Showing posts from June, 2009

Second Chances

I am amazed at how many second chances I have gotten in life. Second, third, fourth, ninety-ninth. It's humbling and mercifully kind. So I'm thinking that it would be a good idea if I could somehow internalize this merciful kindness and spread it around to my children. Hmmmm. There's a thought. Here's hoping I am able. * * *


My youngest child has been up since an ungodly hour. My job has been to manage her, and keep her occupied in a quiet enough fashion so that everyone else stays asleep. The activity that fascinated her the most? She spread out her blankey in the middle of the kitchen floor, and placed a bunch of delicate sea shells on top of it. She busied herself taking care of them, arranging them just so, moving them, going back and forth between kitchen and ... wherever the shells are ... and bringing more to her collection. Each time she added one, or changed one, she would admonish me: "Don't step, mama!" I was under strict instructions to take as much care as she with her shells. This was tricky: she had positioned herself right in front of the coffee pot. Still, I managed to step delicately and keep the shells -- and the girl -- whole and happy. * * * Dad just barreled through the house, en route from the garage, and went straight to the coffee pot. Big man boots, with

Picture Picture

My 4-year old loves to visit grandma Rose and Poppa. She gets so excited when it's her turn for an overnight, and equally distraught when it's someone else's. She always has fun, and talks about her visit for a few days afterwards. But today, she told me that last time she was there, a few weeks ago, she saw photographs of all of her brothers and sisters, and it made her miss everyone. "I just couldn't look at the pictures, because it made me sad to look at them, so I decided not to look at them so I could be happy and have a good time." This made me smile, tear up, and wonder all at the same time. I can just picture her getting a little teary herself, and then setting the pictures aside and bouncing back into her "happy place." This is one of the photos that made her wistful: This is all the more remarkable because she takes a fair amount of abuse from all four of them, probably more so than anyone else in the family; it seems to roll o

Lucky Number 13

Tis' my 13th wedding anniversary today. In honor of that momentous event, I am "reposting" a post that originally appeared around Christmas 2007. I originally wrote this as a response to a "Fun Monday" assignment: Show us your favorite Christmas ornament and tell us why it's your favorite. I think it works well for our wedding Anniversary as well. * * * Once upon a time, there were two young people who were very much in love and had recently gotten engaged. They were carefree, full of hope and anticipation, giddy...clueless. One of my favorite Christmas ornaments captures the clueless joy of my then-fiance and me perfectly, and I must thank my wonderful mother-in-law for making this ornament and giving it to us. I love looking at this ornament and laughing at how much I didn't know then, and wishing for a little of that innocence today. Twelve years and five children later, we are no longer that clueless. We have been through miscarriag


I don't know what to do. I have so much to do. Everywhere I look, I see messes to take care of, disorganization to fix, problems to solve...people to feed. I have been trying all morning to motivate myself to do better, be better. To move. To get something done. To make a difference in this little hovel. I have a lovely house. It's small for seven people, but it's lovely. I wish I could organize it so that it looked as lovely as it is. I have the entire day stretching out in front of me, and a desperate desire to come to the end of it feeling like I accomplished something around here, and a sinking feeling that I will, once again, not. I keep making false starts, giving up, moving on to the next thing. I keep getting distracted by blogs, by facebook, by youtube . I'm goin' a bit nutty, wanting to crawl out of my own skin, and wishing I had more courage to face my piles of laundry, of paper, of dishes. Aack. Help. **Edited at 7pm, to add a link t

Me and Peach: Sympatico

There can be only one response to the morning I have had with my nasty, brutish, and short offspring, and it comes to us from Peach of Finding Nemo. I hear ya', Peach; I'm tryin'. I'm tryin' real hard. * * *

Ice Cream and Cacophony

Lola is 7 today! I had to work (boo) so I could not spend the day with her. But she did get to pick sugar cereal for breakfast -- went to the grocery store after bedtime last night with dad to buy Cocoa Puffs. I didn't even know she knew what they were: I've never bought them before. But kids get to pick a sugar cereal for their birthdays around here, and I barely had the question out of my mouth before she shouted " COCOA PUFFS !" So, the lady had Cocoa Puffs. Not one to go lightly with the sugar fest that is a birthday, I took them for ice cream after picking them up from Auntie Debra's this afternoon. { Side note: Auntie Debra rocks, plain and simple. } Taking five hyper, dirty-from-playing, tired-of-each-other children to the local Baskin and Robbins was quite exciting. I can't decide which was my favorite part. Was it the mommy mommy mommy I want mint chip I want mango tango I want chocolate I want M&M flavor I want cookie dough I want a s

Getting and Giving

The children are cleaning their rooms. Always an adventure. It's been going on for awhile now, and the boys definitely seem to be playing rather than cleaning. They've been asking for a break...I've been countering that they haven't worked hard enough to earn a break. I just asked Samuel if he thought he was working hard. He gave me a refreshingly honest answer: "I don't think I've been doing my best, but I'm doing OK!" Me: "OK then, why don't you give me some of your best now." Him: "WHAT WILL I GET IN RETURN?" Me, in a rare moment of clarity: "You won't get anything at all, but you'll give me a great gift." I left him speechless. SPEECHLESS! This is no small feat with my first born. For once, he couldn't think of retort, a response, a follow-up question, a nuanced alternative, a space for wiggle room. The room is still a mess, but I finally managed to have the last word. I'm positive

The Re-Education of Mommy

I used to be an avid reader. Certainly as I child, I always had my nose in a book; sometimes I got teased in elementary school because of my tendency to read books that were very large. As a young adult, I maintained the habit, trading book titles with friends, my mom, my sister, and devoting considerable discretionary funds to bookstores. Then I had kids. Reading screeched to a halt. Books stacked up next to my bed, languishing, gathering dust. At night, when I tried to read, my head would bob after only a few paragraphs, and then I'd start over the next night, trying to absorb the same few paragraphs with the same, predictable result: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . Alas, I miss my books. Most sadly of all, though, it seems that I have actually forgotten how to read. On a recent weekend, I found myself as the mother of three, with the baby off at grandma and poppa's for two nights, and the eldest away at a baseball tournament with dad. The three middle ones -- the soft bits,

Summer Plan

My big plan for the summer: act like a calm, cool, collected, stress-free mama . Fake it till I make it. Be the change I want to see in my children. Today is Day One of Summer 2009. I have big ideas about eating well, organizing chores, keeping up with the house, having fun, and being the best mom on the planet. OK, the country. OK, the block. Which is populated by lots of retired folks. Like I always say, when striving for success, make sure your competition is frail. Anyway, I've noticed that we (husband and I) have gotten out of the habit of explaining things to the kids and very much into the habit of screeching things like "because I said so" and "just do it" and "so help me God if you don't listen to me my head is going to explode." Comments such as these do, of course, have their place. Ya gotta love pointed and pointy words spewing out of clenched teeth for the fear and trembling they can evoke...and sometimes, fear and trembling

The Upside of Chores

Chores are good. I've been neglecting our chore chart for months. I'm sure the kids are thrilled about this, but I really must get back to basics. Especially with summer beating down my door, I am aware that I really need to give the chores their proper due and a proper routine. It's not that my kids do nothing; it's just that without that chore chart, what they do is haphazard and inconsistent. I have to make it up every day, and I have to put way too much thought into who is doing what and who did what last time. All of this will be addressed with a good chore chart. But I happily discovered another positive side effect of chores the other night. I taught my oldest how to wash dishes. Some of you may not be aware that in addition to having five children, I do NOT have a dishwasher. ( Would that then be in subtraction to having five children? Since I don't actually have a dishwasher to add to the kid count?) So you might think that just having someone