Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Little Caretaker

Today was the first day I had Madeline home with me this week... I feel better-- not good, but better-- maybe operating at 60%. I felt so glad to be with her; she has had a wonderful time with one or the other grandmother all week while I have been in bed with the flu, but I have been lonely. I was anxious about still being worn out, coughing, and generally feeling "soggy" and having to chase after Maddy, but I need not have worried.

She is the best kid. Sure, she would rather watch Disney Junior than eat breakfast and she throws random tantrums-- like any three-year-old-- but she also occupies herself and plays beautifully, for long periods of time, generally without getting into trouble. If all kids were as easy as her... Please keep my secret from Todd; otherwise, he is going to suggest I get a job, or have some more kids. Here's another secret you didn't hear from me: Maybe it's Fourth Kid Syndrome, because my sister's baby is also a real peach... And he's a 15-month-old boy.

After we piled the kids on the school bus, we went back to bed to snuggle. Maddy soon got up to take my "chumpuhter." Somewhere in the vicinity of the right ear, she got a reading of "45" and declared me "much better!" Maddy stuck the thermometer behind my left ear, told me to "wait for the beep" and then read "5 o'clock" on the digital display. Then, Maddy observed, "Oh, no, Mommy-- you have 'the yawns'... And now I have them, too!"

Unfortunately, playing doctor with Mommy may not have been Madeline's best move... By bedtime, she was coughing and running a fever. Poor baby.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Flu You

Weather forecasters, lawmakers, flu vaccine formulators... I am just making a list of professions where there is apparently no accountability. Why didn't I pick a career where I could end each day with a shrug, a head-scratch and a "Better luck next time?" Oh, wait... I guess motherhood is basically that kind of vocation.

I have influenza and I am frustrated.

I am frustrated that the vaccine did not protect me. I am frustrated that I haven't been out of bed since Saturday. I am frustrated that I couldn't see Elisabeth in her first spelling bee. I am frustrated that family is having to do my jobs-- all of them. I am frustrated that I might infect my children. I am frustrated that Amanda has to stand in the doorway, asking, "Can I get you anything, Mom?" I am frustrated that Jones is not getting the attention he needs. I am really frustrated that I was not a more patient and caring nurse when my husband had the flu in December... Because this stinks.

I stink. I mean, I don't now if I stink because I am so congested, but I have wobbled my way into the shower exactly once in four days, and I couldn't stand long enough to do a good job.

I am frustrated that I need a nap after doing something so strenuous as blogging.

Go wash your hands. With soap.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Waxing Galileo

Amanda's fifth grade class completed its Wax Museum with a public viewing in the school library on Friday.  Amanda was Galileo Galilei.  The grandparents, Madeline and I all walked through... tried to get any of the kids to smile, talk, break character, but they were pros.  Each portrayed a different historical figure, and the general theme seemed to be BEARDS.  Fifth graders are really fascinated by facial hair.

They were all wonderful.  It's a fun, creative project by a great teacher in a fantastic school.  Wouldn't you rather create a display board, compose a speech, don a costume, and act out history than read a book and write a report?  Very cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Series of Unfortunate Events

This has been one, weird week for me. It all started Sunday night, when we were awakened from sound sleep by blaring smoke detectors house-wide. After determining there was no fire, we replaced batteries, pressed reset buttons, tried everything we could think of. But, just when we would get the alarms to stop, one would start up again. Todd finally cut the wiring and yanked out the thought-to-be offending detector, and that stopped things long enough for us to get a couple hours of sleep, but the alarms started again the next morning.

Half-awake in the dead of night, I was Googling the problem on my phone. There are long, online threads dedicated to the issue of "hard-wired smoke detectors going off continuously." While most of the "solutions" were things we'd already tried, I did get a chuckle out of one post: "If you have tried all these other possibilities and the alarms are still going off, that is proof of another presence in your home. If this is a problem for you, burn some sage in every corner of your home to cleanse it of the offending spirits. You should welcome the alarms as a reminder we are not alone. "

Oh, thanks.

Still, the alarms were just the beginning of my bizarre and troubling encounters. On Monday, Benjamin and I were delayed nearly 90 minutes at the cardiologist's office. Ben's routine echocardiogram took forever, and I was certain the doctor was going to deliver some unexpected news, but, no, his ticker is right on track. And, Ben, was, too, until we pulled into the driveway at home. He started whimpering and I knew something was up. As I tried to turn to check on him, I cranked the car right into the side of the garage. The car is fine-- tiny scratch-- but there is a hole in the side of the garage.

Ben threw up. Even though I knew he had probably just fallen asleep and gotten disoriented and carsick, I kept him home for the required 24 hours. Ben was jumping on the couch 10 minutes after it happened, and it was really annoying to have a totally-not-sick kid home for a sick day.

At one point, I walked by an arm chair full of mystery crumbs. I asked Ben to clean up the mess and brought the vacuum cleaner so he could do it. He pulled out the hose, and, before I could stop him, he turned on the vacuum, brush sitting on top of the electrical cord. We had a smoked-out den, a broken vacuum belt and charred carpeting before I could even blink. Luckily, all the smoke detectors had been deactivated, so there were no more pesky alarms.

The next day, I got two unexpected, and overdue, medical bills in the mail. I also did things like drop a whole jar of jelly on the kitchen floor and show up to a meeting with no notes, no books, no agenda. Me. Not the kids-- me.

There have been things like that every hour of this week, I swear.

This evening (Thursday is always our busiest day) we zoomed out of piano lessons because I promised Amanda a stop at the library before it closed to pick up a book she had on hold. The timeline would be close, but I was thinking we had about 10 minutes to spare.

We had about 10 minutes to spare... UNTIL... the railroad crossing arms came down right in front of us. The world's slowest-moving freight train inched on by, along with the minutes. Finally, we could see the end just three cars down... and it stopped. Later, the train cleared the tracks, but, all told, it was about 20 minutes that we sat there, waiting, at those train tracks. Traffic was backed up for blocks. Even if we could have escaped the intersection, every route to the library crossed those tracks, so it was hopeless.

I told Amanda there must be some reason God did not want us to take that road and get to the library tonight. I didn't know what-- a car wreck in the road, a bomb threat at the library, a gas leak, a librarian infected with a communicable disease, a dog needing us at home (all terrible things to bring up to a carload of children, by the way) but we should thank the Lord for keeping us from danger, instead of being upset about not getting the book.

While all this was going on, I was tearing apart the car looking for my cell phone. I wanted it for practical reasons-- to call the police non-emergency number or the railroad to complain, because cars were backed up to the highway and other drivers were more irate than I was. But, no phone. It was not in its usual car slot, not in my purse, not on the seat next to me. I surmised I must have left it at my sister's house and vowed to call her if we ever got out of the railroad bottleneck.

Once home, I called my sister, and told her where to look, but she could not find my phone anywhere. Finally, I told her I would hang up and call the phone if she would listen for the ring. Then, I called her back. "I listened, but I didn't hear it anywhere," she said. "Well, I heard it," I said, "ringing in my pocket."

Is it Friday, yet?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Older Influence

When my first child was three years old, she didn't use words like "butthole" or expressions like "Aw, nuts!" Today's three-year-old does. She also begs for cash, pretends her Barbies are in relationships, bosses around her dance classmates, and claims to love "Justin Beaver." Naturally, and much to my dismay, she learned all these things from her older siblings.

But, when she wipes her baby doll's mouth and pats her back with a "dere, dere, Fweetie" or attempts a jigsaw puzzle way behind her ability level or offers to pray for the "poor kids" I know those things came from her sisters and brother, too. I guess I just need to focus on those things... Because I will never enjoy hearing my darling baby utter "butthole," even in a sensible statement such as, "Well, I don't want my butthole to show."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Somber Anniversary

This is a sad day for me, for America, for life. I do not have words, but, instead, share these. Please watch:
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

Monday, January 21, 2013


I find it not at all coincidental-- because I do not believe in coincidences; I believe in God-- that Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision are right next to each other on the calendar. The value we place on both of these days says something about how we value life.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Birthday Break (or Not)

Today my nephew Kazmer is NINE!  Woot!  Woot!  (I don't even know what that expression means... and I am certain I have never spoken it aloud... but, somehow, it seems to fit the occasion.)  This boy loves the outdoors, and, even with a January birthday, there is no place else he would rather have taken his birthday party-- so outside, in Minnesota, in January, we were.

Kaz is always kind enough to include his similarly aged cousins along with his classmates for his annual celebration.  This year, they went to the local skating rink and sliding hill.  I texted my sister: "Kids are coming!  Do you need help?  I hate cold."

Of course, she said they had it under control... and, of course, they did (with Grandpa on hand as head warming house monitor, no less) but, since I was bringing three of the 20-odd children at the party, and since I adore my nephews, it seemed (almost) silly not to stay.

I hopped into my snow pants, to which Elisabeth commented, "Those look a little tight" and to which I replied, "That's probably because I haven't worn them since 1986.  I generally have no need for snow pants since I HATE WINTER, and I can think of no worse way to spend the afternoon, so IF YOU WANT TO GO SKATING AND SLEDDING, YOU BETTER STICK A WOOL SOCK IN IT!"

And, we were off.

In addition to a general repulsion by all things cold (except that bottle of vodka in my freezer door), we were really braced against a weather forecast of dropping temperatures and fierce winds.  I made the kids put on extra-extra layers and I even wore a hat.  Bold move.  At the park, I parked as near as possible to the warming house and thought about running away as fast as my booted feet would carry me.

But, then... the sun came out, and I saw my nephews skating in circles on wobbly ankles, and the other kids approached me with weird, fun questions, like, "Are you Kaz's mom?" and "Can you watch me slide on my belly... no, my back... no, my belly?"

Even though I did make frequent stops in the warming house-- my asthma has really been kicking my butt lately and the cold, dry wind seems the biggest culprit-- I had a good time in spite of myself.  Benjamin, Libby and Amanda barreled down an icy run on those round, disc sleds, spinning themselves dizzy, flying over the walking path, stopping just short of the hockey rink boards, and then reeling to recuperate.  Oliver rattled off his own rules for every aspect of snow fun and safety.  And I could do nothing but giggle and shake my head at the friend of Kaz's who unabashedly took his third cupcake and downed a quart of hot chocolate.

It was a dangerous birthday party, however, which, again, is exactly what you would expect from Kazmer.  There was a lot of shuffling around and limping after slips on the ice, skids on the snow.  Except for the tightness in my chest-- which started on Wednesday and, therefore, cannot be blamed on this celebration-- we nearly got out of there unscathed.  (Well, Amanda did bruise her knees on a hard skating fall, but, that is to be expected from someone who carries so much of her mother's genetic material.)  But, no, it was Libby who got hurt.

As we were leaving, apparently, Libby slipped and fell backward onto the ice.  I didn't see it, but, as we were in the car driving away, she began complaining her wrist hurt.  Upon arrival home, I sent her to see her father, who is not an orthopedic surgeon, but who plays one at work.

The wrist did not look too swollen, but Elisabeth was complaining mightily.  And I call Libby that-kid-who-could-have-blood-spurting-out-of-her-eyeballs-but-would-still-say-"I'm-fine."  We iced it, but Urgent Care was already closed... and who wanted to go sit in the Emergency Room and see what else we could catch?  Not us.

So, we did what any responsible parents would do: We wrapped the wrist, put on a new ice pack, gave her an ibuprofen, and left to attend a couples' dinner at church.

Later that night, Libby was really crying that her wrist hurt.  So, this morning, when Urgent Care opened its doors again, Libby and Daddy were there.  Todd came home and showed me a copy of the x-ray, declaring, "She broke it clean through!"  I think he maybe felt a little bad when my face crumpled, as he couldn't spit it out fast enough, "No, it's not really broken.  This is a picture of a normal kid wrist."

The doctor did say it was possible there were some torn ligaments that could explain the pain, but that those would not show up on an x-ray and would hopefully heal on their own.  He gave Libby a removable splint to brace her wrist, and told her to wear it as long as it helps.  It's the same kind of brace I wore after having a cyst removed from my wrist, as well as the one Grandma wore for carpal tunnel... so, Libby is less-than-thrilled; she is mortified.

Still, it's a small price to pay for a really fun time... and, yet, a great excuse to stay inside until April.  I'm done.

Happy, happy birthday, Kazzy Theo!  Jesus loves you and Auntie does, too!

p.s. I don't know why Blogger won't let me upload photos today... it works on my iPad app, but not on the PC... but I'm too cold to figure it out.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturdays in the Gym

Today began another season of basketball in Krinkeland. With three players this year in three different age groups, our gym time begins at 8:30 a.m. and wraps up close to 1 p.m. It is loud and warm and smelly in that field house... But it can be a great place to spend a Saturday morning.

Amanda is playing for the Gators, and, with only seven players on her team, there is a lot of floor time for everyone. Girl was her usual, aggressive self this morning, fouling plenty but fooling the high-school referees often enough. She made a bunch of buckets and gave Assistant Coach Grandpa plenty of reason to grin.

Elisabeth is really picking up steam on the court, too. By that, I mean, she generally dribbles with one hand in the right direction. She totally has the running thing and the arms-up guarding thing down. She still struggles in the scoring department, but, I always tell her that one field goal she made last season put her ahead of my lifetime scoring record. Plus, Assistant Coach Dad says Libby should actually blame her "chicken arms." The Blue Jays only had five girls for today's game, so they were molting by the final buzzer.

Then, we get to the boy. It was not that surprising when Benjamin said he wanted to play basketball; he's spent so many past seasons watching his sisters. What is surprising is that most of his teammates are as clueless as he is. Assistant Coach Dad said he never could have predicted so much whining from kindergarten and first-grade boys. The Smashers, so far, are anything but. Benjamin spent all his court time intent on guarding... even when his guy wandered onto a neighboring court. He hardly touched the basketball, and, even in warm-ups, never hefted it more than about two feet above his head. There was, however, a lot of running, and Ben especially seemed to pick up speed when it was time to head for the sidelines or the drinking fountain.

Could be a long season.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How Did I Get Here?

I looked around the cafeteria, as the other parents looked with glazed eyes at the Power Point presentation and all the kids slumped down in their seats, surreptitiously elbowing each other. On the chair next to me, Amanda looked around, too, giving me a sheepish look when I "caught" her. I leaned over and whispered, "Are you excited?" She nodded.

It was the Middle School Premier.

This is the time for parents and students to learn what the parochial school has to offer, to hear about class sizes and look at charts comparing test scores, to meet teachers and inspect classrooms and Smartboards. I didn't feel ready to be here. I don't feel ready to have a child in middle school.

I reached for her unconsciously-- or maybe it was subconsciously-- and rubbed the back of Amanda's neck. I felt like we should instead be at preschool open house. I wanted to put her into the car, buckle her into her car seat, drive her home, give her a cookie, pull her onto my lap, and read her "Love You Forever."

But then the lights came up, and Amanda was off. Off on the next adventure. Off with her friends. Off to learn. Off to middle school.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sharing the Love

At the checkout at Target, an older woman approached and said to me, "Your little girl is just adorable. I have loved hearing her sing as we both made our way around the store. Enjoy her-- she is precious."

Those words are so valuable, especially to a mom who gets caught up in the stresses and drama of every, single day. I, too, find my daughter adorable, and love hearing her sing, and want to enjoy her... But that kind of a reminder helps me to stop, settle down, focus on what is really important.

And it is so important that my children are loved.

Their father and I love them. I believe they know that. Even when they make a mistake or disobey. Even when life gets busy. Even when they feel unlovable. We show them in the way we care for them, and we tell them. We must tell them and they must hear us. And not a day goes by that we don't remind them how The Lord loves them.

I am reminded of the importance of my role as a mother when other people say-- and show-- that they love my children.

Over and over again, I have replayed a scene in my mind from the hospital, where we visited my father-in-law a week ago Sunday. Though he was in considerable pain, it was a very good day. He chatted non-stop and we all walked to a lounge area to have more room with the children. They talked about Christmas gifts and Grandpa asked about basketball. When it was obvious Grandpa was getting worn out, I gathered the children to leave. He beckoned for each child to come to him, and then hugged each of his grandchildren, calling each by name and saying, "I love you."

I cannot recall hearing Todd's dad say that to our kids. I am not saying he never tells his grandkids he loves them, just that I don't usually hear him say it, or at least that I don't hear him say it first. It's not something that has ever been an issue-- our kids are fortunate to have lots of grandparents, more than most kids do, and I know their grandmas and grandpas love them, whether they are loudly, outwardly affectionate or not.

But it feels different to hear it. I hear it, as I see that scene in my mind's eye: I love you, Amanda. I love you, Libby. I love you, Ben. I love you, Maddy. Grandpa loves them. My kids are loved.

It is such a great feeling, and, fortunately, it is not an isolated incident. Tonight, we had two visitors to the house. Beloved friend-babysitter-swimming-instructor Kailee and her fiancé Chase stopped by to ask our children to be the flower girls and ring bearer in their wedding this summer. Holy buckets, you cannot imagine the excitement!

I had known this was coming for a while, because Kailee called me before Christmas to ask if it would be OK. Coincidentally, the day she called, Todd and I had just had an argument over what to give the children for Christmas gifts. I was concerned we were spoiling them and not sending the right message and that overindulgence at Christmastime was going to turn them into ungrateful brats.

And then there was this excited voice on the other end of the phone, telling me she enjoyed my kids, wanted my kids around, loved my kids. And not just one of them, but all of them. I had literally been on my knees, praying for guidance, desiring to be a stand-up parent who raises good kids. And God sent our friend to reaffirm who we are creating.

That doesn't mean all the questions are answered, all the conflicts removed, the path before us made straight and smooth. But I can take it as a sign we are on the right track. These kids are on the right track. These kids are blessed, and they are loved.

That also doesn't mean having the entire Young Set of Krinkeland in your wedding party is a good idea. Both Todd and I did try to warn the lovebirds of that. So far, in the first discussion, the bride has already had to establish some ground rules:
*I get to choose what you wear.
*No, no throwing flower petals at people-- I never said AT people.
*You can dance... but not until the reception.
*There will be no walking on knees down the aisle.
*No fake beards.

Yes, I love them, too. Who doesn't?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

It's yet another day in the blogosphere when I began to write something else... had been mentally crafting my post in my head all day, as a matter of fact... but, when I came across this article, I felt compelled to share it:

Faced with blindness, deaf twins choose euthanasia
     A pair of adult identical twins in Belgium have been legally killed at their request, the men's doctor told journalists.
     The 45-years-old men, who were born deaf, spent their lives side-by-side — growing up together and then, as adults, sharing an apartment and working as cobblers together, according to Belgian media reports.
     The men’s names have not been released but photographs of the identical twins from the Antwerp region have been made available to some media outlets.
     Their doctor, David Dufour, told Belgium’s RTL Television over the weekend that the two men had been losing their eyesight for several years and soon would have been completely blind. The prospect of being blind as well as deaf was unbearable to them, he said.
     "They were fully aware of their decision," Dufour said.
     After winning approval from the necessary authorities, the two men received lethal injections at a Belgian hospital in December.
     Dufour described their last moments: "They had a last cup of coffee and everything was fine. They said goodbye to their parents and brother and all was serene. They waved — and that was that."
     Under a 2002 law, Belgians are allowed to end their own lives if a doctor judges an individual has made his or her wishes clear and is suffering unbearable pain.
     The case of the twins was unusual because the two men were not approaching the end of their natural lives nor were they terminally ill.
     But Jacqueline Herremans, a member of the Belgian Commission of Euthanasia, told RTL that they did meet the legal requirements as their suffering was grave and incurable. When they became blind as well as deaf, he said, they would not have been able to lead autonomous lives, and that with only a sense of touch they had no prospects of a future.
     She acknowledged this was an exceptional case.
     "Evidently they had a particular destiny. They were two human beings who have lived together, grown up together, worked together and wanted to die together. Their suffering may not have been physical, but there was psychological suffering," she said.
     In 2010 and 2011, a total of 2,086 people died by euthanasia in Belgium, according to the country’s Euthanasia Commission.
     Belgium is now looking at introducing a legal amendment that would allow children and those with dementia the option of seeking permission to die. If passed later this year, the option of euthanasia will be extended to minors affected by an incurable illness, or suffering that cannot be alleviated.

Truly?!  Suffering unbearable pain-- for which there was NO OTHER SOLUTION?  NO SUPPORT?  NO HELP?  Just the backing of a family, a medical a community that says, "Sure, go ahead and off yourselves... we'll help!"

Well, I guess Helen Keller made a different choice.

A Euthanasia Commission-- how humane.  Extend this "right" to those with dementia... and minors... two groups who should definitely have utmost control over such irrevocable decision-making.

And if you think we're that far off in this country, think again.

I implore you: Pray. For.  LIFE.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thoughts on Parenthood

So much of this blog centers on my life as a parent, because so much of my life centers on being a parent.  We have been so busy lately, I have not been making time to jot down the funny, like how I caught Madeline pantsing the mannequin in a sporting goods store over the weekend; nor have I documented the thought-provoking, such as when a teacher said an unnamed student was bragging and hurting the feelings of another child, I sought out my kid to ask, "What did you do?!" before stopping to weigh the odds that it actually was my kid (and, of course, it was not.)

But, recently, I came across two articles reprinted in the same publication, that are both funny and thought-provoking, and say a lot of my thoughts more succinctly than I can.  Enjoy:

Thirteen Things I've Learned in Seventeen Years of Motherhood

Some Things Moms Can't Do

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chance of Rain

My little girl took an umbrella with her everywhere we went today.  It was a lovely Upper Midwestern winter morning, sunny skies and a temperature around 30.  We sure got a lot of looks.  Some were kind amusement.  Some insinuated, "What kind of mother are you?"  Some exhibited sheer grumpiness mixed with alarm, but most of those were when she opened the umbrella indoors and near eyeballs. 
I do not know why she insisted on the umbrella. Many people we met asked me. I did not have a better answer than, "She is three." Truth be told, I think that reasoning applies to most things three-year-olds do. Yes, it was annoying, and yes, it made everything take longer.  And, yes, it was a little bit dangerous, at least as far as the grumpy others' eyeballs were concerned.
Yet, motherhood has taught me that little people are their own little people.  I can't see scolding and regimenting every little eccentricity out of their creative, little minds.  That doesn't mean I never say "No" or that I am not a fan of rules.  Even my three-year-old must wear underwear, cannot choke the dog, has to try her dinner, and is banned from coloring on the walls.  But, an open SpongeBob umbrella inside the grocery store on a sunny day?  Is it negatively impacting anyone's existence?  If it bugs you that much, can you not just look the other way?  I thought it was kind of a fun, quirky thing, until...
We walked out of the school after play rehearsal, umbrella up and ready for action, and-- IT WAS RAINING.  I am not joking.  The dark sky opened up, began pouring rain, and has not stopped.  The three-year-old said, right as rain, "Good thing I have my umbrella."
Now, I think she may be psychic and may soon be starring in her own series on TLC.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


We have these built-in bookshelves in our living room that don't have any shelves. (You know, the cobbler's children have no shoes, or something like that.) Anyway, that makes them basically large cut-outs on either side of the fireplace. My naturally performing children have discovered these make great stages, and they take turns doing sets for the rest of us-- belting out Journey and Adele and Christmas carols and the "Little Einsteins" theme song. At one point tonight, Elisabeth stopped singing long enough to yell, "Hey, you guys in the audience: Either get up and dance or GET OUT!" I'm pretty sure I've actually heard rinky-dink frontmen at our local establishments issue the very same battle cry.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Where Does the Time Go?

I am not exaggerating here, or at least I am trying not to, when I say I have been just been so ridiculously busy. Between play practice and hospital visits and all the rigors of running around with four kids, it has been the usual hectic in fast-forward. However, if I am going to be totally honest with myself, there are two other reasons why nothing is getting done around this house:

1. "Downtown Abbey" on the DVR
2. Plants vs. Zombies on the iPad


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Plea for Gifts

No posts over the weekend because we've just been too busy!  Auditions wrapped up and rehearsals begin Monday for our next Saints on Stage productionTodd's dad has been moved to the rehabilitation area of the hospital, where we finally took all the children to visit. The three older kids started Saturday morning basketball. And I am still taking down Christmas!

Trying to wrap my brain around all this and make a plan for the week, in prayer,  I came upon this awesome plea:

My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.

My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.

My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.
--St. Nicholas of Flue

There.  That should fix everything.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


When shopping the after-Christmas clearance, my three-year-old picked up this large, stuffed Mickey Mouse decoration, and asked, "Please, PLEASE we please take Mickey home?" At 75% off the retail price, how could I say no?

Mickey sat next to Madeline in the cart, where she dared him to jump out, and held him dangling over the side of the basket. She also told him, "Mickey, you have such pretty eyes." And she petted the space between his circle ears. When we got out to the car, Maddy strapped him into the seat belt next to her and reported Mickey was watching her all the way home. (She also told me Mickey really wanted to go to the dollar store.)

At home, I tried to tell Maddy we were going to pack Mickey in a box until next year's Christmas season, but she told me Mickey would be taking a nap with her. Maddy won.

I thought the novelty might have worn off by bedtime, but, no, those two are off to Dreamland together. Can you believe she even shares her pillow. Those two are tight.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Having mass on the first day back to school from Christmas break seemed just a little bit cruel.  I mean, the kindergartner told me before the bus came this morning, "I don't even remember what my teacher looks like!"  And he was supposed to be able to sit through church right out of the gate? 

I was not totally surprised when, halfway through mass, my mommy gaze caught my little boy turned around in his seat, craning his neck to look for something, someone.  I made the index-finger-in-a-circle sign (universal symbol for "Turn around!") but there was clearly something going on.  Benjamin's fifth grade buddy next to him was bent over, intent on something.  Soon, the fifth grade teacher motioned for Amanda to help. 

Was Ben hurt?  Was he sick?  Was he sad?

No, Benjamin's pants were unbuttoned.

These fine motor skills, particularly hand strength, are something we have been working on at home, so I know Ben is capable of buttoning his pants.  But, I also know Ben is lazy, and, if he can get away with leaving his pants unbuttoned and just covering his waistband with his shirt, that's probably the way he would go.  But I also know the uniform policy is more strictly enforced on church days, and that shirt needed to be tucked in to those pants!

The big sis and the little bro were starting to draw attention, and Amanda clearly was not getting the message from her teacher that she should take the issue outside.  I left my seat and quickly remedied the problem.  But, as both kids returned to their chairs, it hit me why this pants-buttoning thing had become such a scene:


This never happens.  I started to get really excited, thinking maybe that extra pan of caramels I fed him over the holidays had actually helped bulk him up.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized Ben was simply wearing his one pair of slim pants that are really slim. 

He is a 5 slim.  That is his size.  But, most brands of uniform pants are made out of that indestructible fabric (and they need to be) cut with pleats around the waist and wide legs.  Generally, I have to adjust the waist a little bit to make the slims fit, or A LOT to make 5 regulars fit (because slim pants are actually a lot harder to find than plus-sized pants.)

One day, a mommy friend called me, giggling, and said, "Have you ever bought uniform pants at Wal-Mart?  Because I noticed they had 'slims' and picked up a couple pairs for my son... but he tried them on and couldn't even button them!  You have to get these slims for Ben!"  So, I did.  And these are those pants.

After church was over, I waited for Benjamin's class to walk by me.  I asked him if his pants were OK now, or if he wanted me to run home and get him a different pair.  "No," he said, sucking in and turning slightly blue, "these fit fine."

Never before has that boy reminded me so much of his father.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Year of Blessings

We let the kids stay up last night to see the ball drop.  Sure, why not?  Particularly when all the cable news channels had it live, EST.  After the "Happy New Years" and good-luck kisses went 'round, but before anyone was actually tucked into bed, Amanda cozied up next to me and commented, "Wow, a new year.  It's exciting, but I don't think anything will be able to top the last year."  Thinking primarily of the health of each of my FILs, but also of my husband's extensive work travel, the chaos of running a volunteer theater program, and the other negatives which tend to pile up whenever I make a mental list, I replied, "Really?!  What was so great about this year?"

The following is Amanda's partial list (and this is not necessarily her order:)
1. We went to Disney World.
2. We got a dog.
3. We saw Justin Bieber live in concert!
4. Grandpa R. got better.
5. We got a Rave (water trampoline.)
6. Erik and Alicia and Annie and Nora came to visit-- twice.  Beth and Eric and Grace came to visit.  (I think she threw those in for me.)
7. We got a new car (technically, this was 2011.)
8. learning to play the trombone
9. Eloise was born.
10. being on stage

Amanda also rattled off "lesser" highlights that nevertheless made 2012 a fantastic year for her, including: taking a babysitting class, the really cool shoe laces she got for her Converse All-Stars, sleepovers with her friends, learning to serve at mass, having great outdoor adventures at Grandma and Grandpa's, and reading some really good books.

Well, who knew?  It surely was an unbelievably amazing year!

It is such a joy having a glass-half-full (heck, ALL the way full!) kind of girl.  I thank God for all the blessings of 2012, along with all those already granted in 2013-- like having a cool kid, and getting to munch on brand-new baby Frances, born to a friend just yesterday.

Happy New Year!  May 2013 be as great for everyone as it is sure to be for my 10-year-old!