Saturday, July 31, 2010


So we were out with friends for dinner. Again. (Yes, 2 nights in a row, and that's quite an upset. Never happens. Kids I think are fine with it, since they get to have another "kid-oriented" dinner and a movie with the sitter). Anyway, we are having a super relaxing evening, when as it is coming to an end I hear my husband say, "We are so close to our house, you guys should come by, check out what we have done." WHAT!!! WAS!!! HE!!! THINKING!!! ? I check the time. Our sitter would still be putting kids to bed. She wouldn't have started in on the fabulous straightening up job she does each night she sits for us. (The straightening job that we are willing to pay an extra 2hrs of sitting for, so we make sure we always come home after the kids have been in bed for a while.) Perhaps when he popped home to change clothes for the dinner he managed to miss seeing the bags piled up in the mudroom from our trip a week ago, the piles of shoes that no one put back in those handy tubs I purchased for shoes, the weird smell in the mudroom from the mildewy pool towels hanging there, the piles of clean laundry needing to be folded, the taco dinner mess covering the counters in the kitchen, my desk full of paperwork to be gone through and every other little thing my kids stash on my desk, Elaina's clothing strewn all over her floor since she likes to change her clothes 12 times a day, Scotty and Jack's underwear on their bedroom floor, closet door open displaying THEIR idea of a clean closet, our bedroom with a huge suitcase on the floor full of clothes to be put away... The interesting thing was this: after our friends toured our very LIVED-IN home, they leave, I look at my husband, mortified, and say, "I can't believe you let them in our home tonight! How embarrassing." He says, "Oh, I didn't think it looked that bad, actually we are in pretty good shape." I had to nod and admit that it could have been much worse. My goodness how one's perspective changes as each child is entered into the mix. I barely can recall a time when things were tidy and straight most of the time. I do recall a time when a spur of the moment invitation didn't throw me into a cold sweat. I recall a time when I had appetizers at the ready for a "quick stop by our house." But I also recall a time when popping by our home for a bit with friends meant trying to think of topics to talk about with them and showing them a boring landscape of pretty things I collected. Oh, how funny we were, worrying about where to place what furniture or where to display a vase. Today those decisions are made for us: the furniture goes wherever it is least likely to get destroyed, yet still be of use. The vase goes....up high. And today we don't wait for the perfect moment to bring our friends by. There never is a perfect moment, so we use the moments we have, even when those moments are full of underwear on the floor and dust on the piano. Even if those moments are full of toilets that need flushed and toothpaste on the sink. And especially if those moments are full of rambunctious kids excited to see their parents who popped home early with friends for a visit. Yes, especially if those moments are full of handshakes from 11-yr-olds, "check out what I"m creating" from my 9yr old, a thrilled hug and kiss from my 6 year old, and 2 little heads popping up smiling from books with the sitter in their beds. We may not be "prepared" for guests all the time, but we've definitely grown to appreciate showing off more than a clean counter. I'm so thankful for my lived-in home, and those who live here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Responsible, kind kids

Spent a lovely and very fun evening with adult friends last night. Was feeling it a little this morning, so slept in a bit...well, not really sleeping, more of that dosing where you can tell what's going on, but aren't really involved. So I hear my 6 year old, Elaina, downstairs making her little brothers some cereal. The older boys went to Lacrosse camp. Then I hear her putting dishes in the sink. She tries to answer the phone for me. She eventually brings me the phone and says, "Dad said I'm in charge. I'm in charge." And continues to "take charge" of the little guys even when I am up and going. So funny. I pick up my big boys from lacrosse and we need groceries badly. I really don't want to take 5 kids into Trader Joes and Omaha Steak co. So, I get cash and send in Scotty. He loves to grocery shop. I can just see him in there pushing the cart around like a little man, Getting all the necessities. He always comes out with one extra item not on the list. He just came out. Today it was saltwater taffy. Oh and he was eating a Cliff bar. What a funny little guy. My husband and I took a parenting class. The section on "making kids responsible humans" had a lot to do with letting them make their own mistakes and letting them forget their lunch or coat or homework and not bringing their items up to school for them. "Next time they won't forget.." - being the idea. I've got my own idea on this topic: Some kids are in compact little families where their responsibilities basically lie in the "remembering your own stuff" arena. Other families, more like mine, require their kids to give each other baths sometimes, grocery shop sometimes, make meals for each other sometimes, and more. For this reason, I am happy to bring my kiddos their lunches, homework etc, if I am helping them have a good day. Because they help me have good days all the time too, by doing these big responsibility laden tasks. I think it teaches them that we do things for each other to help out and to be kind. Just my take on that subject. Also I don't want to forget: -starbucks for breakfast with 3 kids still in pjs. Charlie kept saying, "my coffee."

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Ben walks through the kitchen flying a smart car. Elaina dives and splashes her fins in the ocean. Jack devours an entire building. Charlie eats me, and terrorizes other ocean dwellers. I love watching the kids pretend. I will often open the basement door to call the kids up to clean or help out in some way, and then when I hear them pretending together, I just quietly close the door and let them play a bit longer. I can't stop them from pretending. I am a little jealous of it. If I have a busy, crazy day and am in a crabby mood, it would be super to just pretend myself out of it. Like put myself on a tropical island somewhere instead of changing all the sheets on all the beds. Or put myself at the mall clothes shopping instead of at the grocery store. But even though I can't get as into pretending as the kids do, I can still use pretending to benefit me. Come to think of it, I think I actually pretend quite often. Like when I "pretend" to not hear the kids fighting, so that I don't have to intervene. Or when I "pretend" we are out of cookies, because the 2 year old has had enough. Or when I "pretend" to be asleep so the kids will get their own breakfast. So, my pretending may not seem as fun as the kids, but sometimes it still does me some good. Perhaps,I will try to use the pretending for even more good. Like when the kids are being crabby, and putting me in a bad mood, I can just pretend to be in a good mood. It seems my mood makes a big difference to the kids. And if my pretend good mood helps put them in a real good mood, then I will be having as much fun pretending as the kids do! Also I don't want to forget: -We lose our shoes all the time. I have purchased and implemented cubbies, tubs, shelves, lockers, and shoe trees. It does not matter. What is the problem!!!!!??? -Went in to check on Elaina sleeping last night. In her sleep she was hugging her new ballerina Barbie that she got for doing all her chores for a few weeks. So sweet. -Picking Scotty and Jack up from lacrosse yesterday: They were hilarious. Talked non-stop the whole way home about how hot and hard it was all morning, and how they made it through anyway, and drank all their water the first half of the morning, and "feel my shirt, that is ALL sweat!" And they weren't complaining. They were more like bragging about how they made it through the tough day. It was nice to hear them talk this way. Perhaps we have found a sport they have a little passion about.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thank you

Two little words that make ALL the difference! I'm lying in my bed on the very verge of falling asleep when I hear my 2 yr old standing at his doorway saying, "wawer. wawer. wawer." (translation - "water.") You can't deny a child some water, so one of us, my husband or I need to get up and get the drink for him. And since we are out of dixie cups in the bathroom, that means a trip down to the kitchen. I get up. I stomp and sigh a little. I make my way downstairs and back up with a cup of water for Charlie. He has crawled back into his bed and pulled the covers up to his chin. I lean in and hand him the water and he says, "Ashu mom." (translation - "thank you mom.") Suddenly I don't feel like sighing or stomping anymore. That little thank you put me in a new frame of mind and put little grin on my face - until I got back to my bedroom where I saw my husband and remembered that he could have gotten up and gotten the water. But, then my husband says, "thanks hon." And once again I am transformed by the "thank you." I must remember this. The "thank you" is so important. I have so much to do around here today and we will be all pitching in to get it done. Perhaps the "thank yous" will get the kids motivated. Also I don't want to forget: -Charlie just put a wiffel ball in the oven. -Ben just brought me 12 cents and asked if it he had enough to buy a lego set yet. He's so damn cute, you know I am going to end up saying yes! I actually told him that a bunch of chores today may earn him what he needs to make up the difference. -yesterday at lacrosse camp pickup I find my older boys standing outside waiting for me and fighting over water, hitting each other with the lacrosse sticks and generally being fools. You know, depending on your frame of mind at that moment, a mom could say, "sheesh, boys are so crazy." and then tell them to settle down and ask how camp was. However yesterday, I was in no mood for the foolery and I doled out punishments and a lecture. They still owe me the lawn mowed, letters of apology and love to each other and they have to clean up each other's rooms. -Having just attended my brother's wedding this past weekend, some marriage tips have come to my mind that I want to remember to tell my kids, or better yet, teach them by example: 1.Say Thank you to each other often. I am not so good at this, but my husband is pretty good at it. I think because he likes when I thank him, and he wants to teach ME by example. Also he is just a kind person. 2.Go on weekly dates. We do. I like them a lot. I think it is necessary to keep the romance alive. 3.Many things are not worth the argument that they cause. Usually if one of you just stops arguing, the other will stop too. The arguments usually begin because one of you is just in a crabby mood. Wait for the mood to pass.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wear a Cup

Mom: "You guys should wear cups to lacrosse camp. Did you wear one to lacrosse last time, Scott?" Scotty: "yes, but I don't think I needed it." Mom: "yes, you did, you guys have sticks." Jack: "Ya, and one time I was carrying a big stick and I tripped and stabbed myself right in the nuts." Aye Aye.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I remember when I just had one child that my neighbor who had 2 would baffle me as she let her life be run by her childrens' nap schedule and bedtime. She would say, "The Schedule, The schedule, you NEED the Schedule." I didn't get it. "where was her freedom?"I would think as my husband and I took our child on walks while he slept and out to dinner while he slept and to the movies while he slept. Then I had my second child and I got it. Freedom was getting them to sleep at the same time so that I could have a moment to myself. Freedom became getting them to nap at the same time so I could get a shower, go to the bathroom, make a phone call. And now with five it is a little of both. While on our recent vacation I was super thankful that my 2 yr old could sleep on the go and get his nap in at the waterpark while everyone else was enjoying the slides. I was thankful that since he could sleep in the car on the way to dinner, he would perk up just in time to eat. I quite appreciated his ability to climb into bed at any hour with any one of his siblings and fall asleep for the night. However we are home now, and tonight I am listening to a screaming 2 yr old who forgot about his routine of climbing into his OWN bed and just falling asleep after 2 books, some goodnight prayers and a lullaby. His brother, Jack (9), can't take it and won't stop coming into our bedroom begging to go sleep with him to quiet him. But I just know that if we back down now, tomorrow night will be even harder. (Besides, I've already gone back in there like 3 times.) Time to remember "The Schedule." However I only have like a five minute window of strength, so hopefully he quiets down in the next five minutes, or I will be sabotaging the whole thing.

The Wedding Reception

The moves! Oh the moves! The uninhibitedness of my children at their uncle's wedding reception was staggeringly wonderful! Firstly, we have my 9 year old singing a solo into the microphone "Personal Penguin" in order get the bride and groom to kiss. He did swindle a new lego set out of that deal, but my goal is to get him comfortable singing in front of a crowd so as to encourage his talent! If that costs me a couple lego sets along the way (which encourage his building ability and creativity) so be it. (See how I totally justified the bribery there?) But the THAT was something. Charlie (2) starts it all by doing some fabulous moves to the music involving jumping, clapping and galloping. A song or two later, Ben (4) is bouncing a knee, shrugging a shoulder and nodding to the beat. Elaina sweetly twirled with her girl cousins. But my favorite entertainment for the evening was watching Scotty (11) and Jack (9) get down! Jack, so rhythmic, and cool with his collar up, shirt untucked and unbuttoned exhibited an Elvis-style performance that could not be matched. From split moves, spin moves, sliding moves, and hopping moves to air guitar, head banging, and floor sprawling, Jack was purely a joy to watch have fun. Scotty, upon seeing Jack's display, was thrust into his own rendition of purely joyful dancing with arms flailing and feet flying as he tried to keep up with Jack. What fun! By the end of the night, all my kids were drenched in sweat, and exhausted. I've been trying to think of ways to get these kids to exercise more. I think I have a new plan : )

Just Let hem Play

Me: "Hon, get the kids. They're running, and being crazy, and yelling." Him: "They're fine. What do we expect? They are with all of their cousins." Me: "I know, its just that they're going to end up hurting someone, and then its our kids' fault...and we are at a nice dinner." Him: "They're fine. They're kids. They're having fun. Besides, how do we stop them?" And I know he is right. I think. I mean I don't know. There is etiquette, and then there is also reality and what is even reasonable to expect from a 2, 4 and 6 year old. And then there is also this little voice in my head that says, "what if I croak tomorrow, I really don't want my kids to remember me yelling at them." But there is also the likelyhood that I will live a bit longer and very likely end up with crazies for kids if I don't instill some etiquette. So, tonight I drew the line at wrestling. I think that's pretty fair.

The Ropes Course

I'm at this indoor amusement park watching a bunch of crazy people do this amazing sport where they wear a harness that attaches to a rope that attaches to a beam above them. Then they proceed through an obstacle course or rope swings, high wire walks, beam walks, ladder climbs all about 2 and a half to 3 stories above the ground. No nets. About a half an hour later I am watching my 9 and 11 year olds teeter above me on this course! What was their father thinking letting them do this??? I'm sweating and shaking and about to freak out as I watch my 9 year old deftly skip across some wooden planks about a foot apart held together by slack ropes. My 11 year old, who isn't as naturally inclined for such things is bravely crossing above me looking down! Don't look down! Don't look down! I keep willing him to stare straight ahead and keep on the course. But he looks down and still he is making it through. So much courage! Finally about 30 minutes later they are on their decent. My prayers are being answered, they are going to make it back safely. On the ground, they get their back slaps and congratulations for accepting and conquering this challenge fearlessly! Scotty admits he was scared, but he just kept going. Jack says he wasn't scared at all, and that it was just really fun, "I mean we were attached to that thing, we weren't going to fall anywhere." Says Jack. When I was their ages there is no way I would have been that brave. I remember my dad asking us if we wanted to ride on an elephant's back in a circus we attended and my sisters and I were like, "no way." Oh, how I love (and hate as a mother) the bravery and courage they showed. I'm so excited (and terrified) to see what they will be able to do as they grow. I pray they keep their sense of adventure and stay REALLY safe while adventuring.

Breakfast Diner

Mom: "7 people." Waitress: "you guys can sit at the bar, no where else to sit, and you will probably get served faster." Mom: "fun, ok, guys, look we get to sit up here at this bar!" And then proceeds the breakfast fun. Scott and Jack read comics and beg for huge amounts of food they won't eat. Elaina and Ben get reprimanded for scratching each other. Charlie slips off his bar stool numerous times, takes off his shoes, runs back and forth between me and his father at the other end of the bar barefoot. And we wait, and wait, and wait for our food. Its 11am, and we haven't eaten a thing yet today. My husband and I drink a lot of coffee to prepare for the day ahead: Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, waterpark, hour and a half drive... and 2 more meals in public with these little crazies. I love family vacations - and I'm not being sarcastic. Perhaps because this feeling is so nostalgic to me from my childhood with 7 siblings, or perhaps because I've had a lot of coffee this morning. And what I'm thankful for right now are 2 things: all the empty plates at this bar! and this tiny bit of down time since my husband just took the kids out to the car while I wait for the bill. I better refill my coffee.

Deer park, water park, and fishing

Full day. First we headed out to a park where deer rome freely amidst people. We all fed the deer, Elaina leading the pack with her Snow White-esque personality and charm with the animals. Someone said they even saw Elaina get nipped by a deer, give it a little smack, and then try to lure it back to her. She's such an animal whisperer. I would never have the guts to smack a deer, or love a deer with the intensity that she shows. In her own words today, "I was MADE for animals. Animals love me. And I love them." Next was another fun day at the waterpark. I'm in the kiddie area watching Charlie (2) when he swims up to a stranger (male about 35) and starts laughing and punching him. No stranger anxiety, and what a little brute! And finally, my husband gives in to the kids' fishing requests and takes them down to the river in the dark with fishing poles, worms, and hope. After an hour of crossing and tangling lines, a line stuck high up in a tree, arguing about taking turns, many catches of algae, and quite a bit of patience (on my husband's part - NOT the kids') the fishing ends and they come back empty-handed. So, lucky husband gets to take them again in the morning.


Turns out we have free waterpark passes daily to a great waterpark. We went today and had an absolute blast. I'd like to especially remark on Ben's bravery when suddenly at the end of the day he decided to ride the 2nd most scary slide 3x!!! There is a fine line between pressing your kiddo to do something you know they will end up loving, and overly pressuring your kid to do it. We haven't actually found the happy medium, and have generally stopped the over pressure. So today, we didn't press Ben at all. And he spent the whole day having a blast on the very little kid stuff, as he should since he is 4. But suddenly after seeing other kids go down the bigger slides, he decides on his own to be a daredevil. So funny. Also I had been pressing Charlie (2) to try the little tiny waterslide a bit. Put him down it once. He didn't want to go again. Then suddenly as he is watching all the other kids do it over and over. He just goes and starts doing it on his own. This says a lot for peer pressure. Kids are going to be influenced by their peers no matter what. We have to help them stick with good peers whom we like : ) Cousins are perfect. Also I don't want to forget: -I walked in to check on all the sleeping kids last night. Jack was using Charlie as a teddy bear. -Elaina was her usual endearing self as she insisted on my calling her Ariel and that I be called Arista, mermaid sisters. She said, "Arista, let's swim free out to see, just flex your fins!" -I played minigolf with Ben and Drew (both 4yrs old). They were hilarious complimenting each other and giving each other tips.


We arrived to our fabulous lakefront hotel/lodge in Wisconsin to find wonderful furnishings, lots of space, a fun little pool and unfortunately a flooded beach. No beach. All of us adults were pretty bummed, talking about "changing plans, no boat rental, finding something to do all day" etc. And what were the kids/cousins doing? Jumping happily from bed to bed, chasing each other around, and later playing in the dirt, finding "treasures" and just generally having a wonderful time. I really love their ability to have fun with each other! Will be a very fun week!!! Also don't want to forget: -went running with scott this morning. We plan to do this much more often. I hope by the time I finish my year of blogging daily, that scotty can outrun me, but right now, I'm smoking him.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The basement

When we first went looking at homes, the basement was a must. We didn't even consider a house without one. I need a place to send the kids when they are too rowdy. I need a place that doesn't have to look quite so clean when people visit. I need a place to hide away the clutter and at times, the dog, etc. So, you can imagine my surprise at myself when I began hating the basement today. Why do I hate the basement right now? Well, mainly because the basement has been at the core of almost all of my kid's and my arguing lately. One of the kids is too scared to go down there alone. This causes such drama every time he has to go down there to find his shoes. first he insists I go with him, then his brother, then finally the dog, although I am nt quite sure what our yorkie would do to fend off a "monster in the basement." Also, the basement has become the place where the kids seem to break things. All 3 of our Lazyboys are now on their last leg. The Wii even is getting banged up. And the worst argument causer of all....The Disaster they make in the basement. So, today as I was hurting my own head with my yelling about the mess, the broken Lazyboys and the trip we weren't going to take unless they "cleaned it ALL up!!!"...I was thinking "perhaps if we didn't have this darn basement, half the arguing around here would end." Of course then I would likely begin to dislike my main floor too, and that just wouldn't do. So, I guess I need to find a way to get these kids to clean up regularly down there, and conquer their fears of monsters, and sit on the floor instead of the furniture I guess! Because on crazy, loud days like today - I NEED the basement! Looking forward to a road trip to WI with the fam tomorrow! Church at 7:30 am will be a nice way to start off the trip, however Pete and I will likely be a bit exhausted after we do our "church dance" that we go through each week : )


If I'm tired and my 2 year old happens to get under my feet- I have barely any sympathy when he falls upon his seat. However when I'm full of energy and I trip over him too- I'm as sweet as sugar and kissing all his boo boos. If I'm feeling all run down and my kids are going wild- I yell and frown and lose my patience when they make a sound. But If I'm feeling all keyed up and ready for the day- Then when my kids have energy I can keep up all the way! So the moral of this tale I think I must remember please- It is not always my kids' problems, often it is ME! I totally notice a difference in my parenting depending on my level of energy. So, coffee exercise, and a little chocolate are becoming a steady part of my diet. I am such a better mom when I have the energy to think of creative solutions to sibling disputes, kid boredom or just kids with high energy. Most often if I look back on my day and see that it was a difficult one with the kids, it had something to do with my energy being low. The happier and peppier I am, the better the kids are. Go figure. So, here's to having more energy, more smiling and just a general sense of happiness in the household! So, we head to WI tomorrow for a 1 week vacation and my brother's wedding. My plan is to blog each night, but if I cannot post them, I will post them all when I return!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The art of Begging

So, I'm at lunch with Scotty and Jack. They each got to bring a friend. I was already pretty miffed because Jack wouldn't willingly share a bit of his enormous root beer float with his mother (I took some anyway), and Scotty ordered an enormous sampler platter that ended up having ONE item on it that he liked, so was asking to order more food. This is when I hear the boys' friends chatting amongst themselves. This is what I hear them say: Friend 1 - "Did you end up getting a milk shake?" Friend 2 - "Ya." Friend 1 - "But I thought your mom said 'no.'" Friend 2 - "I just kept arguing with her about it and she ended up letting me." Friend 1 - "Ya, that's how I usually get stuff also." This is how 9 and 11 year olds think. These are nice boys with good parents. They are the kids you would choose for your kids to be friends with. And this is definitely something my own kids could say about me also. They wear me down. They do. We parents tell them that arguing with their parents is wrong, and that they need to stop doing it. But then the harder they argue the more we end up giving in. We don't mean to. We tell ourselves we won't give in, but the whining or the begging doesn't stop, and sometimes we just yell, "FINE! Go ahead!" And for some reason we think that the kids will see how upset we are, and feel guilt and either not do the thing they wanted to do, or at least feel bad about getting it that way. But, they DO NOT FEEL THAT WAY. All they are thinking is "yes, I got it! I wanted it, and mom finally said 'ok'! I knew I could get it!" And these are not horrible children to do this. I remember doing it as a child. Kids are survivors. They are trying to get what they think they need to "survive" in their little world. It is our job to teach them what they need and what they don't. But the bottom line is - it is our own fault that they argue this way and beg this way, because we are the ones who give in to them. So, after yesterday's lunch, I have been awakened to reality, and will be working harder to squelch this arguing/begging tendency my kids have acquired. My new vow: 1.-I will MEAN "no" when I SAY "no" 2.-I will not say "no" if I think there is a chance that I may end up giving in. 3.-Instead I will tell them, "I will give you an answer when I am ready to answer." Also I don't want to forget: -I don't think we will ever be able to stay at a museum long enough to suit Scotty. His dad told him he would take him alone to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry when he turns 12, and will let him stay as long as he would like, to read every plaque in the whole museum, experience every exhibit. I'm sure the museum will have to close at some point, and Scotty will still want to learn more.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Once a year water skiing

How many tries do you give your 11 year old to get up on water skis? I decided to basically let him decide himself, which kept us out on the water pretty long. But we were both rooting so hard for him to get up! He has fabulous stamina, will power and humor. All of these things keep him trying again and again and again. Those, and the fact that his little brother got up. Next year he will. And sooooo nice of my sis in law to let him "drive the boat" on our way back, which helped cheer him up a ton since he had been begging to drive the boat all day.

It is a tricky parenting situation to see one child be better at something than another, and then to try to keep everyone ok about it. Sometimes I would start mentioning all the things that they each are good at, and have a big talk about how God makes us all different and with different talents etc. But yesterday, with the skiing, it just was what it was, and I decided nothing needed to be said. other than, "its hard, and we will keep trying...maybe next time..." And you know what, no one is all a mess because of it. All are ok. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we try again. Sometimes we have to go home and we don't have time to try again. And that really is ok. In life we don't always get second, third and fourth chances, and sometimes even with those chances we fail. We need to learn that life doesn't end because of it. We still move on. And it is our own choice in what mood we decide move.

Also I don't want to forget: Every morning for the past 4 mornings or so, instead of being awakened by fingers prying my eyelids open, I've been awakened by a 30 second smooch right on the lips and the sound, "mmmmmmmmmmmmmm" the whole time. My 2 year old is adorable. -Charlie (2) loves playing with lego guys. He just pulled the legs apart from the body and said, "ouch." -Ben and Elaina have been at grandparent's all week and Charlie has been saying, "Ben home? Elaina home?"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


You know you are walking into an expensive situation when the waiting room is nicer than your home. Seriously, it has a coffee bar, a game room, a movie theater, a toy area, multiple televisions, a snack bar, an Internet cove, and the receptionist was wearing a sequined top. Sequins. Really? The Orthodontist's assistant person found me sleeping in the theater when it was time for my consultation about the boy's teeth. I was bummed to have to join her in the office. Apparently so were my boys, because they all resisted embarrassingly strongly to leaving the "fun rooms." While In the office my son told the orthodontist that he has "never flossed even one day of his whole entire life." (In my defense, it is awkward enough to floss one's own teeth, but your 9 year old Son's?) Many future plans for the kids teeth were discussed, but nothing needs to be done for now. No, for now we go to their office every 6 months, enjoy their entertainment, and probably pay out the wazoo for it. I'm guessing, eventually they will "need" major orthodontics and our dentist's office is working in ca hoots with this ortho office to suck us in with their fanciness and friendliness. Our dentist's office receptionist is also ridiculously creeps me out a little bit...reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode where people had bandaids on the backs of their necks because of having had their brains sucked out and replaced by alien brains, or something like that. But I digress. So I spend half the day at the orthodontist's, and the other half shopping for "cool" clothes with Scotty for middle school. This was tricky because in this scenario I was the one who insisted on the "cool" clothes. Not my son. In the end I think we successfully will have him outfitted well enough to blend in. That is the goal. So, today the parental duties lay in spots I hadn't had to visit before. Tooth health and social health - both seem equally important in our lives right now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Big Boys Night Out

We let Scotty and Jack each invite a friend out to dinner and to a movie. Actually, I chose the friends, called the parents, and then informed my boys of the plans. I do this for a few reasons: 1. If I have to call a few friends before someone is available, there are no hurt feelings and disappointments. 2. If no one ends up being available at all, then I call it a family night out and no one knows otherwise. 3. I like to choose the friends we take places. I pick the ones with the nicest parents, and therefore they are usually the most polite kids. I also try to choose the kids who seem to be most compatible with my kids, because believe it or not, my kids wouldn't necessarily always make that choice themselves. So, we are headed to the movie in the car and my husband and I have to stifle laughter numerous times because of our children's conversation choices. Jack is in the backseat basically just making weird noises and faces and the amazing thing is that his friend is completely entertained, and reciprocating quite well (like I said, I pick compatible kids for my kids). Scotty and his friend, are having a conversation about why television is entertaining even though you just sit and watch other people do the interesting stuff. They talk about the books they are reading and how excited they are about the new library opening soon in our town. When we arrive at the movie theater the kids can't wait to break off into friend pairs and sit on their own. So, my husband and I are at this point on a date at a cartoon movie. I'll take it. However, I have had a long day and fall asleep halfway through the movie. I wake in time to realize the ending is touching and even tear up at the sweet lesson of the "vulnerability of children and the heart softening ability of children" that ends up being the moral of the story. On the way home I am thrilled and thankful that my 9 and 11 year old boys are still entertained by this level of movie. And at this moment, Jack is putting Charlie to bed, because he heard Charlie climb out of bed, and Scotty is trying to coax our dog to sleep with him, since our dog, Bear's, best friend, Elaina, is out over night. What nurturing boys I have.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hmmmm...let me think...

The "moments to remember" from yesterday seem few. It wasn't a day I want to forget or anything. I am just having a hard time stirring up the memory... Let's see, here is what is coming to mind: I returned from a photo shoot and began to make the kid's lunches... -Ben changed his mind on which kind of bread he wanted his peanut butter and honey sandwich 3 times. -Charlie refused to sit while eating and insisted on standing until he finally threw a fit on the floor, then very calmly he finally stood up and walked over to his seat and sat down to eat as if he never had a problem with sitting at all. -I folded laundry for the majority of the afternoon and evening while watching tv. In order to make it a more productive situation, I decided to pray for each child whose piece of clothing I was folding. Jack got an abundance of prayers, which tells me 2 things. 1. God may have felt he needed more prayers, and 2. he throws a bunch of clean clothing in the laundry and I need to chat with him about this. -I owe Scotty 10 bucks for mowing the lawn yesterday. He has been doing a good job, he is $20 cheaper than our old lawn guy, and he is taking on some good responsibility. : ) -At church last night Jack asked if he could stand in the back of church for the duration of mass because he would be able to see better. I decided to let him because 1. he is often a distraction for his younger siblings during mass, 2. He has a hard time sitting and standing still, and I figured he could shift back and forth from foot to foot in the back of church and not be bugging anyone, 3. If he really wanted to "see better" then who am I to stop him. It worked out swimmingly, until my husband found him back there during a Charlie escape from the pew and sent him back to the pew. (once again I am reminded that communication is key in marriage). Therefore the last 15 minutes of mass I spent separating kids from each other, and trying to find a place for Jack to sit, since Ben had fallen asleep sprawled out on the pew. -Last night we dropped off Elaina (6) and Ben (4) with grandparents for the week. They were super excited for this, and had packed their own bag. It included: one shirt for Elaina, 2 pair of shorts for Elaina, 2 shirts for Ben, 2 pair of Ben's undies, one panty for Elaina, some pjs for Ben, a sweatshirt that fits neither of them, a headband, a necklace, a bracelet, sunglasses for each of them, and lots of stuffed animals. Not too bad for a 4 and 6 yr old packing job actually. I repacked, but kept as much of their original stuff in there as I could without confusing grandma. -My husband took Scotty and Jack to hit golf balls late last night to a driving range with lights. They have their regular Monday golf round this morning and their dad tries hard to keep them doing their best. Good dad. -I laid down with Charlie last night to put him to sleep. We read a book and then he proceeded to play with my face and roll around and not seem sleepy at all. I started singing "itsy bitsy spider" and he was yelling "no! No! NO!" So I stopped. 1 minute later he was asking me to sing it, I did, and he fell right asleep. He seems to be at a stage where he just wants things on his own terms, when HE asks for it, not when I suggest it. -Jack had come in while I was putting Charlie to bed. Jack can't stand to hear a crying baby, his sensitivity gets the best of him. He offered to lie down with him. This time I did not let him. But the other night I had been out with a friend. We came home to find Charlie and Jack snuggled up together, and Ben and Scotty snuggled up together. My friend, who has no children, was so touched. I am used to seeing them do this, so originally I wasn't as affected, but seeing her emotion at their little sleeping arrangement made me really think how great it is that they all have each other and love each other this way. So, I guess there are plenty of "moments to remember" even in a day that at first seemed pretty mundane. : )

Sunday, July 11, 2010


When we got our dog, Bear, about 4 years ago, Elaina was just 2 and a half yrs old. Her excitement and love for the dog was enthusiastic to say the least. She squealed, she hugged him, she kissed him on his dog lips, she followed him around. My husband and I made a bet about how long this would last. He said, "one week." I said, "this seems like it will last forever." Well we are on year 5 and Elaina's love for dogs is going stronger than ever. Bear sleeps in her bed with her, usually snuggled up like you would a teddy bear. She walks him around the house and yard with a leash on him. She loves on him, sings to him and she is the one who feeds him, and just generally likes to take care of him. But although Bear is her favorite dog, she has an amazing capacity to love ALL dogs. She loves all the cousin's dogs, she loves our neighbor's dog. Any dog she sees on the street gets a "squeal out" from Elaina. And if we are close enough, she will always ask the owner if she can pet their dog. Then she proceeds to ask the owner the dogs name and age and a zillion other questions. Yesterday Elaina was super excited to introduce me to a dog she had met the day before at her brother, Jack's, baseball game. "Mom, the dog was hit by a car!" And we proceed to go bug the lady with the 3-legged dog at the ball game. Elaina spends most of the game between that lady and another family with a tiny Yorkie. Last night Elaina and one of my sensitive sons were on a tirade about how terrible the movie was that their dad had rented for them. They relayed the story to me in exasperated tones. "Mom, you won't believe this movie dad rented!..." Apparently in the movie a dog waits for his master after work at the same spot every day, and one day the master dies while at his job, and the dog continues to wait In that same spot for like 10 years. Horribly sad. My kids were appalled. So, after that movie, and having met the 3-legged dog and hearing his sad story, Bear has been getting even MORE attention lately. Some day Bear may die of over-affection, but that's probably the best way for a dog to go : )

Saturday, July 10, 2010


With his eyes open wide and his mouth in the hugest smile his little chubby fingers were all held together straight up as he waved vigorously back and forth out the sides of the train ...continuously ...the whole train ride ...around the entire St.Louis Zoo. Who has this kind of enthusiasm?! Who has this kind of stamina?! Who has this kind of joy?! A 2 year old. Charlie was the picture of "spirit" today at the zoo as he waved on the train, jumped for joy at the sea lion show clapping and ooooing and ahhhhhing, and just fully exhausted every aspect of our outing. When he liked something he smiled and pointed and laughed. When he didn't like something he put his face down on the ground and cried a bit, or he ran away screaming. He was fully honest and straightforward about his feelings all day. This gift of communication that my 2 year old has is something we should all aspire to. Having had several discussions with friends recently about troubles in their families or relationships, the problems always came down to communication. If only we all could be as candid and open and honest about our feelings as a 2 year old is! Admittedly, it COULD get us into some trouble, but I really believe it would also really help us in our relationships. It seems lately I keep writing in the evenings about all these characteristics of children that we should aspire to take on. You know, the Jesus DID say to try to be like children. I think to be as honest as a child and as trusting and as simple in some ways could really help us lead lives that celebrate our days and each other more often. I pray I can have the enthusiasm, honesty and faith of a child.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Foursome

Jack: "FORE! I just yelled 'fore.' I yelled 'fore' but there are NO other people here. " Mom: "Maybe you helped a duck though, because there could have been a duck over there." Jack: "Ya, there could have been a BIRD or something!" Scotty: "Mom, you didn't hit that one half bad." Mom: "Thanks. Jack, settle down, that isn't good golf etiquette." Dad: "Jack, you need to settle down, you need to stop moving your feet, you need..." Jack: "I NEED a better tee shot. I NEED some good golf swings. I NEED some self confidence!" Mom and Dad: "You have plenty of that." The golf outing my husband and I took with our 2 oldest son's this evening was quite memorable. They were in playful, fun, yet serious enough to golf moods. The scramble teams were Dad and Jack (The Purple Hippos) against Mom and Scotty (The Orange Penguins). My husband and I are learning. We're learning that in order to have fun with our kids we can't turn every outing into an instructional lesson. A tip here or there is warranted, but a full on lesson is not fun for them. We're learning that team names for some reason make all the difference in the world when it comes to having fun. We're learning that the offer of a dollar to the winner makes them try harder, and that is ok. We're learning that they are really fun and funny kids, especially when they are having fun with their parents. After the golf outing we made the boys try something new and headed to a tapas restaurant for dinner. To Scotty, it was "the best food in the world!" To Jack, well, Jack was very focused on constructing his new lego set that he just bought 10 seconds before with his own money, so I'm not sure he noticed what he was eating. During dinner my husband and I wanted to discuss a "healthy living plan" for our family. Scotty, who has begun to love competition, insisted I turn it into a quiz. So, for the duration of our meal I quizzed the boys on "which food is healthier... And which exercise is better..." It was quite fun and most importantly, the boys thought it was great too, and learned some healthy living habits. We are quite blessed parents. We get to have neat evenings out with our big boys, and today I get to swim and play with my little kids. Life is NEVER boring, always changing, and often fun. With still having a 2 year old, I have years of golf outings with purple hippos and orange penguins...or whoever!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


The mosquitoes were seriously eating me alive. It started with a little ankle itch that I hoped was just my shoestring of my softball cleat rubbing against my leg, but soon I knew as my entire exposed limbs were itching as if I was on fire, that I was in the middle of a mosquito colony. Yet, I stayed put. I stayed quite still. I stayed very quiet. And I scratched and scratched and scratched until I couldn't really feel my legs at all, just burning. Why would anyone put herself through this? Well, I was also enjoying about the most wonderful, magical evening of my life thus far. It all started when my softball game ended. (A game in which I took a big bad hopper to the knee, and am now sporting a neat looking swollen bruise with softball stitching and all! - most importantly, I made the play.) Anyway, after my game I joined the rest of my family at the nearby playground. My daughter, Elaina (6), and I kept hearing the soundtrack to Annie being sung. When Elaina realized that a cast of the musical, Annie, was having their dress rehearsal right over the hill at an outdoor amphitheater, her eyes literally LIT UP! Her smile was ear to ear as she asked me, "MAMA! Can we go watch????!!!" Of course we could. So my husband takes the rest of the kids home in one car, and Elaina and I headed over the hill. To our,and especially Elaina's wonder, the cast was very close to the beginning of the musical. We sneak into a couple seats and proceed to have practically our own private showing of the entire musical. Elaina was enthralled. She kept looking over at me with her huge brown eyes and messy playground hair and saying, "mom, this is awesome!!!" And she would practically whisper the word awesome because she was so excited at this whole situation happening. She began singing and humming along. She told me when it was her favorite part - numerous parts are actually her "favorite part." When they would be changing the scenes, she would watch very closely and when she recognized what scene was coming next, she would start bouncing her knees and look at me and say, "OH this is the part when...!!!" I watched her, and I watched the show, and I watched her some more. She is the most fun, sweet, life-loving girl ever, and I am so blessed to have her. I thank God profusely tonight, for that magical, unexpected moment. And every time I scratch a mosquito bite, I will remember it. also I don't want to forget: -today charlie hurt his big toe, a little blood. He loves to have his boo boos kissed and he was pretty upset. So, after I kissed it, I looked to the kids watching tv in the next room and asked them to come please kiss Charlie's toe to make him feel better since he was still fussing quite a bit. Each child came up one at a time, kissed the toe, and said something to the effect of, "Oh little Charlie, are you ok, poor baby..." First Scotty, then Jack, then Ben. When Elaina finally came up to bat she looked at the toe, put her hand to her lips, kissed her fingers and blew the kiss toward the toe. Then she looked sort of sideways at me, and gave me an eyebrow shrug. I nearly died laughing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Football quiz

Below is the transcript of an actual conversation, at lunch, that my husband had with our son Scotty (11): Scotty: Dad, can you please quiz me about the rules about sports? Dad: Ok, which sport? Scotty: How about football? Dad: Ok, how many plays do you get to try to make a first down? Scotty: I think 5 Dad: No, it is 4 actually. Ok, how many yards to you have to go to get a first down? Scotty: 20 yards. I think I heard that once. Dad: No, 10 yards. That's ok though. Scotty: Sorry, I don't know much about football. Dad: No big deal. Ok, how many points for a touchdown. Scotty: 6 plus you can get some additional points for doing something after that I think. Dad: Good job. 6 for a touchdown and 1 "extra point" for kicking it the ball through the goal posts afterwards. You could also get 2 points if you just ran a plan and scored. Scotty: Cool. Dad: Ok, so you can score with a touchdown and extra point and also with a field goal (here dad explains what that is). What is the only other way to score? Scotty: (hesitates thinking for a few seconds). You could throw it through that fork looking thing (goal posts). Dad: No, close though. The defense could score if they tackle the offensive player in their own end zone. That is called a safety and is worth 2 points Scotty: Why is it called a safety? Dad: No clue. Ok, what happens if the quarterback throws the ball and a receiver drops it? What is that called? Scotty: A fumble? Dad: No, an incomplete pass Scotty: (hits his head). I knew it started with and "i" (remember he said fumble) Dad: No problem. What are the three main things a quarterback can do with the ball? Scotty: Let's see. He could pass it. Dad: Good Scotty: He could drop back with it. Dad: You mean drop back so that he could then pass it Scotty: Oh yeah, I guess that is the same thing. He could charge with it. Dad: He could what?? Scotty: You know, charge with it, into the defense Dad: You mean run it. Scotty: I call it charging Dad: Ok, but we are learning about football. In football that is called running Scotty: Ok I guess. Let's see, he could give it to somebody Dad: You mean hand it to a running back. Scotty: Yeah, one of those guys. I didn't know their names Dad: Great job. Ok, what is the name of the position that the quarterback throws the ball to? Scotty: Hmmmmmm. Not sure. Dad: Hint, they "receive" the ball. Scotty: A receiver?? (stated more as a question than an answer) Dad: Cool. What are your options on 4th down? There are three main ones Scotty: Normal play (funny enough); that kick thing Dad: You mean a punt Scotty: Yeah. I don't know the other one Dad: You could kick a field goal Scotty: I thought that was a punt.... And this then goes on and on and on. My husband says he actually gained a new appreciation for Scotty while they were talking. Football is NOT important. It is also something all other kids know about except for Scotty. However, Scotty knows a ton of stuff they don't know. He is a neat kid. That being said: Scotty has an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules of basketball and soccer (the two sports he plays and enjoys the most). Perhaps if we can get him interested in medicine and government he can cure cancer and save the world. Also I don't want to forget: -tonight when I had a friend over scotty tells me he loves me right in front of her like it is no big deal. I love his uninhibited nature. I hope he never loses it. -I love when the kids hear Charlie babbling and swear that he has said something so complicated that there is absolutely no way that he could have said it. That happened today and it had something to do with someone referring to our dog and Jack swearing that Charlie said, "and I want a HOTDOG!"


I hated homework when I was in school, and I think I hate it even more now. Yes, I realize it is summer, but we do a little tutoring in the summer. The homework, if you can even call it that, is super simple and not a difficult big deal. But my son can make it seem like we are building a freaking rocket at 9pm when we should all be sleeping. I adore him, I really do. He is fun, and funny and loving and a kind boy. But when I need to sit down with him to do homework, you would think we are bitter enemies. My patience wears quite thin, my head begins to throb and my voice is NOT calm. He cries. He bargains. He refuses. Oh what fun. I realize that there are people who have bigger patience situations than I, but this one is my little thorn right now, so it is on my mind. We don't learn patience by example. We learn it from being plunged into situations that call for it. I think God can see that I haven't learned patience yet. That's why I keep being thrown into little "patience needy" situations. So, darn it, I need to get with it! Patience Please I Pray! also I don't want to forget: -Charlie has been waking me in the mornings by climbing into my bed and squishing me all the way over until I am nearly falling of my side of the bed. He just continually rubs his head into my head, or chest or whatever under the guise of nuzzling, but I think he really wants the bed to himself. -Elaina went to spend the night at her little cousin's last night. Her excitement on the way out the door was so sweet. She really loves her cousins, and especially adores spending time with the girls. -Ben smiles all the time. We should all be more like Ben. -My 9 yr old just dressed my 2 yr old. -My 4 yr old just put my 2 yr old's shoes on him for me. -My 4 yr old just made my 2 yr old's bed. -My 11 yr old just helped unload the dishwasher. -My 2 yr old just put his own dish in the sink. Helping at home is good...maybe I can get someone to make MY bed...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Who do you say I Am?

About a week ago I recall the priest at church speaking on the passage in the bible where Jesus says, "Who do you say I am?" He questioned the congregation on who others would say we are. He reminded us that it was people like our children and spouses whose opinions we should be most concerned with. And ultimately God's opinion of us as the most important. Ever since that sermon, that question of "who my kids say I am" has been on my mind. Some days to my chagrin I know they would say I am a dictator. Telling them what needs to get done, and making sure they do it. Other days they would call me a teacher. Making them read, making them follow along doing art projects. I recall a specific day that they may call me a clown. Dancing crazy in the kitchen, trying to cheer up crabby kids. Some days 'doctor' as I kiss and bandage boo boos, other days 'meany' as I refuse to let them do something they want to do or buy something they want to buy. Still other days, too many other days, they would likely just call me 'busy.' But for the last few days I have been none of these. For 4 days I was not physically at home, and for the last 12 hours I've been literally attached to 2 recovering toddlers, watching cartoons and holding them, feeding them, patting them, just BEING with them. And they really just want to BE with me. Even as I went for a bathroom break, I soon heard little footsteps and a knock at the door, "Mommy? Mommy?" They just want to be where I am today. And just being where I am is making them feel better. Jesus taught, healed and more, but people just wanted to be in His presence, touch Him and have Him touch them. Just being with Jesus was enough for people who believed in Him. Mothers have been given this mission, to be like Jesus for our children so they can believe in us and in turn believe in Jesus. I pray we can even give them a glimpse of Jesus each day. Because without even looking closely we can see Jesus in our children. It would be great to live up to who our children are and who our children would say we are on our best days.

Home Sweet Home

Got in late last night from being gone for 4 days. Kids were all asleep. I went into their rooms, checked that they were all breathing, and then crashed into my own bed. This morning I was plunged back into motherhood as I doled out tylenol for fevers, gave baths for church, and got decorations for the bike parade. Today I get to spend between my two youngest boys on the sofa watching movies and cartoons. Welcome home : ) (I'm ready to be home with these kiddos and make some more moments to blog about)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Elaina, Ben, and Charlie

I've been waking up to buzzing Instead of fingers prying my eye I've been eating all my meals No little fingers in my pie. I've been shopping through the day Instead of playing puzzles and blocks I've been having lunch with friends Instead of matching little socks. I've been saying prayers at night But saying them alone No little ones to pray with me For loved ones one by one. Tomorrow when I'm home I'll get so hugged and kissed Tomorrow when I'm home I'll enjoy the kids I've missed : )

Friday, July 2, 2010


Being out of town, I miss Jack's smile. Sounds cliche I know. But think about it, how many people in your life when you look at them are smiling and laughing and joking around during the day. Not many. Your boss? Your co-worker? People on the road? People at the store shopping? Your spouse? Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. It is a rare but wonderful thing to get sucked into a chuckle, or lured into a smirk by simply seeing someone else doing it. Its like the hiccups, but WAY better. And I miss Jack giving me the "hiccups" this week.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Since I will be away from my kids for the next few days on a trip out of town, I've decided to blog about what I miss about them each night. Tonight I will do Scotty. Scotty (11) asks me about 5 times a day, "how ya doin' mom?" I didn't know I would miss that so much , but it do! It is nice to have someone care so much about your well being. It is sweet that he really wants to hear me say, "just fine!" Or "great, Scotty!" Every now and then I am in a super crabby mood and I may answer, "not great, scott, not great." Then I totally kick myself when I see his little dejected expression. He just wants to know mom is happy. I remember being a kid and wanting my mom to be in a good mood too. It just gave me a nice comfortable feeling. Which gets me thinking about how kids must feel who have parents with issues in their marriage, or big weight problems etc. I mean those parents are very likely never in a really good mood. How sad their kids must be to never have that comfortable reassurance. I should work to keep this disposition even when struggles come along, because they will, and really, it is easy to respond in that happy disposition when all is well, but there is no time more important for my kids to feel comfortable, safe and secure as when we are going through challenges. That is when they need that reassurance the most.