Tuesday, September 28, 2010

happy birthday John!

John Michael is 42 today.

Happy Birthday, Love!

a birthday prayer for my husband, father to 12 (10 here, one in heaven, and one we anxiously await), and guardian/defender of our home...

Glorious St. Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of His followers, against whom the powers of hell are Unchained. Guard with special care our Holy Father, the Pope, and our bishops, priests, all our religious and lay people, my husband, and especially the children.
St. Michael, watch over us during life, defend us against the assaults of the demon, and assist us especially at the hour of death. Help us achieve the happiness of beholding God face to face for all eternity. Amen.

tuesday morning funny

(it is Tuesday, right?)

Okay, so I'm actually on hiatus from working outside the home, at least for a few months, but I found this over at Abby's Feathered Nest, and it struck me as very funny for some reason.
Do you ever feel like you can't have a single conversation without your head spinning like this? or is it just me??

Love it...

Monday, September 27, 2010

living in the moment

It's been almost a full year ago since I've mentioned my friend/coworker who was diagnosed with cancer. I've had a few folks along the way ask how things are going for her, and truth is while my hours picked up at work, hers took on a completely different direction...one of healing, spiritual growth, focus on family, and all the stages that come with accepting the will of God (both good and bad) in your life. Turns out I've only talked with her once or twice over the last year, and only kept updated through another coworker.
I had the opportunity to chat with her last Friday though, and I've been unable to let go of our conversation. The cancer news was not good. In fact despite several rounds of chemo and radioactive treatments, the cancer continues to spread. More liver involvement, and now lungs and lymph nodes. She's taken on more than her share of negative side effects from the treatments, including weight loss, hair loss, fatigue, and neuropathy in her hands and feet making walking a new challenge, and hindering her fine motor skills.
I just can't help but think to myself how "unfair" it seems, and yet she'd have no part in sharing those thoughts with you. During the entire conversation she was a source of joy, and hope and optimism regardless of the diagnostic outcome. She truly radiated a sense of "living in the moment" and trust in God's providence. She shared how certain she was that He had his hand in every moment of her life/health, and just beamed with gratitude for each moment of each day. It was obvious to me how despite the bad things that come our way, God continues to use us. Our reactions can reflect His prescence and peace to others, despite the burdens we bare. Wow. What a beautiful woman. And how blessed I feel to have been touched by her message of spiritual healing and growth even when physical healing isn't possible.
I found myself thinking of her throughout the weekend and grabbing on to those little life moments that pass in the blink of an eye. The hectic times, the frustrating times, the good times...God's constantly working in our lives, and our reaction to all of it can change people. How blessed I am to sit in my rocker and twist braids into a ten-year-old's hair...getting ready for the football game, as supper warms on the stove. Or to show a 3 year old how to make the sign of the cross at mass, or to lay on the bed and read a few chapters with my son, to sit in the sun and watch the kids help their Dad water flowers. These simple moments won't last forever. Instead we continue to face more difficult challenges along the way, some we can't even begin to imagine or accept at our current phase of life, and yet, they'll come.
I pray for the grace my friend shows. I pray to be able to learn from her, and to find my self living in the moment, grateful for the good and the bad, content in the knowledge that He is constantly holding us in the palm of His gentle, loving hand.

oh my heart...

It is a fact of my life right now...something I've been blessed with during each of my pregnancies. I keep Tums on hand though, so it is manageable, and I will not complain.
Except last night, I ran out of Tums. And I ate a late night slice of pumpkin pie, leftover from the World's Largest Pumkin Pie baked nearby in New Bremen, OH. (That's right...WORLD's largest! 20 feet in diameter, to beat their own previously held record of 12 feet. How cool is that?!)
Anyhow...back to the "burn." I knew instantly it was going to cause me problems...but it didn't slow me down. I ate it anyways. And sure as shootin, as soon as my head hit the pillow, the familiar burn set in. No prob. Chew a few Tums...and I'm snoozin. No Tums, remember?! Well I had forgotten. So I found myself first tearing apart every purse and travel bag I could find looking for a forgotten roll, and then doing what I do next when I have a dilemna...googling.
C'mon Mr. Google, don't fail me now...show me "home remedies for heartburn." I found every horrible idea under the sun...from drinking vinegar, or baking soda, or a combination (isn't that what you put in clogged drains?!), someone suggested drinking mustard straight from the bottle, or pickle juice (only dill.), milk, NO MILK!, yogurt, oh for heaven's sake. What's a girl to do?! One idea that kept creaping up was to take a bite of a raw potato. Hmm. I like raw potatoes, so it didn't sound horrifying (or caustic), and I happened to have a couple potatoes sitting out on the countertop that I ended up not using for Sunday brunch.
Hmm. A bite of raw potato?!
I went for it.
I peeled the end off one potato, and nibbled 2 small bites.
I sat up on the couch just a couple minutes, waiting for a reaction.
And guess what...

It worked!!! That darn bite of potato cured my heartburn within minutes. (faster than Tums, maybe.)
Okay, so there's no calcium benefit. And maybe it was just a placebo effect. But a single bite of potato is harmless ( I think) to me and baby, so I'll certainly try it again in a pinch.

I'm just saying. It's sounds better than the drain cleaner option!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Alleluiah Sunday!!

(a potty follow-up...disregard if you're tired of reading about such personal info.)

I was awakened at 7 am this morning to the beckoning call of "Mom, I poooooooped!"
(Oh no.)
Panic came over me as I lept out of bed as spryly as a woman almost 8 months pregnant can leap...and hurried, expecting to find a messy little 3 year old coming down the stairs. She wasn't there. I turned the corner to find her instead, grinning from ear to ear, sitting on the big potty where she had snuck in to do her business. In a matter of seconds all the kids were out of bed (probably expecting the same misfortune I had...and not one of the kids here can resist witnessing a good mess).
Hooping and hollering ensued.
Grace ran for one last package of silly bands I had tucked away in a cabinet, and so our Sunday began...what a blessed day!

Alleluia! Praising God for all his goodness, and mercy. That I shant have to bare many more days in the potty training trenches...at least not for a few more years anyway.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


(that would be THANK GOD FOR LINOLEUM...and LUCY...and LUCKY timing...and LEAPING for joy over finally having potty success!)

After a 2 week battle of wills...and boy is she stubborn (like her momma)...we finally had success today!! Surely the entire neighborhood heard all 10 kids and myself singing and celebrating..."Lucy pooped on the potty!, Lucy pooped on the potty!" There were two weeks worth of bribes being pulled out of the cabinets...silly bands, bubble gum, lollipops, you name it. She called grandma. She gave high fives. She even wore a dress today...so the whole world can know that she's in "big girl" panties.

Yep. Life is good. Now...we just wait and pray, that it continues in a forward-moving direction. She's already starting to go pee independently...without constant reminders. Now we just hope the same for "Number 2."

(oh, and don't mind the poor picture quality...the only camera I could find in all the excitement was Rose's little Toddler-Cam. Lucy didn't mind though.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Aww Rats.

Either there's a really resourceful little rodent in this house, or a two-year-old toddler with a mean case of the munchies. Regardless...someone slit this bag with such precision that this unsuspecting mom grabbed it off the counter to put it away, tossing chips all over the floor.


T minus 6 weeks, and counting...

...the millions of things I should be getting done. And yet, here I am. Taking a break from the madness (again). We've been busy here lately...mostly getting caught up in the comings and goings of daily life, but also trying to cross a few things off my "have to get done before baby arrives" list. (Okay, so some things have been on the list since, oh I don't know, Grace was in the womb...but a mom can dream, right?!)

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that we started potty training with my "baby" Lucy, who will be three in December. She took well to it immediately, loving the "big girl" attention. And after just a couple days was staying dry through the nights (even waking herself up, going on her own, and then sneaking into bed with us to let us know.) She's been accident-free of pee for over a week now. It's the "poo" that's giving us issues. She absolutely refuses (perhaps scared to death?!) to try that one on the potty yet. Oh, and it usually only takes ONE time for them to know it's okay...but we can't get that first one!! I've tried lots of little motivations (ie BRIBES). Today though, I'm throwing caution to the wind, and she's streaking in her birthday suit until we have success. (Had to drive Charlie the 1/2 block to preschool, cause I'm certain as soon as she's dressed she'll let loose in her britches...so, naked she went into her carseat...she giggled.) I'm trying to remain calm about this, knowing that it's just a matter of time, and that we've accomplished this 9 times before her (though in seemingly much quicker fashion)...just breathe Jamie.

In other news...I've got my sewing machine out for a marathon of projects. My mom sewed new dresses for the oldest two to wear at our local Oktoberfest next weekend. I offered to do the accompanying aprons. I finished those up yesterday (check). Next on the list is a medieval-style dress for Emma who is participating in/helping to organize a Renaissance banquet at school. It's not due until November, but timing is not the best there, so I'm wanting to get that checked off the list as well. I've got fabric set aside for some bean bags for our yard game...not a priority by any means, but since the sewing machine is out, I'll try to get that done too. Oh, and the girls had a clever sewing idea for some christmas gifts this year, so I've got 10 yards of really cute fabric waiting on me. Alice and Emma want to help with that project, so it may go quicker (or much longer) depending.

I'm still planning to accomplish a little more canning yet this year. I have a real hankerin' for homemade applesauce...warm with a little cinnamon...mmmmm. Can't you just taste it?! So, I'm hoping to get over to a nearby orchard yet this week, and get a bushel or two and get to work.

I'll admit, my energy level is dwindling (big time) so I'm pretty much limited to one project that I can complete in the morning, when I'm feeling my best. By afternoon, I'm not good for much more than a load or two of laundry to fold, followed by a quick cat-nap before the school kids are back home ready for the snack/homework/supper routine.

It hasn't taken me any time at all to adjust to John's new dayshift schedule...in fact, we're all LOVING it! And, I'm quite content to get my housework/laundry done during the day, so we can fall into bed by 10. I can't even remember having the energy to stay up past midnight every night...that must have been someone else...some other lifetime.

We're still working through finalizing a contract on THE HOME we're still dreaming of. It's one of those things that requires patience, and for the most part, I've pretty much forgotten about worrying about it. It will happen in it's own good time. Though, once the contract is signed, our current house will go on the market...and that's a whole 'nother stress (keeping things clean/picked up) that I'm not looking forward to. But, like I said...I've handed that worry back to God. There's too much keeping me occupied in the here and now...I'm trusting in His Providence.

We're (I'm) getting VERY excited about greeting this new little one, who's movements in my belly allow me to feel/imagine little feet and knees and other boney parts as they roll across my midsection. My nights are consumed with dreams about holding, nursing, and caring for this new little miracle...I just can't wait to meet him or her. Oh, he/she'll be here before we know it.
And list or no list, I know that we're ready...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

safety seat sunday

I mentioned in my previous post that John and I got out for a quick shopping trip...and here's the reason...

Now that Frank and Rose have turned four, and pretty close to the 40# mark (with boots and heavy clothes on), they can convert from the regular infant/toddler 5 point harness seats to the standard booster seat, which allows them to buckle in with a regular seat belt. With SEVEN kids in car/booster seats (soon to be EIGHT!) this means my life is greatly simplified. K-Mart has booster seats buy-one-get-one-free this week, so we had to rush over and check it out. Yup, two new booster seats for $18.99. What a deal!
It meant removing all the old seats, vacuuming the van, and even trying out a new seating arrangement. While the seats were out, all the kids had fun lining them up and playing with them in the driveway...even Alice and Emma were tempted to model the old "baby seats" that Frank and Rose are happy to send into storage.

Frank and Rose now get John and Mary's highback booster seats, and the older pair got the new backless seats.

Everyone's happy...'cept Sam, who didn't think I was quick enough with the camera to catch him reliving his younger days.


Whew. Glad to stick a fork in this weekend, and call 'er done!
I'm not sure what happened...hormones, sick kids, pregnancy fatigue, dreary weather on Saturday, or the fact that I've been battling a nasty sinus infection all week (maybe a combination of all of the above). But Friday night I poured myself a big old bowl of "Feelin' Sorry for Myself" and munched on it all weekend! Talk about a funk...wow. Ask anyone here, I was a real ball of fire to be around. Thank God they love me, and put up with me gracefully.

It seemed to start Friday evening when John announced that he was taking the four oldest to the high school football game. God love him...I know he meant well...it would mean 4 less for me at home, and he even offered that if I'd rather go, he'd stay behind with the younger ones. Truth is, I had no desire to go without him, but would have LOVED to sit with him in the bleachers. This is about when I got the bowl and spoon out, ready to pour it on. For some reason, everyone's yard was looking greener...the couples who go to the games without their kids, or the couples who take all their kids with them and give each child several bucks to spend at the concessions, or even the couples who put their kids to bed early to stay up snuggling on the couch. Somehow in the joys and blessings of big family life, a small sacrifice...something we're always working to overcome is that there can at times feel like a disconnect in that whole "couple" thing. I'm thinking in hindsight (after I stuffed myself on "whoa is me" all weekend), that John's new day-shift schedule is certainly a step in the right direction for changing that. The kids are in bed by 9, leaving us an hour or so to talk, read the paper together, share thoughts on the day, or whatever. It has to beat communicating with post-it notes on those days when we'd work opposite shifts, or when I was just too tired to wait up for him to get home. ...
Anyhow...I stayed in my miserable little funk all through Saturday, accomplishing the bare-minimum as far as cooking and clean-up, and kids needs are concerned. John was asked to come in and supervise the OT shift for the weekend...9 hours...yikes. We had talked about doing a quick family get-away for the weekend, which we'd nixed by midweek, but that was still fueling my "sorry me" bowl yet too. I managed to twist around in my head that everyone else probably had fun plans for the weekend but us...whoa is me. The rest of the day was spent moping around in sloppy sweatpants...I can't even say they were baggy, which only added to my emotional dysfunction. Thankfully by Saturday evening, I got out of the house for a half-hour grocery run, and came home feeling like the fog was lifting.
Sunday's sunshine, and the graces that come with attending mass together as a family made the day seem even more good, with nothin' but feelings of hope and optimism. The gospel reading today is one of my favorite collections of stories of forgiveness, and were just what I needed to hear to start with a new attitude today. I could totally connect with Paul in the second reading...I am the sinner whom God continues to show mercy towards. And I have every reason to be grateful...especially after acting like such a schmuck yesterday. Even the psalms resonated...I love how the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the daily readings! God is good!! We spent the day putting on a big pot of chili, making a ginormous double batch of caramel corn (which had everyone smiling), and enjoyed listening to Alice share some of the new songs she's learned on the guitar. Wow...just 8 months of lessons and she sounds incredible. We had fun singing and dancing to her rendition of "Country Roads." John and I even got to sneak out for a couple hours while the younger kids were napping, to do some shopping. It was just the little "out" we needed to regroup/reconnect again.

Life is good. We have our "funky" moments...and I am grateful for the Holy Spirit who is waiting patiently to blow the stink off.

...from today's responsorial psalm:

R. (Lk 15:18) I will
rise and go to my father.

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. I will rise
and go to my father.

Friday, September 10, 2010

the week of "firsts" continues...

Okay, so not all firsts are "good things," but it could be worse, I keep telling myself. Frank had our first illness of the the changing seasons. I brought him in to the doctor this morning for a nasty double ear infection. Poor little guy has been running a fever off and on, and complaining of ear pain (mainly at night, of course) for a couple days, so it was time to consider treatment. Turns out not only did he have a lot of fluid and pressure behind both ear drums, he also had terribly infected ear canals, nearly swollen shut. He's being treated with not only an oral antibiotic, but antibiotic drops into the ear canal as well. I'm so glad we've had very little experience with ear infections...it seems to make the kids terribly miserable...not wanting to eat, not able to sleep, and just generally feeling lousy with fever.
The silver lining though...a quick trip to the library for some new books and movies while we were getting prescriptions filled means plenty of quiet snuggle time on the couch...which is actually possible with the smaller crowd at home during the day.

In other news...got another package in the mail today (a split shipment from my previously described order of baby items.) This one included some new items for momma too...though completely baby/nursing related. I'm very excited to share a review of my new goods in a future post. I hesitantly ordered a couple nursing tanks (something I've never tried before, but love the idea of), and after trying them on, I think I'm gonna LOVE them!! (men, you're gonna wanna tune out for that one.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

rolling with the changes...

This week we're adjusting to all kinds of changes and "firsts." And while the flow of our day is certainly changing, we're embracing it...life is good.

On Tuesday, John made the schedule change to first shift. After 21 years on evenings or nights or weekends, it was an exciting, answered prayer to send him off to work in the morning and have him back home in time for dinner. What an interesting change of mindset for me to realize at mid-afternoon, that the day is only going to get better...rather than bracing myself for the challenging evening ahead. The accompanying change in weather (cooler fall-ish days) has even had me back in the kitchen cooking "real" meals for dinner, to welcome him home. It's a good thing.
Wednesday was Charlie's first day of preschool. He's our first to attend "morning" session, which happens to be working out fabulously as of day one. A little extra preparation in the evenings (laying out clothes for ALL kids, instead of just schoolies) makes it simple to get the school kids out the door, and spend the next hour getting the younger ones ready for the day in time that we can walk Charlie down the street and around the block to "Jackie's" by nine.

Charlie was all smiles to finally be putting that new backpack to good use. He forced a "cheeeesey" smile, and practically ran off the porch ahead of us towards school. He did stop for us to catch up, but stayed several steps ahead of the rest of us...and even mumbled to little Rose that she most certainly "can not come up on the steps to school" with him. Little did he know we had our own plans for the morning...Just the three youngest and me.
First we headed down the street to the park...the girls seemed suddenly so much bigger. It didn't take long for my sister-in-law and her little Beth to meet up with us, and snatched Rose home with them for a play date. Oh my...only two little ones left with me.
Frank and I collected a whole jar of "cool rocks" at the park to take home and display on his dresser (for now.) We'll return them later, and search for new ones on our next adventure.

After a little laundry putting-away (Frank was a real help...putting all his own shirts on hangers), we turned up some music and danced...and jumped on Sam's bed, shhhh don't tell. We're celebrating life's changes afterall.

Before we knew it, it was time to go back for Charlie. We picked him up in the wagon, and heard tell of his first big day of preschool. He was all smiles as he chatted our way home with songs that he learned (the baby bumblebee song, ring-around-the-rosey, and more) and how he put two puzzles together all by himself, and how he met a couple boy-friends, but LOTTTTTS of girl-friends. Oh my....should be an interesting year.

So what did we do today to continue our week of firsts?? Well, we took Lucy shopping for "big girl" panties of course. She's officially decided to give all the diapers in the house to the new baby to come....yipppeee!!! We're just getting started, but off to a very successful start. I couldn't be happier for the new "big girl" in this house. And grinning to realize that for a few more weeks anyways, we will have nobody in diapers...for the first time in almost 11 years!!!

Oh my... yep, Life is Good. Our God is good.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

today a package came.

Please tell me we're not the only family that gets giddy and giggly when we find a package left on our porch. I'm not a huge internet shopper (not a huge any-kind of shopper, really), so when we see Mr. UPS or FedEx stop in, it's a big deal.
Today was one of those special days...and we all made a big fuss about it. Alice was the first to see it, and bring it in the house. I knew what it was immediately (I'd done a little online ordering earlier this week for some new baby things), and called the little ones in to guess what it could be. It didn't take long for a crowd to gather, as we ooohed and ahhhed..."whose name is on it?" someone beckoned. (It was for ME). "What is it??" Lucy begged.

"I think it's something for the new baby," I told them. Rose giggled like it was Christmas morning. We opened it carefully, and Lucy squeeled with delight to see what was inside...

Tiny baby clothes!

I purged our home of all things baby after Lucy outgrew them, holding on to only the gear and not the clothing...most of it so worn, it wasn't worth keeping. And the things that were new or still nice got passed on to family and friends. It's been fun collecting a few new pink and blue things...tags still on waiting till we know for certain what we'll need.
Of course I pulled the little sleepers out of the package, laid one across my bigger-by-the-moment belly and danced around to "model" it for everyone. 'Which one will we need to keep?' is the big question. Will it be a boy or a girl? Oh, we're just so excited to find out. It's been awhile since we've had a tiny baby...Lucy seems so ready to pass on her title. Only 8 more weeks to find out...

...oh, and wait till they see the cute little numbers that will arrive in the next package...too sweet!

saturday, cleaning day.

For now, we still do cleaning on Saturday mornings...especially when John's scheduled to work, and we have no other plans. That may all be changing soon with his new day-shift schedule starting next week....but for now, it works.

Some of you have written in, asking how I manage cleaning and household chores with kids...there's definitely a strong part of me that would rather just save all work until they're in bed, and get it done quickly and correctly (without arguing or fussing), but that's not really helping anyone in the grand scheme of things. I've tried it, and I find myself feeling resentful (and exhausted). Our team isn't getting any smaller...and kids need (and want) to play an active roll in making it a success. I mean, who really wants to "sit the bench" their whole lives??!
I found a website of daily chores by Motivated Moms that I'm considering downloading a daily chore lists, and dividing them up (it appears to be a VERY thorough list to include things that get lost in the shuffle until it's too overwhelming a task to want to accomplish.) If any of you have ever heard of or tried it, let us know with a comment!!

For now...the kids are on a rotating (by memory not list) schedule for daily tasks like emptying the dishwasher, emptying trash cans, and helping before/after meals. Sam takes out the trash each week.

On Saturday mornings "cleaning day":
~The kids are responsible for the basement...picking up toys, vaccuming, dusting, and vaccuming the stairs as well. It's never done perfectly...but close enough that I'm happy to leave it to them. Sometimes its done in minutes...sometimes an hour. But they work at it (or yell about it) till it's done, and I keep about my cleaning upstairs. Great things can come from letting them "work it out" themselves. When I hear things being thrown, or kids belittling each other, I intervene. Dance music goes hand-in-hand with clean-up.
~Alice and Emma take care of the upstairs "girls" bathroom...cleaning the sink and vanity, toilet, wiping mirrors, and cleaning the floor. It's never done the way I'd like it...and I usually go back over it slightly to "touch up." But they're getting better over time, and are starting to take pride in a job well done, so I don't dare take it away from them. They're also beginning to teach Grace and Mary the job, and they've all come to know how important it is to clean up toothpaste spills in the sink when it happens...not waiting till it's dry.
~The kids vaccum and dust they're own bedrooms. I wish I could say this got done weekly...more like monthly...but it gets picked up and beds made daily, so I'm cool with that.
~Sam loves to run the vaccum in the tv room, and he's strong enough to nudge the couch back a bit, and move the coffee table out of the way, so he does a pretty good job.
~All young kids LOVE washing windows. There's not enough glass in this house to keep them all happy, so I let them "go over" each others work, just to keep them busy. All windows and storm doors within reach, as well as television screens are fair game.
So where's mom? Sitting around slurping coffee and reading the paper? sometimes...for a minute...but there's still plenty to do. The kitchen, main bathroom, all-over dusting, and our bedroom is my "territory."
~I also still do all the laundry. This is just one area that I've not been able to work into a schedule, or find a way for the kids to help. Our washer and dryer run daily. As for the folding and putting away, I've just found it easiest to do after I have several baskets ready, and after the kids are in bed. It goes so much faster when the little ones aren't climbing across the folded piles of clean clothes on my bed. A long time ago, I found a way to sort socks before they go into the washer...and this system still works. The basket of whites is my least favorite...so at least the sock matching problem is out of the equasion. Sometimes I ask one of the kids to sort laundry by colors out of the laundry chute and into the hampers in the basement...but not as often as I used to. The oldest 3 (ages 9 and 10) have been schooled on using the washer and dryer, and I even taped instructions to the front of the machines for those times when they "need" something cleaned "right now." No reason they can't throw a load in, now and then...and someone has to know what to do all those times mom's in the hospital having babies, right?! oh, and on the subject of laundry, I've recently started making/using homemade laundry soap. So far, I'm quite pleased with the results...I'll share the recipe in a later post.
~oh and cooking...yep, that's all mine.

Anyhow. I'd love to hear how you all divi up tasks...or don't you? Maybe I'm a slave-driver and don't even know it?! I don't think so. The kids roll through six days of the week with little responsibilities, so Saturday morning "team-cleaning" seems fair. My goal for this school year is to have them share in more of the daily tasks, especially with new baby on the way. Afterall, they were a member of this team first...I want them to grow up knowing the blessing/importance/gift/value of family, and have a sense of priority towards their own family one day.

For now, I better get....we're in slow motion this saturday...lingering in our jammies and watching a few more cartoons than usual (kids don't appreciate saturday morning cartoons like we did when we were kids...when Saturday was the ONLY day of the week you could see them. Remember?!)
It's time to get business taken care of before Dad gets home from work for lunch. Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

a unique privelage

Earlier this week, John and I had the youngest four at Walmart to pick up a few essentials. I couldn't help but notice an elderly couple watch us enter the store with our little Rose in full-on tantrum mode, upset that she couldn't ride in the cart seat that she wanted. (Okay, they were more than watching...necks were bending and a couple times they turned around to walk backwards...better able to watch us that way.) I was frustrated to say the least, and I forced out a really loud, overly friendly "Hello there" as we finally met in the doorway. (Tried to kill 'em with kindness.) Turns out I'd soon be eating humble pie as they graciously introduced themselves, talked with tantrum-ing Rose (even gave her a little wooden hand-carved puppy), and showered us with kindness and well-wishes. "What a blessing you have there!" the kind man added. "You just love every minute with them...good and bad," he added. He went on to say that he and his wife had just one son. "We lost him in VietNam in 1969."

My heart sunk for them. My dad was there in 1969...it could have been him...and here I am frustrated about my pint-size "problem," that suddenly seemed so trivial. I'm such an ungrateful schmuck sometimes.

Fast forward to Wednesday night...mom called and said she and dad had a "ride" (that's motorcycle lingo for a "ride"...on their Harley (aka..."bike"). They were going to be a part of a procession of bikes that would escort the traveling Vietnam Wall Memorial display. She thought the kids and I might want to watch the hundreds of bikes expected to turn out for the escort. I kinda shrugged it off, thinking it was hot, it was a school night, we'd seen lots of bikes before. Last minute though, I thought of the fella at Walmart, and of his son, and had a change of heart. I thought maybe it would be a good thing to witness, and be a part of. The kids and I loaded up the van and started off to find a good spot along the route.

I tried to prep the kids a little about the Wall, and what it represents, and that the "parade" of motorcycles was in fact not a reason to cheer and hollar, rather we should be respectful...dare I say even somber remembering the soldiers that died. They seemed to understand the expectations I had for them, though not necessarily what the Wall was. We'd brought along our American flags, and took our places outside the van just in time for the escort to pass by. Almost immediately upon seeing the flashing lights, and those first bikes leading the way, I was overcome with emotions I hadn't expected. Tears filled my eyes, and I had to fight them back as many of the riders made eye-contact and nodded or gave us a thumbs up for being there. I couldn't help but realize that many of them had probably served our country at some point, perhaps even alongside the fallen soldiers this wall memorialized. I thought of my grandfathers, my dad, my brothers and in-laws who've all fought and made it home safely...and even considered the possibility that one day it could be one of my own boys wanting to do the same. An overwhelming sense of pride, and respect, and feeling of a sense of privelage to "welcome them home" came over me. Truly it was an honor and a blessing to be there to witness and be a part of something like this.

It turned out that more than 2500 motorcycles were on hand to escort the Wall. It took an hour for the procession to pass, and by the end we were hot and exhausted, kids were bored and tired of behaving, and thirsty, and whiny...and everyone was ready to leave. It was only an hour I told myself...such a tiny, tiny sacrifice. I offered it up in silent prayer as we drove home...for those whose sacrifice doesn't even compare. Thank you men and women of our military, and God Bless.