Tuesday, September 30, 2008

dangerous chocolate cake

(dangerous because it's ready in less than 5 minutes!!)

I received this recipe for 5 minute chocolate cake and just had to try it out. It was fabulous! And even more exciting was the way it rose up out of the mug while it cooked...the kids thought that was awesome! So try it for yourself. I think you'll likey!

(note...it's just the cake...I doctored mine up with a little chocolate syrup from the fridge for "icing." Also, I recommend a large coffee mug...the small one I used made it a little difficult to mix, but was very cool when the cake rose out of the top!)

Little Ways (St. Therese of Lisieux, October 1st)

On the eve of the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux , the Little Flower, I asked my second grade students to tell me what a saint is, or maybe even what a saint looks like. The answers across the board, depicted someone very old, who lived long ago, and was very holy. I then held up a picture of St. Therese and told them she was a saint. The mouths dropping and eyes widening was priceless. I went on to share with them a little about her life. How she lost her mother at the age of 4, and was raised by her sister Pauline. She became a Carmelite nun at the age of 15 and died at the age of 24. She new very early in her life that she may never grow to do great things, but that she could do great things in little ways every day with love and kindness. She inspires all of us, at any age, to a life of holiness.

The Prayer of Saint Therese
May you have peace within today.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of you who choose to claim it.

fighting evil, one hug at a time

At lunch today, Grace (5) and Mary (4) were arguing about something (hard to remember what this time) when Grace hollered out, "Mom, Mary's making the devil stronger...she just looked at me mean!" I asked where this came from. Turns out good 'ol Dad had a conversation with them last evening about how our sins work against Jesus, and help the Devil to spread evil in the world. I'd never heard it worded just like this, but I liked his reasoning with them. Anyways, our conversation continued on, that when we do kind things, we are spreading God's love, and making Jesus stronger to fight the devil. They liked the positive flip side of this, and their argument, now forgotten left them sitting quietly at the table. I continued on with cooking, and in a moment I heard in a very soft voice "Grace, I'm sorry for poking you in the eye before." and Grace returned with "It's okay. A hug?" and they moved together to embrace in a brief but genuinely heartfelt hug. I couldn't help but feel all warm and fuzzy just then. Little lessons about forgiveness, shared by a preschooler...that's what it's all about.

"Assuredly, I say to you,whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." Mark 10:15

Monday, September 29, 2008

Now it's time to roll the barrel...

We took a walk uptown tonight to explore the rumblings and goings-on as the town is preparing for it's 34th annual Minster Oktoberfest. Tents are being raised, booths set up, sound and lighting. In just 4 short days the smell of beer and bratwurst with sauerkraut will fill the air, along with the sounds of oom-pah bands playing the likes of "Beer Barrel Polka." Ahhh, I love this time of year. There's a feeling of excitement throughout our community in anticipation of this annual event that draws an estimated 80,000 people over the course of the weekend. (For a town of just 2,800...this is big!) We've been playing a little more polka music around the house in preparation, and of course working on our footwork around the kitchen table...Charlie's excited to have a few good dance moves. The highlight for our young family is of course the parade on Sunday. And get this, Alice and Emma have signed up to be pooper-scoopers! You can't imagine how excited they are to be following a couple horses in anticipation of when nature might call. This is big stuff for a couple 3rd graders. We're so proud!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy Birthday John!

My hubs is 4o today...and more wonderful than ever. Each day I realize more and more how truly blessed I am to have him in my life.

And so a birthday prayer...

All Mighty God, in your infinite wisdom and love, You chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary, the mother of your son; As we enjoy his protection on earth, may we have the help of his prayers in heaven. We ask this through Christ the Lord. Amen
Dear St. Joseph, foster father of our Lord, Jesus watch over and intercede for John today and always. Amen

a view from our pew.

Sunday mass had extra special meaning today, as it was the debut performance of Alice and Emma singing in the childrens choir. Not only was I immensely proud of their raw singing talent, but more importantly humbled to be presenting these children to Christ here in church. After all those years of prayer, begging to be a mother, and promising to do my best to "raise them up in Christ" here we were. Their first service for the church. Or at least their first long-term commitment to the church. Each time they choose to fill an envelope (with a few pennies, nickels, dimes, whatever), each time they put on their Sunday best, each time they enter that line to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, and now each time they raise their voices in song, I am humbled that God has entrusted these precious gifts to me. Thank you God for hearing and anwering my prayers!!
As the girls sang today "It's a miracle just to know, God is with me wherever I go. It's a miracle just to see, that he can make a miracle of me!"

oh, and on a side note, Charlie was "busy" as usual...we had a guest speaker appealing to our church for donations to help support Radio Maria (a catholic radio network that has a station in our area). Anyhow, the speaker introduces himself as "John" and Charlie proceeds to holler out "Hi John!" at the top of his lungs (several times). Always the kind greeter.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

it's all fun and games, until...

Frank drinks all the paint water! I had the 6 youngest, along with 2 young cousins home last night while John took the older 4 to a football game. (8 ages 4 and under) Someone suggested painting pictures, so voila! I lined them all up around the kitchen table with paint brushes, clean paper, and several packs of watercolors to share. I also set out a few small cups of water to dip the brushes. All set...Picassos and Monets in bloom. There were minor spills, and Rosie wore more than she actually painted...but it was all good. That is until I heard John call out "Mom, we can't paint anymore. Frank drank all the water!" What?! Sure enough, all 4 cups were empty and there sat grinning Frank-o with brownish-black paint water dripping down his chin, grinning like a fat cat.
Okay kids, painting time's over. Anyone for popcorn?!

Friday, September 26, 2008

On your mark, get set...

...hold on to your hats. Getting ready for school in the morning is no walk in the park...but it's entertaining (to say the least.) John has the day off work today (so I can get to some meetings) allowing me to be a bit more of an observer today. How funny is this!

6:59a I hear footsteps upstairs...the girls alarm must be a minute fast. Seconds later, Rose is crawling in between John and I to snuggle just a minute longer. Her "da, da, da, da" soon becomes a duet with Lucy chiming in from her crib next to our bed.
7:00 Our alarm sounds, and John hits snooze...as if! I grab Rose and head for the boys room to get things started there. Darnit...one wet bed, and one soggy young boy. Helping Sam to pick out school clothes (cause we forgot last night.) Frank outta the crib...and we're all headed to the bathroom.
7:03Charlie's on the pot, Frank's on the little potty, John and Sam (and I) are waiting for our turn. Rose is watching it all. Quick shower for the wet one...and now the girls are coming downstairs. Woooweee! We got some Wildcat fans in the house. It's homecoming football weekend, so there's a little more school spirit than usual. Alice and Emma helped Mary and Grace pick out clothes last night...I think we'll be changing a few things. All the girls are dressed head to toe in orange and black (some in Dad's old high-school jerseys). Pretty cute. Alice thinks there's room for one more in the bathroom and starts doing her hair. "Don't you have a brush and mirror upstairs in your bathroom?" I ask. "Yeah, but the lights better down here." Let's count...that's me, Sam, John, Charlie, Frank, Rose, and now Alice in a 3x5 space.
7:10 we all make it out of the bathroom alive. Boys are dressed, and bed is stripped. Heading to the laundry room. John's doing diapers for Rose and Lucy. (they're looking cute as ever, I might add.)
7:15 Kids streaming in to the kitchen for breakfast. We're about out of cereal, so there's no drama about what kind everyone wants. (only 2 choices today.) Lucy's the only one making a lot of noise, cause Dad doesn't mix her cereal fast enough. (Sorry dad, she said so, not me!) Topics of conversation around the table ranged from Sam wanting to have a "fun day" in religion class today (I'm his teacher.) to Grace noting her teacher was craving apple pie the other day at school, to Emma wanting money to buy football tickets for tonight.
7:20 Coffee's ready. Alleluia! John's feeding Lucy, so I'm on OJ pouring and clean-up duty. (Cause somebody spills something at every meal. It's a fact of life.) I sneak upstairs to pick out a different shirt for Mary (cause it's "red" day at preschool today.) and a different shirt for Grace, cause she's swimming in her dad's old jersey.
7:35 The girls want their hair spray-painted orange for school. Nope. Maybe after school for the game. Sam wants a mohawk. Nope. Maybe after school.
7:37 Frank spilled John's milk, and is now splashing in it. Charlie has cereal stuck to the back of his legs?! I'm on it.
7:45 Neighbor kids are converging in our back yard. Time for the kids to head out the door (at least 3 of them, anyways.) Grace hollers to Sam as he walks out "Goodbye, I love you cutie Sam!" She knows it makes him mad, so she runs to the front door to holler again "I love you my little cutie Sammy!" For all the neighbors to hear. Ooooh. He's really mad now! (and she's loving it.)
7:46 John and I sit with our coffee while the little ones are finishing up. Just shaking our heads. In a blur the day has begun...leaving us to only imagine what the rest of it might bring.
(Uh oh, think I smell something...diaper duty is calling me.)
Have a blessed day all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

A former co-worker gave me this framed prayer as a high school graduation gift...the words now etched in my mind, as I refer to it often.
Today I noticed the same prayer hanging over my desk at work. (I job share with 2 other nurses.) As I read the words aloud again, I realized I not only want to accept the things I cannot change, but I want to embrace them! As a wife and mother constantly preparing, fixing, manipulating, molding, and attempting to control the way the household runs, I find it incredibly liberating to know that a large part of life is out of my control. Outta my hands! God has made it so that I can cast those worries and burdens on him. Thank goodness. Now Lord, just help me to work on the courage and wisdom part.

my little pumpkin

Lucy Irene on her first pumpkin hunt...she thinks she's found a good one!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I went to Sam's Club tonight to stock up on the necessities like baby wipes, monster bags of chicken nuggets, and of course toilet paper. Two gi-normous industrial size multi-family packs of toilet paper to be exact. And if we're lucky they'll hold us off until our next Sam's trip 6 weeks from now. Remember when buying that much toilet paper was a "fun" thing to do on a Friday night after a football game?! Oh, those were the days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who's your daddy?

Sam asked a funny question the other day...one that I think had been working on him for some time. "Mom, when I get old, who will my Dad be?" I laughed at first, but then I realized it was important to him. "What do you mean Sam?" He continued on. "Well, Dad's dad is Grandpa Schmiesing and your dad is Grandpa Harting...so what grandpa will be my dad when I get older?" Hmm. What there little minds don't think of?! It took a bit of explaining, that he would always have the same Dad, and that they'd just get older together. That dad "turns into" grandpa when the kids have kids. It was a fun little conversation. And he seemed incredibly relieved that he wouldn't be trading his own dad in on an older model someday...like a little trip to the "Grandpa's-R-Us" store. Funny. You just never know where conversation's gonna take ya.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

BIG news...

Frankie pooped on the potty! Frankie pooped on the potty! Frankie pooped on the potty! (imagine us as we cha-cha line around the kitchen table, with a kick on the "-ty" in potty.) Oh yah, this is good.

(no....not the BIG news you were probably thinking...but big none the less!)

rockin' and rollin'

Emma asked tonight what she could do to earn a little money..."I'll sweep the front walks and driveway for 5o cents." Unfortunately, I'd just done that. Dad suggested she pick up stones from the yard..."a penny a stone." We have a small bed of riverstones by our front walk where a park bench sits. The younger kids spend a lot of time collecting them, and tossing them into the yard and flower beds. This just might keep her busy, I thought. Turns out all the kids including a couple neighbor kids got in on the action. Before long they needed the little red wagon to haul all the stones....they stopped counting at 1193. Hmmm. Wonder if they take a check?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Catholic vote

saw this on a friend's blog, then recieved it as an e-mail later in the week. Just thought it was pretty awesome...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

garden of weedin'

I haven't weeded the flowerbeds all summer...and boy could you tell it. So tonight with the "help" of the little ones we got to work. John and I both agreed that it needed it desperately. I'm hoping to pick up a couple pumpkins and mums this weekend, but before we bring in anything new, the weeds have to go. Lucy hung out in her exersaucer on the front walk to watch, and Frank and Rose kept busy putting weeds into the bucket, then dumping them out, into and out...and on and on. John and Charlie stayed busy with some fancy (but mostly ineffective weeding tool) and the older kids were avoiding work by pushing each other around in the wagon while one would take turns steering with the handle. It's fun when the toddlers try to help. They make me laugh, and the work seems less. Grace and Mary are gone for a sleep-over at Grandma and Grandpa's. Funny how two less can make the evening seem so much quieter. We gained one back though as Alice and Emma are having a cousin sleep over tonight.

Anyhow, the weeds got pulled, sidewalks swept, trees trimmed up a bit. Ready for fresh mulch, a few pumpkins and some colorful mums. Hard to believe fall is just around the corner!

how do you like them apples?

Tonight John took the kids to the park (with the exception of 3 who were playing at the neighbors) so that mom and I could get peelin' on some apples. A woman from our church called to share some apples that she cleaned up after her neighbors tree was lost in the wind storm last weekend. I thought she might have just a few, but when we went to get them, there were buckets and buckets of them! I shared half with my sister-in-law who also cans, but the rest are here waiting for me. So this evening, with mom's help peeling, we made our way through 2 of the 5-gallon buckets. It seemed to go so much faster with help, and good conversation. I look forward to when the girls are just a little older to make quick work of jobs like these.

Anyhow, by the time John and the kids got home, we were nearly done preparing the apples, so mom headed home, and I started cooking. I found a great recipe for freezing apple pie filling. The smell of cinnamon, sugar and apples has the house smelling wonderful! I made enough for more than 10 pies. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get some more done. I hate to see all that beautiful fruit go to waste. Again I'm grateful for God's providence, and the kindness of others to share their bounty.

In third grade...

Alice shared with me earlier this week that one little boy in her class brought in a gift, a necklace (he had bought, not made) for a girl in his class. "Jacob likes Emma, and Emma likes Jacob." She said it so matter of fact. They're only in 3rd grade!!! (I'm so not ready for my kids to begin boy/girl relationships...beyond dodgeball that is.)

bouncy balls...the bane of my existence

In today's society of lawsuits and recalls, where toymakers are being held accountable, how is it that bouncy balls are still on the market? And who keeps buying them all and unloading them at my house?!
I have 3 in my kitchen window-sill right now (the landing place for all things confiscated). And this morning I pulled a fourth out of Frank's mouth. Nobody's allowed to bounce them in the house, so they do the next best thing...suck on them. (great...they'll never choke on that...)
where are lobbyists in washington on this one?
am I alone here?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who needs a massage? Go for the graces.

Yesterday was just beautiful by the way! Our bus to the Sorrowful Mother Shrine left at 7:30 am. There were 30 of us in all, I think. We prayed a rosary together as we traveled. But mostly the bus ride was a chance for my friend and I to catch up. We were neighbors and very close friends up until we moved 3 years ago. But somehow the few blocks distance seems more like miles without the convenience of a clothesline to stay connected in the backyard.
Anyhow, upon arriving at the shrine, we had an outdoor mass together. Afterwards, lunch, followed by the Way of the Cross which led us through the scenic woods, a rosary, confession, and Exposition and Benediction. This year we had the privelige of a special blessing in which the priest there placed a relic of the True Cross on our foreheads and prayed over us. I could just feel the graces pouring in. The stress of daily life was lifted from my shoulders in just a few short hours. God is good, and I am so grateful for His gift of the Blessed Mother as a perfect example for imitation and devotion.
So if you're contemplating a massage to rid yourself of some stress, go for the graces instead!


Leave it to Sam to notice the word "silly" in Reconciliation. We had our first parent/student meeting tonight as we prepare for his First Confession in December. As we talked briefly about it earlier in the day, he just kept shaking his head laughing..."Mom, don't worry...it's recon-silly-ation."
John and I just looked nervously at each other and shook our heads...we've got our work cut out for us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm going anyways...

There are times, that I am acutely aware of the prescence of evil; the sensation that Satan himself is working to control some part of my life. He's been pulling at me recently, directing me away from a pilgrimmage I'm intending to make tomorrow. But I'm going anyways. A good friend of mine and I made the same trip last year, a pilgrimmage to the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue, OH. It was wonderful! A full day of prayer, reflection, mass, confession, walking rosary. Just beautiful. The two of us decided to do it annually if the trip came around again...and so here we are. This time around though, knowing full well the goodness of the trip, I'm lacking desire to go....except that I know I need to. Our home schedule is packed full, both John and I working more hours with more meetings scheduled. The kids have things going on, more-so than usual. I'm feeling horrible about leaving for the day. The trip was nearly cancelled twice, first for lack of people going and then for lack of a priest. But things are falling into line thanks to the grace of God, and so I know my place is there. I must draw near to our Blessed Mother, honoring her, and asking her to bring me and my family ever closer to her son Jesus. As she was there with me in my Bethlehem, so too may she be there with me in my Nazareth.
In the mean time I simply pray: "Away from me Satan. For I choose to shield myself with the love of Christ, my saviour. As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord."

Feast Day, Our Lady of Sorrows

Today we honor our blessed mother, and remember the suffering she endured...right to the foot of the cross.
Prayer to the Sorrowful Mother
Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Sorrows, lift me up when I am feeling sad and in times of trouble.
Be my inspiration, my strength and my comfort throughout my life.
Help me to accept the will of God with complete faith as you did.
Help me to embrace the Gospel of Life and not a culture of death and to live accordingly.
Embrace me with your motherly love and affection drawing me safely into the protection of your pierced and immaculate heart.

on the subject of saints...

A friend of mine has something to share...what a beautiful story indeed. Check out her Little Saint

Saturday, September 13, 2008

a saint, or no??

My mom and I had an interesting conversation this morning, about the "sainthood" of St. Christopher. She suggested that he was in fact not a saint. What?! How could this be. My dad and brothers (all military) have always worn a St. Christopher medal...the patron of travelers. I think John even has a St. Christopher medal in his truck. How could he not be a saint. What's a person to do?! I googled him. And according to one site I found (Catholic encyclopedia, I think) St. Chris, along with many other early saints, was found to be perhaps more legend than real person. So his feast day was removed from the official calendar. His cult was not suppressed as in the case of some saints (like St. Ursula), so in some local parishes and diocese, his feast day is still celebrated. So, is he a saint, or no? Does this mean, if he was proven to exist he would be saintworthy, but since he's a myth, it's been revoked?
Anyone care to shed some light on this? I feel swindled. Dad gave me a St. Christopher medal for Christmas one year (or maybe he talked John into getting me one.) Either way, I always thought it was a nice connection with my dad and brothers who always wore theirs. Now what?
I'm also interested in knowing which other popular saints may have been "mythed."


Tonight it was a girls night out. And unlike last night's g.n.o. which involved 5 young girls and their mom getting groceries at Walmart. Tonight's g.n.o. was adults only. My mom and one of her sisters, my cousin, and myself went out for dinner and toured a few of the fine establishments surrounding the beautiful Indian Lake. It is so good to just laugh...and eating, and cold beverages are good too. But laughing...you know, belly-laughing is good for the soul!
Each year a handful of the women in my mom's family take a summer trip together. For a few years it was a houseboat at Norris Lake in Tennessee. Then it was a floating house, and next year, the plan is to find something much closer to home. I've only been on a couple of the trips. As our family has grown it's been too difficult to get away. Maybe next year. So, tonight (in the name of research) we went touring the area of Indian Lake. Our plan was to scope out some rentals we'd seen online. Turns out we found a nice one right off, so were able to celebrate the "good hunt" by checking out the local nightlife. Very fun. Not to worry, I was in by 10 (and still managed to see most of the kids off to bed.) I'm so grateful for John being a good sport about it. I look forward to times when it's easier for the two of us to get out alone. It will come....

Friday, September 12, 2008

kickin' up our heels

Okay, I thought I was lookin' all cute in my little hot pink sandals today, so I left them on in the house (usually the shoes are off while at home.) Charlie followed me through the kitchen...clomping behind me with his oversized cowboy boots. "Mom, why do you have your shoes on?" (I'm sure he was assuming I was getting ready to leave.) "Because I look so cute in them!" I said (so modest, I know.) "Me too mom!" So we danced around the kitchen table a bit in our fashionable footwear. Hey, when ya got it, ya got it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

sleepless nights.

Okay, one lousy night of sleep...I don't have much to complain about, I know. So instead, I'm going to find the silver lining. For the most part, this family has been blessed with great sleepers. Oh, we have our occasional sleep-walkers, middle of the night bathroom visits, and once in awhile I find myself rooting around under Lucy's crib for a lost pacifier. But overall, its good. All 10 are in bed by 9 on a school night, and don't hear from them again till 7. Last night though, Lucy needed some Mom-time. She's cutting two big teeth, and those swollen gums were keeping her from getting any rest. I tried soothing her from the sidelines a few times, but finally had to just bite the bullet and rock with her for awhile. It's funny, I groan and complain thinking about it, but in all honesty, I love those hours snuggling in the rocker, just her and I. She never did fall asleep in my arms, but she was certainly content there, and we both enjoyed just gazing at each other in the dark. Those moments are hard to come by during daylight hours, and these times won't last forever. So for now, I'm grateful for this beautiful baby I hold in my arms...a precious miracle from God, indeed. How much better to be awake holding this little one, as opposed to awake, waiting and wondering when I'll hear her coming thru the door in the wee hours of the night. Oh, if they could only stay little forever!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

a simple thought for the day.


Prayer doesn't change God, but it changes those who pray.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

from the sidelines...

A good friend e-mailed recently and shared her thoughts about an earlier post I did on high school football
Her thoughts helped me to rethink the love some men have for the sport, and maybe to even understand the goosebumps that go along with it. (I'm trying to get it.)

She says: "...regarding the game of football. Just like you said, I don't get it either.....why boys want to play that game, I have no idea. But let me tell you, when you see how hard they work at practices and then when you see your son out on the field and the team huddles in and they raise their helmets together in the center, it really hits the heart. You see them come home day after day beaten and exhausted, and you wondering to yourself why? Is it really worth it? They have a desire and dedication to something I will never understand. I have found that it makes them stronger from the inside out. It makes them part of a team that works so hard day in and day out for a true love of the game. I only hope my boys will remain that strong and dedicated to their faith in the years to come. So here's to you......mother of those one day boys out on the football field. I promise it will touch your heart and you will be a proud momma!!"

Thanks Deb. I look forward to it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

guilty as charged...

After further analysis of the evidence, and extensive crime scene investigation, it has been determined that the aforementioned "victim" of artistic malfeasance is in fact guilty as charged. By determining the angle of trajectory of the said markers involved, it could only have been self-inflicted...especially, the marks left inside the "victim's" ears. Nobody else could have done it so carefully, and so recklessly all at the same time. Although, I do believe there may have been an accomplice with regards to the markings on the posterior legs. Frank and Charlie have been taken in for questioning...but without fruit snacks, they're not talkin'!

On the Birthday of our Blessed Mother...

Just as we celebrate birthdays of our loved ones here on earth, it should only seem fitting to also then celebrate the birth of our Heavenly Mother, Mary. Happy Birthday Mary!

May we all be inspired by her humble "yes" to our Lord, that we too may say yes to His will in our lives.

a prayer of praise:

It is truly fitting, Mary, that we should honor you. For God chose to honor you by making you His mother. The prophets of old spoke of you with their fairest praises, the glory of Israel and all of womankind. The angel bowed in reverence as he addressed you who were chosen to be God's mother. And all generations have called you blessed. So joyfully, Mary, we praise you: We praise you in your purity, far more radiant than that of the brightest seraphim and cherubim. We praise you in your maternity, in which you were privileged to nourish your God and Creator at your breast. We praise you in your virginity, which you kept so preciously together with you holy maternity. We praise you in the honor which through you has been given to holy motherhood throughout the ages. We praise you in the courage your pure and holy example has given to Christian mothers in a sinful world. We praise you, too, in your motherhood, which by God's decree has made you our mother and us your children. Yes, always and at all times and in all places will we praise and honor and bless you, as it is proper to do, holy Mother of God, ever-blessed virgin, mother of fair love! Amen.

~from a Mothers' Manual by A. Francis Coomes, S.J.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

someone is so in trouble...

This is why markers and other craft supplies are usually under lock and key in this home! And, just how am I to be angry when she looks at me like this?! (she's obviously the victim here, right?)

because He asked me to, that's why.

Jesus says "Let the children come to me" and so I do. When the kids turn 3, I consider them old enough to go to church, and expect them to remain seated (or kneeling/standing) as appropriate. I don't allow layng/climbing in the pew, or toys, or snacks. It's other people's business if they do...but these are my expectations for my kids. Afterall, with John working weekends, I'm the only parent in the pew, so we need to be clear about how to behave. The first 6 children fit into this little "mold" I'd created, just beautifully. But, I'm coming to realize that God has a sense of humor, and so there is Charlie. He's not loud, or terribly disruptive, he just can't keep his hands or feet "inside the car." He's constantly touching his brothers and sisters, reaching over the pew in front of us, trying to shake hands with everyone (future Walmart greeter?), and last week he told me after mass that he was trying "to start a campfire on the kneeler." What?! Where does he come up with this stuff. Like I said, he's not loud. So I'm grateful for that. Today a husband and wife behind me smiled knowingly. They have a couple boys of college age now, and seemed to remember quite well, wrestling their own active one in the pew from time to time. At one point the dad even asked as I held Charlie tightly on my lap, if I "had him in the penalty box." "Yes," I said, "for high-sticking."
I'm ever optimistic though, that next week will be better than the last, and that hopefully, he'll be outgrown of this before next summer when Frank and Rose turn 3. (Lord, please!)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Soccer saturdays

8am...up and at 'em
cereal and juice all the way around
kids dressed
baby nursed
teeth brushed?
mom showered
shoes for everyone
need help tying!
condensed version of saturday:cleaning day
baby napped
snacks and water bottles packed
missing shin guards found
stroller (check)
picnic blanket (as if they'll actually sit)
loading into the van
coffee...I need coffee!!!
and we're off to the soccer field.
(okay soccer mom...where's your lipstick?)

gotta love "soccer saturdays"

Oi, I'm getting older.

It's official. I'm getting older and turning into my parents. Last night as I was getting ready for bed I noticed the motion activated lights out by the alley had come on. I glanced out and noticed an unfamiliar vehicle parked in our drive back there. Hmm. Strange. I glanced around a little more (it's not unusual for our neighbor teens to have parties, so I thought maybe "overflow" parking). All the neighboring houses were dark too. Hmmm strange. I just watched for a few minutes, and noticed a couple people back by our shed. It sounded as if they were on cell phones, looking for directions or something. Sounded like teen boys, so at this point I felt they were harmless. So I told John (who had just gone to bed) what I was up to, and ventured out. As I approached the alley, I realized the boys were gone. I looked down a few houses and saw them wandering around so I hollered out. "Hey is this your car?" (pause) "Umm. Yeah." "Well I think you parked it in the wrong spot...you might want to move it." (another pause, and they're still not coming towards me) "Umm, sorry 'bout that, we're looking for *Jones' house...is this it?" "Nope, they live over there." "Oh, okay, we're just looking for *Jim, sorry."
Those turds never did move their car!
And then I started to worry that maybe they were going to pull some shananigans at the Jones' house. I mean, everybody knows everybody in this town, and how good of friends could they be if they park in the back and don't know which house it is?! I started to worry a bit, and hesitated about calling the police (just to do a drive by and keep an eye out.) It made me feel so old, and unhip to be worrying all because a couple teens parked in the wrong yard, and wouldn't move their car. It angered me to think back that when I was a teen if someone older had approached me at midnight in the alley for something so simple..I'd not only have moved it, but I'd probably have driven straight home, praying my dad didn't find out about it. Silly, I know. But I feared my parents (esp. Dad) and while I did my share of stupid stuff, I knew full well, that if and when I got caught, I was going to pay the price...at home. Is it "old" of me to say that I sometimes think kids nowadays are lacking respect and a little fear of consequences.
Anyhow, after stewing around about it for awhile, and finally just going to bed, I heard the boys hop in their car (with *Jim Jones) and head on out for the night. All that hype for nothin. Figures. Perhaps this was just one of many readiness-exercises God's sending my way to begin preparation for when I have 9 teens of my own at one time. God help me...I'll be too old for sure!

Friday, September 5, 2008

friday night football

We're fortunate to live near enough to the school (and the football stadium) to walk to the games. Most of the time we don't buy tickets...seems wateful when we're pretty certain that at least 6 of the kids would be ready to leave by then end of the first quarter. But John gets Friday night football fever. He says the hair on his arms raise up when the players come out of their locker rooms. Despite 20 years out of high school now, he still "has it in his blood." I don't get it. But, I play along. The kids get all decked out in their orange and black, and of course every year he digs his old jerseys out of the hall closet. The kids love this, and fight over who's turn it is to wear them. We load up the wagons and strollers, and walk down for kickoff. We stand outside the fence where the kids can run and play, and pass a football of their own. Of course the marching band is a highlight for the little ones. Tonight we made it to half-time before the older ones were bored and the younger ones were in tears. Not bad.
Okay, I do enjoy the game, but I think more, I like that it means cooler weather and pumpkins, Oktobetfest, and all the goodness that fall brings. Definitely no hair sticking up on my arms though. Guess ya had to play the game. Maybe someday when one of my boys takes the field, I'll get the goosebumps, but for now...not so much.

(nearly) empty nest

I had 4 children napping and 6 at school this afternoon...and nearly 30 minutes all to myself. I didn't quite know how to act. I hated to waste it on tv, and I can fold laundry when they're all in bed at night, for some reason this time seamed special, sacred almost. It was incredibly strange, to say the least. I checked e-mail, loaded the dishwasher with lunch dishes, and for 10 minutes...I sat down on the couch in complete silence. Because I could. I hate to admit it, but I was a little sad, imagining a time when the kids are all out of the house. Of course then, I may be back to working more hours as a nurse again. But still, my heart was heavy, and I was glad when Mary and John were dropped off in the driveway anxious to show me the dinosaurs they colored at preschool today. Together the three of us waited on the front porch for the older kids to come walking down the street from the elementary. Soon the house was abuzz again...popsicles to distribute, school papers to check and sign, nappers waking up, supper to fix. This is what I know and love. This is my blessed life.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

today's cheap entertainment brief:

There's always something cooky going on around here...you can count on it. Tonight was no disappointment. The kids (all 10 of them...Little Lucy hangin out in her exersaucer) had convened in the front yard this evening along with about 6 or 7 neighbor kids. Mission: swatting at dragonflys. What?! For some reason there was a swarm of dragonflys circling and dive-bombing over our front yard. Nobody else's yard...just ours. They were flying very low to the ground to avoid the swarm of 20-30 swallows that were circling higher in the sky above them, waiting to prey on them. It was the most bizarre sight...all these circling swarming things. It inspired the kids to come out with tennis rackets, badminton rackets and whatever else they could find to swat at all the flying targets. Needless to say to unsuspecting folks driving by, the kids must have looked like a bunch of looney birds dancing around swatting into the air (and hitting nothing.) It was hilarious. John and I took our usual places on the front porch, just taking it all in. The dance seemed to last a good 15-20 minutes, and when the big kids were tired out, the little kids took over. Rose would just make the sound "hay-yah!" and jump, never actually swinging the racket which was twice her size. When the dragonflys and swallows drifted away (had their fill of laughs, I guess.) the kids moved on to scooters and bicycles, and had their own little parade down the sidewalk, waving little American flags all the way...too cute.
I'm tellin' ya, I can't imagine life without all these crazy kids. What on earth did we ever do for entertainment?!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

what gives him away?

John pointed and mumbled to me "You can tell he's from a big family." I turned in time to catch Charlie sitting at the table with his other siblings enjoying a snack. He was hunched with his chin on the table, and hands cupped tightly over his pile of crackers. There was a tiny peephole between his thumbs just big enough for him to keep constant count of the little treasure inside. There was absolutely no way someone was going to pillage his goodies today!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Somethin's up with Charlie...

Something's definitely going on with Charlie lately, and I just can't quite put my finger on it. I thought at first maybe he wasn't feeling well, but no, that's not it. The look in his eyes seems "softer." Gone is the "terrible" two-year-old, replaced with thoughtful three. I'm realizing he might just be moving towards a "kinder, gentler Charlie." Oh, don't get me wrong. He'll just as happily throw you from the swing as to kindly ask you to move...but somehow he's changing...becoming more considerate perhaps? Oh, let me just give you a for instance. As I was making supper the other night, he gently tugged at my leg (and in that soft tone of voice) asked "Mom, whatcha makin' tonight?" "Pancakes," I replied. "Oh" in a disappointed and yet consoling tone "it's okay, I like mine black" and away he walked...with my heart. I hadn't even burnt them (yet) and already he was making me feel okay about it. God love him! I'll have you know I made every one to perfection that night...just for him! Oh, and then the other morning (Saturday I think) when I was speaking loudly (yelling!) to the girls about something, he gently interrupted with an "I love you mom," again in the quiet, consoling thoughtful tone. Boy, he's gooood! There have been a handful of other litte instances just like these, that escape me at the moment. I'm gonna have to keep my eyes on him. Somehow, he's managed to wrap me very tightly around that chubby, dirt-stained little finger of his. My question...can someone barely potty trained be too young to begin discerning a vocation?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another blessed day...

Today we packed the kids into the van for a picnic and hike at Bruckner Nature Center (just south of Troy, OH). This was one of the last items to cross-off of our summer to-do list, and what a beautiful way to end the summer, indeed. We had a perfect little lunch of everyone's favorites...PB&J, chips, and ripe canteloupe, with bottled water on the side. Everyone ate well, and seemed happy to trek off into the woods and submerge themselves in the beautiful handiwork of our Lord. I love discovering new life, and new beauty around each turn, and the reactions of the kids makes it even more amazing. For fallen trees to climb over, creeks full of tadpoles and other tiny creatures to splash at, an abundance of stones for skimming across the pond and the eyes of children to help me appreciate it's beauty even more, I am grateful!

Never saw a sign like this before...

But you must believe it when it says...

...the road looked like this...

In the middle of this awesome hill, you must turn 180 degrees and head in the opposite direction. (and it happens a second time, which isn't quite as severe).

John being the good sport that he is, turned around and repeated the process not once, but twice, for all of us kids to enjoy!! (we are easy to entertain!)

As a note, our 15 passenger van is probably the largest vehicle you'd want to attempt this with...our first pass, we had to stop and back up to complete the turn...good thing no traffic was coming, and thank God for good brakes.