Thursday, May 31, 2012

Taking in some "nature"

Swimming, baseball, softball, teeball, bike rides, backyard campfires and games, zoo days, sprinklers & kiddie pools, and popsicles...lots of popsicles. Summer is off to a beautiful start!
Looking to keep the troops from getting the "B" word (dare I hear, bored) we planned a special Nature Hike today. 

Of course any good hiker knows planning is the key.  So we started the morning preparing our trail snacks...cheerios strung onto dental floss necklaces...portable, yummy, and promotes healthy gums.  Awesome.

These were a bigger hit than I might have imagined.  Even Anne loved it...though she kept eating the floss and gagging it back up.  Not cool.  No more edible necklaces for the little one.

Charlie found the first "seashell."  I use that term loosely...we were nowhere near the sea.  But it's still pretty cool for Lake Loramie.

Only 7 of the kids came along this time.  Certainly this is something I'm going to have to come to terms with for the summer.  It's the first time my older ones are going their own ways...and I'm not yet sure how to feel about that.  Excited and sad all at once.  Guess "bittersweet" covers it.  I'm realizing that the days/moments we all spend together as a close little family are going to be fewer and further between all the time.  And I get a little sad as I imagine further down the road when we struggle to get us all together for anything...holidays, etc. 

Everyone was excited to find goose feathers...Charlie and Frank were first.  This is NATURE!
(not so excited about dodging all the goose poop...but that goes with the territory.)

This is NOT nature...just an old abandoned beat-up lawn chair we found along the way. We had fun imagining who might have left it behind...or whehter they might still be coming back for it.  Charlie's face in this picture is priceless...

Pieces of Duct tape wrapped inside out on the wrist made a perfect way to collect and display little bits of nature along the way.  Just pick and stick (with caution).  Charlie was bummed that his Budweiser bottle cap fell off just before taking this picture.  (Somewow beer is nature?!)

Not sure what got to this tree; insects or animals, but it was cool peeking in the maybe trolls might have left behind some treasure.  Lucy was bummed there was nothing to be found inside.

What are you doing to stay busy and have fun this summer?  We've started a list of things we want to do this year.  In the past it was always a giant paper rolled out with lists of places to go, things to see and do.  This year, it's in a notebook and thanks to the older 3 kids it also includes science experiments like "Build a Volcano that Explodes" and research papers like "Exploring the Monuments of Washington DC"   Seriously...some of my kids want to do research this summer...and write about it.
I'm on board with that, but hesitant.'s summer...slow down and enjoy because life is moving FAST and I want to soak in these simpler times before they're gone.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

the "word"

Sitting at mass today, Charlie tugs on my arm and whispers..."Mom, whats the word?"

Confused I whispered back, "Which word?"  (thinking this is one of his "Mom, you've got the word!" games.)

He continues, "You know...but only say the WORD, and our souls are healed.  Which word is it?"

Oh.  I smiled.  Grateful he's paying any attention whatsoever.  The word...any's God's word.  And only his word that heals. 

God is good.

(and as my kids sometimes say to drive me nutso..."You've got the word!")

Friday, May 25, 2012

false alarm, we're back in session

So it's the first day of summer break (thursday). I'm thinkin' after a late nighter playing outdoors, we're all going to sleep in. Only the oldest and youngest were on the same page with me. I rolled out of bed around 8:15. I was certain I'd heard kids stirring, and expected to find them planted in front of their favorite (nearly forgotten) cartoons or perhaps munching a bowl of cold cereal.
The kitchen was empty.
The family room...empty.
Maybe they are sleeping in?
Toy room empty. hellloooooo???
Then I spotted the garage lights on.
You have got to be kidding me.
There they were...Grace, Mary, John, Charlie, Frank, Rose and Lucy starting their first session of "home-school." Reading, writing, recycling all those leftover school supplies. Did they not remember it's SUMMER!!!!
(these are so not their mother's kids.)
We are going to the zoo today! Let's move it...breakfast, dressed, brush teeth...I'm ranting now. Because education?
in the summer?
Whassup with that?!
Grace calmly proceeds to instruct the class to put away their things.
"The busdriver is ready to take us on our field trip," she tells them.
Who's she think she's talkin' bout?!
Next they'll be calling me cafeteria lady.
Someone pass me a popsicle please, my heads starting to feel warm.

It's official

We greeted the school kids walking home from their last day with ice cold lemonade, sprinkler splashin' on the front sidewalk, and of course...our party rock anthem for the day blasting on our little cd palyer..."School's OUt for SUmmer!"  (okay, actually that song was playing only in my head...the real song playing was a kid-friendlier version...High School Musical's:  "What Time is it?  Summertime!")

Party on.  (whoop, whoop!)

Sadly, times they are a changin though.  Only the little kids hung around with me for any length of time...the older ones all scattered to spend time with friends...meeting for kickball games, and ice cream at the Tastee.  Guess it's not as cool as it used to be to party with mom...especially not in the FRONT yard.   (sigh.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

what's cookin

I've added a tab there at the top.  Clicking on it will lead to a list of links for recipes I've shared here on the blog over the years. 

My recipe box (and book, and scattered loose-leaf-torn-from-magazine-scraps) leaves a little to be desired in the matter of organization, so this tab is for my benefit as much as yours.  Saves me five minutes of searching through old posts for those tried-and-true recipes I love.

Browse and enjoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

a beautiful weekend

too exhausted to speak in details, so I'll recap...

backyard campfire with roasted mallows & kids running carefree in the dark toting flashlights.
long walks
baseball games
backyard volleyball & pitch-n-catch
dinner and a movie with husband
kids' friends over for a backyard dance party
tie-dying tee shirts under a shade tree in the back yard
popcorn and lemonade
family graduation party...complete with cousins, and water balloons, and cold beer served from an iced kiddie pool

"quiet" sunday evening of more backyard races, and batting practice, and watching dad string some new clothesline for mama. 

Lovely weekend here.  How was yours?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


The recipe is called "To Die for Berry Muffins."  I'm just gonna call them tbdbitl's.  You OSU fans can just replace "band" with "berry-muffin" and know what I'm talking about.
For those of you who aren't familiar with The Best Damn Band In The Land...well shame on you!


Anyhow...I digress.

We're having breakfast for dinner tonight.  One of the few meals that pleases everyone at the table.  In addition to mini egg sandwiches , sausage links, and fresh fruit, I thought I'd try something new for dessert and I found the berry muffin recipe.


I'll just let your mouth water for awhile as I hang on the recipe...

I know.  Terrible of me to hold out on you like this...promise, recipe will follow.

May days

Recognizing that in all my busy business, I have not given her proper honor and devotion, through this month...or for some time really.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

On the first of the month we placed a crown of roses on our statue in the yard, and placed a basket of fresh flowers at her feet.  The bright colors catch my attention every time I walk by, or glance through the kitchen window, inviting me to a brief conversation or prayer.  Do you have any special traditions to honor our heavenly mother for the month of May?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

stopping to smell the roses

I love watching the little ones discover new things.  They enjoy the simplest of God's gifts, and it's beautiful to watch.

John and the kids bought me a red rose after Mass on Sunday thanks to the Right to Life fundraiser.  It's been resting in a vase on the kitchen island all week...sort of forgotten, I guess.  Except by little Anne who spent a good part of her morning climbing up the barstools, and crawling across the countertops reaching for it.  I kept moving the stools (and she'd move them back), then moved the rose, and she'd climb after it again.  Finally it occured to me to just let her enjoy.  So I took it from the vase and she sniffed it.  A full nose and mouth inhale enjoying every bit of it.  I proceeded to rub her little cheek and forhead with the "soft" petals and we'd both giggle outloud.  She was so delighted by it all.

After a few minutes of just enjoying, I decided to lose the vase altogether.  I put about an inch of water in a little red solo cup (you're singing it, aren't you?!), and clipped the stem to just taller than the cup height.  I placed the stubby little rose in the cup, and onto the end table within her reach, hoping she'd enjoy it for the rest of the day.

She plucked the flower out onto the floor...and drank the water.

And God is certainly smiling with me.  Thank you Lord, I needed that!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Holy Ring-around-the-tub Batman!

Brought all the kids to the park this evening to watch Mary and Sam in their softball/baseball games.  It's funny that we even attempt this...seeing as how I saw absolutely NOTHING of either game.  Only spent the evening playing at the park (black rubber mulch), then watching the kids play in the dusty gravel near the bleachers like a day at the beach.  Some moms bring sandtoys which is super entertaining...and good...but uggh, what a MESS!  I forgot how dirty we get in the summer.

Can't say I've missed washing gravel and sand out of wee-little-ones' hair.  But it all comes's nearly summer.  Let the games begin!

(Tomorrow morning you can find me in the bathrooms, scrubbing tubs...right after my cup o' joe.)

always something new.

(for those who think I've got this gig mastered...each child brings something new and exciting to the table...not always what ya want at the table...but new.)

I wondered if my writing this should be channeled into a letter to manufacturers of baby gear, or if I should vent to other moms dealing with life's sometimes unexpected challenges.  I chose the latter.  Seriously, baby gear makers don't want to hear this particular story.  Then again, perhaps you don't either.  I'm gonna tell you anyways.

Last week one day, as I was cleaning up after another not-particularly-interesting lunch, Anne decided to shake things up a bit.  The rest of the lunch crowd had scattered, leaving Anne and I at the table to finish nibbling and begin the process of clean-up.  This means I throw the dishes into the dishwasher quick before unbuckling her from her highchair to avoid her climbing into the racks and licking them all clean.  She LOVES helping with the dishwasher. 
Anyhow, as I approached her with a warm washcloth to begin cleaning her tray off, working my way towards her hands and face, I noticed an odor.  And even commented..."Whew smell stinky."  Not unusual for her to take care of business just after eating.  What can I say, you eat-you poop.  All washed up, I lifted her out of her chair to finish what she'd started and noticed as she took several steps to walk away, she left footprints on the hardwood floor.  Weird.  (clearly not registering with me what happened)
I grabbed her hand to keep her from walking further, still not clear on what she was tracking around.  It was then that I caught a glimpse of her highchair seat out of the corner of my eye and spotted a whole pile of mushy poo in the seat, dripping down to the floor below like chocolate pudding...only it was NOT chocolate pudding.  Ewwwww.

My baby just had a poop-splosion.  Unlike anything I'd seen in a LONG time.  Maybe since Alice and Emma were babies and they had a twin-poop-splosion in their carseats...synchronized.  And memorable.
After plopping her right into the shower for a hose-off followed by a bath, I moved on to the kitchen to tackle the rest of the mess, starting with the footprints/floor-scrubbing, and backtracking from there.  As I began to remove the mess from the chair with clumps of papertowels, I realized that this was going to take some doing...cloth seats.  Uggh.  I tried every possible means of disassembling the chair only to discover that the cloth was not removable.  double uggh. manufacturers not know the possibilities?!  This was way beyond the tags recommended "spot cleaning."  And yet, here we were...what to do?!  I ended up scrubbing with a bleach cleaning solution, till the fabric faded, and the stink was replaced with that hospital-clean-scent. 

And I spent the rest of the day frustrated with the way things  are made "now-a-days." 

And didn't solve a single problem of the world.

And so I'm sharing my change-of-scenery with you...hoping that if you're having a particularly frustrating day you might smile knowing...yep...there are other passengers on this crazy train called motherhood.  No such thing as coach or first class...we're all in for an adventure!


Monday, May 14, 2012


I only sang this song a couple times in front of Emma and her friends...
It is our duty as parents to embarass our kids just a bit, not?  All in good fun.

On Thursday and Friday of last week, I accompanied Emma and her 6th grade TAG class to Chicago for a 48 hour whilrwind tour of the Windy City. We were joined by a group from nearby St. Henry as well. It was so much fun spending time with these kids and their parents, all of us taking a break from everyday life to catch a glimpse of life in the Windy City. Our tour included stops at the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, The Federal Reserve Bank, Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, Millenium Park, Medieval Feast, The Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and Skydeck, an architectural boat tour through rivers downtown, a tour of the Robie House (designed by F.L. Wright), even a stop for deep dish pizza at Giordano's Pizza.
Amazing. Exhausting. Fun.

In talking with some of the other moms on the trip, I recognized pretty quickly that all of us had heartstrings pulling us back home, but we also recognized a need to step away, and enjoy this brief time with our kids who've worked hard all school year studying and researching and preparing for this trip.  Lifechanging? Probably not.  But certainly a wonderful opportunity for the kids and parents alike.

For was a lot of work getting ahead on things like laundry, and meal planning and grocery shopping for John and the kids at home. And hard work for John who was thrown into my job for a couple days with nothing more than a notepad full of chicken scratch about who had games & practices, and what times preschool and kindergarden kids get dropped off. And then the catching up on laundry, and cleaning when we got home. All worth it in the end for a brief change in scenery, and special moments shared with one of my oldest daughters.

Mom of the Year title, revoked

(as if to assume I actually deserved such a title to begin with...)

Recently John and I had a disagreement about little Anne's birthdate.  Seeing as how I was there...and always get this right (ahem), I swore without hesitation that my youngest sweet baby was born on October 28th. 

"You sure?" he dared to wonder outloud.

"Of course I'm sure!  I'm her mother.  I remember it like it was yesterday...there were tornados that day...and it was lunchtime...of course, I'm sure."

He checked our birthday prayer list.  Seriously, as if.

"Say's here she was born October 26th."  (resting the blame on the calendar, not himself.)

"Really?"  I offered back humbly..."Oh yah, right...we brought her home on the 28th...trick-or-treat.  yep.  Well...really, I was there...what's the difference?"

The difference is 2 days late on that cake and gift.  How sad am I?  Seriously.

Happy Mother's Day.

Hope you all had a blessed day.

Here in our home, it was much of the same...with the exception of the homemade cards and crafts & paper flowers glittering the walls and windowsill.  I never tire of that stuff.  I LOVE the extra hugs and kisses and sweet little "I love you's" throughout the day.  We had a cookout for dinner with my parents with lots of fun outdoor games too...cornhole, and kickball, and frisbee...joyful exhaustion.

I still cleaned up spilled milk at lunchtime (actually it was lemonade, all the stickier), still changed diapers (though Dad took the stinky ones for me) and still scraped my way through dirty dishes, laundry folding, and that Sunday morning "dance" getting everyone dressed and ready for mass.
I still wrestled playful kids into the tub at bedtime, and still did the late night "pick-up" of toys and stray flip-flops and socks, etc. 

Somehow though, the day's readings at Mass were a beautiful reminder of the what the meaning of Mother's Day really is.  That it all boils down to LOVE.  Real love...the patient, kind, non-boastful, non-jealous, real Christ-like love.  The kind of love that we recognize in our Mothers, but also the kind of love that doesn't require stretchmarks to understand.  ( I'm working on the "patient" part.)
As I sat in church (at first just breathing, trying to "center" myself after the previous hour of chaos and well, outright screaming at times) I couldn't help but begin to remember the years in our marriage when Mother's Day seemed only a bitter reminder of our childlessness.  It was painful to watch other women receive a blessing I might never have the opportunity for...salt in an open wound of infertility.

Love though.  Love never fails.  And when we recognize our ability for real Christ-like love, when we seize the opportunity to give of ourselves tirelessly...well that's a beautiful thing...that's the love that extends beyond the boundaries of parenting and is in each and every one of us.

At mother's day we recognize the blessings...the bootcamp-type training in loving that having children provides.

My children teach me daily how to be the better me.  When they show kindness, tie each other's shoes, when they "wait up" and "slow down" for each other, when they retrieve bandaids, help the little ones with a drink, or drop everything just to "looky."  (little things with great love)
This is Christ speaking directly to me.  Showing me how to forget the stuff that ties us/traps us as moms and live in the moment...if only for a moment.  To LOVE greatly, attentively, fully. 
Christ tells us there is "no greater love than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." While he was referring to his death on the cross,  I take it also to mean (since most of us won't have the instance to die for another) that perhaps setting aside our desires, that is to say sacrificing our own desires for another (whether it's time away from something we feel we must be or want to be doing, or sharing something we hold dear, any opportunity for giving of ourselves) is loving.

"Yes, you may have the last chocolate chip cookie sweetie." (as you're about to take a bite), or "Yes, I'd love to watch you do another cartwheel."  Or "Yes, laundry can wait...let's shoot some hoops."...this is

Moms, grandmas, sisters, aunties, all lovely ladies...celebrate together this beautiful day as an opportunity to show the love you are capable of...because of Christ and the love he's shown for you.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

like a bunch of squirrels

we're NUTS for Jesus!

What an absolutely busy, beautiful, blessed weekend we had here as John and Mary made their First Holy Communion on Sunday. 

Of course there was prep-work involved...aside from their spiritual formation that is.  There was attire to be ironed and fluffed, hair to be primped and coifed and pinned, food for the masses, garage space to clean and make ready, yardwork...and on and on.
(That's why my nutty squirrels above look like orphans...they'll call me out on the neglect in years to come.)

Anyhow, what a joy to see these little innocents anxious to recieve Jesus for the first time.  I couldn't help but get choked up as I watched my two, along with their classmates open their hands and hearts to Him.  Just beautiful!

Thank you Fr. Rick!

God Bless Mary Ava and John August as they continue to grow in their faith, and love of the Lord!