love Bugs were eating lunch yesterday, I went to get the mail.  There was a notice from our local library charging us for un-returned DVDs.  They were two weeks overdue and if not returned, our cost for replacing these movies would be $79.56 plus overdue fees, which were totaling $30 plus $2 each additional day this matter remained unresolved.

The first thing we did was tear apart our house trying to locate the DVDs to no avail.


After a round-about blame game, it was revealed that Honey Bunches and Sweet Pea were responsible for returning the movies.  Neither one could explain what exactly happened to them.  Here's where the story gets tricky.

I made it very clear that Monkey Toes and I would NOT be paying the fee.  That would be the sole responsibility of the stated parties.  Each of the Love Bugs has money in a savings account, however these accounts are in a bank that is 45 miles away.  Our library is only opened a few hours each day, which limits our flexibility in resolving the matter.  My choice was to either leave immediately for the long distance bank, or wait until Monday.  The thought of racking up more "fees" did not appeal to me, so I loaded up the kids and away we went.

The trip was not a happy-go-lucky outing.  I lectured the Love Bugs about responsibility and thinking of others and how their actions affect those around them.  I'm sure they tuned me out after awhile.  We arrived to the bank and Honey Bunches and Sweet Pea approached the teller and politely asked to withdraw the necessary amounts.  The teller asked, "do you kids need the money 'cause you're going on vacation?"  The kids looked at me and I simply explained, "they have something to pay off."  After the transactions were complete, the teller leaned over the counter with a basket of suckers.  Each child took one, except for Honey Bunches.  He averted his eyes and said, "No thank you.  I don't believe I deserve one."

It was 3:00 PM when we returned home; just as the library was opening for the day.  Honey Bunches, Sweet Pea and I walked up to the counter.  I explained to the librarian that we could not locate the DVDs and that the kids had the money to pay the fee.  She told us to "hold on a minute."  When she returned, she had the movies in her hand.  They not only had been returned, but also returned on-time.  There were no fees to be paid.  She couldn't explain why we received the notices, but she did apologize for any inconvenience caused (oh - if she only knew!).

Here is the two-fold lesson learned.  1)  People make mistakes - even moms and dads (and libraries) - and sometimes they're pretty big mistakes.  No matter who we are, it is important to recognize them, sincerely apologize and seek forgiveness, and hopefully move on.  2)  Monkey and I are serious about holding our kids accountable and we will follow through on consequences, even if that means driving 90 miles round trip to do so.

Life lessons continued today as it was the boys last day of football camp.  The kid who is use to finishing behind his brother finished first and the son who is use to finishing first finished last.  We had an up-close and personal lesson on being gracious winners and gracious losers.  Yes, I do believe that it is o.k. to have winners and losers.  Call me Old School.  For the boy who usually finishes first, this was a tough one to swallow.  Amongst the tears there was muttering of "it's not fair", etc. etc.

This muttering brought me back to my high school economics class, where the teacher use to say, "Life is not fair.  'Fair' was never stamped on your birth certificate.  Get over it."  A very wise lesson which was relevant 20some years ago and remains relevant still today.  Yet another life lesson learned.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's In A Name

The conversation during breakfast this morning:

Gummi:  Hey Mom, can you name the apostles?
Cucumber:  I can name them!
Me:  Go ahead Cucumber.  Give it a try.
Cucumber:  There's ravioli, angel hair, spaghetti. . .

And then fits of giggles erupted and we never made it to naming the apostles.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Two days ago I read in our local paper that buses would be passing through our town on the 16th, carrying 95 soldiers from the local 849th National Guard unit.  They would be heading to Texas to train to serve in Afghanistan for the next year.  These buses would have troops from all over Minnesota and Wisconsin, including a few from our area.  We were encouraged to show our support by gathering along the highway, wearing patriotic colors and waving flags.

I insisted on a picture before we headed up town.

As we were walking, I looked behind us and saw a bunch of employees from Industrial Park headed towards the Highway too.

We found a spot to stand and this very kind gentleman made sure that each of my kids had a flag to wave.

This procession was led by the fire department, with lights and sirens.

I wasn't prepared for the emotion that was stirred within me.  Although I personally do not know any of these troops, my heart filled with gratitude.   I am completely thankful and humbled by the sacrifices of these men and women and their families.  Our country is a better place because of them.

Their sacrifice should inspire all of us to be of service too.  Isn't it the least we can do?  How can we serve our communities?  Our churches?  Our neighbors?  Giving of ourselves and our time is often not convenient, but that is what makes it a sacrifice.  Go make a difference in your corner of the world.

To all of our troops, both past and present, and to all of their families, I say thank you.  Thank you for giving so selflessly so that my family and I can enjoy our freedoms and live in this great nation.  God bless you all!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pumpkin Is Now Four!

The baby of the family turned four years old on July 8th.  The first thing Pumpkin said to me when she awoke yesterday morning was, "I'm a big girl now!"  And then I swallowed back a lump in my throat.  For the first time in 10 years, we do not have a baby in the house anymore.  This is a reality that is more difficult for me to accept than I had imagined it would be.  At the same time, it is hard to imagine Pumpkin not being the youngest in our brood.  It is a birth order that Pumpkin is thoroughly enjoying, except for when she is deemed "too little" to do some of the activities of her older siblings.

Four years ago, we had a 6, 5, 4, 2, & 1 year old, with only 13 months between Sweet Pea and Pumpkin.  Some believed that Monkey and I were either saints or crazy.  Well, we're certainly not saints.  Crazy?  Maybe a little.  We wouldn't change a thing.  Each new soul that we have welcomed into our lives have added a new depth of love and joy to our entire family.   There are certainly times that are challenging, but at the end of the day, my heart overflows.

Now, on to the birthday girl.

We decided to have a party on Sunday, the day before her actual birthday.  Pumpkin selected spaghetti and meatballs, kale chips, and garlic bread for her birthday supper.

Monkey made her a giant meatball. 

Pumpkin asked for a chocolate cake, with chocolate icing, sprinkles and chocolate chips.  

She was given a few Barbies (found at the thrift store), some Barbie clothes, chocolate, money, pajamas, colored marshmallows (she likes the cereal Marshmallow Matey's, but always leaves the Matey's and just eats the marshmallows, thus the Jet Puffs), a toy cash register and a Barbie closet.  The last two gifts came with conditions.  They belong to Cucumber and Gummi, who said they wanted them back after a few days.  We'll see how well that goes over!
The Birthday Girl on her actual birthday.

She spent the afternoon splashing in the kiddie pool.

And then we shared the last piece of birthday cake together.

So this little four year old firecracker we call Pumpkin is certainly a handful, but can also be pure delight.  She is smart, loud, silly, bossy, snugly, pouty, creative and fun.  Today, her favorite color is blue, but tomorrow, she'll say it is yellow.  She likes playing with her dolls, riding her bike, walking to the library, dressing up, having family movie night, and going places.  When she grows up she wants to be a ballerina and a princess.  Although, when I asked her this question yesterday, she replied, "a mermaid."  Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Some of Pumpkin's fashions have included:

This is one of my favorites, as she refers to it as her "super-hero" costume.  
 Pumpkin is capable of falling asleep almost anywhere.

The most recent Family Movie Night.

She is very good about telling her siblings when something is inappropriate.  She is headstrong (like her dad) and can dig her heels in like the best of them.  When she cries, she sobs and doesn't care where, when or who sees her carrying on this way.  But then, she is also the child that will crawl into our laps and allow us to wrap our arms around her for a long time.  She leads the litany each night during prayer and always thanks Jesus for the simple things in life; her toys, her friend Sweet Pea (that would be her sister), church, and the sunshine.  She carries around her favorite blanket (pictured above) and finds that it calms her in any number of situations.  She has a sweet tooth galore (like me) and believes that crafting should be a scheduled activity each and every day.

Pumpkin, you are a blessing!  You have a smile that lights up the room and everyday you remind me to take time to play.  Your dad and I love you very much and are constantly amazed at how you are developing into your own, unique person.  Happy Birthday Pumpkin!  Cha Cha Cha!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...I am watching my boys toss a football around.  It is hot and humid today, so I'm guessing they won't be outside for long.

I am thinking...this week begins Summer Rec activities for the kids, which means scheduling becomes a "must" at this point, as well as enforced bedtimes.

I am thankful...that it is Sunday and we began our day attending Mass all together.

In the the skeleton of a birthday dinner for Pumpkin.  On this hot and humid day (yes, I did already mention that) she has requested spaghetti and meatballs.

I am church attire - a skirt and blouse.

I am creating...a Birthday Cake, per request from Pumpkin.  Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with sprinkles and chocolate chips.  I'll post pictures later.

I am going...possibly to a reunion for my high school graduation class later in the week.  One of our classmates has moved back to the state and is hosting a small get-together.

I am many nights can I serve my kids cold cereal for supper before I am considered negligent.

I am reading...Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly.  I have been reading this book for a few months, as I read it in very small doses.  I am now on the final chapter.

I am hoping...that a project/dream will soon come to fruition.  

I am looking forward College Friends Annual Gathering.  It's still a few weeks off, but I never cease to get giddy just thinking about it!

I am learning...that my kids are growing up fast and are getting less dependent on me for certain things/tasks.  

Around the house...Monkey has been tackling home-improvement projects.  I love being able to cross off items on our "to-do" list.  It feels like we're actually making progress.

I am pondering...resurrecting our weekly meal plan/menus.  They made life so much easier.

A favorite quote for today...actually from two days ago.  Pumpkin spent the Fourth of July with her Grandpa.  "Little fireworks had little booms.  I didn't like them.  Big fire works have bigger booms and I really don't like those.  The Jell-O was good!"

One of my favorite things...sitting on our deck, hanging out with my kids and sipping a cool beverage.

A peek into my's all about family today.  We'll be celebrating Pumpkin's birthday at 5:00, so very soon I will be preparing the meal and having the kids tidy up the house.  My kids love visitors and I love Sundays spent with family!